Most street photographers know when they capture a true “gem” and two days ago I had my gem. But to photograph this subject, I encountered the perennial problem all street photographers deal with: “Do I ask for permission? Or just shoot?”
I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer to that question. It just depends. There are times when I will simply shoot without permission.
This was not one of those cases.
I was walking down the street when I spotted this man talking on his cell phone reclining in this chair and thought, “Oh wow! I HAVE to get this.” But he saw me walking up to his front yard from 75 feet away. And I walked right up to the fence. I thought it would be just too rude not to say something. So I quickly said, “Pardon me for interrupting but would you mind if I photograph you?” And he enthusiastically nodded, gave me a thumbs up and said “Sure man. No problem.”
I then took about 5 frames, mouthed a “thank you” nodded, smiled and walked away. The entire interaction lasted maybe 30 seconds and I got my gem.
What is street photography?
Wikipedia’s definition of street photography:
“Street photography is photography that features the human condition within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. The subject of the photograph might be absent of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.
Framing and timing are key aspects of the craft, with the aim of creating images at a decisive or poignant moment. Much of what is now widely regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th Century through to the late 1970s; a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras. The portable camera enabled candid photography in public places became an issue of discussion. Street photographers create fine art photography (including street portraits) by capturing people in public places, often with a focus on emotions displayed, thereby also recording people’s history from an emotional point of view. Social documentary photographers operate in public places documenting people and their behavior in public places for recording people’s history and other purposes. Services like Google Street Viewalso record the public place at a massive scale. Photojournalists work in public places, capturing newsworthy events, which may include people and private property visible from public places.”
Encyclopedia Britanica’s definition of street photography:
“Street photography, a genre that records everyday life in a public place. The very publicness of the setting enables the photographer to take candid pictures of strangers, often without their knowledge. Street photographers do not necessarily have a social purpose in mind, but they prefer to isolate and capture moments which might otherwise go unnoticed.”
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