Up Close and Personal - tyneholm
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Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal

Assignment S27

Bruce Gilden, Dougie Wallace, and Garry Winogrand are just some of the street photography legends who have made a name for themselves by photographing strangers at close quarters. Their style is intrusive, provocative, and confrontational, and gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “in your face:’ 

This brand of street photography is not to everyone’s taste and there is a limit to how many close-ups we all want to see of complete strangers. However, when you look at a cohesive collection of images which show these faces as part of a themed project it starts to get more interesting. Bruce Gilden, for example, famously developed a project entitled Face, which formed a catalogue of human grotesqueness.

While this may not be your thing, it is an important component of street photography, so try shooting for half a day using this approach and see how many usable shots you walk away with. 

View the images

Technique

  • Do this with or without flash: either way is fine and it comes down to personal preference. Flash will give you a more gritty, contrasty, and unflattering look. 
  • Use Aperture Priority mode, set the lens to f/5.6 or f/8, and dial in a high ISO (around ISO 800-1200) and away you go!
  • Use your camera’s face-detection AF mode if it has this feature.
  • However tempted you are to do this while on the move, try to stop to take your photograph to avoid motion blur. 
  • Shoot from a lower camera angle (“shooting from the hip” sometimes works well) to give your images a more dynamic, “in your face” look. 

Field Notes

  • Avoid eye contact-this will make the experience more comfortable and you will feel less intrusive. 
  • Try shooting from the hip (this takes practice to get the angle right) to disguise what you’re doing.
  • If you’re challenged, smile, say “thank you;’ and walk away.