Helpful Posts: 0
7th October 2010, 04:52 PM
I would imagine that anyone viewing my posts would realize that I love to shoot people. Coming home from a trip only with pictures of monuments, buildings and landscapes would bore me silly. I want to come back with pictures of living, breathing humans in their environment.
I usually don't ask permission to shoot a person or people, but I am very sensitive to the feelings of my subjects regarding being photographed. If a person looks a me while I am shooting, I nod and smile to them and make a motion towards my camera. This is the international language translated as "Is it O.K. to take your picture?" If the answer is yes, all systems are on go! However if the person scowls or shakes his or her head; I immediately refrain from shooting them.
This has worked all over the world for me with a few exceptions, a Mexican Indian woman, who was sweeping the steps of her house in San Felipe Allende, didn't give me a chance to ask... she tried to throw her bucket of water on me, but missed. Funny thing was, that I wasn't interested in taking her picture. I was shooting a series on the wonderfully interesting doors in that town.
One of the advantages of working with two cameras is that I always have a long lens available to be able to shoot without intruding into people's spaces. I can catch them in their natural day-to-day environment without posing for my camera. The shorter depth of field which allows me to isolate my subjects is another plus for a long lens. I just love my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens to death and shoot with it 4-5 times more often than I ever used my non-IS version of than lens. On most trips, I shoot 2/3 of my images with a 17-55mm f/2.8 lens and the ramaining 1/3 with the 70-200mm f/4L IS. I will occasionally use other lenses but, the 17-55mm and 70-200mm lenses comprise my basic kit for most travel and general photography. I also carry a small flash (270EX) on the camera with the longer lens. It can provide some decent fill, especially when set at a -1 or -2 EV.
I had always been interested in visiting the Acoma Pueblo which is situated about fifty miles (~80 km) East of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is said to be the oldest continually inhabited location in the United States, but is quite a distance off the main road. In previous trips to New Mexico, I never had the time to visit; but did a lot of research on the Pueblo. One thing I noticed on various sites was that there were never any human subjects in the images. I decided that I would get the human flavor of the pueblo but, I was dead wrong.
Photography in and around the pueblo, which is situated at the top of a high granite outcropping is strictly controlled. Tourists are only allowed to visit in groups and are told that shooting the inhabitants is not permitted. There is a guide with each group to both provide the interesting history of Acoma and to ensure that its inhabitants were not photographed. One unique rule applying to Acoma is that each camera must have an individual pass. I have paid for entrance into other sites and have paid additional fees to photograph them. However, I have never been asked to pay for each camera I was using. Oh yes, no tripods allowed either. However, despite the strict photo regulations, it was a very interesting side trip in a wonderfully photogenic area. This is a community inhabited by people and the houses are dwellings which are lived in.
We were allowed to shoot one of the inhabitants of the Acoma Pueblo, our guide! We could only shoot him in one location, his back yard overlooking the mesa below. To show you how small of a world this is, the guide and I had both served in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Constellation in the 1970's. There were 5,500 crewmen on that ship and we never met aboard. I noticed a Constellation pin on his hat and asked him about it...
For more Acoma images and a lot of history, please visit:
Last edited by rpcrowe; 7th October 2010 at 05:29 PM.
7th October 2010, 07:02 PM
7th October 2010, 10:44 PM
Re: Shooting people
I too love to photograph people and if possible without asking permission. I feel that if you ask permission you lose out on the spontaneity of their actions. On the other hand, if i have a visible face and want to use it in a commercial way, I would probably need to ask afterwards as it would be difficult to find the person years later. So it's a trade off between doing the noble thing and asking before hand or waiting until later.
8th October 2010, 12:27 AM
Re: Shooting people
I can see your quandry... However as retired from two professions and at 70 years old, I only shoot for my own enjoyment... I also refrain from shooting people in a way which would belittle them. I did shoot this Chinese man sleeping on a Shanghai street but, he is not readily recognizable since half of his face is obscurred...
I usually won't shoot the homeless even though many are quite photogenic. I feel that it is taking advantage of their position in life.
I also generally won't shoot the souvenier hawkers in China. They are nicknamed "Hello People" because that is the one English word that they know and they always begin their sales pitch with "hello!". Stopping to shoot one invites hoards of his fellow vendors and buying a souvenier opens a flood gate of persistent sales pitches.
On the other hand, I did ask permission from this Xi'an street musician and donated a couple of dollars worth of Yuan into his tip container. He would have posed for hours... But, a model release would have been impossible to obtain - even if I wanted to get one. If I were shooting with some commercial aims and had an interpreter and enough time, I would have hired this guy for a couple of hours and taken him to some very scenic locations to shoot him. He was really photogenic. In that case, I would definitely have obtained a model release...
I would expect that the rules for requiring model releases vary considerably from place to place and between uses. The one time however, that I insist on a model release is when I shoot nude or semi-nude models. Actually, I get the release anytime I shoot a model... That allows me to post on sites such as this without worry about legal recourse against me.
Last edited by rpcrowe; 8th October 2010 at 12:42 AM.
8th October 2010, 06:20 AM
Re: Shooting people
What a sensible position you take, very well explained, I agree 101% with everything you say and the reasoning behind it.
16th October 2010, 05:55 AM
Re: Shooting people
Richard - Love shot #1 The very white ladder against black shadow, earth stucco and blue skies with swisps of white clouds. Very well done.
Many people enjoy getting their picture taken...especially if you stay in the area long enough to give them copies!
How would you handle 'Open Gallery' art studios? I was told to 'ask permission first' since it is a commercial business and many artists are touchy about their art/techniques being photographed. But, like you said if you have to ask permission first then you run the risk of the artist posing for the picture and kinda miss the natual actions, etc.