The object of this exercise, as the title suggests, is for me to try and find confidence in shooting the ‘unknown’. That is, people and environments that are possibly unknown to me. Indeed, even in my most familiar surroundings I can’t be 100% certain what will happen within them, which as a photographer is what I should be on the look out for; the unknown and therefore possibly interesting events that unfold around me. This part of the project is called ‘A comfortable situation’, so the idea for this exercise is to find somewhere I am happy and confident to take photographs and report on how I feel, both during the shoot and on reflection.
I decided to go to a local wet market and photograph the people working and shopping there. All the photographs have been taken with a 27mm-82mm efl lens and between ISO400-1600.
As I mentioned in my preface to this project, I am happy to go in to situations, which are a little less than entirely comfortable to take photographs. I think the slight edge that it produces helps to maintain the awareness you need to shoot street photography. I decided to go to a wet market I hadn’t been to before and in doing so put myself in a slightly more unknown position than usual. The first thing I really noticed was that a few of my subjects were not keen on having their photograph taken (the ‘ice-man’ in the final image is a case in point, but I quite like the image). This is fairly unusual for me to come across. As I say, I haven’t been there before so could not really tell why it was. Although I am supposed to be unobtrusive, a wet market full of shoppers and sellers makes this fairly difficult to achieve for the duration especially as I am usually the only westerner walking through at the time. It may be that I have to review my technique. My usual approach is to come out smiling but as I was not trying to make overt connection with my subjects I felt this wasn’t really the approach I should take. This did have the effect of slightly unsettling me, however I find this only serves to spur me on.
As far as how my comfort levels affected the gestures and expressions of my subjects I would say that most of the photographs I have picked (of course, there are many with the subject looking directly at my lens), represent the natural look and actions of the subject and indeed of the photos I picked the subjects seemed to be either unaware or not to care. It appears that the group of aunties having morning kopi have noticed and reacted to my presence although at the time I thought they were merely having some banter with each other (which maybe they were, about me!). Now that I am out of the situation I can’t be sure.
I was asked to take as many photographs as I felt comfortable with. In the end, as the market is not that large, I felt I was starting to affect the dynamic of the place by retracing my steps to go back and take more photographs. It started to feel like I was getting unnatural responses to taking more so, I called it a day.