Angela has been doing some photography training with me and today was all about street photography, getting out and shooting people in their natural environment.
I could see by her face when we met that she was nervous about having to approach strangers...and rightly so, some of the locals in Hong Kong can be quite aggressive when a camera is pointed at them. Several times today we encountered this 'resistance'....but my advice is always 'take it in your stride, NEVER take it personally, and just smile and move on to the next subject....its their loss if they are too grumpy to have a great picture taken....leave them be, there's no pleasing some people...lol.
Anyway, back to the nerves...thats a good thing, its healthy to have some nervousness when you are going to approach total strangers, I think this adds to the excitement of street photography, and gives a great feeling when u do meet the nice people and take some good pictures.
So we set off in Sheung Wan around the western market area, slowly wandering around the back streets looking for subjects. One thing Angela noticed was that we were going very slowly.....I always do this, you will not see things if you walk too fast, you have to allow yourself to soak up your surroundings, if you find somewhere with good light or a good backdrop, stop there, have a break - wait til a good subject comes to you. It doesn't always work out that way, but it definately won't happen if your rushing down the road not paying attention.
We found a good little back street with some manual workers crushing cardboard in a small recycling shop, so we hung out there for 10 minutes and they didn't seem to mind us at all, there were some old ladies bringing cardboard on trolleys to be crushed (thats how these women earn a living here) so we continued shooting and got a few nice portraits. We showed them on the back of the camera which they LOVED. If u get a good picture of someone, show them...and if possible, bring them a print next time, they will be your friend for life.
After a successful 15 minutes at this location, Angela was feeling more motivated after having success early on in our tour, which was great!
Nothing is better than capturing some nice shots at the beginning of a shoot, gives you confidence and sets you up for the rest of the day.
Thereafter we got a mix of portraits and environmental shots around these back streets, some people we asked, some we didn't, its really like playing poker to me - you gotta get a read on your subjects as you approach...are they going to get defensive, be engaging, do you shoot candid or do you ask...each one is different.
That is why its FUN, which is the most important factor - why are we doing this in the first place - because its FUN and we LOVE taking pictures.
We finishing up with a nice drink in an air conditioned coffee shop (its still so damn humid here). Angela told me she had thoroughly enjoyed the experience of shooting people on the streets, considering she normally prefers landscape photography, so this was a welcome change, and a new string to her bow of techniques to blend into her photography.
All I can say is there is no substitute for getting out and USING your CAMERA.
SHOOT EVERY DAY if that's possible for you.
Familiarise yourself intimately with your equipment and then you can concentrate on the important things, engaging your subject and getting the shot you want.
Today we used Leica cameras and Canon DSLR cameras (links to the right if you interested to buy any of this equipment) - whichever kit you use, just make sure you know how to handle it, then you won't miss that shot next time it appears in front of you.
See you out on the streets sometime, Enjoy!
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