Inconspicuous Photography – Lesson 1

March 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Photography Articles

Inconspicuous Photography -- Lesson 1

Article by Jason Nason

Photography can be many things to many people. To many people photography is an art, with the simple act fulfilling a need from within to express themselves. Some others find photography more of a leisure activity, done for the sheer entertainment of snapping photographs. Still others make it their living from photography and construct a business and a job from it. No matter the motivation behind why you take photos, taking inconspicuous pictures out within the public can be a troublesome task as it can be filled with many obstructions and incursions. Taking photographs among the public is difficult, and I’ll go over some of the reasons why that is and how you can lighten your task.

Depending on how you go about your photo shoots can change your success or failure in the act. Going about your shoot incorrectly can sabotage your attempts, however going about the shoot in the right ways can end up in success.

Of course all of this means nothing if one follows the correct procedures and applies for a permit to do your shoot. If that’s the scenario you have the means to make sure that everyone around your shoot cooperates and lets you to complete your work. If that sounds like you are then I can’t help you. This article isn’t meant to help those that aren’t in need of help. Continue doing what you have been. If you are among those that haven’t the ability, funds or need to go this route then you are whom I am trying to help.

I am trying to help those independent photogs who are venturing out on their own to take photos. Whether you are snapping pictures of a person, a structure or scenery the general rule is the same. I plan to show you the ways to use inconspicuous photography and plan your shoot without interruption or trouble.

Again these tips and tricks aren’t foolproof and don’t guarantee success. It isn’t possible to predict with total certainty what will occur on a photo shoot. People are, by definition, unpredictable. These tips for inconspicuous photography are only meant as a directory on how to manifest yourself on the shoot and what to do so that you can have the best chance at success. Follow the below suggestions, and you will have a better chance at becoming a success.

1. Be Confident

Nothing shows up more to security or sends up a flag more quickly to someone around than someone that doesn’t look confident. Now confidence doesn’t mean that you walk into the arena with your chest out and your arms at your sides strutting around showing all the world that you’re there and are deserve to be there. This is not the style of confidence I’m talking about and won’t help you with your inconspicuous photography. I’m referring to a more subtle confidence that displays to anyone nearby, who may notice you and what you are doing, that you know what you’re doing and are going about it. If you look unsure or uneasy with what you are working on that will shine from you like a bad aura. Those around you will feel uneasy about your presence as you look uneasy yourself. This is the swiftest way to get security called, should you be in a private “public” place like a shopping center or stadium. This will quickly put an end to your inconspicuous photography plans for the day.

That being said, how can you show that you are confident with regards to your actions? Again you don’t want to over do it with your actions or mannerisms. Faking your confidence can be just as counterproductive to inconspicuous photography as simply looking uneasy, so be cautious not to unintentionally convey false confidence. Being confident needs to begin prior to packing your camera and setting out to to the shoot.

Take some time to consider your shoot and mentally prepare yourself. Say to yourself (and you need to believe it) that what you are doing is positive and you have the right to be there. There isn’t a thing wrong with inconspicuous photography so you have nothing to fear or be worried about. Your photo shoot will occur without a problem, and should someone question what you are doing, they’ll acknowledge what you’re doing and won’t hassle you.

Recognize that you have to accept this to naturally display your confidence. Convey to everyone that you are supposed to be there doing what you are doing and you will reduce your chances of being hassled.

2. Don’t Look Suspicious

Inconspicuous photography is not so strenuous, as long as you are conscious of your actions. Another error that is made when going out to do a shoot is seeming suspicious. This error often occurs unintentionally and without the realization that it is happening.

Take a minute now and consider all the things that might make you appear suspicious. Picture that you have gone to your local shopping center and you want to snap a few photos of the architecture on the ceiling. The complex has very detailed tile work or something. Whatever it should be it interests you and you need to take photos of it. Whatever your reasoning is in taking these photos, as I have been told many varied reasons for taking photos, if you appear suspicious before you start -- big red flag.

You want your photography to be inconspicuous. So what looks suspicious? Several different attributes can add to looking suspicious and all equally send the wrong message.

One of the biggest faux pas that appears suspicious is trying to not seem suspicious. What does that mean? Remember a sitcom where a character has been spotted doing something that they shouldn’t be. What do they do? They usually look around the room and whistle. Now I know that honestly no one would actually do something so ridiculously suspicious, but smaller things can be just as suspicious as something obvious.

This goes along with the last suggestion of looking confident. If you look like you are supposed to be there, are there for a purpose and not don’t seem unsure of what’s going on, you won’t appear suspicious. That includes actions like looking around too often, standing idle for too long, or being overly cautious about being overheard. Of course you don’t want to be overly loud in your conversation, should you be with more than one person, but just the same as you don’t want to attract attention you don’t want to appear as though you are concealing what you are talking about. Someone that whispers and seems to be secretive can attract just as much notice as someone jumping around like a fool chanting for all to hear.

So what have we learned from this first lesson of inconspicuous photography? Show confidence in what you are doing and don’t draw attention to yourself looking suspicious. Come back soon and I’ll impart upon you more of my wisdom. I kid, of course. Make your way back here soon and I’ll give you a few more tips on how to be successful in your inconspicuous photography.

Jason is a freelance photographer.

I gladly offer this basic, 5-part series of photography lessons FOR FREE! Our world has become increasingly visual in the way we communicate. We not only take more pictures, we show them, send them and display them to more eyes than ever before. Wouldn’t it be nice to capture and show better pictures? In this series, I get us thinking about… 1. How to tell a story with our photographs by understanding the 4 dimensions associated with the art. 2. The basic elements of “composing” our photographic story. How do we put things in our viewfinders so people get the essence of that moment that inspired us. 3. Understanding exposure, light and color and how they combine to say what we want. 4. How lens choice and operation effects focus and how focus effects what we show in our photos 5. The people in our photographs and the people we are showing them to. Please enjoy these lessons. They’re not meant to be comprehensive and their not meant to be exhaustive or advanced. That doesn’t mean I don’t encourage any questions you might want to post for either me to try to answer or anyone else who comes along. Please, be kind, helpful and enjoy.

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