Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease
This may of been discussed before, but I think it might still be useful...how do you make people feel at ease when you photograph them, especially with a larger SLR?
Case in point: I went to a party on the weekend, and after a few hours (as the alcohol set in) thought it would be a nice opportunity to snap off a few candid shots of my mates (and try out Kodak's Porta 800!). But, as soon as I pulled out my camera and speedlight, wow, did the mood change!
It seemed because I was using a larger SLR (and big speedlight), folks were way more aware of my presence (much more so than if I'd used a small point 'n' click), and as such, kept their 'guard' up or hammed it up expression wise for the camera.
I'd be interested to hear thoughts on how best to deal with this and make people feel comfortable in front of a big camera, especially from those users who have the really big (F4, F5 and D1) rigs and shoot a lot of candid, informal or social situations (and need the results to communicate that).
#1. "RE: Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease" | In response to Reply # 0jrp Charter MemberTue 06-Feb-01 01:51 AM
If I may, I don't think it really has anything to do with the size of the camera-lens outfit. Really. Think about it, how would you like to be photographed looking ...... silly?
Of course, notable exceptions to the above are pulling out the VR 8-400mm with its hood on.
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#2. "RE: Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease" | In response to Reply # 1timgee Basic MemberTue 06-Feb-01 03:51 AM
You don't think so? I think with the larger SLR, people notice your presence a whole lot more than with a small point and click, and as such, have trouble letting down their 'photograph' front (yes, that is a technical term!) and carrying on as normal.
Yes, I agree that no one wants to look silly, and that most people realise (perhaps subconsiously) the photo is a permanent record of that particular moment in time, but I get the feeling that when folk see a bigger camera, they feel the photo may be more important, and as such, seen by a bigger 'audience'.
Contrast this to, for example, when you see someone with a point and click (who is assumed to be taking personal shots - again, for a much smaller 'audience'), and I think you see a big difference in how people react to the camera. In most cases, IMHO, that reaction is a lot more comfortable (read: natural) that when something like a F5 is pointed at 'em.
(In fact, I'm sure I've read articles about pro photographers (Annie Leibowitcz (sp.) springs to mind) using small point & clicks (albeit nice quality ones such as the Leica M6 etc.) for their candid and social shots, which are often just as brilliant as their studio shots!)
Just a thought - hope it makes sense!
#3. "RE: Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease" | In response to Reply # 2f5fstop Basic MemberTue 06-Feb-01 10:17 AM
I would not believe it was the idea that the bigger the camera the greater importance the photo would be. My guess is a small P&S or throwaway is inconspicuous when compared to an F5. So, you can snap photos with a P&S and no one knows it, unless the worthless flash goes off.
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#4. "RE: Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease" | In response to Reply # 3frankie Basic MemberTue 06-Feb-01 11:50 AM
Hmm... Well, after shooting some large events for practice... It IS a good idea to take some pictures right at the start of the event, when people are still sober and concious of your intent.
I walk the event (large hall) with my F100+MB15 on a Stroboframe PRO-RL (Yes, I'm finally liking it) and my SB-28... I know the people at the party and most of them are more than happy to have their pictures taken.
I've found the best thing to do with people who don't like their pictures taken is to flip everything to full auto, use a wide-angle lens (28 or wider) and then when they're not looking, site them roughly in the finder. When they give you a "look" you want to capture, look right at them with both eyes... Take the shot... 90% chance you got it and you can see if they blinked.
I know I HATE it when someone comes at me with a camera and "One Eye" stareing me down... That's just frightening...
Try to keep each shot to a second or less for setup, which means you have to set up the shot when they're NOT looking.
#5. "RE: Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease" | In response to Reply # 4avm247 Charter MemberTue 06-Feb-01 01:36 PM
The more your friends see you with a camera, the more they accept it as a part of you. While attending university, I always had my camera with me and people pretty much ignored it. I became the defacto event photographer and came out with some great images. If you want to stay inconspicuous, take a fast fifty and some 800 print film (I like Fuji myself) and turn off the flash!
#6. "RE: Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease" | In response to Reply # 0
LAST EDITED ON Feb-06-01 AT 06:39 PM (GMT)
Interesting issue. I tend to:
1) Take a lot of shots, also when people are sober. Take a lot of photos and the folks might get used to you running around shooting the whole time.
2) Make jokes or being silly. This makes the atmossphere less causal, less "do I look good like this?" and your subjects may be more relaxed.
3) Use the SB-24 "red light" to play around with, often using it to be able to pin-point what I am focusing at when I have the camera at my belly, triggering.
4) Use the 80-200/2.8 to be able to get close w/o people really getting it.
One of the shots taken at living systems' xmas party 2000. Nikon F5, Nikkor AF 80-200/2.8 and SB-24 at some 100mm on Provia II
And other one of our Brazilian software engineers at the same party. Same gear and same type of film.
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#7. "RE: Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease" | In response to Reply # 0
All the ideas seem good to me. When I shot model portfolios, sometime I'd begin the shoot and, when I changed the first roll, I'd make a big thing of not having had any film in the camera. It always got a chuckle, made me seem more human and the models were always at ease and very natural after that 'gaff.'
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#8. "RE: Keeping social shoots social - how to make subjects feel at ease" | In response to Reply # 7Newsphotog Basic MemberMon 19-Feb-01 06:49 PM
If I may add my 2 cents worth here.
I shoot weddings where our main objective is to capture the mood and flow of a wedding for the couple with %90 of the guests not aware that they are having their photo taken. This involves both wide angle and telephoto pictures.
I do agree that a larger camera is intimidating to people. I've taken my camera to weddings that I am a guest at and people automatically go oooooh ahhhhh your camera is better the wedding photographer's. An F100 with a 20-35 2.8 and an SB 28 is an impressive looking combination. And frightening.
Like some of the suggestions here earlier, try to make it a point to a lot of people that you are there to take photos. They will eventually, both sober and drunk, get used to you firing off your flash when necessary. Don't make fast, jerky movements but keep your snapping time to a minimum so your not viewed by everyone with a camera plastered to your face the whole time. As well, try to keep your camrea down around waist level when not shooting. Practice makes perfect. Try it out.