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Shooting from the hip: Photography and Westerns

December 11, 2009

In one of the photography seminars I attended a few years ago, the instructor made a point about photographing people. “Photography is like old Westerns” he said: “You do not shoot people in the back.” Although I’m not so keen on camera-gun analogies in the manner of Susan Sontag as I used to be, this particular one really struck a chord with me. And while I do tend to adhere to the basic premise of the ethics of Western-style photography, I’m not entirely immaculate: I like to shoot from the hip.  Trying to catch life unaware, somewhat in the manner of Walker Evans’ subway portraits. A recent post by Razzbuffnik and yet another computer crash made me go over some of my last year’s images from New York where I took my new lens for a long semi-candid image hunt, taking images of people as I walked by them. 

OK, sometimes you get caught, but still, the way subjects gaze back is markedly different from "composed" photographs.

It is fun, regardless of the enormous number of discarded images. Not only is it a challenge to capture the right image, there are also those unexpected surprises that you might not even have noticed in the first place.

A bit of luck and some cropping can get you a long way.

Though a lot of photographs make me look like some sort of feet fetishist. Though some people would judge you by your footwear, so these failed images could speak a story of its own. Of a sort. Perhaps.

Untitled missed shot.

Another untitled missed shot.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 11, 2009 3:23 pm

    Nice shot and I particularly like the third one from the top with the walking guy checking out the jogging woman. I love seeing such interactions.

    I’m going to put some shots up that I’ve taken on subways (Praris and Madrid) soon.

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