When people spot the camera

by Apr 18, 2018Photos and its stories4 comments

Film photography opened up some other forms of street photography to me by putting much more effort in the composition of the picture and playing with lights. But, when I use my digital MFT camera, I still focus very much on people and their interesting gestures or facial expressions. In order to make photos as candid as possible, shooting from the hip is still one of the approaches when I am out on the streets. During the last months, I started to get very familiar with my 17 mm M Zuiko lens and to get a good feeling about what probably is and what probably is not in the frame. The 17 mm lens, however, pushes me to get quite close to the subjects making it extremely hard to take a candid picture and lifting the camera to the eye level. The fact to shoot from the hip is often quite controversially discussed in street photography, but I found it to be a quite powerful technique in specific situations.

In some situations, people spot the camera. This is somehow surprising as my Panasonic Lumix GX80 is the black version, I use a quite discrete black Peak Design camera strap, and am usually dressed in dark colors. Additionally, I switched off the shutter noise of the camera. In this week’s post, I just want to share a couple of photos in which the people not only spotted the camera but looked at it right at the moment I pressed the shutter.

Think she spotted the camera

Think she spotted the camera | 2017

Is that a camera sweetheart?

Is that a camera sweetheart? | 2017


  1. Ha, they don’t look too happy. Have people ever had really negative reactions to you photographing them?

  2. Thanks Gabriela! No, so far, no excessive negative reactions, just looks like those in the pictures. As I need to get quite close with my 17 mm lens, many of the shots are taken from the hip and the camera remains quite discrete. I also try to anticipate – where possible – the potential reactions of people in case they spot the camera and that I pulled the trigger. When people look as if they were in a bad mood or similar, I do not take a picture.

  3. It’s great that you can get away with shooting from the hip. I think this is what intimidates many people who want to start street photography. They somehow feel exposed, not sure how to deal with people, whether to ask for permission or just go ahead.

  4. I totally agree with you and there is quite a bit of a debate on the “shooting from the hip” issue in street photography. As a rather shy person, shooting from the hip is one way to overcome fear in a first approach to street photography. I am really interested in candid photographs and asking people beforehand would make that difficult. There is a way to talk to people after taking the photo, but as I only keep very few of my photos, it would be extremely time-intensive to ask for permission afterwards. I am currently experimenting with other approaches to avoid too people-centered pictures and the debate. However, shooting from the hip also changes the perspective from eye-level pictures, which are sometimes perceived as being boring, to a lower perspective. I like that less common angle in pictures very much.

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