Candid Photography Lesson at Muslim Day 2014

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Its been a “May oven” this year. Usually we have “May Gray” followed by “June Gloom;” but this year we have dry hot desert winds blowing in from the east- Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico. These super heated winds from the interior are unusual in that they come later in Summer (known as the “Santa Ana’s). But it seems everything about the weather is becoming unusual. These winds are the same ones feasting on the dry shrubs in and around San Diego, feeding the wildfire conflagrations there.

While everything is fine in the high desert, the winds thwarted my outdoor adventure exploration plans. Instead, I took an opportunity to try my hand at portrait photography at the annual Muslim Day picnic at Merri Kerr Park in Palmdale which is held by my childhood Masjid the American Islamic Institute of the Antelope Valley (yeah, thats a mouthful!).

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….and I choked!  (I got some awesome food pictures!)

When it comes to candid portrait photography, my difficulty arises out of personal insecurity. I feel uncomfortable taking pictures of people. My sense is that people are self conscious to the point of craziness, which makes candid photography anathema for them. Plus, they might think “whats the pervert doing!”

Part of that is also that I grew up being told to take pictures only when everyone looked right. In college I was labeled the “paparazzi,” and more often then not ridiculed by my friends for all the pictures I took. Jokes on them, they all come to me for pictures to show in their slideshows for their weddings!

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Kids are willing to work with photographers, or at least me! I am really great with kids. They are willing to put up with the process, as long as they get to see the product, instantly. When they get tired of the whole thing, they go about doing their thing, they don’t care to listen to instructions or give me the time to take the perfect shot. They just go about their playing, and thats okay, because I still can get some pretty candid shots. (Checkout my shots of my cousins visiting during Memorial Day Weekend here)

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Adults, they are self conscious, they see a camera and they automatically pose. Or they shy away, or worse, something I haven’t gotten used to handling, they get angry, confrontational, and ornery.

When I am out on my hikes, setting up my shots of nature, capturing the landscape in the way I want to remember it; the process is slow, its methodical, its forgiving of my fumbling. People photography isn’t like that. Its filled with judgment, its impatient, its unforgiving. I get put on the spot which makes it hard for me to keep my pace and do the artistic part of the process.

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I like candid un-composed shots; un-composed meaning they are not stylized, perfected, and real time edited to give off an air of “perfection” but rather simply the person as they are, their personality shining through, and whatever the circumstances they find themselves in bare and apparent. If they are young, energetic and naive about life; I like to show that. I want my photography to speak for them. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and that is what I want to try to capture. The problem is being comfortable with the art and the process behind it.

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