One of my favorite things to do when shooting event candids — like this weekend at the Gay Pride Parade — is to grab someone walking toward the camera. Some of my favorite shots are when I can get a complete stranger to look at the lens. I feel it adds a human dimension to the photograph. It’s photographic pathos, if you will.
At the same time, I find that when I’m at events in which I’m a welcome party shots are often better if the subjects are not looking at the lens. I have no idea why I do this.
I mean, I can shoot the shots where everyone is huddled up and smiling shit-eating grins. But I don’t want every shot I take to be like that. Who cares if you can look into the camera and smile. I want you to look at each other and smile.
To get strangers to look at the camera, I find there are three ways to do it. 1) Stand in front of them and make them look at me. 2) Stand in an obvious location and hope someone looks toward the camera and fire. 3) Blow a vuvuzela, wait for a glance and then hit the shutter.
When I grab some stranger’s eye contact toward the lens, when you see it later, you connect with them on some level.
In public, I tend to pine for connections with people. I love shared moments of laughter. I tend to be the guy in the elevator that cracks a joke. I get that element of person-to-person flirtation from my old man. My Dad can talk to almost anyone. Since I can remember, he always “flirted” a little with old ladies and little girls. Now don’t take that the wrong way. He seriously had a way of getting strangers’ attentions.
Perhaps the camera is my way hiding behind an insecurity in order to be more gregarious. Maybe when I have a nice lens between someone else and me, I feel more confident. Who knows.
Here are a series of shots I took of people walking toward camera from last Sunday at the Gay Pride Parade.
There’s a couple more below the fold.