Having photographed people with a telephoto lens with a DSLR before, I realized how hard it is to get a great "stealth" shot of strangers with a camera with manual control, manual focus and not being able to review the shots!
However that is what I aspire to improve on as I continued to shoot street shots in film as I get back to UK for my final year of studies. Below are some of the photos of strangers that I am particularly happy with.
The above was taken at Nottingham city centre. I just touched down a couple of days ago and was walking around before my classes start. The streets are familiar, yet this time I’m holding a film camera (I started going analogue back in Malaysia). I was shooting with my LC-Wide in half frame format to get more shots out of a single film. The guy on the left was selling balloons and that made him an easy subject to photograph, but once he spotted my camera he yelled at me! I walked away but still aimed a shot at him without looking. The guy on the right didn’t mind being photographed, but I still tried shooting without looking too. Thankfully this photo came out really good and it is one of my all-time favourite!
I went down to London that weekend, visiting some markets and just randomly shooting with my friend. While taking the Underground at one stop, three really huge guys came in and sat opposite me. They looked intimidating but at the same time I thought that they would be a great subject! I looked elsewhere, held up my LC-Wide and fired off the shutter without looking. When I got back the photos from the lab I noticed that the guy in the middle actually saw me!
I was down to London again to meet up with my colleague who was travelling here. He brought me to Camden and I was shooting with my newly-acquired Zenit EM. We came across this guitarist and I thought the colourful background would make this a great shot. Camden and Stables market are just busting with lots of colours, texture and creative people like this photo.
I saw this man near the exit of the Underground at Piccadilly Circus. The sky was getting darker and it was beginning to get harder to shoot before the shutter speed became too slow as I was only using an ISO 200 film. As my aperture was about the maximum, I noticed him and I thought the bokeh lights behind would be a good backdrop. Right when I fire the shutter he jumped to sit on a nearby railing. I thought that he would turn out blurry but it was still clearer than expected.
Well, this photo is different because the subject was a zebra! They are actually mascots of an art gallery in Nottingham, called Nottingham Contemporary. Sometimes they would wander around the city giving balloons and flyers and take photos with kids. I gave him this placard I made myself — it says “It’s a beautiful day!” and made him pose with it. The zebra gladly did, and it turned out that with the colours of Tungsten film, the sun behind and the zebra’s silly face, it actually was indeed a beautiful day!
Shot at the same time as the zebra photo, I noticed this father waiting outside a Marks and Spencer store, with his kid sleeping in the pram. The direct sunlight did not seem to wake the kid up and I thought it would be a great photo opportunity. I signalled to the dad for permission; with a nod and a smile, I squatted down and clicked away. It turned out to be a comfortable piece of photo to look at!
Some guy chained up his dalmatian to a bench while he gets sometime at the store behind. As the dog wandered behind the bench for a moment, an old couple sat on the bench without noticing the dog. As they were trying to sort out their shopping the dog suddenly leaped next to the old lady and surprised her! She was still shocked the moment I captured this photo. I thought something interesting would happen with that dog but everything was so quick I did not manage to get a shot of the dog leaping. That would be a great candid moment.
It suddenly snowed early this February in Nottingham on a Saturday night, and on Sunday everyone was at the park snow-sledging and building snowmen. I walked around trying to capture anything interesting; there were kids who dressed up very colourfully the cold made their face go red!
One thing I liked about using analogue or lomo cameras to photography people is that they are not as intimidating as the all-black DSLRs. When I aimed a, let’s say Fisheye, at them, they would take a short moment to think, “what on earth is that?” and that sets up the perfect moment to capture them! Of course, that doesn’t apply to kids as they will always look straight into the camera anyway, clueless about what’s going on, like this one!