Less than a week ago, I was enjoying the glorious sunshine, fresh seafood and impressive landscape in the north of Spain. I’ve since settled back into ‘regular life’ in Brussels, which includes cleaning house, doing laundry and catching up on work. I still need to organise my digital photo files of this summer holiday though.

I think I will sort these out much sooner than usual as most of my photos were taken with my iPhone and I had processed the preferred shots (using VSCO Cam) during the trip.

I also brought along my ‘new’ rangefinder, a secondhand Canonet QL17 GIII that I bought on eBay and was using for the first time. Happy to say that the camera worked well and the three rolls of pictures turned out fine.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

My trusty Fuji X100 had to sit out of this Iberian holiday as I didn’t want to juggle three cameras while climbing mountains and steep city sidewalks. But here’s a shot of the X100 alongside the Canonet – they are almost similar in size with the latter being slighter larger (and also significantly heavier).

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Anyway, as I was browsing through the iPhone photos and scanned negatives of the photos taken with the Canonet, I noticed that there were few people present in my pictures. AB features most prominently amongst them – especially when we were hiking in the Picos de Europa and I was usually trailing behind him, carefully navigating between the cow dung and rocks 😉

+++

In a previous post, I pondered the question of where does one draw the line between voyeurism and art when photographing through the windows of someone’s home.

This time round, the main reason why there are not many people in my photos is because I generally don’t dare to photograph strangers. In this instance, I was a visitor passing through their city while they were minding their own business and going about their daily lives.

Where does one draw the line to avoid invading another person’s privacy?

What a dilemma this poses as what I’m most interested in photographing is ordinary life, la vie quotidienne. I like having an element of human presence in some of these pictures – it could be the person itself, a body part, a shadow, or even an object that implies that someone was there.

The following selection of photos were taking during this recent trip. As you will see, most of the people in them are unidentifiable. I hope that I’ve captured the beauty of each of these ordinary moments.

Lisbon // Canonet QL17, Kodak Portra 400F1000012ts - Lisbon - Portra 400

Setúbal // Canonet QL17, Kodak Portra 400F1000017ts - Setubal - Portra 400

Porto // Canonet QL17, Kodak Portra 400F1000030ts - Porto - Portra 400

A Coruña // Canonet QL 17, Fuji Superia 200F1010005 - A Coruna - Fuji Superia 200

Asturias // iPhone + VSCO CamProcessed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

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18 replies on “Photographing People: Here, There, Everywhere

  1. I can relate to your trepidation of having people in your images. I’ve often said people just get in the way of a perfectly good scene. But I think different now. It is about intent. I intended to take a photo of a building and upon review I noticed people in the shot. Am I intruding on their private moments? That was not my intention. Do I use the image? If it exploits the intimacy of unfortunate people caught in my shot then the answer is a resounding, NO. But if they are doing what we all have experienced as everyday mundane things, then of course. It is part of the human discourse of simply being human. It is a candid moment. It is human nature. As photographers, we embrace what is human. That’s how I see it.

    1. Hi Borja, I agree with you. I had meant to add in this post that I’m uncomfortable taking photographs of strangers with them facing the camera as I feel like I’m intruding. In addition, the awareness of being in a photograph might also influence the candidness of the moment. Which is why I often end up with photos of people taken from behind or just part of their bodies are shown in the images.

  2. I love these, especially the composition in the Setúbal photo. I do the same thing when I take photos — try not to openly photograph people, and then share only (or mostly) the ones where the people are unidentifiable. I think this is more cautious about privacy than I really need to be, but it’s what feels comfortable to me.

    1. Thanks Lisa! I am also leaning to the side of cautiousness. Don’t really want people shouting or running after me! I am also more self-conscious when I’m taking photos in places where I don’t blend in as I often feel/imagine that more eyes are on me.

      1. Yes, there’s a double level of visibility sometimes! I hate crowds of tourists, but I have to admit that I find photography much more freeing in tourist spots, because there everyone has a camera (and sadly, often everyone is rude as well)!

  3. I am also very aware of invading peoples privacy as we have so little of it in today’s society. If when I am framing a shot and people walk into it, all well and good but once I was taking a time lapse of a ferry and the ferry driver, who was an indigenous Australian, asked that his cultural beliefs be respected and not to take photos of him, which I of course assured him that any images would be deleted. So you never do know.

  4. In this day and age, the line is totally blurred. I mean, look at Instagram for example; flooded with people who are invading their own privacy, gladly and readily. So, unless it’s a cultural thing, I wouldn’t expect you’d run into trouble for sharing some innocent photos of everyday life – and very nice ones too, I might add!

    1. I suppose the difference is that these people have the choice of how they want to present themselves to the rest of the world (or their social media network) whereas if it is a picture that a stranger took of them, they would have no control 😉

  5. For some reason I find myself really taken by your indoor photography. There is a cool stillness, a specialness about how you treat the most mundane object that I really appreciate. For example, these two cameras and the stack of books…It reminds me of the photography I used to see in id magazine.

  6. As a person who loves street photography / portraiture, I can’t go for very long without photographing people. That said, sometimes it’s nice to have an image that’s without – such as the Great Wall or certain interior design photographs. Excellent set of images; wonderful exposure work. The human element in each works very well.

    1. I’m usually very hesitant to take portraits, even of people I know. Unless it is at an event and my role is to take photos, in which case, my fears almost completely disappears! I’m lucky that the weather was good for the most part of my trip – can’t go too wrong with the sunny f/16 rule 🙂

  7. Hi Angelina

    I love the Portra 400s .. I still cannot get this film right – not sure f tits the developing or the scanning, or how i shoot it in my Minilux and Nikon – yours are great ! The A Coruna is simply .. so right, and beautiful as it is ! Load more analogue here please ! I’ve decided to shoot my X100S only at night, sometimes accompanied by the L1 with the stock Leica in front, and only film during the day : the Minilux for all 100-200 ASAs and the Nikon for the 400 – 1600 films.

    Warm regards from still cold South Africa!

    1. I’ve not taken many photos with film and am not familiar with what the different ones should turn out. But I like how the Portra worked out here. Nowadays, I get my film developed and scanned at Negatif+ in Paris. Absolutely, will upload more of the pictures taken with the Canonet after I’ve sorted out my photos! I only have two cameras + a phone camera, so I just mix them up and use them whenever 🙂

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