Sunday, 12 June 2011

POV: More On Shooting From The Hip

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
My recent Is Shooting From The Hip...Photography? post seems to have struck a chord with many of my regular readers, as well as with new ones. The post received one of the highest numbers of hits since The Travel Photographer blog came into existence in 2007.

In it, I was wondering if shooting from the hip was really photography. I included a photograph of a woman eating McDonald french fries in Times Square, and bemoaned the fact that I didn't use my eye to compose it, nor did I frame it in the viewfinder....it was a sort of "eyeless" photography.

I received a large number of emails, as well as some Twitter reactions, to my question. There seemed (unscientifically-speaking) to be an even split between those who enjoyed 'shooting from the hip' and those who didn't...but occasionally resorted to it in situations where bringing a camera to one's eye would be too intrusive.

One of the reactions to my airing of thoughts was from Scott Strazzante, the Chicago Tribune photojournalist whose excellent street photographs are on his Shooting From The Hip blog, who believes that "eyeless" photography is photography. I encourage you to read the post and follow Scott's blog...it's replete with lovely street candid photographs.
"Sort of like setting up a remote camera. You control the mechanics of the photography but don't really know what you are going to get." Scott Strazzante
I concede that successful 'shooting from the hip' or the "eyeless" photography as I called it, requires a bunch of fundamental ingredients. The first is that it requires the photographer who is using the technique to be singularly adept in framing the scene/action without a viewfinder...and the second is to enjoy the surprise, the experience and the low viewpoint....and the third is that doing otherwise would either spoil the "candor" of the moment or the scene.

The latter ingredient was certainly the primary motivator in the above photograph. The couple was clearly enjoying what was a private moment in the center of Times Square...he was perhaps proposing or perhaps they were professing undying love to each other...and raising my M9 to my eye would have spoiled the moment for them and for me.

This photograph was not cropped...but was straightened a little bit, as the horizontals were not...well, perfectly horizontal.

It's the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC today...and weather permitting, I'll walk to Fifth Avenue and see if shooting from the hip will be helpful.