Saturday, March 29, 2014

Street Portraits

Jack Montgomery has an entry, The Chemistry of Portraiture, on his blog that says what I'd like to say. I'm not really a street photographer who can grab shots of people. Oh, it is okay if I have people in what I photograph on the street but I never feel a connection and quite honestly sometimes I feel that I have invaded their privacy. Usually the pictures that I like that I make of people on the street are made when I have asked for permission. Maybe all I do is smile, hold up the camera and ask, "Okay." Yes, sometimes people say no. Yes, sometimes I have missed some moment. But more often I have made a connection with the person and I think we can both walk away feeling good about that exchange.

I walked in this fruit and vegetable stall and kind of looked around. This man was leaning on his counter. I stopped, smiled at him and told him with a few Spanish words and a few gestures that I liked his hair. He laughed. I laughed too. "Foto, okay?" He nodded, yes. I don't think he moved at all during this exchange.

Montgomery says, "That moment when the subject connects and addresses the camera is often electric.  There is a non-verbal communication between us and for that short time we are alone in the world, entirely focused on the task between us. At that moment I feel an energy – an actual rush – that is unique in my experience."

YES! That's what I'm talking about.


  1. We share the desire to shoot people, but have the same reticence to take the shot unbidden. I like your solution. Maybe it is important to make not only the subject-camera connection, but also the subject-shooter connection. I should try it more often.

  2. For our upcoming trip to Portugal I've been practicing how to say "May I take your picture?" in Portuguese though I'm sure when the crucial moment comes I'll just ask "OK?", just like you do.