Need help photographing people!

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Kevin Numbers, Oct 30, 2003.

  1. Here's my situation. I am trying to build up my portfolio with more people
    pictures. I am wanting to shoot portraits on the street. Images of people
    and how they look in public, walking down the street, eating lunch on the
    bench, shopping at the news stand. My problem is, how do you approach people
    and ask them permission? I tried to do it today and I would freeze, not
    knowing exactly what to say.
    Any help would be appreciated.
    -Kevin
     
    Kevin Numbers, Oct 30, 2003
    #1
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  2. Heyho, Kevin!

    Why not just walk up to them, explain your problem in detail (i.e.
    wanting to create a portfolio) and ask if it's ok with them? From
    my experience, about 90% of the people won't mind if you come
    across nicely and just tell them what you need it for.

    Prepare a standard introduction along the lines of:
    Good day, sir/madam, my name's Kevin Numbers, I'm an
    apprentice photographer and am currently working on
    expanding my portfolio.
    I'm shooting portraits of people on the street at the moment,
    so I was wondering if you'd let me take a picture of you right
    here.

    And then just see what happens.

    Try not to come across too shyly and sound as respectful
    and friendly as possible. Explain yourself and just be honest
    about it. Who'd not help out a poor "apprentice" looking
    to improve?

    You could always try to offer them sending the pic to them
    via email or some such as well.

    And one last thing: At times you might consider taking the
    picture first and then ask for permission to use it, as your
    "models" will likely look a lot more relaxed / "in place" than
    when they cramp up knowing there's someone taking
    pictures of them...


    Hth, Mathias
     
    Mathias Schmid, Oct 30, 2003
    #2
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  3. Kevin Numbers

    Paolo Pizzi Guest

    You live in Europe Mathias, right?
    Try to pull that in any major US city and you will get people
    who ignore you (best-case scenario), people who give you
    the finger, people who threaten you with a crowbar and
    some women, afraid that you might be a pedofile trying to
    snatch their children, will likely report you to the police for
    "suspicious activities."

    On the other hand, if you look young and cool, you might
    even be a mass-murderer and they will still love you...

    :)
     
    Paolo Pizzi, Oct 31, 2003
    #3
  4. Kevin Numbers

    Carole Guest

    Why don't you just ask friends? I am doing two photo shoots shortly for
    two friends who want to give their family a photo of them for Christmas.
    I sais "Sure, as long as I can choose one for my portfolio". They were
    happy with that and so am I :)

    Also, if you are taking a photography class, photograph your fellow
    classmates. We all do that every time we go on a shoot.

    If you have a good zoom, you can photograph people without them even
    knowing :) Or go to a place where there are street musicians, like a
    market, and shoot away :)
     
    Carole, Oct 31, 2003
    #4
  5. Heya, Paolo!

    I'll have to plead guilty on this one :).
    *lofl*
    Goes to show: If you want to expand your portfolio, come
    to Europe, or die a slow and painful death :).


    *winks* - Mathias
     
    Mathias Schmid, Oct 31, 2003
    #5
  6. Kevin,

    There was a conversation about this at www.photo.net, months ago, which
    never concluded. I have had similar quandaries, about how to "blend in" and
    be unobtrusive when you're aiming a lens a total strangers.

    Apparently it can be done. They say that after a while, people stop noticing
    you, and you melt into their mental background. But people in public places
    move, and they're coming and going, and some of this stuff happens very
    quickly, so that's where I'm lost. Maybe one key is that you have to be very
    fast.

    Check out David Malcomson, photo.net member 549318, and find his photo of a
    father and two children in a street, called London Vacation. Click on it and
    there's a long message thread, commenting on it. (I think it was Picture of
    the Week quite some time ago.) It's in his Faces in the Crowd folder.

    Charles

    ====

    Charles T. Low
    - remove "UN"
    www.boatdocking.com/Photos/ - gallery
    www.ctlow.ca/Photo/ - essay

    ====
     
    Charles T. Low, Oct 31, 2003
    #6
  7. Kevin Numbers

    Paolo Pizzi Guest

    Born and raised in Europe...but my work/family brought
    me here and I'm definitely dying a slow and painful death... :)
     
    Paolo Pizzi, Nov 1, 2003
    #7
  8. Kevin Numbers

    Gavyn Aaron Guest

    : If you have a good zoom, you can photograph people without them even
    : knowing :)

    The only problem with this is that unless you approach them afterwards in an
    attempt to get a signed model release, you can't use the photo at all
    commercially. I usually don't have any problems with this (there is the
    occassional one or two, but that's to be expected.).

    I agree with Mathias that taking the shot *before* approaching them is best
    if you can do it that way so that you get a shot of them "as they are" and
    not as rigid knowing they're being photographed. You will likely get one or
    two every once in a blue moon that may even be angry and demand that you
    destroy the picture or delete it (if on digital) .... just comply and move
    on to the next.

    Dan Heller has excellent advice on model releases and other subjects.
    You'll find his information on all the facets of the model release at
    http://www.danheller.com/model-release.html

    ~G~
     
    Gavyn Aaron, Nov 1, 2003
    #8
  9. Gavyn,

    I think you're right about not being able to publish a photo of a person in
    private or doing a private thing - except that people do that all the time.
    There must be a grey zone. People in public, doing a public things, are
    allowed, without permission. I wonder where is the line? Is posting or
    publishing allowed if it's non-commerical?

    Charles

    ====

    Charles T. Low
    - remove "UN"
    www.boatdocking.com
    www.ctlow.ca/Trojan26 - my boat

    ====
     
    Charles T. Low, Nov 2, 2003
    #9
  10. Kevin Numbers

    Gavyn Aaron Guest

    : Gavyn,
    :
    : I think you're right about not being able to publish a photo of a person
    in
    : private or doing a private thing - except that people do that all the
    time.
    : There must be a grey zone. People in public, doing a public things, are
    : allowed, without permission. I wonder where is the line? Is posting or
    : publishing allowed if it's non-commerical?
    :
    : Charles
    :
    : ====
    :
    : Charles T. Low
    : - remove "UN"
    : www.boatdocking.com
    : www.ctlow.ca/Trojan26 - my boat
    :
    : ====
    :
    :
    : : > ...you can't use the photo at all
    : > commercially. ...
    :
    :

    Actually, whether they're in public or not is irrelevant. A photograph of
    another person may not be used for commercial purposes without that person's
    authorization. There is no gray area there.

    The gray area comes in when it comes to private use, i.e. posting on a web
    site or including as part of a portfolio just to show as examples of your
    work. I personally do not get releases if I do not plan to use the photos
    commercially, but I also know that I'm walking a fine line there and I make
    REALLY sure to only use them in my portfolio (I don't even post them
    online).

    Anyone else want to chime in with your take on this? I'd be interested in
    hearing about what other people think about that "line" when it comes to
    private use of photos.

    ~G~
     
    Gavyn Aaron, Nov 2, 2003
    #10
  11. Kevin Numbers

    Ben Guest

    True, but don't use the expensive camera, cuz someone might lose controll
    and smash it!
    P.S: you might want to have you're buddy hold the camera and lenses just
    in case...

    Oh, and some people will demand to see you destroy the frame, how do you
    destrow one slide in a roll without destroying all of the pictures outside
    of a darkroom? are there any tricks here?
     
    Ben, Nov 2, 2003
    #11
  12. Kevin Numbers

    Paolo Pizzi Guest

    You're probably thinking about the famous "fair use"
    chapter in the US Copyright Law. AFAIK, It ONLY
    applies to copyrighted works when used in non-profit
    ventures or even in commercial "reviews" (i.e. when
    you are reviewing a copyrighted book, you are
    allowed to quote some passages, but obviously not
    the entire book...) I'm pretty sure, howeverm that it
    does not apply to people's images, because it's no
    longer a matter of copyright but one of privacy.
    By putting someone's photo on the internet without
    his/her consent, you're automatically violating someone's
    privacy and that could never be construed as "fair use."

    Just my $.02.
     
    Paolo Pizzi, Nov 3, 2003
    #12
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