Armed with just one camera and one lens, my good friend Neal Hibbert and I headed off down to Brighton for a day away from it all; a kind of mini Photo Walk to just ‘shoot’ with no client, no agenda, no plan and no time limitations.
I have to say that it did feel kind of strange heading off without any of my lighting equipment, in fact as we headed off I still hadn’t quite cut the cord between me and my California Sunbounce Mini Reflector but no, we said minimum kit and minimum kit it was
Now I knew we’d have a good day; Neal and I always do having been mates for a number of years and having the same (some would say warped) sense of humour but neither of us thought it would be quite as good as it was…particularly on a photography front.
Getting out with just one camera and one lens is something I don’t get to do all that often as most if not all the photo shoots I do involve some kind of lighting equipment and a variety of lens changes so this was a real nice change from the ‘norm’.
Being a big user of Twitter and Facebook I posted what I was up to during the day and got a few questions back asking such things as ‘What lens did I take?, ‘How do I approach complete strangers and ask to take their portrait?’ and so on, so with this Saturday being the 3rd Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk I thought I’d share some of my decisions and techniques with you…
1. What Lens did I take?
I decided to take my Nikon 85mm f/1.4 Prime Lens; one of my favourite lenses but then one that I haven’t been using all that much lately as I seem to have been favouring the 70-200mm probably more out of ‘habit’. Taking out just the one lens is a great way to learn what you can and can’t do with it…it’s limitations if you like.
2. Shooting Technique?
The idea behind the day was to keep things simple so I shot in Aperture Priority and Bracketed for 5 shots each and every time. This was something I’d never really done before but having seen Jay Maisel do this on a recent Kelby Training video it made perfect sense. Set the camera up to take a rapid succession of 5 shots, each of varying exposures and one will definitely be correctly exposed meaning I’m left to just shoot without getting hung up on tweaking settings; something that came in really handy when taking portraits of complete strangers during the day.
3. Shoot in both Portrait & Landscape (Vertical & Horizontal)
4. Photographing complete strangers
Just the thought of going up to a complete stranger and asking if you can take their portrait can be quite intimidating but it really doesn’t have to be. Expect to get some No’s; not everyone is going to want to have their photograph taken but that’s to be expected however there are things you can do to increase your chances of success:
- Photograph in areas where cameras are common place. Seaside towns, tourist areas etc are generally flooded with people carrying cameras taking photos here there and everywhere.
- Ask don’t assume. If you’re going to photograph someone be sure to ask their permission. We found that just approaching with a friendly face, explaining what you were doing and asking if they’d mind having their portrait taken worked just fine; in fact we had no refusals all day.
- Give out business cards to everyone you photograph.
- Be quick! If a stranger is good enough to allow you to photograph them, then be as quick as you can so as not to draw attention to them (especially if you’re shooting someone who lives on the streets). This is another good reason for bracketing as it avoids chimping in between each shot and tweaking the exposure to get it just right…you can just compose the shot and shoot…done! Minimum fuss and minimum inconvenience for your subject.
- If you do get a ‘No’ then just thank them any way and move on; that really is as bad as it gets.
If you find yourself with nothing or nobody to shoot or maybe feeling frustrated about not getting out with your camera then a Photo Walk could be the answer. Get out with just the one camera and lens and just shoot; shoot anything and everything but delete nothing and the more we do this the better we get; practice after all, makes perfect!
Getting out every day (or as much as is possible) with your camera is vital if we are to progress and develop our craft as photographers. In the Kelby Training video with Jay Maisel and Scott Kelby, Jay compared photography to Bodybuilding; sounds strange I know but think about it…
To develop their physique, does a Bodybuilder go to the gym every now and again to train or (virtually) every day? Makes sense huh
Leave your camera on all the time and with no lens cap. You can bet your life that something will happen in front of you and if you’ve got to turn on your camera and remove the lens cap you might just as well forget it.
Above all enjoy yourself. Needless to say this is going to be a very regular thing, and Neal and myself have already planned the next ‘Mini Photo Walk’ which will see us down in Bournemouth but after that who knows where we’ll end up. What I do know though is that we’ll be out with our cameras in the fresh air, shooting, having a laugh, making some pictures and learning along the way…fancy it?
Got any questions or comments or maybe even some tips of your own, then please feel free to make use of the comments section below; it’s always great to ‘hear’ what you have to say.