Street photography – taking photos in a supermarket

August 29th, 2012 → 9:16 pm @

Taking photos in a supermarket is a bit scary, because you come face to face with your subjects.

And that’s part of the fun of supermarket photos. You risk getting spotted by the staff and by your subjects.

So how do you take photos like this one?




One solution is to hold a hand basket in both hands, and hold a camera at the same time. Have a look at the photo below. You have to look quite closely to see there’s a camera pointing at you.

I put a loaf of bread or something else light into the basket, so it looks legitimate, but isn’t too heavy.

And I use a camera with a flip screen, in this case a Samsung MV900F.

It’s a small compact camera so most shoppers don’t notice it.

The average shopper walks around in a daze, absorbed in the array of foods around them, and mentally working out recipes, dishes and school dinners.

The staff are more watchful, but I always keep an eye out for them, and return to normal shopper behaviour when one appears in the aisle.

I never look at the subject. I always concentrate on a product on the aisles, but occasionally glance down at the screen, and make sure it’s pointing at the right place.

When I see a potential subject, I get closer to them and then concentrate my gaze on a shelf near them while shooting several pictures.

Sometimes, a subject walks past before I can photograph them. When that happens, I work out what direction they’re going in, and work out how to intercept them. I do that by missing out a couple of aisles and then walking back towards them.

And here’s a tip. When taking pictures in a store, start at the far end and work backwards.  That way you get people coming towards you. Whereas if you start at the entrance, you are walking in the same direction as everyone else, so you don’t get any faces.

There are technical issues. The light in supermarkets is often weak, so you get some camera shake. But I never expect my street photography shots to be crystal clear. I’m more interested in the subjects. In the case of the man in the ‘wife beater’, he looks out of place with his athletic T shirt and baseball cap. and a bit insecure. Yet there is something purposeful about his gaze and body language.



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