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Venkat Venkataraju
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Venkat Venkataraju

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Five Tips for Photographing People  (if you are scared of rejection)

I've been going through my threads of comments, and a common question always pops up in my "people" photos.  Note I don't post many people-photos, but I do take a ton.  (The landscapes often seem more popular!)  But...  I do love all forms of photography, and I really enjoy taking photos of interesting people.  

Here's a few tips

1) If you prefer to take photos of people as they are acting naturally, go ahead and take the photo before they notice you. You are a photographer, and this is you. You capture life… if you see something interesting whether it is a landscape, a pile of peaches, or a person that strikes your fancy, go ahead and do it. If you like and it is convenient, you can always go show them the photo after you are done. I do this whenever it makes sense, and I have a nice little interchange with the person.

2) Keep an extra camera ready for people shots. When walking the streets, I normally have my “big” camera ready to go for landscape shots. My tripod is on. My wide-angle is on. It’s in that “mode.” If I am going to have to switch lenses, it will take forever, and the moment will be lost. So, I carry a second camera on a sling around my shoulder for people shots. On that camera, I have an 85mm or 50mm prime lens. Now, you don’t have to have this exact setup by any means, but having ANY kind of second camera for people shots is recommended.

2b) I find that the 85mm prime keeps me outside something I call "the radius of intimacy." That is, when you use a 50mm, you are so close that people often stop acting naturally, unless they are a professional model or a natural thespian.

3) If they ARE likely to notice you, be confident and deliberate, softly asking permission with your eyes. This is a very subtle and hard thing to explain. I usually raise my eyebrows while I raise my camera, clearly indicating, “I’m about to take a photo. Everything is okay.” If they don’t want you to, they will make it clear. Usually, they say it’s just fine. People like to be thought of as interesting.

4) If they are very close, I ask permission out loud. Often times, I don’t want them to pose… so I say something (smiling!) like, “You look very interesting — can I take a photo?” Once they say yes (98% of the time they do), I usually ask them not to pose and carry on about their business. Then I start taking a bunch of photos and enjoy the pressure of capturing the moment.

5) Don’t be shy! If you feel overly shy, it may be a larger indication that you are letting fear motivate you rather than the opportunities that life provides. So, if you feel doubt or fear, just try to channel me and be brave and forthright.

(Below:  A woman in traditional dress I saw when crossing a little bridge in China)
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Afternoon hack grow light for the seedlings. 4 watts of 6000K goodness! Raise, me hearties!!!
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Sweet basil I think. Got it from John.
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New blog post: We'll be at the Exploratorium, exhibiting several of our time related projects, this Saturday.
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In case this was not made clear in science class......
#sciencesaturday  +ScienceSunday 
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It's summer and brad will be in town to take part in the yearly tradition of summer pool party!
Let's get wet!
Sat, June 30, 2012, 12:00 PM PDT
1063 Morse Ave

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Space Shuttle Discovery to Fly Over Washington Metro Area April 17 - http://t.co/baW9udfi #OV103 #spottheshuttle
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I'll be on the lookout.. since ultimately it will be landing in my backyard.
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Have him in circles
186 people
Stephanie Chow's profile photo
Mylene Tabing's profile photo
Lillian Chan's profile photo
Shafi AHMED's profile photo
Brahim Jaouane's profile photo
Ella Gotesman's profile photo
Soumya Ray's profile photo
Linda Sisko's profile photo
Matthew Ford's profile photo
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