Closer and closer

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you are not close enough.” — Robert Capa

As a war photographer, Capa’s photos totally illustrate what he said.

Chinese senior soldiers were breasting the sunlight, American soldiers were landing at Normandy, Omaha Beach. Good enough? Definitely, it is the short distance between the subjects that make you feel the vivid emotion at that time.

But ‘freedom is not free’, not all the photographer is brave enough to step in and take pictures at their ease, or sometimes the circumstance is not allowing them to put themselves in, let alone some amateurs.

This reminds me of my personal story this summer. After running and way home, I found there are three kids are playing swings. Carefree laughing, interactive movement and the beautiful sunset, I cannot help to hand on my phone to take the scene down with my iPhone.

3 kids are playing the swing

Unfortunately, their father is not happy with that, walking towards me, and waving his tennis racket, said, “ WHY ARE YOU TAKING PICTURES OF MY BOYS?!” I was panicked over at that moment and also felt so embarrassed.

Indeed, most people may have the exact same feeling as this father, when being snapped in such a short distance, they thought they were disrupted and being treated in a disrespect manner. This is particularly true in the western country, where people emphasized their privacy, especially for kids. I never thought of the serious consequences of it, when I taking pictures of people in China, they just show the strangeness in their faces, and without complains. Anyway, I really infringe on their rights in two cases, but until the snapping I mentioned above make me realize the what I did seem to be wrong morally.

After that, I began to be trapped into the contradictory. Alright, I might have to care about others’ feelings facing the camera, but in this case, how can I get great pictures and stories behind them if I have no way to get close to them? Most of the time I was wondering around the sideline. Hesitation and struggling, resulting in losing many opportunities to get the pictures in this instant-flashing world.


Thanks to one of my friends, he gave the solution to this problem. We were out to take photos one day, when seeing the baby in the arm of his father in the tube, he first had a subtle smile to this father gently, after permitted by the father, he then quickly raising his camera shooting. ‘ChaCha!’, all the action happened within 1 min, but he really catches the great pictures of the baby.

I think he is correct. The more sneaky behaviors you have, the more conflicts you may make, and the less opportunities you will get closer to your subjects. As a result, you may yield nothing but the confusion.

Be confident and keep your smile to them, and never forget that you are one of the artists making your works with the light, with the subject, with the camera and with your eyes, so do not push your elements of your works, rather, treat them in a gentle manner. I believe that most of the subjects perceive your snapping as a way of appreciation and even a joy of being recording into a picture as an art form.

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