Taking it to the Streets April 7, 2015 – Posted in: Photography – Tags: gordon lewis, street photography, street shooting
In a recent podcast interview, Gordon Lewis said that he didn’t realize he was a street shooter.
“I’d grab my camera, go outside, and start taking pictures,” he said. “It was my instructors at Harvard who clued me in.”
And that’s the attitude that makes Gordon such a successful photographer. (You can hear him for yourself in the latest TDS podcast.)
Gordon covered many topics during his interview. But one point in particular, about getting comfortable in your environment, really stuck with me. It’s the notion that you believe you belong there; you’re a legitimate part of the scenery.
This is true in Midtown Manhattan as well as Little Rock, Arkansas. The benefits of feeling comfortable are numerous. First of all, people will forget about you. It’s true. If you find a spot on the sidewalk that feels good, hang out there for a while, you’ll become part of the city.
At first people may think, “Oh, there’s a guy with a camera.” A few minutes later, that becomes, “What do I need to pick up from the store on my way home?” As Gordon would remark, “Do you see what I’m saying?”
At this point, taking photos of those around you becomes much easier. And if someone does notice you, just smile and go about your business. If they ask you what you’re doing, tell them that you like photography, love this location, and are having fun taking pictures here today.
How would you respond if someone said that to you? You’d probably smile, or shake your head, and go on your way.
In the U.S., it’s OK to take pictures in public places. But stay off private property, be respectful of the wishes of those around you, and be upfront about your intentions.
You can learn more about becoming a successful street photographer by reading Gordon’s book, Street Photography – The Art of Capturing the Candid Moment. The more you know about your craft, the more comfortable you’ll be working in public.
And if you still have doubts, let Gordon reassure you.
Derrick Story is the photography evangelist for Rocky Nook Publishing.