More Europe photos to share. Also a funny story to go along with them.
Part of the reason I went to Europe was to take a week long photography course in the South of France. There were about 8 of us in the course and every day we would leave the hotel together and venture out to one of the surrounding areas. Sometimes we walked together as group and sometimes we ventured out on our own.
The next day we would spend a few minutes together and share some of our favourite shots from the day prior. Most of the students had photos of landscapes and cityscapes to share on the first day. Indeed I had those kinds of photos, but I also included this shot of a musician playing the organ. I loved how the early evening light fell on the scene and the fact that this guy was obviously having fun performing for me.
The next day I shared this photo of an elderly gent standing in the doorway of his residence. I just thought the scene looked kinda cool – his clothes, the doorway. One of the other students asked how I got strangers to pose for me and I laughed and said “I ask them”. Seemed like a silly question to me.
The next day I showed up with this photo. This time another student asked - “Really, what do you say to strangers to get them to agree to being photographed? What did you say to this guy?” I really laughed this time and started counting on my fingers. My reply was “I said 7 little words – You’re gorgeous. Can I take your picture”. The room roared with laughter. Then I told them that I actually took two photos of this guy. In the first one he was not really smiling and so I said “Come on baby, cop me a smile”, and he did. More laughter.
The next day our whole group was having lunch in an outdoor cafe and chatting. I discovered that many of the other photographers didn’t ever take photos of strangers because they just didn’t have the nerve to ask people. I told them that it was easy and that not once had I ever had someone say no to me. Believe me, I have no desire to take photos of everyone I meet, but every once in a while someone is doing something interesting, dressed in something I love or just oozes character and I really want to make a picture. I approach them with my camera in hand and tell them that I love to take pictures and explain to them what is appealing to me about them. Honesty. It always works. I then only take 3 or 4 shots, show them the photos on the back of my camera, say “Thank you. You made my day” (’cause the really did) and I carry on. Sometimes if I know they are pleased with the photos I offer to email the pics to them. I always carry a pen and paper for that purpose.
Then the group put me to the challenge. They gave me 10 minutes to go out and get shots of someone interesting and I had to come back to the cafe and show them the shots. I grabbed my camera and yelled “No Problem” as I bolted away from the table, muttering under my breath “oh shit”. I ran down the the nearest lane way. Nothing. No one there. I ran down the next lane way and saw 2 chefs out back having a smoke. I stopped running, and casually sauntered down the lane way thinking of how I would approach this. Simple. The honesty factor. I told them I was a Canadian and that in Canada our chefs seldom wore hats. I told them they looked awesome and asked them if I could take a few pictures. They readily agreed. After taking the shots, I told them I had a few friends with me who were also photographers and asked if it was okay if they took some photos as well. Again they agreed. I told them I would be right back. I walked down the lane way and when I got around the corner I bolted back to the cafe. I flashed a couple of the pictures and told the gang to come with me quickly. I had my camera ready to shoot. I wanted to capture a shot of the chefs as we walked around the corner and they saw me and a few friends with cameras in hand. (There were 8 of us!) This was the shot. It turned out to be my favourite one. These guys were amazing and we had a blast taking photos of them. They were totally flattered!
The rest of the week was so much fun as we added a daily challenge. Who could take the best shot of a person. The only rule was you had to ask their permission. Even the shy ones in the gang pulled it off. It was great!
A couple more stories. So I am in at the Coliseum in Rome and ready to pack it in as the mid-day sun is so harsh and it is the worst time of the day to shoot. I sit on a bench and this gal on a bike catches my eye. I am immediately attracted to her bright clothing and take a few shots.
She comes closer to me and I take a few more shots. I realize how very beautiful she is but the lighting is harsh. Crappy lighting or not, I know it is now or never. I walk up to her and discover she speaks great English, so I tell her the truth – that she is very beautiful and I could not resist taking some photos of her and I show her the shots on my camera.
She is totally flattered and allows me to take a few more shots. We exchange emails and I forward the shots to her. Made my day and I am sure it made her day too. How often does a stranger tell you that you are beautiful. I once read that a compliment is not a compliment unless it is shared. Makes sense. If you think it, sometimes you just have to say it. Makes me think of a time that I was out shopping and saw an older lady with the most beautiful grey hair. I walked up to her and told her that her hair was absolutely beautiful and I walked away. I saw her again in another aisle about half an hour later, and she was still smiling.
This is a young lad that was just packing up from fly fishing in France. Although he didn’t speak a word of English and my French sucks, I was able to take a few shots of him. It is amazing what a hand few gestures and a friendly smile can do. Poor guy had one heck of a sunburn going on.
I was wandering the streets in downtown Cassis, France when suddenly I could hear a sax in the distance. I knew I had to find where it was coming from and I was not disappointed. I was not pleased with the first couple shots because of all the people in the background, so I followed a great photographers advise… “When finding the right angle for a shot… Move your ass.” ~ Jay Maisel
Now this shot with the marina in the background tells you where I was at.
And of course a couple police officers in Aix en Provence, France.
“Always remember to make room to shoot what you love. It’s the only way to keep your heart beating as a photographer.” ~ Joe McNally
So true. In 2012 I plan on spending way more time on personal work, shooting the things I want to shoot.