(If you haven't checked out part III of this series you can read it here) I know what you're thinking. "FINALLY! Can we now talk about photography?!" Why yes, yes we can.
Having spent several months hanging out and doing relational preparation in the Palms trailer park I finally felt comfortable bringing out my camera and lighting equipment about 2 months ago. (On a side note, I'm using a Canon 5d Mrk II with a 50mm 1.4 lens. I usually shoot around f2.0. For lighting I'm using a Q-Flash Model T triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus II Transceivers). I don't think I shot one picture the first time I brought out all my gear. Through experience I've learned it's better to bring out my gear but not use it for a couple of visits. That being said if I see a killer photo and feel the people are comfortable with me shooting I'll go for it. People will usually ask, "What's with all the stuff?" This is always a great opportunity to fill them in on what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. For this project I usually say something like this:
"I'm a photographer and I'm here shooting the people in and around the neighborhood. I'm interested in this area of town and am looking to improve my portfolio. What would you think about me taking your picture? I'm giving everyone who allows me to take their photo a print for free as a 'thank you.'"
I'm not going to lie, at times I am very nervous when I tell people this. Why? Several reasons. I'm a foreigner in their land, I'm asking them for something very personal, rejection hurts, people can get scared off, etc. Not surprisingly these fears are always false. I have yet to be rejected by the people in the neighborhood. Some decline, some accept, some say they'd rather wait until they are dressed nicer. As my mom always says, "It never hurts to ask."
With all that in mind you're probably wanting to see some pictures. Well here they are. Though this is just a teaser for what's to come:
I know what you're thinking. "Do only kids live here?" No, adults do as well (though it would have been really awesome to find a neighborhood run by kids. LORD OF THE FLIES!). I usually always find myself photographing kids at first and love every minute of it. They can't wait to have their photo taken. I've found that adults tend to trust you once they see you interacting with kids. I don't know what it is but it seems that children are almost always a gateway to adults.