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Furachan 06-17-2005 03:50 AM

Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
I'm not trying to start WW III here, trust me, but I am amazed at how few genuine portraits of actual people one sees on either the N American section or Europe, compared to say, Asia (where I live) and Africa? You can go through entire pages of steel girders, bridges in the fog, distant villages and churches, but where is the population I ask?
Obvious answers would include fear of being sued in highly litigious cultures;), fear of being punched or threatened, and so on. I'd really like to hear from my fellow TE photogs in those regions, though. Oh, and by the way, shooting close candids of people in Japan is no piece of cake - this is not the warmest, friendliest nation on earth.

Roly 06-17-2005 04:25 AM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
I fully agree with you Francis, and this topic was discussed not a long time ago here on TE, on a long thread that I will not try to locate right now. I am sure somebody will find it and give you the location. The conclusions were pretty similar to your suggestions, and some photographers described situations when they were harassed under the suspicion they might have photographed children...
I also presume that most active photographers and critics on TE either live in or stem from the western area you mention. For them/us a colorful Buddhist monk will constitute a much more exotic and attractive subject than a British postman. So, the bottom line is simply that it is so much easier to take a "successful" picture of an exotic, colorful and friendly subject in South-East Asia than of a suspicious, grumpy and "common-looking" westerner.
No offence to the portraitists in Africa and especially Asia, who do a great job. The problem is not what they do, but what the photographers in Europe and N America don't.
Itís a challenge to take onÖ I have seen very good people-shots from Europe an N-America, but there were indeed very few. But that makes these few even stronger.

clodreno 06-22-2005 08:49 PM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
I guess it could be because people are more conscious in the western world, in Europe at least..
They all believe to be unique and very special..
Today, while shooting, one guy gave me his finger and yelled at me.. He wasn't the main subject.
So it could be a reason..
If somebody in the streets here sees a camera, he will try to avoid it, almost a reflex..
Still, it's possible, depending on countries. This is the first time it happened to me in italy !
take care

MKING 06-23-2005 03:47 AM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
Yeah, I've been yelled at by a man 20 metres away down the street somewhere angry that I may or may not have taken his photo (from where I was he also may or may not have been kissing a girl at the time). I had a 50mm lens on the camera so I'm surprised he even saw me through the crowd at that distance. I look at the negative and I still cannot figure out what he looks like.

And I've been told off for not seeking permission since "it's rude." Twice.

Yes it's hard-- our surrounds don't look exotic and, in fact, can look quite ubiquitous from one country to another when you take away the landmarks and stereotypes. Everyone is fed that same individualistic education and, as Claude said, have a distinct sense of uniqueness but-- at the same time-- get very wary and sometimes upset when they're singled out of the crowd: a fear of being made to look stupid or infringed upon by nasty nogooders? People like to feel unique as long as they can blend in with everyone else.

Excuses, excuses; just means less competition for those of us who do enjoy photographing people in in this part of the world.

Roly 06-23-2005 03:57 AM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
"People like to feel unique as long as they can blend in with everyone else."

THAT is a very smart way to put it, I like it a lot. And it's so true!

rosiegirl 07-01-2005 09:54 AM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
People in N.American public areas really are camera shy (or trained to be that way). I was trying to take a shot of a street scene in downtown Portland Or, so I stood to the side of the sidewalk taking quite a few pictures. When I was done, I turned around and found a crowd of people backed up behind me trying to stay out of view of the camera. I laughed, apologized, and sent them on their way. I relize they were all just being polite, but they ran from the camera like grim death. I had a good laugh.

kinginexile 08-29-2005 03:23 AM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
undeniable fact, you are correct, Francis. I think i would be even be more cautious in France than in US. People are definitely less guarded in non-western countries.

Plenty of reasons for that, life is more individual, people were their "rights (to privacy)" on the sleeve, or assume more things why someone wants a photo. of course, a photographer is less exotic, so people are less amused and curious to reciprocate the interest, in our neck of the wood.

It is possible though, but the photographer needs to work on, and befriend his subject. A consistant and top gallery of portraits from Asia and africa will also come from spending time around the people one wishes to shoot. But gratuitous portraiture is a piece of cake, compared to home.

luisafonso 08-08-2006 03:39 PM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
That's a very good question Francis... I guess people in Europe just feel very stressed when there is a camera around. I often try to portrait people on the street but most of the times, they just stop because they don't want to interfere in my shooting. They have no idea that they might just be the main subject... And there is a paranoia about in-public photography. Everybody thinks that they have the right not to be photographed (and probably they are right) and they really get upset when we try to do it. Sometimes, they just look at you with that disaproval mask stating "shame on yourself...". It's hard man, it's hard. Probably this would change when every cellphone has a camera on it...

jinju 08-08-2006 04:15 PM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
I think its all in the approach. I actually read some professional photog saying that (im paraphrasing) in asia (he was talkig about Japan so Francis can disagree when he reads this, and I totally disagree and I live in Korea which isnt much different from Japan) he is forced to use long lenses because the people dont like being photogaphed. Well, most of my shots are of people and the longest lens I use is a 50mm, and now Im mostly using the wide angle. With such glass I cant afford to be far and I totally disagree with the professional photog. I know Francis loves his 28 and 35mm focal lenghts and he gets really close too.

luisafonso 08-08-2006 04:22 PM

Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?
Yes, that's true. A right approach is often the best way to achieve good results. In most of my shots I try to be unnoticed and that works. When they notice me, if you just play with your camera, they often relax and get back to their 'inner' life. When in public, it's a good practice to test several shots, pointing your camera at several locations, just to let the people get used to it. And then click! If needed, a smile is often the right answer to an angry face.

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