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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> The Self-Conscious Photographer
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02/10/2012 02:42:55 PM · #1
Okay, this has been bugging me for days now, and I need to get over it.

Every day, I drive past this red, dilapidated shack on the side of the highway in the middle of a field and think, that'd make a great shot. I never stop to take it, partly because it is on private property, and partly because I'm self-conscious about it.

Similarly, I might see someone that looks interesting, and want to take a candid, but I don't for fear of being noticed. Yeah, I probably need to suck it up. Maybe others have dealt with this before early in their photography 'career'. How'd you get over it?
02/10/2012 02:50:52 PM · #2
might sound obvious but you just do, having a big camera and L glass to hide behind helps hehe, and its a thing that comes from confidence. for the street macro challenge i was nelt down in the road taking pics of manholes, dont care what ppl think of me. i know what im doing hehe who cares what anyone else thinks? or a frequent trick i use is to just put on my work hi visibility vest, a hard hat and a clipboard and maybe a measuring wheel and no one asks you anything or stops you going anywhere, ive gone loads of places i shouldnt have by this simple rouse hehe.
02/10/2012 02:52:48 PM · #3
Originally posted by Osiris1975:

Okay, this has been bugging me for days now, and I need to get over it.

Every day, I drive past this red, dilapidated shack on the side of the highway in the middle of a field and think, that'd make a great shot. I never stop to take it, partly because it is on private property, and partly because I'm self-conscious about it.

Similarly, I might see someone that looks interesting, and want to take a candid, but I don't for fear of being noticed. Yeah, I probably need to suck it up. Maybe others have dealt with this before early in their photography 'career'. How'd you get over it?


I do the same time... but most of the time, I don't photograph a particular landscape because I forget the camera.
As for people, I usually try to be quiet about it... I don't want to make a scene. A lot of times, people will just ignore it... some people don't want to be photographed. You just have to learn the cues of the people.

The best way to get over it... DO IT!
That's what I did... I found the more times I felt the fear, the more I NEED to do it... that way, I will get over it. Perhaps it will work for you?

Good luck with shooting!!!

@Giles: That's a GREAT idea... I'm gonna have to try it out! :)

Message edited by author 2012-02-10 14:54:14.
02/10/2012 02:56:30 PM · #4
I have the same trouble and every few days of photographic inactivity the reluctance to get into people's faces or property crops up.

The best way is to ease into it gradually. Take your camera out everywhere and take pictures of the street and don't pressure yourself into taking people shots. The first picture will be the worst but once it's over it gets easier.

Having even one other person with you with a camera is also a massive confidence booster.
02/10/2012 03:46:58 PM · #5
I can totally relate to this. I am way too tentative taking candids of strangers. There have been a couple of threads on this topic -- I cannot seem to find any at the moment. The really good street photographers on this site will tell you to keep a smile on your face while you are taking pictures. If you keep a warm, non-threatening smile on your face, keep shooting and keep moving, you will have few confrontations -- and things get easier.
02/10/2012 03:59:55 PM · #6
Sometimes I'll simply approach a person, explain to them that I'm an amateur photographer, just looking for some interesting faces and can I take their photo. Most people are flattered. My entry in one current challenge was approached that way and once I emailed them the resulting photo, they were glad they took the time. People love to talk about themselves and what they do, so often times it will result in some interesting background material for your photos, and even suggest a good title.

Added: To expand on something. Once they agree to my taking some street portraits of them, engaging them in telling you about themselves is also a great way to get them to forget about the camera and behave naturally.

Message edited by author 2012-02-10 16:01:46.
02/10/2012 04:35:31 PM · #7
Originally posted by Osiris1975:

Okay, this has been bugging me for days now, and I need to get over it.

Every day, I drive past this red, dilapidated shack on the side of the highway in the middle of a field and think, that'd make a great shot. I never stop to take it, partly because it is on private property, and partly because I'm self-conscious about it.

Similarly, I might see someone that looks interesting, and want to take a candid, but I don't for fear of being noticed. Yeah, I probably need to suck it up. Maybe others have dealt with this before early in their photography 'career'. How'd you get over it?


That's probably my house. Go ahead and take a photo.
02/10/2012 05:42:49 PM · #8
Giles, that is hilarious, I can swear I've seen people with cameras and dressed up like construction workers here in Massachusetts.
You are right of course, like the Nike commercial, 'just do it'. But I agree with Urfa, maybe easing into it is going to be easier for me.

I ended up Googling the property that red shack is on, and it turns out it is kind of a sad story. I'm guessing the shack has to do with some of the farming the priests used to do at this place. On the plus side, I guess there won't be anyone to mind if I walk around there.

I also wanted to photograph this car that has been parked in front of a store near my house for years (the car is the stores 'mascot'), and ended up emailing the store and they green-lighted it and asked for the photos when I'm done. So yeah, dipping my toes in the water seems to be working for me.

I wouldn't have googled the property or emailed the store if it weren't for seeing I'm not alone with this, so thanks!

Message edited by author 2012-02-10 17:44:34.
02/10/2012 06:25:58 PM · #9
3 words that will fix your problem...Just Do It
Another 3 words... Get Over It

Seriously though, you just have to force yourself to take those pictures, its the only remedy.
I used to NEVER take candids of ANYONE, because I was much too selfconscious and felt too awkward. Then I became a camp photographer for a summer, in which my entire summer revolved around taking those candids.
Now I don't care at all.
Its crazy how just forcing myself to do it just completely made the inhibition go away.

We can't really help you over the net except tell you to just do it despite feeling uncomfortable and in time the comfort will come
02/10/2012 10:19:28 PM · #10
Figure out what's the worst thing that will happen. Then you'll realize it's no big deal.

I'll take pictures of property from the side of the road and I'll wade through cornfields, because I figure the worst thing would be someone will tell me to leave. I don't climb fences and break into abandoned buildings, because the worst thing is getting arrested and having your gear confiscated.

The worst that will happen when I take a candid, is someone might ask me to not take their picture. I can handle that.

I realized a long time ago that fear of photography is really kind of silly when you break it down into it's pieces. You're really not avoiding anything except avoiding a wonderful shot.

I'm actually a very shy person (though not on the computer ;), but I've found myself lying in the middle of a busy street in our neighborhood, in the rain, taking pictures of a wet teddy bear. I had neighbors that drove by 4 times trying to see what I was doing. In the same neighborhood, I sat with my car door open in the rain taking pictures of a vulture eating a dead squirrel.

If I can make a fool of myself in front of my neighbors, you can do it in front of total strangers.

Yup! You can! That's all you have to tell yourself -- I can do this!

Now go out and let us see what you get. :)
02/10/2012 10:23:01 PM · #11
I hope this photo inspires you. The guy drove past something that he thought would make a good picture... instead of continuing on his way, he did a U-Turn and took this picture:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/628/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_461343.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/628/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_461343.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

02/10/2012 11:17:42 PM · #12
Remembering that we are nobody and nobody gives a shit about us does help in these situations :)
02/10/2012 11:50:08 PM · #13
I can completely relate to your problem! I've recently immersed myself into the world of toy photography, and with toy photography comes some veeeeery stange looks from onlookers (especially when most of the shots involve lying on the ground.) Thanks for the inspiration to be brave :)
02/11/2012 12:52:33 AM · #14
I think between Giles' ruse and Wendy's attitude all bases are covered :-) Just go do it. If you see signage saying Private Property, No Trespassing, gated in, locked entrance to driveway etc...well you know what? You can do one of two things: go to the nearest clearly occupied house and politely ask who owns the property you want to shoot. They probably know the owners or are the owners and will say yay or nay.

And even if they say nay, you can still shoot from the side of the road. Pull over, put on your blinkers if it's dark and fire away. No private person owns the road, the municipality does.

Fer example: great ol house by side of road, big No Trespassing signs plastered on it. Been abandoned and boarder up forever, but still must respect the No Trespassing warning signs. So? I shot from the road and the ditch by the side of the road. Shot wide-angle to get that sense of distantness and isolation but could have easily shot closer just by changing glass. No hassles. ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1510/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_991965.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1510/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_991965.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
02/11/2012 07:24:23 AM · #15
Originally posted by Osiris1975:

Okay, this has been bugging me for days now, and I need to get over it.

Every day, I drive past this red, dilapidated shack on the side of the highway in the middle of a field and think, that'd make a great shot. I never stop to take it, partly because it is on private property, and partly because I'm self-conscious about it.

Similarly, I might see someone that looks interesting, and want to take a candid, but I don't for fear of being noticed. Yeah, I probably need to suck it up. Maybe others have dealt with this before early in their photography 'career'. How'd you get over it?


As for people, practise an open smile and perhaps be ready to explain why you have taken the photo, that helps., I think..
Photographing private properties can give rise to quite a lot of suspicion in UK, but I always found that that making clear you are not from some insurance or newspaper and explaining why you are photographing helps a lot.
02/11/2012 07:28:22 AM · #16
Originally posted by posthumous:

I hope this photo inspires you. The guy drove past something that he thought would make a good picture... instead of continuing on his way, he did a U-Turn and took this picture:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/628/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_461343.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/628/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_461343.jpg', '/') + 1) . '


Or this one, as for people are concerned

//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lange-MigrantMother02.jpg
02/11/2012 08:20:42 AM · #17
@posthumous, wow, just wow. I stared at that picture and stared and stared and could not for the life of me figure out how he got it without the reflection until thirty seconds. Then when I did, I literally sat back in my chair. The trick, I think, was to stop focusing on the center horizontal and stare at the bottom third of the picture for a while.

How that pic didn't ribbon is beyond me.

@mcaldo, that is a great shot. These kind of photos make me look forward to returning for a visit to Egypt (where I was born), where I think there will be some chances for amazing photo opportunities... protesters, farmers, history, landscape, and candids like this one.

@snaffles, Cassie, Jagar, vawendy... thanks for the support and examples. :)

@DPC (Langdon?) really wish there was a 'multi-quote' button.
02/11/2012 08:34:03 AM · #18
Be careful though... It's a slippery slope.

After you start getting brave, you get even more and more brave. Sometimes embarrassingly so...

If you want to know what brave can get you into, read the details of this image:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1478/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985859.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1478/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985859.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

However, I got a blue in a freestudy because of being brave!
02/11/2012 12:25:10 PM · #19
Originally posted by vawendy:

Be careful though... It's a slippery slope.

After you start getting brave, you get even more and more brave. Sometimes embarrassingly so...

If you want to know what brave can get you into, read the details of this image:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1478/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985859.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1478/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985859.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

However, I got a blue in a freestudy because of being brave!


That is a great story(and photo), Wendy. That is one of the things I really admire about photography and photographers...the relentless pursuit of beauty is very noble.
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