20 Jan 2008

Photographing people - do you pay?

Continuing my idea of showing you some of my pictures taken in India, here is one I took on a railway station platform.

I have quite deliberately included the figures sat on either side of the main subject. Without them the picture loses a great deal of its sense of place and context. I particularly like the large cosh the sleeping man has placed so conveniently to hand.

GlenF asks about street photography: "How about paying people on the street?" Well, the smart answer is - 'it all depends on the circimstances'. If your subject is a street performer or artist, then you must pay something. That's fair. So drop something into his hat or tin before you start taking photographs - and make sure the performer sees you do it. I very, very rarely pay - unless I really do want a picture of the person - and then I'm damned sure to get my money's worth.

I can not tell you how to blend into the background and yet still capture the things that happen around you. This is just something you must learn for yourself by actually doing it - or observe a professional as he works the streets. It's a lot about body language and the way you move around. It's about the way you look or don't look at people and the way you seek or avoid eye contact before and after you take your photographs. That's what my students learn from me on those holidays I run in Menorca when we cover Travel Photography.


Saw Lady said...

Thank you very much for instructing photographers to tip street performers before photographing them!
If you don't have money to spare I suggest you ask the street performer's permission to photograph them, explaining to them what the photo is for. I play the musical saw in the New York City subway. I have never said 'no' to anybody who asked my permission to photograph me. And if you e-mail the street performer a copy of the photo - they would really appreciate it.

All the best,

Saw Lady

GlenF said...

Thanks Phil,

I find that the less developed countries are still a delight as people are more approachable. In Western countries people are more suspicious - a sign of the times.

altamiranyc said...

There was a cool looking guy in the East Village -- who wasn't a performer, he was just handing out flyers -- who wanted me to pay him $10 for a picture. When I said 'no thanks', he lowered it to $5...then I said, 'no thanks' again and just bid him a friendly farewell.

Philip Dunn said...

I am a sucker for live performance anywhere, of any kind, so even when I was skint - I would always drop at least a little change into the performer's hat.
Love your blog by the way.