Saturday, April 26, 2008

Foto Friday — Tips #5, #6, and #7

By MC Soft Focuz (Illustration credit: Dave Burdick)

Tip #5 — Shoot a lot

Most people think that good photographers just go out and take good pictures. As the famous French photographer Robert Doisneau once said, "If I knew how to take a good photograph, I'd do it every time."

The usage ratio is very low, especially for action. Taking the roller derby photos as an example, to take the three photos you see on this post, I shot over a thousand photos over six hours in total over two sessions.

Step one: Take lots of shots to find the best place to shoot (best background, where the action happens, etc.)
Step two: Take lots of photos in the same place as people roll past.
Step three: Pan with the action.

I showed my contact sheets in class, which one should never do, as it gives away the magic. Ask me to show you sometime if you missed it.

Tip #6 — Don't Chimp

Definition: Chimping is a term originating from sports shooters. After each play, all the photographers on the sidelines look at their LCD screens simultaneously, and make the noise, "Ooh, ooh, look I got the photo."

Don't chimp. Ever.

When you next go out shooting, notice when other photographers chimp. If you look in front of them, there is almost always something interesting happening, when subjects let their guard down after the photographer stops looking at them through the camera.

Tip #7 — Becoming Invisible

I first watched Alex Majoli, one of the most famous photographers in the world, become invisible. It was the most amazing sight. It took me four years to replicate that, but when I photographed a man at the Puerto Rican day parade flashing women passers-by, I knew I had achieved the power of invisibility.

Step one: Get in close. If you were actually invisible, you would go and photograph anywhere you wanted. You wouldn't hide. Hiding is not invisibility. You need to get this attitude into your head.

Step two: Be small; not arrogant. Don't portray yourself as the famous photographer from the big newspaper, otherwise you'll get photos of what people want to show you and what they think they want on the front page. Be a nobody, "just a photographer." Then they'll ignore you. That's the beginning of invisibility.

Step three: As Sig Gissler said, project a sense of "joyful entitlement." If you truly believe that you have a right to take photos, and you know that you are performing a benefit for your subjects, then you will subconsciously project that level of comfort to your subjects, and they will take those clues from you and fell comfortable too.

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