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Excuse me, is anyone photographing here?

Shades of Cactus FlowersBruce Percy at The Art of Adventure Photography mentioned he’s an emotional photographer–allows his gut feelings to guide him without consciously trying to plan and control his photo making. He makes this statement in a discussion on taking portraits and how he relates to the chosen subjects. Bruce also asked what approach others have.

That got me to thinking about how I approach making photos in general. When visiting a location I do pre-planning to insure I have what I believe will be the right lens, filters and accessories however once on site my perceptions and feelings of the moment rule. If I’m not sure what the location will be (first visit) I’ll bring a general purpose zoom and perhaps a medium/short prime lens.

When shooting, I often feel I’m in a sort of trance with my awareness tightly focused on my interest and my efforts to capture those feelings with my camera.

I often loose awareness of my surroundings outside my subject and if I happen to be with someone I have to mentally force myself to check-in every once in a while. I’ve also try and keep checked-in if I’m shooting near traffic or other dangerous surroundings–I easily understand how photographers can step in front of a car or off a cliff.

So I guess I’m an emotional photographer as well.

Back to the question of approaching people about portraits–it’s a struggle for me to approach people as I’m reserved until I know someone. The only golden rule I follow is to ask politely and to honor their right to say no (or yes). I believe I’m good at reading people and could picked up if there were any uncomfortable feelings about being photographed.

2 Comments on Excuse me, is anyone photographing here?

  1. I guess I’m one of those emotional or gut photogs. I can realty get lost in a place with the view finder as my only window and yes, I would be one who steps into the traffic. Approaching people on the street has been both comfortable and uncomfortable, even frieghtening at times. I resonate completely with your last paragraph. However, we may feel comfortable approaching different people and different situations. We will not create an image if we do not attempt it. My fears that hold me back, are the voices of my doubt.

  2. I don’t feel so lonely now! I have long been grateful that my husband so often goes on photo walks with me. Without his oversight, I am exactly the type to step off the edge of something, or wander too close to something I should give a wide berth.

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