My philosophy of life can be summed up as: if you don’t play, you can’t win. The best photos are created when the photographer is engaged with the subject. With people, it means connecting, even briefly, and generating a sharing moment.
That is how I learned that the most powerful words in photography are, “May I take your picture?”
Often, the response is “Why?” This provides the opportunity to introduce myself, tell them what it is about them that I find fascinating, and open a conversation. I want honesty in my photograph, it must be based on an honest interaction when I take the picture.
People have a right to say no and if someone does, I say thank you and move on. The world is full of interesting people and things.
It was a beautiful spring day in Paris and I was walking down a small street behind our hotel on the Rue de Rivoli. I found this group of firemen just finishing practicing getting people out of 1st and 2nd floor windows. It only took my holding up my camera and asking “S’il vous plait?” to get their full attention. They lined up and posed with their reflective helmet face shields down. A great picture which I’ll post some other time.
I motioned to flip up their visors and this is the picture that I got. For me, their faces, half hidden in the shadows, make this a timeless photo.