On The Road; People Skills; Speak Softly And Carry A Short Lens Page 2

It’s also important to be observant. In a marketplace I might be photographing a woman who sells pots, and as I’m working I’m looking around for my next subject. If I see her colleagues looking on, laughing and enjoying themselves, I know I’ve got my next subjects. Also, I won’t shoot all my frames at once—I’ll stop and show her what I’ve taken, and I’ll even walk over to some of her colleagues and show them, all with the hope that I can shoot them later on.

She was sitting in the doorway of a small hut in Mali with one of her children. I gestured that I wanted a picture of them, but it was her photo I was most interested in. I took several frames, showed her the pictures, then indicated I’d like to photograph her by herself. With her child close by with neighbors, I got the relaxed, natural picture I’d envisioned.

No matter what the people are doing when I see them, I almost always want them to keep on doing it. First, because they don’t feel they’re taking time out to pose for me and second, they understand that I’m interested in what they’re doing.

If there are children around and I get the parents’ tacit permission to photograph them, that almost always means I’ll be able to take pictures of the parents as well. In a family situation in a village, I always approach the men first, shake their hands and make personal contact. I’m letting them know I respect them and their families and I find what they’re doing interesting and want to share in it.

The most important thing is to use common sense, be comfortable and relaxed. Most people will be very cooperative and willing to help you get your photographs if you show respect and genuine interest.

I wanted to isolate the driver of the tuk-tuk (the three-wheel auto rickshaw) so I made an exception to my no-distance-shooting practice and took this with my 180mm lens. He was aware of me and willing to pose. When I went up to him afterward to thank him, I found he spoke a little English.

Maynard Switzer’s website (www.maynardswitzer.com) features several portfolios of his travel images.