People: The Walk Away & The T-Shot
Another way to photograph people is, there's a walk away shot and there's a lot of good shots of people walking down paths and through sidewalks and narrow alleyways, and sometimes I'll be with a group of photographers and we'd be walking down. I'll be at the end of the pack and the advantage of the end of the pack, is that when I'm walking this direction, there's someone coming towards me, I can just turn around and I can be the only one in the group that gets that shot of them walking the other direction. And it's there for just a moment so you have to be ready to get these right away. And so there's a lot of just nice shots that, they may not like you photographing their face, but just walking down the street adds another element to that street scene, that I think makes it a better shot. And so when I was over in Europe, I knew that just a photograph of an empty alleyway did not have nearly as much impact as somebody walking down that alleyway, and so I would wait there and I would ...
wait for somebody. They wouldn't always have a shirt that matched the colors of the buildings and stuff, but that was always nice when they did. Find good locations, not just anywhere. And be ready so that you can get your photo without any hesitation on focusing or exposure anything else, ramping up, turning your camera on, which takes a second, anything like that. You want to be ready to go very quick and this is a good time to use the silent modes on the camera. Alright, now we're gonna get tricky. This is called the T-Shot. This is something that we developed in Morocco and the problem was, we were on these narrow passageways and if somebody was walking towards you, they'd see this gigantic camera, and then they would immediately turn away from you and not want their picture taken. And you just never get a photograph of a person doing anything. And the solution to this was finding a T in the intersection. And so the idea is to go down onto this T, down here and wait for people. You guys are laughing at me (audience laughter) This is a really good idea. Alright and so ideally, you have something good in the background to photograph and so now you can a profile of somebody walking by you. And this can work out in many different situations and on top of this you also get a framing element with it. So you're getting a bonus on top of just getting the shot. It's just like, this is like shooting ducks in a barrel. Fish in a barrel. All of these shots were taken with this idea as I'm just gonna wait for somebody to cross in front. The great thing is that in some cultures, they prefer not to be photographed. But if you accidentally took their photograph, they're okay with it. In a situation like this, "Oh you didn't know "I was coming around the corner." "No, but I was hoping it, sorry." They're not offended by it and so I'm not harming anyone's feelings on it in this case in my mind, I don't see it. Finding a nice background, and then let's wait for somebody to walk by. I use this Central Library in New York City. Talked about using that little tripod here, right? Well I fell in love with this angle. I love the way you get these angled lines of these staircases and I tried for half an hour, trying to get the right people walking in the right place and it never worked out. Sometimes your grand ideas that fall flat on their face. This is about as good as it gets, and I just didn't really like it that much. But you'll notice in the upper left over here, you see this little balcony over here? Well there's a similar one over on the right hand side where I could also put my camera, right in the middle, symmetrical as these two staircases are going up and down. Which I thought were kind of interesting. Now all I need is that person in the right spot. So I'm gonna shoot some test photos and see, do I want them on the far side or the near side? I clearly don't want too many people in the photograph, this is too much of a touristy feel. And that photograph that I ended up getting that was my favorite for that period of time, was this gentleman here, I turned it into black and white, I do like going black and white in some cases, it just had a lot of black and white to it, the color wasn't adding to this particular photograph. And it's just a nice moment in between those flights of stairs. I had these grand ideas, but you gotta be able to adjust and change. And one of the hardest things that I have in these situations is I can stand there for hours waiting for hours waiting for somebody slightly better to come along to make it a better composition, but time is awaiting. I keep thinking, five more minutes. Okay let me get three more minutes. Okay another two minutes, I'm gonna wait for the next three people, to see if I can get a better version and I found that the best thing for me to do is just set a time limit. I'm gonna spend 15 minutes on this shot. I am willing to invest 15 minutes, and then for good or for bad, I'm leaving. Because you never know what's coming around that corner. You just walk away given the time I had, I put in the best effort I could, this is the best shot I can get. And yes, you can go back and you can outdo my shot, just wait for the right person and with enough time, and that's one of those limitations that we talked about early on, time. Chefchaouen is this very interesting city in Morocco. It's the blue city, and this is a place that people just didn't want you coming up in their face and photographing. They knew that there was a lot of tourists taking pictures around, and so I would find walkways where I could find a little extra element of humanity and color to add to the blue walls. In the old city that you can see here, they take blue paint, and think they collect up all the blue paint from around the country and it all comes in here, and they paint all the buildings and the sidewalks and everything else in blue. But it's a place that's not real fond of tourists taking their photograph. And so I went out in the morning and photographed a lot of the buildings and the walkways and so forth. One of the areas that I came to that I just thought was really interesting is kind of in the T-shot idea. I was shooting inside this hobbit hole, it's an entry to a house and there was a gallery and the artist was painting the gallery right out there. I thought well, wow, if I got somebody walking down the street, this could be really nice, and so, after he left, I was waiting for somebody to come by and nah, he is not really what I'm looking for. And no not quite, at least it's a solo person rather than somebody half way in it. I like the traditional dress there, not really quite doing it for me. Okay, kinda like this, kind of modern and classic at the same time but we got the extra person in there. Mom and a kid, okay I kinda like that, except she's white and it's a white background so she doesn't really stand out. And I gave up. I didn't have anymore time, I just got tired of waiting in there and it just didn't turn out. So I went, explored, shot some other shots and then I ended up coming back to the same place and surprise, because the artist had finished painting the blue wall. I'm like, "Okay, so that's nice." Now I have this blue theme over the whole area, let's give this another college try again. And so let's wait for somebody to come by. Not really the character I was looking for. Remember that micro bad luck that I have? Okay, here's micro bad luck. Oh, this is looking good. Who are you, what are you doing? No, no, wrong timing, that's terrible. I waited there for ten minutes. What are the chances, that kid would be running directly in front of her in front of me? It's one in a billion but it happens to me all the time. Patience, patience. I was hoping for a woman in yellow, I got a woman in blue, but I end up really liking it. So the blue on blue, and so she never knew I photographed her but it's one of my favorite photographs of that city. Look for those intersecting pathways. Have a nice background. Look for a busy, but you don't want it too busy, you don't want 40 people in every shot, you want one person and one person, so it's a nice stream of traffic for that. Ready to go, very very quickly. And pick your moments because they come and go very quickly.