Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Stealth Photography

The images in this post all come from the Boston Peace Rally protesting the Iraq war in March 2003. Seth posed the following question in the last comments thread: Hey Slothie. I'm gonna go shopping on Black Friday and want to document the craziness. Do you have any tips for stealth photography? And with the added stress of that day, would I be in danger? I can run pretty fast and won't have any shopping bags. Seth, stealth photography can be both highly stressful and highly rewarding. Since you asked, I can offer a few bits of advice: 1. If you have a digital camera, utilize the viewing screen so that you don't have to put the camera to your eye. This way you can pretend that you are just fussing with your camera while, in fact, you are getting shots of the people in front of you. If you are sitting down it's even easier, because you are less conspicuous and at a good height for lens trajectory. 2. If you have a non-digital camera, resign yourself to wasting film and leave the camera hanging from your neck while you click the shutter. You may not know what you got a picture of until you develop the film, but sometimes those pictures are amazing. The more you do this, the more natural it feels and you'll develop a knack for knowing exactly what you're shooting even though you're not looking at it through the camera. 3. Remember that many people don't mind having their picture taken at all. And even if they are a little leery of it, it would probably take some serious stalking behavior on your part to make them walk up to you and ask what you're doing. As the photographer you may feel like you're pushing someone's buttons just by clicking the shutter. Don't worry about it so much. Don't shy away from getting the shot you want because you're nervous about getting caught taking a picture of a stranger. It's uncomfortable, but ultimately worth it. 4. Wear sneakers in case you have to flee an angry mob. Just kidding. Kind of. The Boston Peace Rally was the first time I ever attempted to take photographs of strangers without their permission. There was a lot of running around involved and a lot of wondering when I was going to get my ass kicked, but it all worked out. Here are a few more photos from that day, or you can view all of the pics in the Slothville gallery, linked in the sidebar. Thanks for the question, Seth! Peace chalker Anarchist Veteran