Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ask? Don't tell?

When I walk around the city shooting street photography, I am often stuck by people I see, so, of course, I want to take their picture.

In El Paso the people are so beautiful I cannot help but to want to preserve an image of everyone one, to keep in my heart forever.

But like most writers (remember, I am a fiction writer first), I love to people-watch. Ever since I was a child growing up in Fresno, I loved sitting downtown on the Fulton Mall watching all the ladies shopping, all the old men on the benches by the fountains, the cholo kids zipping by on their bicycles.

As an adult one of the things I love most about travelling is sitting in plazas or thoroughfares watching people walk by, people who strike me as beautiful.

Like these ladies going down an elevator.
Maybe what compelled me to shoot them was how well they were framed inside that metal box.

They saw me, and they clearly know I was taking their picture.

What I usually do when I’m caught snatching someone’s soul is shoot more shots right at them, and to the side of them, and way above their heads, so many shots, click click click, that they know I’m not singularizing them but am merely taking pictures of the city. And in most big cities, places like NYC or LA, so many people carry cameras, I am never out of place.

One of the issues one encounters in taking street photography is how to shoot people. The photo blogs offer many hints on how to take people’s photos on the sly, so one can get real candid shots.

Whereas I appreciate the effect of clandestine shots, I also think asking strangers if you can take their picture works as well.

It started one evening in Hollywood. I had been taking candid shots of people, when I decided I was going to ask people if I could take their pictures, just to see what reaction I got.

It surprised me that mostly everyone said yes.

I liked that I was able to focus my energy on only people who said yes.

In the photo below, I didn't notice the guy looking out the window until later. Click on it to see that single eye looking out from under the cap, which gives the image a bit of tension, I think.

So for now, asking people seems a good way to go, but not telling seems pretty good too.

Ask? Don't tell?

To ask:

Or not to ask?

To ask:

Or not to ask:

I guess it depends on the moment.

I think form in any work of art is much more effective when it is at least partially the result of the process of creation itself.

Like Borges says , If you have written what you set out to write, it's probably not worth much.


Tracy said...

More great photos. I tend to like taking photos of people when they aren't aware. Too many people feel self conscious otherwise and you lose something - but some people remain natural - looks like you found some.

I love to people watch, too.

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