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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The perfect lens for shy people photographers

Are you the interminably shy type? When you're off gallivanting in foreign places you would love to take intimate portraits of the locals but just feel too overcome with embarrassment to ask them?

Well have I got the perfect lens for you! There's only one catch - you gotta get in close. :)

Many shy photographers tend to hold back and shoot people with a long telephoto lens. The reasoning is that they can remain inconspicuous and take candid shots without being noticed. There's only one problem. You will definitely be noticed. There is nothing more obvious than somebody standing a few feet away pointing a great big lens at you. And when you get discovered you'll most likely get yelled at, a nasty gesture or just a suspicious look. Not perfect travel material.

But what if there was a way to photograph people in their environment whilst at the same time making telling portraits? Well there is and it's at the opposite end of the telephoto spectrum. It's a wide-angle lens.

The reason a wide-angle works so well is that you can work in nice and close to people without them even knowing. Because the angle of view is so expansive you can be pointing the camera at a seemingly insignificant trinket and still have people in the corners of the frame.

In this case I actually was photographing the New Years good luck arrows but I wanted some life in image with people. So I put these two temple attendants off in the left hand side of the frame. They had no idea they were being photographed so look nice and natural as they serve customers.

Sure it's not as perfect as a nice, close-up, intimate portrait but if you suffer from being really shy then it's a great way to go home with some people pics. And things happen when you're this close to people. If they notice you're taking photos they might invite you to take a photo of whatever they're selling, or better still offer to pose for you. Using the wide-angle helps you get up and close to people which then gives them the opportunity to interact with you if you're feeling too shy to interact with them.

So get out those wide-angle lenses and go and meet some people.


Bob Towery said...

I agree - using a wide angle you can capture people without pointing directly at them. I have also just fired the shutter with the camera resting on the strap against my chest.

And I have carried the camera at my side, with a handstrap, and it is in a "portrait" position, and I will point at someone and just fire away. When you are holding the camera down at your side, no one suspects you are shooting. This perspective has yielded some interesting images from time to time. Thanks for your blog and your articles.

Paul Dymond said...

Thanks for the comments Bob. And you have a great blog too, I love your landscape work.