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Etiquette when taking photos of people


20 Feb 2007 3:45PM
I'm just getting into photography and had a quick question. Last week I was wandering around London with my camera, and saw a homeless person sleeping outside an expensive jewellers. Straight away I saw an opportunity to play with my new toy, but I ended up missing it because I couldn't bring myself to stand and take a picture of this poor soul. Just wondered what other peoples views were and advice on if I find myself in the same spot again.

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elowes 10 2.8k United Kingdom
20 Feb 2007 3:51PM
Like you I find candid difficult as shots like that may cause offence. I have approached people and asked if they mind but you can then end up with a stilted photo.

Most people don't seem to mind though some have 'horror' stories to tell.
mdpontin 10 6.0k Scotland
20 Feb 2007 3:55PM
Just a suggestion: don't point the camera directly at your subject Wink

Doug
conrad 10 10.9k 116
20 Feb 2007 4:01PM

Quote:don't point the camera directly at your subject


Quite. You wouldn't want to photograph the subject, would you...

LOL!
Carabosse e2
11 39.5k 269 England
20 Feb 2007 4:11PM
Try a camera you can use at waist level or one of the better camera phones.
col.campbell 11 797 4 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2007 4:15PM
I found myself in the same dilemma on a group outing in London a couple of years ago. One member didn't dither: straight in there. I wouldn't have known what to say in these circumstances but as far as I gather he just had a bit of a chat, asked the guy his name and where he's from, showed a bit of interest/ concern and offered him a few quid for a cuppa/ something to eat. I never saw the photos but he reckoned he had a few crackers, so maybe worth it if you can face the whole situation.
20 Feb 2007 4:28PM
I've thought about speaking to them problem is I like natural unposed photos. As soon as they become aware I lose interest because the whole thing then becomes fake and loses emotion.
mdpontin 10 6.0k Scotland
20 Feb 2007 4:29PM
Conrad, it's known as the "indirect approach", or alternatively, lulling them into a true sense of security. Wink

Doug
KatieR 10 6.2k 6
20 Feb 2007 4:30PM
When someone is in an unfortunate situation, their welfare should come first.

If you take a candid pic, the least you can do is drop some money/ food their way afterwards, even if you don't explain why.

For character shots, you do need to get right in and engage with people, respectfully - but you need some self-confidence and a genuine interest.

Personally, I am a coward and don't feel comfortable doing either of the above, which is why I don't take pics of people!
EddieAC 9 685 2 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2007 4:43PM
You could always take the photo and then approach the person(s) and ask if they have any objection to you keeping the photo.

For the opening titles to the film Love Actually, the film crew candidly recorded people greeting their loved ones in the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport and then had to go and get permission from everyone they filmed so they could use it in the movie.
conrad 10 10.9k 116
20 Feb 2007 4:47PM
I always wondered if that was acted or not. Interesting.
Geoffphoto 8 13.5k United Kingdom
20 Feb 2007 4:49PM

Quote:I always wondered if that was acted or not. Interesting.

It's still a rubbish film though - tho' Bill Nighy is great (as ever) !
jazzygf 11 537 Scotland
20 Feb 2007 4:56PM
You have 2 problems here. I like you would have asked the person however the spontaneity of the image would have gone. The 2nd problem is if you took the image and it was knockout and you then asked the person and they were not happy you would feel really pissed with yourself for taking the shot. It is a hard choice to make your best bet would have been to take the shot not ask permission but maybe give him a few quid for a cup of tea or a bite to eat (thats not to say they would spend it on that) but it would have been a way round your dilemma.
20 Feb 2007 5:41PM

Quote:take the shot not ask permission but maybe give him a few quid for a cup of tea or a bite to eat


After much pondering this is what I will probably do next time. just wanted others views
KatieR 10 6.2k 6
20 Feb 2007 6:19PM
I think that's a reasonable approach.

You may find that your interest compels you to find out more about the person, as you gain confidence, and that you want to engage with them. You never know.


Quote:As soon as they become aware I lose interest because the whole thing then becomes fake and loses emotion.


I am interested that you say that - some people take great street shots when the subject is aware and looking straight down the lens. It's different to a candid, but it's not less powerful - it's often more so.

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