Quick Tip: Photographing a Reluctant Subject? Shoot From The Hip (Or From The Ear)

Sep 29, 2014

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Quick Tip: Photographing a Reluctant Subject? Shoot From The Hip (Or From The Ear)

Sep 29, 2014

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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This has happened to me countless times and I wish I knew this tip back in the days when I was starting out. James Madelin (the ‘Orbis‘ guy) and Matt Granger (Get You Gear Out) just shared this incredibly simple, but useful tip on shooting shy people.

James’s tip shares a tip from his photojournalism days where he had to shoot people that didn’t really want to be photographed. His first tip is to shoot from the hip (which is kinda common knowledge), but it was his second tip that threw me off. Shooting people with the camera set against your ear while talking to them. They see the camera, they hear the clicks, they know they are being photographed, but somehow the fact that the glass is not standing between you and them makes them easier about the whole experience. The benefit of shooting from the ear over shooting from the heap is that you are shooting at eye-level and that you engage with your subject.

Now, of course, I would not recommend this for anything but photojournalism, as it may raise privacy issues, or start a small riot, but if you must get a frame for a paper, this could save your day.

[Photographing a reluctant subject | Matt Granger, James Madelin]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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5 responses to “Quick Tip: Photographing a Reluctant Subject? Shoot From The Hip (Or From The Ear)”

  1. Laurent Roy Avatar
    Laurent Roy

    If someone doesn’t want to be shot, it’s his(her) right !!! Live them alone !!! Do you realize that you’re teaching how to achieve a complete lack of respect here ??? :-(

    1. sircracked Avatar
      sircracked

      I don’t think you’re really following what they mean by “Don’t want to be shot”. People can simultaneously be understanding of the need for a photo, but, also uncomfortable with the actual process. This is to lessen that impact.

  2. Tanja Petri Avatar
    Tanja Petri

    Actually, I’ve been using a technique like this in the studio for a while, at least for head shots. For those I keep the camera on a tripod, compose with a little room for cropping and then use a cable release so that I can keep eye-contact and the subject won’t even see my finger on the release. I was trained in the late 90s with a Mamiya RB 67, and I did the same thing way back when (except for the cropping room, of course), so it did seem like a very natural thing to do.

  3. Stand4RespectfulPhototgraphy Avatar
    Stand4RespectfulPhototgraphy

    Something is wrong with part of the message. The element of “I will take it anyway” is disrespectful, wrong and crass. As a photographers, we may give up a few great images because we have a conscience and regard for human feelings and will not steal them. We won’t lack for great photos in spite of living by this guideline.

    1. Tanja Petri Avatar
      Tanja Petri

      In and of itself, this is just a neutral technique; whether it’s being used disrespectful or not depends entirely on the photographer.

      If you walk around taking pictures “from the hip” of strangers or people who absolutely don’t want to have their picture taken by you or who are not even aware that you’re there to take pictures of them, then yes, I agree.

      But a lot of times, as somebody else already pointed out, we have to take a picture of somebody who needs it or wants it for whatever reasons but is really uncomfortable in front of the camera.

      As I said in my first comment on this article, I use a similar technique in the studio, one that allows me to keep eye-contact with the subject, and in the studio I’m hardly dealing with people who don’t want me to take their picture.

      Besides, when you have your camera next to your face while you’re talking to somebody and aiming it at their face with your finger on the release, you’re hardly hiding what you do.