I’m bored by posed nightlife photos. Club kids are ready to freeze for the camera at a split-second’s notice, and photographers seem generally happy with that. The result? A tradition of static, posed ‘street fashion’ shots. All well and good, but I’m much more interested in the unposed shot, taken before the reflex to ‘do the look’ kicks in. I want to catch the moment when our gaze first crosses, to snare that fleeting instant-between-people, before our relationship has been resolved as being between ‘photographer’ and ‘subject’, with the consequent spiral down into stereotypical role-play and performance that dynamic entails.
Unposed doesn’t imply unframed. I’m a formalist at heart: composition matters. Framing and capturing charged moments takes speed and tactics. It’s hard to be discreet with a full-size DSLR and flash, so getting those images often means shooting from the hip. For me that works best using a 28mm prime that on my small-sensor D300 has an angle-of-view similar to my eyes. I’m familiar enough with that setup that I have a good idea what’s going to be in frame without needing to check the viewfinder. After that, it’s down to timing and luck. Sometimes it works. Some of my favourites, include('wp-content/uploads/2008/10/gazes.html'); ?>
My photography isn’t solely about that gaze. There are other stories to tell, and other gazes, in other moments. But I’m most happy when I manage to capture that moment of contact: as if the perfect kiss, stolen before the first thought.