Sunday, February 17, 2008

People. Faces.

Travel portraits are hard. I don't feel comfortable sticking cameras into people's faces. Yet I love capturing expressions, features, feelings. Faces that tell stories of a era past, faces that exude carefree abandon of distant future. So, it's about balancing what I like, and what I want.

There are a couple of strategies in taking people shots when traveling :

  • Talk to your subjects. Spend some time around them. I think it's human nature that once a person determines that you are a harmless dolt, they will be more natural in their behavior and more receptive of being photographed. I think this is the best method, although in some cases, it may not be practical.
  • Ask! Conquer the fear of asking. I know, it's hard, as I've faced this countless times. Whether isit a language barrier, or your potential subject looks like your enemy, usually all it takes is a simple question or gesture. Surprisingly, most people will obliged, although sometimes, you do get an unnatural, uncomfortable or awkward pose and subject.
  • Some subjects will ask for money to be photographed. If I encounter such a situation, I will usually walk away because I feel this is not a right practise and I do not want to encourage it.
  • Use a telephoto lens and shoot from afar. This may seem voyeuristic but it does give good candids. To make it feel less voyeuristic, I usually hang around the area so that the subject knows about my presence. This is probably the most convenient method to get people shots.
At the end of the day, everyone will have to find their own comfortable way to get their own people shots when they travel. For me, I placed a little more emphasis on people's feelings and reactions, so sometimes I do miss out some shots which I would have loved. But I it's something I will live with. YMMV.


Herbert Wong said...

Totally agree with your strategies esp re not paying for taking photos.

Wanderer said...

Hi Herbert,
I think there're lots of pple who're willing to pay, since often times, esp the poorer countries, its a small amount. So, it's great to know someone who's at same wavelength with me :).
Thanks for dropping by!