I normally don’t ask people for permission to take their pictures. Two reasons, first, I consider myself a street photographer and as such believe that casual, candid, anonymous shots are preferable to ones where a person is looking into the camera (and based upon observation, 90% of the people you’d photograph would be giving a Churchillesque ‘V’ for victory sign); I want to capture them as they are going about their lives, unaware of my camera. Second, believe it or not, I’m shy: approaching people I don’t know makes me extremely uncomfortable (almost as much as speaking in public), and third, I don’t speak Chinese, so explaining what I am doing would be impossible.
Having said all that, I have decided to challenge myself to be a bit more aggressive in my street style (obnoxious?) and get closer in and a bit more blatant if I see a character shot I want. Last week walking back from the chiropractor’s office I saw these two men, one panhandling, one street performing and decided to get up close to shoot. The guy with the cane I approached first. I had my camera settings where
I wanted them, walked straight toward him and raised the camera to my eye, shooting as I did so;he immediately and loudly protested, waving me off. I was expecting that so I had a handful of 1yuan coins that I held out to him which he smilingly accepted with a fist bump. The musician saw me coming so I raised my camera in my hand and pointed to it, he nodded his approval so I moved in close (28 mm lens) and shot. He too appreciated the donation dropped into his bucket and we shook hands.
Stalin, he was just hanging out by a bus stop watching.