Sunday, November 02, 2003

The difference between news and posed photos

It's amazing when people expect me to capture (in focus, properly exposed) images of athletes doing spectacular things in mid-air at night or police and firefighters doing something dramatic, but these same people will suddenly pose (hideously) if they notice the camera is pointed at them.

If I don't feel a need to pose a flaming person mid-air with a ball on his/her head and a shark attached to his/her rear, I surely don't need to pose a person doing something mundane (shaking hands comes to mind). It is a lie. I am not a liar.

Luckily, by the time most people notice me, I've already shot several frames. I joke with people about my Army training only applying to PJ because I was trained to sneak up on people and shoot them (with a camera).

I honestly don't know if it's because most of the television camerapeople entice this behavior or some subjects just aren't attention deficit disordered enough to live in America. Meanwhile, I appreciate the unspoken game at play. It is: If you ignore me, I can do my job.

I was working two assignments at the same time. One was a standard Friday night football game. The other was a story about some American-style football players from England who came to visit and observe the natives. The Brits would not give me a break and simply be natural.

Each time I focused on them, they would notice and act unusually. They eventually got accustomed to me (or tired of screaming), but I was really angry because my deadline was getting tighter each time they would screw up my shots (by acting differently than normal).

I think this is why I prefer using long focal length lenses. I can be crouched in a shadow and get a natural moment with a 300mm lens before anyone knows I was even there.

I can't say how many times I've approached people to get their names only to hear them ask me what I wanted them to do -- or worse -- they strike some vile pose.
My answer is always a smile and, "I already got the images I wanted. I just need your name please."

I occasionally can sneak up on people with my 17mm wide angle lens, but it takes a lot of skill or the person must really be preoccupied with whatever they are doing. Typically, this only happens in a very crowded place with lots of activity to conceal my movement.

Consequently, I question the honesty and integrity of some photographers with "special moments" shot with wide angle lenses with a little more depth of field than one might expect.

There are truly great photographers who are so well trained and talented they can pull this feat off several times daily, but some are lazy cheaters who set up their shots. My hope is the next generation of PJs will learn the difference between the two and never be tempted to lie to the public.

Enough for now,

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