Inconspicuous Photography – Lesson 3

March 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Photography Articles

Inconspicuous Photography -- Lesson 3

Article by Jason Nason

Welcome back to yet another teaching of inconspicuous photography. In this 3rd lesson I’ll give you a couple more tips to reduce your burden in snapping pictures out in the public.

In the last lesson I introduced you to a few more tricks with which to go about your inconspicuous photography without getting bothered. It is always best to present yourself in such a way as to not cause alarm. The tips were to not hide what you are doing and to be prepared. Both of these tricks are integral to your success. If you conceal your actions you will appear suspicious and arise suspicion. If you are not prepared you will face both the problem of not getting your shoot done well or running into trouble if others get in the middle of your shoot.

So what do you do if you are confronted when you are out? What do you do if someone approaches you and confronts you in your task to snap the perfect picture?

5. Be honest

A lot of the time if you merely explain to the person, honestly, what you are doing they will allow you to continue your inconspicuous photography.

Picture you are in a crowded downtown street and you are taking photos of the birds as they fly amongst the buildings. People quickly rush by as you stand stationary in the square looking up the sky. Someone stops beside you and watches your actions. You continue to stand there, without noticing that you have acquired an audience, and continue to snap photos of birds. They sweep from window to tree and back again. The person coughs to get your attention and asks you what you are doing. So what are you doing? It’s simple. You’re taking pictures of birds as they fly around the city because that is your hobby. Perhaps you have a website or a blog where you talk about birds. Birds are your passion and you love taking the photos. You delight in getting shots of new and different birds all the time. You’ve been to various different areas around the city and you find that the downtown area is the best place to get the shots you desire. You can get a greater variety of birds and can also find many different angles, shots and actions than you can in a park.

If you were to tell this to the person who asked you about your actions they are very likely to feel good about your answer and leave you to your shooting. You may even occasionally find the person take a genuine interest in your photography and they may ask you a few questions about the topic. Perhaps a business opportunity might arise. The person might even want to hire a photographer.

That may not be very likely to happen, but more often than not the person will be satisfied with your explanation and move on. You can continue your inconspicuous photography.

6. Lie

Now I know what you are thinking. The sixth rule directly contradicts the fifth. And did he just call them rules? I thought they were tips. The rules to inconspicuous photography are tips, tricks, rules or guidelines. All these words are synonymous and mean the same thing in this context. All of these tips are complimentary to each other, even when they seem to contradict. You may come into many different scenarios and situations where different tactics are needed.

Recall the same situation as was previously described. You are in a busy downtown square, surrounded by people, taking photos. Just as before you have your eyes to the sky and are snapping the photos looking upward. This time, however, you are not taking photos of birds at all but are actually taking pictures of the buildings themselves. Your exact motive for taking the photos isn’t important, but telling someone that you are taking photos of buildings seems a little more odd. While the person isn’t likely to do much more than give you an odd look there are other situations that might not run so smoothly.

Imagine another situation where you are taking inconspicuous photos in a place where someone of authority might get in your way. They might not have any authority to turn you away in reality as you are not breaking any rules, but they may pose an intrusive force that may cause you to feel the need to leave. That would be very unfortunate, especially as it could ruin the entire outing. So if you are taking photos of something that might confuse the person confronting you then don’t tell them what you are taking photos of. Lie.

This could perhaps cause you some concern. Why should you have to lie about what you’re doing if you aren’t doing anything wrong? The simple answer is that you aren’t lying because you’re doing something wrong; you’re lying to simplify what could become an unusual, awkward or troublesome confrontation should you be misunderstood. It’s easier to say you’re taking photos of birds instead of buildings should that make things run more smoothly.

That’s it for today. Check back soon for another few tips for inconspicuous photography!

Jason is a freelance photographer.

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