Tivoli Avenida Luxury Hotel. Lisbon, Portugal
My first day in Lisbon was so rewarding in many ways.
My stated goals for this two week trip was to get to spend quality time with my brother. That was first and foremost. It’s been a long time since Bill and I connected on a deeper level and had a chance to catch up on each other’s lives. Beyond that, Photography, Wine and Food (in that order) were what I was wanting to saturate my time with.
There was rarely a time that I didn’t have my Nikon D750 with me. I always had my iPhone7 in my pocket, which takes pretty amazing pictures but it was my Nikon that really grabs tremendous pictures. So, heavy and intrusive as it can be, that’s what I worked with intentionally to capture the very best images of our vacation that I could.
The Nikon digital SLR camera can be a challenge though in Street Photography. Most people are pretty comfortable with having their picture taken with an iPhone or Samsung – whatever their phone of choice is- and quickly hit a smile or a puckered kiss if they’re sassy enough. But when I raise that Nikon to my face and look through the viewfinder, there’s an immediate separation from the person when the camera covers my face. The subjects sometimes balk and get a little more defensive about what I’m up to. Its the same objective – to take their picture – but it changes very quickly when I raise a serious camera versus what people perceive as an amateur snapshot from a phone held at eye level with the photographer’s face still visible. It takes a little finesse to gain and hold trust with my Nikon. But, I’m very good at it. I’m friendly and quick, always using a warm smile and carefully evaluating my subject for compliance and willingness.
There’s also a difference in street photography between a candid, unsuspecting shot of an interesting person who doesn’t know you’ve taken their picture (like sitting in a sidewalk cafe) and a more personal portrait. In the case of a more intimate shot where I approach the person that I may find uniquely interesting, I do ask for their permission to take their picture and I might even ask them to pose. I might actually give some direction or take a series of shots to be sure I’ve caught what attracted me to them in the first place. In these cases, I always offer my business card or a means for them to receive a copy of the pictures I took. Free. If they’re kind enough to pose for me then the least I can do is provide an act of kindness back to them. Whether I capture a person, unaware of my presence, in a carefree moment or if I make direct contact for a more personal portrait, I use very different skills. I’ve worked hard to be successful with both types. I can be respectfully clandestine or I can be friendly and trustworthy. It takes practice and patience.
In either case, I’m always on alert as I walk through the streets. In Lisbon, my first day out, I saw this doorman at the adjacent hotel. I was going to head up to the SkyBar for a rooftop view of Lisbon in the evening and have a glass of Portugese wine, when this fella reached to open the hotel lobby door for me. As soon as I saw him I knew I had to have his picture. He was unique. He had a charisma about him and I could tell by his outfit that he didn’t mind having attention called to him. Since I didn’t have my Nikon with me, I returned the next afternoon with my camera and asked if I could take his portrait. He gladly agreed. I showed him the result on my little camera screen and he was quite pleased. I emailed the hotel with a copy to be forwarded to him.
I could tell this was going to be a very successful trip!