I can say with happiness that this is my first official portrait of any human subject. Meaning, this is the first person I actually asked for permission. The only thing I didn’t tell him was when I was going to shoot it. So I sat back in class and was looking for a perfect shot and I think I achieved it.
Bruce is a very ecstatic man who seems to always have this face of astonishment of bewilderment on his face when asked a question. It seems that he has a lot of thing rummaging through his mind, a somewhat void of biology and parasitic knowledge. I loved how the picture came out, the expression is truly a “Bruce P. Smith” expression and with the chalkboard in the background is a plus because of his qualification as a teacher. But what was also pleasing was the Trilobite drawing in the foreground, which just made the picture really something. Although it isn’t a parasite (to which brings Bruce joy) it somewhat resembles a critter that could be seen as a pesky parasite from non-biology enthusiast, so this is a win for me. However, this could only be achieved by me not taking his photo upfront and with him acknowledging my whereabouts. To do a photo of similar caliber to a stranger would be a relatively difficult matter, especially involving the unknowing reaction when asking for permission.
Now, one may say that asking people is a relatively easy thing, but it isn’t. There is a fear behind trying to take someones photo, it may be as nonchalant as a Yes or No. However, it is perhaps one of the biggest challenges involved in photography, even hitting the ranks of the masters. It tends to be less stressful when you are working with either peers, friends, or hired models, and tends to get hard when asking strangers. Why? Well there are many reasons for it.
One thing, is that a photographer seeks to create a meaning in the photos produced. There has to be significance to it, it has to reflect one thousand words, all of them relatively involved in describing the subject. However, a lot of that is lost if you simply ask a stranger to take their portrait. You usually get a bland face that is either controlled by the users resistance to do anything dumb or controlled by the photographer. It is simply human nature to not act like a fool when someone wants to take your photograph… Thus it hinders the effect the photograph may have.
To catch subjects in their elements, concentrating hard and doing unconscious movements, to playing a musical instrument with a concept of masked unity, to even an asshole in conversation… Well being an asshole. The idea is that photographers do not want to lose any potential the photograph may have involving the subject’s character.
Another is the idea of confronting stranger after stranger is something that everyone faces. Especially, if you are shy and/or not the kind of person who pursuits confrontation. This is a problem that riddles amateur photographers as there have been blog, after blog, after blog, of the questions of confronting strangers and any possible negative outcomes from doing so. Usually, people are nice and will say yes, but there is always the chance of someone flipping out and ruining your day.
I have that problem, it is really awkward to walk around campus taking photos of people looking through the viewfinder of my camera. For most of the shots I do, I have to do them from the hip (which is a huge pain in the ass). However, the benefits are that the shots are unique without any external sources from the photographer to inhibit the originality of the photograph. Heck, there has even been a large novel about a man traveling through New York City subways to take peoples portraits while hiding his camera is jackets, sheets, clothes, you name it and he had hidden his camera in it. The idea of the novel is that the photos were enormously pleasing as the results were original and very raw. It also could show that people on New York City subways are not your average happy go lucky person, ha.
But, I am starting to get used to the concept of walking around and taking photos. I did a test run earlier after the class had ended and got some neat photographs. I will be posting a lot of photos on my Flickr in the coming days, hopefully more public shots with the human element. I guess applying the concept of “No Regrets” could fit perfectly in this idea and even the idea of projecting charm into business. If anything, I could find some fun involving this kind of espionage or just meeting a ton of new people with the potential to add more possibilities for photographing in the future. If one views it like that, what do you have to lose?