I have said this often, I am not too keen on street photography. I am quite scared of clicking people. And yet I am fascinated by it too. On this trip to Kashmir, I met fellow blogger Siddhartha Joshi. We went on a small walk by the Dal Lake in Srinagar. The guy knows no fear while photographing people! Some of his enthusiasm rubbed off on me too, and I present to you in this post Kashmiri Men, no less!
Not only Siddharta photographs people, he talks to them as well, showing them the images. I am not sure if I will try this again unless I have intrepid company like Siddhartha’s but I am tempted. After all, street photography is so rewarding only if I could muster up the courage!
I will admit once again, I chickened out and used a 75-300 mm zoom to take these pictures, no way I was going to step closer to click people. Standing by a shikara was this Kashmiri man, quite engrossed in his own thoughts. He never gave any acknowledgements even if he figured out that I was taking his pictures. I like such men, why make a fuss if someone is clicking your picture? And why make a fuss when she is already so scared!
He was talking normally on his phone when he spotted me executing my antics. He was really nice about it, he started laughing and never gave any signs that he would shoo me off! Now I need to remember such incidents the next time when I am hesitating to click people pictures! I liked the way he kept a tea pot with him, after all he had to go through a long day!
This man was waiting patiently for something/someone with his shopping by his side. He too probably did not figure out I was clicking him or else like the person in the first picture decided to ignore it completely. I moved on after a while, I hope his wait was a short one.
After walking for a while Siddhartha and I stopped at his tea stall to have a cup of tea. He asked us how much sugar we wanted in our tea and expected our answer ‘kaam chini’ or less sugar. I asked him if I could click his picture and he readily agreed. As you can see he was not camera conscious!
We spotted him sitting with a group of men by the lake. After clicking the pictures, Siddhartha went to him and said, see how handsome you look, quite like Hrithik Roshan! I also told him, ‘darte darte meine bhi eak kincha hai’ (even though I was scared I too clicked a picture of yours!). He smiled at me too.
But the best was a man sleeping in his shikara, I stood quite confidently and started clicking. As I was about to press the button he made a V sign! We both had a good laugh at it! I didn’t click him any more.
So, thank you Siddhartha for talking me along on this walk and for the tea. It was fun actually and I think I should muster up all my courage and try it more!
I am truly petrified of street photography. It feels like a daunting task to point my camera at a stranger’s face and click. I know, I know in India not too many people mind, but I just completely freeze most of the time. And yet I was fascinated by it too. I would keep reading tips after tips thinking something would unlock the secret for me. I am still uncomfortable with street photography but I have given it a try from time to time and here are the things that worked for me. So consider this as street photography tips for the petrified.
Miniature Apsaras, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Shooting Things: Since I was petrified of shooting people I started with shooting things. Most of the times, the street vendors are fine even when you walk up close, exchange a glance towards their stuff and raise an eyebrow. They generally wave a hand to go ahead. I know this is not real street photography but I had to start somewhere. That is where I started and remained for a very long time.
I do remember one incident when I was framing a shot of vegetarian street food in Kuala Lumpur. I had clicked the shot but I was still looking through the viewfinder. I sensed someone walking into my frame and that startled me! He was the owner of the stall. I had ordered something with the young boy who was there. And while I was waiting for my mushrooms to arrive and clicking this man rudely walked into my frame. I did not understand the language but I guess the young boy told him I had already ordered. The burly man was now sort of apologetic. And that was the end of the incident. I guess sometimes it helps to buy something from a stall and then soot. But I can’t do this every time, more so when I don’t eat non-vegetarian food. A lot many owners are just fine if you are shooting their stuff. Sometimes the vendors even insist that I click there picture as well!
Too Difficult to Open: Clicked Using a 75-300 Lens
Using a Zoom Lens: I know every self street respecting street photographer would advise you against it. But remember we are not dealing with self respecting street photographer but a terrified street photographer. I actually gathered courage only after I used a 75-300 to shoot people walking by at Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal. I was sitting on a bench under shade as it was too hot. I saw boats coming and going as well as people walking by the lake. I decided to use the zoom. No one took any notice as I was a little away from the scene. It helped that I stationary as well. I liked what I clicked and this was the first time (June 2013) I thought I have to try it more.
Wanted to Click the Man Under Umbrella Really
Framing Wider: So when I found myself in the colorful border market at Aranyaprathet (Thai-Cambodia border, September 2013) I wanted to do street photography. I was using a 50 mm (Canon) prime lens which would not let me zoom anything. I wanted to click the man under the umbrella but my nerves failed me as usual. I then decided to frame the scene wider. What to do, you have to think of ways to click things when you are scared of offending people.
Busy with Making a Dish, Aranyaprathet, Thai-Cambodia Border
Clicking Busy People: While walking through the Rong Kluea Market at the Thai-Cambodian border I realized that the vendors were so busy doing their business they hardly had any time for nosy photographer. Now that is a good thing for petrified novices like me. She never knew I clicked her picture.
Mom is Asleep, Rong Kluea Market, Thailand
Chancing upon Things: This mom and baby were resting in their shop when I chanced upon it. I think the mom knew I was clicking a picture but she didn’t stir beyond giving me a passing glance from beneath her hands. I was happy I mustered the courage to point my camera at them.
Taking Pictures from a Corner, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
Positioning Myself in a Corner: But what has worked best for me is positioning myself in a corner of a busy street. That way I could watch the world go by and occasionally get a picture too. I must have clicked at least 30 pictures standing at this particular corner of Rong Kluea Border Market. Not one person stopped and asked me what did I think I was doing! A very happy scenario for me.
You can see more pictures from this market in another of my posts.
I know a purist reading this post would cringe. But what to do, I am just a petrified street photographer who is equally fascinated by it. I am trying hard to find my way around it.
If you have visited this blog before you know I mostly don’t post pictures of people. But at INDABA 2013 there are so many people and so many people with camera that I too tried my luck at clicking people. So come see some faces at INDABA 2013 on Day 1, come meet South Africa.
Sand Sculpting, INDABA 2013, Durban
This was right before the Tourism Minister of South Africa Marthinus van Schalkwyk was about to address the media. I love the colors I have seen till now and how I am waiting to see more.
Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Tourism Minister of South Africa
This is the tourism minister of South Africa- Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and he addressed the media in the morning and was there at the opening ceremony of INDABA 2013 as well. You can see how difficult it was to click a picture of his! For this one too, I requested someone to move so that I could also click a picture!
The Smile Says it All! INDABA 2013, Durban
I have often red that you can stand in a corner with a camera and photograph people walking by. I never tried it before but it works, at least if it is quite crowded. Hardly anyone noticed me!
I Wanna Dance, INDABA 2013, Durban
I have to say South African music rocks, for even a stone statue like me goes foot tapping! This person was ready to dance at the hosted dinner in the evening.
The Dancing Gandma, INDABA 20313, Durban
At the opening ceremony there was a point when almost the entire auditorium stood up and danced. This grandma was up and dancing much before that!
I Hope it was Not Loaded, INDABA 2013, Durban
No I do not know what he was doing, all I was sure of was that it was not loaded and he was pointing it at the other photographer who dared to take a picture! Just kidding he was posing for the other photographer.
The Model and the Product! INDABA 2013, Durban
You decide what you like more, the model or the product? She was also modelling for someone else and I just gate crashed their photo shoot.
Colorful Attire, INDABA 2013, Durban
He was walking out of the auditorium after the opening ceremony of INDABA 2013 and after clicking I showed him the picture. He gave me a smile and a big thank you and walked on.
Lovely Smile, INDABA 2013, Durban
She was cat walking along a stall where a fashion show was taking place. And when she saw that I was taking a picture, she paused for a while and gave the camera that lovely smile!
Beautiful Women, South Africa
And to end this post, here are three beautiful women at Durban, South Africa. If you were to pick up a favorite, what would you choose?
Even before I started reading about anything related to photography I liked to fill my screen with stuff. For me it always makes for a good picture. Both the pictures featuring today are from Haridwar.
We were walking back to our bus after rafting when we crossed many street side stalls. I have always been amazed with the display that the street vendors put. They are a delight to photograph.
And next to the trinkets were these delicious looking popcorn. And with the pile the vendor had it was not at all difficult to fill my entire screen with them!