Dear Out of Focus People in the Foreground, Please, DON’T MOVE!
I was photographing a wedding last weekend and several times during pre-bridal something that tends to happen, happened again!
I was photographing the bride getting her make-up done when another guest who was in my shot suddenly realized they were in my shot, leaped up and said “Oh! I’m sorry! Let me get out of your way!”, completely ruining the composition I had been working on.
It happens. There’s no way to prevent it that I can think of, besides to take my shot before people become aware of me of course. But I’m not always that fast and it’s peoples’ natural instinct. It’s the “Hey you! Down in front” phenomenon from movie theaters. People want to be polite and want to stay out of the photographer’s way. But ironically in doing so they are actually interrupting.
That’s okay though. This is my job. I just find it an amusing obstacle. I wish I could somehow, in the moment, fully explain to guests that they can relax and trust me. I am an artist. I am deliberate. I didn’t choose to put my camera right beside the back of your head by accident. You didn’t know it but I, not you, actually put your head there, in my frame, exactly where I wanted you to be.
You are in fact not in my way because to a good photojournalist, nobody is ever in the way. Everyone is always part of the scene, part of photograph, part of the story. I just say something brief like “Oh don’t worry, just ignore that I’m even here.” But of course they can’t. Not until the reception anyway, not until I’ve been behind their head all day, and sometimes actually even in front of their face, and they’ve gotten comfortable with me and, maybe, have had a few drinks!
For those of you who are reading who’ve ever ducked while walking through a photographer’s shot or realized one was directly behind you taking photos, please, don’t be alarmed! Have a look at some of these shots that I’ve taken that would have never happened if the people who are in the out of focus foreground would have been as polite and considerate as you!
I absolutely love people “getting in my way” while I’m shooting. Out of focus people in the the foregrounds of my candid portraiture provide balance, context, depth and interest to the photo. Imagine any of these photos without the anonymous folks hogging up the foregrounds and the shots immediately lose much of what makes them compelling. The photos would become isolated portraits.
Thanks for reading, now please, stop ducking!