On the 11th of October there was a Climate Change protest in Perth organised by a few activist organisations but mainly the global group “Extinction Rebellion”.
Why did I take portraits at the event?
I still believe street photography is the most powerful form of photography. Why? It captures unposed, candid moments reflecting people, thoughts, issues and as moments in history. These are the types of photos that have a chance of standing the test of time. Street photos are the types of photos that you can look back on in 50 or 100 years and they will have the same if not, more of an impact. No offense but not a lot happens in Perth. So when people are actually fired up enough to do something like a. protest I knew it would be great to capture. You can argue that these photos are technically “posed” but there is an inner approach to taking portraits that you must take as a photographer in order to create an image that is real and without judgement.
How do I take documentary portraits?
- Find a subject that reflects the event. I didn’t want to take photos of just anyone. I wanted to capture people who had a certain timeless look about them. People that had a unique look in the eye and as a collective reflected the event that was occuring.
- Approach your subject. Be polite and express without a filter exactly what you want to do and why you’d like to take their portrait.
- Whatever you feel, they feel. You must have and open mind, don’t think to much about them just think about taking the picture. Seperate yourself from the subject. Capture them without judgement. That’s how they will express themselves as they feel. That’s how you capture an authentic street/documentary portrait.
Inspired by Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York. (Arguably one of the most influential documentary portrait photographer and story teller of this generation )I did small interviews to attach to the photographs. This helps capture what these people were thinking and feeling at the time.
“There’s so much evidence that the climate change is happening and there’s not enough being done. I’ve got kids and I want them to be healthy and have a bright future ahead of them”
“I wasn’t aware this was going on until I came into the city. I think it’s incredible.. I love feeling, the energy of people coming together for a common cause.. I think it’s special.”
“I apologise for disrupting your route to work but Climate change is something very important to me” – Amy
“I’m 23 and I’ve been a climate activist for the last 10 years. I’m here to stand up for the future of my generation and defend the place we live on” – Noeme
What gear or equipment should I use?
It depends on the photos you’re trying to make but I think typically historical photographs of events are most likely shot with a 35mm lens. I think a 35mm 1.4 would probably be. perfect. I photographed these photos on my Sony A7III and 50mm 1.8. The 50mm 1.8 is a great portrait lens. I wanted to seperate the subject from the background so there was more emphasis on them than the people and things going on in the background. However sometimes the camera in your pocket (smartphone) may be the best camera on you at the time. You never know when something historical will occur.
“I’m here to protest. I want the government to take more action on climate change” – Lela
I really enjoyed going out, finding subjects and taking their portraits. It was cool to be somewhat apart of the action that I think reflects a global shift in consciousness/ awareness about our planet. I would love to do something like Brandon Stantons on going series Humans of New York however I wouldn’t want to copy him so I need to think of a way to improve it or have my own spin on it.