Excuse me… can you get out of my bloody shot?!?
The purpose of this blog post is to encourage a peaceful attitude towards those people who walk into our compositions.
On most tours and workshops, I confuse my customers by explaining that those people who walk into your shot teach us an awful lot about photography. So here I attempt to justify that view. I believe that the key to successful photography is that ability to adapt to the environment. After all, we are the ones who are employed to look at the environment, we ought to be sensitive to changes. The biggest enemy of creative photography is rigidity. Having fixed ideas and expectations of what you are going to achieve is great, but being unable to spot other opportunities when ideal conditions don’t manifest can only lead to frustration and a feeling of a wasted trip. For example, you may have wanted to catch crisp foreground detail on a group of flowers in the foreground, but the wind picks up. A successful, creative mind will attempt to make something out of the movement or invent some way of freezing the movement while producing a quality landscape image.
So this guy walks in front of me just as I am waiting for a wash of ocean to tickle that lovely chunk of ice on the black sand beach. I saw the potential and snapped away without hesitation, his position was perfect. I have hundreds of shots of the Ocean climbing the beach to these chunks of ice, this was something different for my collection. The guy was gone about 2 minutes later.
If my attitude was not flexible and my manner not so passive, this guy could have easily felt the blunt end of my tongue, or the heavy end of my tripod. I am no angel, I have been close to fist fights with inconsiderate others (or at least in my opinion they were inconsiderate). I have also witnessed some angry exchanges between photographers in busy places. But I am hoping here to help you see that all this anger is unnecessary.
My message is that these people walking into your scene are the same as the wind picking up when you want to shoot flowers, or a cloud obscuring the sun as you calculate your DOF. Sure these people become obstacles to you achieving the shot in your head, it seems worse because they seem to be idiots for not realising your focal length. In actual fact they have every much as right as you do to be there and as a photographer, you are there to record the scene, if the scene contains people (other stupid people), then so be it, let it be. I remember some guy waving frantically at me once as I walked along the beach, as I got closer he yelled at me that he was shooting video. Look at it from all angles, yes I did ruin his video, but isn’t it ridiculous that I couldn’t walk along the beach in peace?
Of course, you can always turn your obstacles into features.