Let the Hips do the work or your Belly – Second attempt to overcome my fear of Street Photography and People

As stated on my last post, I was going to try to get closer to my subject.  In this trip I took to Chicago, I decided not to take my 70-200 Lens, I was determined to use my 24 – 70; you see?  Getting Closer.  First thing I tried was to shoot at night, which in my opinion was not a great idea.  Yes, you are not THAT visible, but the problem is that the shutter speed decreases, so in order to compensate, I had to greatly increase my ISO, which in terms gives me so grainy images.  I still was willing to give it a try.  Of course, I didn’t just start photographing people right on their faces, I just started getting closer and and taking a picture while they weren’t looking, like these two:

If she only knew

Desperate shoppers looking at sales

So I started to get more confortable, since there were so many people, I can always pretend that i was trying to take pictures of the street, the cars, the decorated trees, etc.  For some weird reason, I decided to take a different position, I wanted to capture the effect of people walking towards me.  So what did my scary cat brilliant mind decided to do?  I decided to kneel down to take a picture, and this was the scary result:

Is this guy going to beat me down?

  As you can see, I manage to take a picture and there were 2 people in the picture staring directly at the camera, which is good.  The only problem was that they were staring directly at me as well, so I seriously though that guy in the front was smack the camera away.  What I did was I never made it obvious that I took a picture of him, I continued to hold the camera, looking through the viewfinder pointing it a the exact place while he passed by.  Now I understand that he probably didn’t even care that I was there, but fear works in mysterious ways.  So after that photo, I was done for the day, I was sweating and it was 32 degrees outside; so yeah, I freaked out.

  The next day, Thanksgiving Day, I decided to try something new that someone once recommended.  I decided to take photos from the Hip.  Of course, taking photos from the hip is not an easy task, I took a lot of crazy shots where instead of taking a picture of a person, I took a picture of the sky, or their hair, so it took a while to get used to a confortable way of holding the camera to get the shot I was looking for.  This is one of my first tries where at least I got part of the subject in the picture:

Of course, the person is missing part of his head and the picture is crooked. So expect your pictures to look similar to this the first time you try it.  I still though that the person had a very interesting complex, so after they pass me, I went behind him and took another picture (Not from the hip):

I found out though that even though the concept of shooting from the hip is popular, I found it simpler shooting from my belly. (No, I don’t have a big belly) is just where I was able to position my camera better to take a photo.  It was easier for me because I can centralize based on where I was looking, all I have to do is time the photo.  One thing to keep in mind, is that by shooting this way, you are going to have to crop, because well, I don’t consider posible that you can make every photo exactly at the center.  If you do, well, more power to you, show me your technique.  Here are some photos that I was able to take while having my camera at level with my belly:

  I know that I still have a long way to go, but trying all this different things are creating a small level of confidence that I didn’t have before.  Sooner than later I’ll get to the position where I can get close, that I can capture peoples expressions.  Right now, with the photos above, I’m able to create a story; my goal is to get close enough that the photo itself tells the story.

Soon, I’ll get this close:

Photo I took of my friend, from about 2 feet away





  1. I love that first photo! That was a great idea kneeling down. I don’t think that most people would think you were taking a picture of them. I can understand your fear though, the guy on the phone does look upset.

    The pictures you took from your belly sure do tell a story. That second lady looks pissed off. Love your ideas and I know you will be a lot closer very soon. 🙂

  2. Nice work. I know how nervours you can be taking photos of strangers on the street. I’m slowly getting used to it – it helps to pretend you know what you are doing.

    Enjoy the photos, thanks for sharing.

    1. I agree. Little by little I’ve been getting better but I still tend to doubt myself and I start to think twice before taking the shot and that actually makes it worse. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Markus Faust · · Reply

    The first two pics are absolutely amazing. So rich in story content. I looked at them for quite a while. I have the same problem you have with Sketching. I always try to sketch people in the bus Some are no more than a foot away from me. I am not always sure whether they notice or not. Its a nervous feeling, because you are in your private world of art-making while you are diving deeply into their personal space by observing so closely. When the veil between you and your subject brakes because one of you makes eye-contact to long or says something the whole situation changes. I have never had anyone get angry though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: