I noticed this dude just standing there out front of a shop in Kensington Market and thought he’d make a good subject, looking cool and all. This is another hip shot, taken at f8, so I knew mostly everything would be in focus. In other words I wasn’t too concerned about locking focus on the guy directly. I stopped right in front of him and pointed my camera straight ahead, but never looked at him. Instead, I looked down the lane way at those folks in the background. Buddy just stood there with his arms folded. With his glasses on I had no idea if he’d noticed me, was watching me, or staring off in the distance. For me, the most important thing was that he not move. This was the pose I wanted and if he for a second thought I was shooting him, he’d probably react and the moment would be lost. I got lucky. I fired my shot and walked away never once looking at the guy. I didn’t even check the shot in the display until I was a good 20 feet away, in case he was watching.
Here’s the thing about shooting people from the hip. This is my humble opinion only, of course. I’ll start with a little story. Recently I watched a YouTube video by a very well known street photographer who actually travels around the U.S. doing workshops to teach others street photography. So far so good. Afterwards, I visited his blog to check out his stuff. Most was okay but nothing really blew me away. Then I saw a series of what I can only guess to be hip shots of people. But instead of capturing the moment and mood of the subject and scene, he simply caught people in various stages of reaction to being photographed. It struck me as a little offensive and intrusive. Clearly, these people didn’t want to be photographed. Some covered their face, others simply frowned and/or looked annoyed. I just felt embarrassed for them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve caught those moments myself from time to time. You can’t be a street photographer and not get caught shooting people. But if you’re going to go around teaching others, at least show some skill at getting candid photos without the subject being aware he or she is being photographed. It’s not really that hard. Anyway, that’s my thoughts on it. As always, your mileage may vary.