This is another installment in our continuing series where we talk to photographers whose work we’ve appreciated on Flickr.
This week we feature gumanow.
cinemafia: Many of your photographs are done in the street photography vein and are taken in public at close proximity to strangers, often with them obviously aware that you are photographing them. Many people would find this kind of photography uncomfortable or impossible, yet others seem to thrive on it. What does this overt process mean to you, and how do you think it affects the people who see the end product?
gumanow: First off, let me say that I am honored that you and discarted have selected me for this interview. Thanks!
I would have to say that I thrive on getting close. Sometimes now I wish I could get even closer. Yeah, many photographers find it uncomfortable to shoot close. A lot of the time my subjects think I’m shooting behind them or they got in my way and are sorry. If they do see me, I usually give them a nod or smile. Most of the time this disarms them – I did say “most” of the time!
When I first started out shooting street I was uncomfortable with getting close to people. I started out shooting from the chest without the camera to my eye, however, this lead to a lot of very poor results. This was one of my first street shots of people. You can see in this shot by the position of my shadow that I don’t have the camera up to my eye. I shot this from my chest and you can tell by the level of the perspective. Now I shoot exclusively with the viewfinder to my eye. I still feel nervous, uncomfortable, scared, and my heart races. But after the first few shutter clicks I feel right at home and energized.
I’ve heard from a lot of beginning street shooters that say if you get close you are interfering with the “slice” of life you are trying to capture. And while I’m striving for that slice, sometimes being a character in the shot is interesting as well – and that interaction with people. By putting the viewfinder to my eye I am in effect saying, “I’m taking your picture!” I’m not going to hide or pretend that I’m not. How they react to me is just as much part of the “slice” as anything else.
I’ve also seen a lot of shots using a telephoto lens from far away and the photographer still gets noticed. My approach is to get into the action, be a part of the street scene. Most of the time people don’t notice me and when they do, I try to get the shot in that split second between when they first notice me and when they react. Sometimes a glance your way can really make the shot.