This can be a challenge to most photographers. I am often a little insecure when my camera first comes out, but after a few shots my confidence grows. There’s nothing worse than a photographer hovering around, looking nervous and spooking the cattle.
If you see a scene you want to freeze, march up and fill the frame. Compose and pre select your point of view, maybe get down on one knee. Raise your camera to your eye, tuck your elbows in and get the shot. Be bold, but as soon as you are busted just give a smile, a wink and move on.
This is where knowing your camera inside out is invaluable, for example, being able to adjust your settings as you change lighting areas, and as you walk up assessing a scene etc. Again, there is nothing worse than a photographer fumbling with their settings, for a stampede and ultimate bust.
Changing ISO, F stop and shutter speed with one hand, as you assess the situation, is what you are aiming for. For hand held, you want to be aiming at being over 125, to omit any camera shake. Of course, for better quality and sharpness you need to freeze yourself as you get the shot, especially in low light. On the other hand, you may find that you are in great light, and you can get shutter speeds up above 500. In this case, you can still get great shots on the move.
Of course, being in amongst crowds and in tourist areas will help to develop your comfort zone ~just another tourist with a camera. Who cares?
If you are low in confidence,this is probably your first port of call.
If you are conscious of raising your camera to your eye, then the hip shot is the technique for you.The only problem with this, is that you reduce the chances of getting the clarity and composition you want. It can also be great fun, and you will be surprised how many shots with impact you will achieve.
Make like a fly
Try this: walk along with your camera and rest your camera where a fly would land. Take a different shot each time you rest - land on the floor, snap and move, land on the edge of a table, snap and move etc. Keep going until you are hit by a big fly swat and busted!
You will find that most people are either perplexed, or actually want to have their picture taken. If they don’t, always be willing to delete the image. There is always another stunner around the corner.
Another technique, is to blend with the shadows. Find a spot and a good juxtaposition and observe the lighting, preferably in an area of high foot traffic. Set your camera on a little tripod or ledge. Get your composition and point of view. Look where the light is hitting. If you have a flip out screen, use that to compose. Let the cattle come to you, and time the shot as they walk into the light. Pre focus on that area, be ready. As people come, look like you are photographing the surrounding area. They do not know that they are in your frame.
Blend with your surroundings. Look like a tourist, or perhaps a journalist. Look professional and dress like the locals.
To add to your confidence, carry a business card. If anyone asks you what you are doing, simply hand them a card and give them a brief explanation. Nine out of ten people will accept this and leave you alone. Sometimes, you will be asked for a copy. Handing out cards will not only make you look professional, but it will reassure the public as well as promote the art of street photography as a respectful genre..
Once you have gained confidence, get on a train. Be an actor!
The closer you get to your subjects and the more you fill the frame, the less cropping and better quality image you will have.
It is a little like swimming, once you have dived in and gotten over the initial cold and fear, you will thoroughly enjoy the experience and keep on swimming.
Laws, of course,vary from country to country, and it is always worthwhile checking protocol, regarding public photography.
As always, enjoy and keep smiling!
Robert C Bannister
Article written for the challenge "Close up and personal" (From Sunday the 18th March to Sunday the 25th inclusive-2018). Here you can see the Winners