Random Candid Moments
For my walkabouts, I normally carry two cameras -- one with a 50mm equivalent prime, and the other a wider-angle prime, either a 25mm or 34mm. Shooting with short primes forces me to get up close and personal with my subjects, which is a rule that I have when I hit the streets. Shooting that closely to my subjects can inhibit my ability to capture candid moments, so I have to get creative.
Usually when I'm hanging out in an area long enough, I find that the people around me quickly forget me as street wallpaper, so I can often can sneak in a few candid shots. Like the capture of the guy above on his way to work. He noticed me focusing on the window washers cleaning a third-floor window, and he gave in to his own curiosity.
I have a few rules about candid shots. The rule related to these pics? I never use a telephoto. The longest lens I'll use for street work is a 90mm portrait lens -- which I use only on special occasions. Using primes forces me to be close enough to my subject that if they cared to look, they'd see me with a camera pointing at them. Using a telephoto feels like private investigator work.
I'm not looking to uncover a nefarious secret or looking for an embarrassing moment that can go viral. I'm looking to capture an authentic moment that, if I'm lucky, says something about the moment I've captured. The woman above is walking alone in the early days of the Covid shut-down. Most of my street shots during the shut-down are of solo walkers. It was a desolate and lonely time to capture.
And in both shots above I had previously interacted with the subjects or made eye contact with them as I was shooting each of them from another angle. Technically these specific pics are candid, but they came after other shots in which I had had some interaction with the subjects.
Like the subjects in the previous candids, the two men in this picture were previously aware of my presence, though they were not likely aware of me behind them at this particular moment. They were part of a group of men and women catching squid on a downtown Seattle pier. They had all given their consent to my camera as they continued with their squid work.
It was a fun morning. There were a dozen or so fisherpeople who had developed quite a community gathering, with some of them selling their handmade lures and all of them quietly chit-chatting about all sorts of things. In street shooting, it's the chance to discover and spend time with these kinds of micro communities that give my walkabouts a great sense of meaning.
The morning of this shot I had been driving up and down Rainer Ave and Martin Luther King Dr. in south Seattle looking for murals like the ones that had suddenly been showing up on shuddered businesses throughout the rest of the city. On my way through the Columbia City neighborhood, I stopped at a micro brewery that was selling canned beer to go. Canning their brew was their way of surviving the shutdown. I grabbed six pack and drank one of the beers on that bench. It was a beautiful spring day, early in the Covid shut-down. I was feeling vaguely illicit, both for being out of quarantine in the first place, and drinking a beer before noon in the park.
Ok. I admit. I broke nearly every one of my rules with this picture. I didn't intend to take it, but as I was walking up the grassy knoll to head home, I turned around and was taken by the pensive loneliness of the mother and her two daughters, out in the pandemic, along the empty shores of Lake Washington, quietly being alone with their own thoughts and with one another. I took this shot, completely without their knowledge and without any previous interaction with them.
I honestly don't know if it's a good shot -- it's not one of my favorites -- but the memory it brings of being out in the very early days of the Covid shut-down gives me a nostalgic glow that I like recalling. It was a strange, strange time. Plus I like the goose exposing itself to that girl.