Ask Ty...October 31

Q: I've done some extensive perusing of your Blogs/Websites and enjoyed all that I saw (esp. the interview with the D.C. protest cop ["...the juxtoposition of the officer next to the World Bank this building prohibited?"] snippet).

Love your photos.

Here's my question: While I took Journalism classes and PhotoJournalism I'm just getting back into taking photos of some meaning. I love to take photos of people on the street and although I randomly see interesting people and great shot op's I'm still trying to find the balls to take their photos. How do you approach these people without ruining the shot? I.E-do you take the photo first and then explain that your a pro photographer (I understand you carry a business card which sounds sensible). I know that's a dumb question but I always feel like I SEE great photos but pass up the shot. Any suggestions would be great...?

- #88, NorCal

Ty: Good question and an even better observation.

I'm glad you like my photographs, thanks.

Funny, I still have problems getting the balls to shoot sometimes. Firstly, I've found that in public nobody notices (so just shoot, only explain if questioned - lie if you have to, but shoot first ask permission later, if necessary to thwart a possible "situation". If you have to ask (like in a coffee shop or at a pool) then say "I'm taking photo classes..." - works every time (as does, "it's for my blog" with the ladies). But, rarely say, "I'm a professional photographer." That identifies you as a dork. I've noticed that if I have to ask, 99% give permission (the other 1% asks, "why?" and you can talk 'em into it).

I take like 1,000-1,500 shots a month and STILL feel I pass on shots. I try to carry a camera with me everywhere I go. But I either sometimes just chicken out (less frequently anymore) or I just miss the shot I see (drives me nutty). Sometimes though, I magically make the time and take the effort to get the shot before I even think about it.

So, if you SEE a shot, then just fuckin' TAKE the shot. My advice is to go all Nike and just do it. Once the shot is taken, it's taken. If you're in public, everyone's fair game. Also, if you can, use what I call the "power of two." You have a friend stand and pose, then you just shoot over his/her shoulder toward your subject.

Oh, and cops don't like photographers.

Just a guess.

- Ty