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Archive for November 19th, 2008

Be The Photographer Everyone Hates

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I’ve always loved photography. Not only looking at great photos or trying to make my own, but have loved photography ina very general way. I guess respect is a better way of putting it. I’ve always respected photography. There’s a certain prestige associated with it. After all, you as a photographer are recording time, regardless of composition.

Let’s say you take a picture of your friend up close making an “ugly face”. Will this picture make the cover of Time magazine? No. Will you receive an award for the picture? No. Have you recorded a time in your life that will give two people a chance, even though they may or may not realize it now, to look back at a time that has passed? Absolutely. You, the photographer, in twenty years will think something like, “Ah, I remember John. He was always such a goof”. Whereas John will almost certainly look at the photo twenty years from now and say, “My goodness, I look so young. What happened to me?”

Throw away photos have always been popular with me too. You digital monsters probably don’t know this, but photography used to require film, ( a thin plastic strip that had to kept away from light and processed with chemicals.) Every once in a while a weird, discolored, psychedelic photo would emerge in your stack of prints. Most people threw these away, but I have an album solely dedicated to them. They also include the wonderful “finger/thumb over part of the lens” photos too. Photos are like puppies or babies, they’re all precious.

When it comes to photographing family and friends, I find the best pictures are those that are spur of the moment, impromptu, or anti-portrait. I hate portrait pictures. (OK, I know I just said all photos are precious, so this is like that one super ugly baby that everyone thinks is ugly, but says how cute they are.) Standard “senior pictures” are the worst. Maybe actual family portraits done at Sears top the list, but they’re neck and neck. You know what I’m talking about right? These horrible pictures with forced, fake smiles, where everyone looks hot and frustrated and posed in unnatural positions. What brother puts their hand lightly on the shoulder of their sister?

So how do you break the mold of yucky photos? Go stealth. All the time, every time.

Here are some prize opportunities to seize:

1. Try being behind someone walking, preferably when their on a return trip, (as in the went to get another beer). Just as they turn around, snap the photo! If you’re impatient you can say something to make them turn around, but natural is better.

2. Sneak up on people from behind. Get close to them, they’ll feel your presence. Just as they turn to see what’s what, snap the photo!

3. Hang out in hallways that have corners/turns. When someone comes around the corner, snap the photo!

4. Learn peoples routines. If they hang their jacket in the closet every day after getting home from work, hide in the closet, when they open the door, snap the photo!

5. Linger outside the bathroom. When they come out, snap the photo!

6. If you live with someone and share a bed, wait for them to turn off the light and come to bed. As soon as the light goes off, snap the photo! If you catch them in the middle of night, say they had to get up to use the bathroom, it’s much better.

It’s important to remember that building a portfolio of “candid moments” takes time. You can’t do these kind of pictures everyday, otherwise people will become paranoid and your pictures will lose that true not ready/shocked/startled quality. Spread out the attacks and be creative. Now these aren’t Christmas card quality photos and consequences vary greatly in duration and intensity. One thing I will promise you is that they’ll be entertaining and most often hilarious.

Say “cheese”… or “What the hell are you doing, you scared the crap out of me?! You jerk!”

Egg On!

Ramblin’ Rooster

Written by Ramblin' Rooster

November 19, 2008 at 4:31 am