Sunday, October 02, 2016

"Hello, may I take photo of you?"

For a long time I have had no chance to take a day off walking at the streets and taking photos of people. So I took my camera one fine day at the summer and went out to see where's there's anyone I could take a nice portrait photo of. As it was boring to just take photos, I agreed to myself that whoever comes next I have to say hello and ask if I may take a photo of him/her. It was a great day, I met so many awesome people and  the experience was just so fabulous I wouldn't hesitate to make something similar again. So let me share a couple of photos and stories/discussions.

It's a gambling to walk in the streets like a hunter thinking about who will be the next one you can take a photo of. At the end of the day you are pretty much capable to predict who is willing to be photographed who is not. Many of the people run way before you can say hello and explain what you want (to make it more simple I actually had signs in front and back of me saying I'm taking photos (for free) of people - this way I also wanted to attract people to come and check out what's the deal :-) ).

A nice African American woman was spending time in the Tammsaare Park and as she was the next person I met I again stopped and started: "Hello, my name is Hannu, I'm a photographer, today I'm out just taking photos randomly at the street, who ever passes by". She was very friendly and loved the idea, however she had a contract with her employer restraining that kind of activity, but we still had a nice and interesting conversation. And I think this is very important - just to stop for a minute, say hello to someone and have a short conversation about something.

There comes someone almost straight forward to me not even seeing I'm standing just in front of her - I was able to say hello just a second before we'd have collided. Me: "Hello, I'm taking photos today and..." She: "Sorry I'm busy right now, sorry".. Me: "It just takes a moment to take a photo, is there any chance?.." She: "Sorry I'm currently hunting for pokemons, I have no time"; Me: "It really just take a moment" She: "OK, just one photo". So there I was taking just one photo, but also the next one (for better focus) and then another one (with better light). Me: "Would you like to see the photo right away?" She: "OK". So she was looking at the photo and I was suggesting to step a couple of steps aside (even better light was available there). Finally we ended up with a nice ten minute intensive photo shoot - I defeated the pokemons this time.

There came a businessman with a nice suit and shiny shoes. Me: "Hello, I'd.." He: "No". Me: "Can I please explain.." He: "No, go away". Me: "I'd just like to.." He (rushing away quickly): "No, sorry.. I don't like anyone taking a photo of me.." and he was gone. Pretty tough guy. I later tried to take photos of several another businessmen - not a chance. Some people just didn't like it.

Walking on, there was a beautiful family just sitting next to me. I started my usual conversation explaining what I'd like to do. They were investigating about the proposal for a while, unfortunately the answer was a strict no, no matter how I tried. Basically they were afraid of that I put their photo to the internet even though I explained this is what I never do without a permission. I finally asked them may I take the photo for the sake of just taking a photo of a beautiful family - unfortunately not a chance - I didn't get the permission and had to walk on. I wished them the best and continued the walk - ready to ask for a photo from whoever comes next.

Suddenly my phone ringed with a friend calling. "Are you in a city?" She asked and of course I said yes, as I had announced I'm taking photos this day a day before via social media. "Great", she said, "See you in a moment". I was like "what?..", but in the next corner, there she was saying "Surpriiiiseee! And happy birthday! (it really was my birthday) And here is a cake for you and you can eat it here right away if you would like". Such a nice surprise! And as I was a bit hungry the cake was really welcome; so I said, please, do you have a minute - I have to take some photos of you as I promised myself. Fortunately she had some time, so I could finish my cake and take photos and everything was super perfect.

So walking on, in the next corner a mother with a baby passes by and I gently stopped and wanted to start a conversation: "Hello, I'm.." She: "Are you taking photos?" Me: "Yes, basically yes, I can explain.." She: "Great, would you like to take a photo of me as well?" Me: "Yes, indeed, I.." She: "Please take the photo already, no need to explain" So I took the photo and she quickly reviewed it through the camera screen and said: "Can you please take another one? I think the angle was not right.." So I took another photo.. and another. And another. She: "I just love being photographed". Me: "Oh, really?.." She: "Of course".. So  I took several-several photos and was thinking by myself - what a weird world: sometimes people run away when they see you with a camera, but sometimes you even didn't have to ask..

I still managed to take a photo of a tough businessman though. Me: "Hello,.." He: "What do you want? You have five seconds to explain": I really quickly explained everything, I think within ten second or so. He: "I'm not too attractive to be in front of the camera" Me: "Well.. uh-oh.. well.." He: "What kind of camera are you using?" Me: "It is Nikon..." He: "A DX (half frame) or an FX (full frame)?" Me (feeling a bit too technical): "It should be full frame.." He: "OK, just one photo". So I could finally take the photo. He: "Can I please see the photo?" Me: "Sure" (was showing him the photo). He: "What was the F-number?.." Me: "Sorry?.. (didn't believe my ears). He: "The aperture. What was the aperture value?" Me: "F/3.5". He (after thinking for a while): "Please take another photo at F/2.8. The DOF should be better". Me (speechless) "OK.." And took another photo with the desired aperture set. At the next photo he was not happy about how the tie was tied. So another shot was needed. From here we took I think twenty or thirty photos each one towards to even more perfect photo. Finally he said: "I'm actually not happy with any of the photos. But if you can take the tie from this photo, emotion from this photo and background from this photo - then I believe we could have one pretty reasonable photo.." He said goodbye and started to go. I was asking if I may use his photo in my blog later when I write article about this day out in the city taking photos of people. "Of course not" he said - and gone he was..

The photos and the emotions here are of course in a random order. At the end of the day (some three or four hours waking) I believe I had said hello to about one hundred people and I think every third person agreed and found it was worth trying. Many people just didn't have time to stop for a minute. Many people just didn't want to talk with me (I swear I tried to be as nice and polite as possible). Many people even didn't say anything, just walked on telling with their body language they were not interested at all.

Many people agreed with to take the photo and though it was a great idea! I think this is most important and I think it is really worth again to make a similar event in the future, soon. Thanks for everyone who was willing to be in front of my camera and I hope all the photos reached you well! :-)

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