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Archive 2012 · The Anonymous Observer
  
 
canerino
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · The Anonymous Observer


I've been asked a few times about my approach during the 'getting ready' portion of the day and it has always boiled down to 'being cool'. What this has always meant to me is becoming a part of the scene. It would be really awkward if I were to just stand there, void of emotion, capturing photos. It would put those in the room on egg shells.

I was doing some reading in preparation for my photography class and came across a Q & A from Magnum Photographer, Chris Anderson (http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZQ5L). The question pertained to language barrier:

Q: Have you any advice for someone traveling without languages or someone with an opportunity to shoot in a certain environment but hopes not to offend or anger his subjects but retain the status of anonymous observer?

Chris Anderson: I don't believe in the status of anonymous observer. Photography is an act of engaged subjectivity. Objectivity, fact -- they don't exist. There is only truth. Language barriers are there, sure, but I believe with all my heart that treating people with dignity and having something to say rather than looking at them as potential portfolio pages does a lot to overcome language barriers.

Its a conscious strategy that I employ throughout the day (especially during the getting ready moments), I just never heard it called 'engaged subjectivity'.

Do you agree with Anderson? Do you think it's possible to remain objective as you document the day?



Oct 09, 2012 at 03:50 PM
tobicus
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · The Anonymous Observer


Remaining objective in wedding (or any) photography is as feasible as remaining apolitical in a political world (i.e., it isn't).

Whenever you face one part of a wedding, you turn your back on another. Pretending to be uninvolved and objective is simply that--a pretense.



Oct 09, 2012 at 04:14 PM
friscoron
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · The Anonymous Observer



When I was studying psychology, there was always this talk of conducting objective psych experiments. But in truth, there is nothing objective about humans. We have some feeling, some reaction, to everything. Granted, some things we react less to, we don't feel as strongly about, but there is always something there.

And I think that's true in our photography as well. I often see people gloating about shooting weddings from a photojournalistic style, hidden in the background, not really a part of the scene. Truth is, they're not connecting. When you're engaged, people are more comfortable around you, they'll reveal more about themselves. They'll be more.

So I'm totally with Chris Anderson on this.



Oct 09, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Ian Ivey
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · The Anonymous Observer


Photography is subjective by definition: it is one person's deliberate preservation of his personal viewpoint of a moment. We even call people in the photo "subjects." How you capture events depends in significant measure on your view and biases. That's one of the things that makes photography so interesting: it's a way to see the world (almost literally) through someone else's eyes.

I think people are sometimes skittish about photography in part because it represents a sort of judgment of the moment they're participating in. I think this is why interacting with subjects, building rapport, is useful. If you build some trust by showing the subjects you're a friendly documenter, and not a hostile judge, you get more cooperation, and (at weddings, anyway) therefore better results.




Oct 09, 2012 at 08:13 PM
TRReichman
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · The Anonymous Observer


canerino wrote:
Do you agree with Anderson? Do you think it's possible to remain objective as you document the day?


I like to think we've been doing it for years. Successfully, I think - though that is open for debate obviously.

- trr



Oct 09, 2012 at 08:14 PM
D. Diggler
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · The Anonymous Observer


friscoron wrote:
I often see people gloating about shooting weddings from a photojournalistic style, hidden in the background, not really a part of the scene.


I've heard the advice given that you're not supposed to talk to the subjects at all so as to avoid influencing "the action".



Oct 09, 2012 at 09:50 PM
 

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Kittyk
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · The Anonymous Observer


i believe girl-photographers have an edge a little during preparations of the bride, but it always comes down to chemistry of course. Some brides are show offs and like the attention of (male) photographer, some otherwise.
I have never had the issue during the shoot, but hubby always have been asked to leave for certain time of the preparations etc.
I agree that anonymous observer cannot work during this part of the wedding. Well maybe during the whole wedding he cannot.



Oct 09, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Brian Virts
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · The Anonymous Observer


Totally depends on the situation, the getting ready... I just say... "hi I'm Brian Virts, you guys just do your thing" I don't really feel the need to be apart of what's happening with the girls, but I sometimes will engage in conversation, and I often will suggest locations for shots, and work with my clients (manage expectations). After the getting ready there is a lot of interaction with my clients. It's often suggestive, humorous and engaging.


Oct 10, 2012 at 12:22 AM
hardlyboring
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · The Anonymous Observer


I agree.
To make interesting photos you need to be part of what is going on and engage everyone... even if that means you tell them that you just want to be the "fly on the wall".

The approach is good for times when you need to actually "get in close".... for general street shooting or something I think you can sorta just stay out of the way or do your own thing in order to capture the essence of the scene without disturbing it.

So ya for weddings and portraits I agree that interaction with the subjects is best even if it is minimal and just to form a relationship with them so that you can stay out of the way and shoot without people looking at you funny.



Oct 10, 2012 at 04:46 AM
mccallmedia
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · The Anonymous Observer


I try to have as little interaction as I can but it usually seems to help to sort of "break the ice" during the first few pictures you take of the getting ready. Once people sort of warm up to me and the camera I just sort of do my thing as objectively as possible. Some people take longer to warm up to the camera than others. In my consultations I explain that shoot from a photojournalist's/fly on the wall standpoint so as to document things as they happen rather than direct things (except during formals of course) so I think they sort of know what to expect from the get-go. But yeah, some interaction always happens with every wedding. I just shoot for as little as possible when I'm trying to shoot photos.


Oct 10, 2012 at 05:12 AM
r-m-g
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · The Anonymous Observer


I think it takes a special client who is really interested in true PJ style to be able to pull off an authentic anonymous feel no matter what kind of coverage the photographer is going for.

I believe that interaction is essential because if I don't open my mouth and have some kind of positive interaction with them then i'm just the creepy dude silently holding the reflector.

(Sorry to bump such an old thread)



Nov 02, 2012 at 02:36 PM





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