It’s not really supposed to be blog day today, but I can’t help myself. I had such an interesting day on Thursday, being in London and indulging in a bit of street photography. It is not an easy task and one that I personally find incredibly difficult. I think it is the fact that I feel a bit rude taking photos of people when they don’t know that I am doing it. I also find it pretty scary asking people if I can take their photos.
The other day I read an article about taking photos in the ghetto… well, photos of people who were starving or poor or homeless, or indeed, all of the above! It gave some great tips on what to do: ‘don’t ever go alone!’ was one of them… For me it is not this part that I find scary or fearful, it is the fact that I would like to ask people if they mind if I take their photograph, but then what happens if they say no? It is just called being a little bit shy about it, as I feel like I am intruding in their lives.
Anyway, it was my first foray into street photography and I found an excellent way to get around it, I simply started by taking photos of people who were already taking photographs themselves- mostly of Big Ben and the houses of Parliament, the London eye and Tower bridge…there also seemed to be an awful lot of people in St James’ Park taking photos of squirrels… a lot of Italians I wonder why… surely Italy has squirrels. In fact, I then a few days later found myself taking photographs of a squirrel, though not a London one, and realised that I have man y times in the past taken photos of squirrels and been quite animated about it afterwards… anyway, I digress… where was I? Yes – taking photos of people taking photos of other people or things… it is a GREAT way of facing the dear and doing it anyway, because people quite simply don’t notice you and if you are anything like me, then not being noticed or being invisible behind a camera is where you feel most comfortable. Funnily enough, I never used to be this way… but then I never used to have a camera to hide behind. I guess the psychological make-up of photographers and their motivation has to be a subject for another day.
As the day went on, I became braver and braver. I started taking photos of people without their cameras, of a demonstration against the drug Khat being held by a gathering of Somalians largely women, and later of a male couple (I presumed they were a couple) sitting on a bench chatting. Sadly it did not come out well as the railings were in focus and not the chaps… it was worth a try and I felt quite the voyeur .. and I rather liked it!
So, do I have any advice? As with all things that you fear, I would say, just do it anyway. Ease yourself into it. Go somewhere where there are lots of people with cameras already so that you don’t stand out, and don’t worry, it seems that most people don’t actually notice you at all. As for talking to people? Well, someone gave me some great advice, find a person who is quite obviously an exhibitionist and ask them. Do this as a starting point each time, because they will love having their photo taken and you will get all the practice you need in doing the asking without being turned down.
I love how a day in London can teach me so much. I only went to get my passport renewed and came back with a fondness for street photography – who would have thunk it!
Here are a few of the street photography photos I took… I also have afew others that I will share in another blog, they are of my mother and daughter… when they weren’t looking… (also good practice!)