As we walked the streets of Rome, I took it upon myself to be a little more forward with my street shooting. A lot of stuff was shot from the hip, especially on the bus where I couldn’t get away from my subject quickly. However, I had been working on a few techniques of distraction that work well in public situations.
One of them is to pretend that you are photographing something beyond your subject. You do this by keeping your camera up to your face after you release the shutter as if you were waiting for them to move out of your picture. You can also look around immediately after you take your photo to pretend like your attention was elsewhere the entire time. Nowadays, people instinctively try to get out of others photos as a courtesy, so you can use this to your advantage to photograph strangers.
Check out Garry Winogrand begin answering an interview question, stop to photograph two moms, then a young woman and then pull this trick on a guy who wonders why he’s being photographed. Finally, he stops and finishes his response. Masterful.
All technique aside, the Roman people are fascinating to look at. All the retired men and women still dress like they are going to work. No leisure suits here. Instead of the American retired uniform of white tennis shoes, blue jeans, a windbreaker and “Veteran” emblazoned trucker hat, you’ll find retirees wearing a shirt, tie, vest and jacket complete with dress shoes running around doing their errands. I don’t know how I’ll dress when I get that age but it sure makes for more interesting photos right now.