On permission : The Vuitton dandy

One of the question I often get is whether I ask permission to my subjects before I photograph them. The answer is a straightforward no. There are two reasons for that : first, scenes unfold and fold very quickly, most of the time what attracts your eyes initially is gone in a second. If you ask for permission, that scene will be gone forever and what you recreate will simply be untrue to your first vision. Secondly and let’s face it, most people are terrible actors. Asking for permission will mean that your subjects will start to act, or at least try. Yet unless you crossed path with Sean Connery, the awful acting will also show on your picture.

To illustrate, let’s take a look at the scene below. I spotted that dandy from about 50 meters out. I then moved as discreetly as I could until I reached the postion I had selected. I quickly kneeled and took the shot, it is clearly a candid as the man attitude remained unaltered by my presence. The man then spotted me and asked me « Can’t you ask for permission first? ». I answered to him straight away that I wanted to keep the spontaneity of the scene. His reply to that was « I understand, that is a good reason ».  (click on picture to enlarge)


Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/2000, ISO200

We then chatted for a while and I asked permission for a close-up portrait. This leads me to this advice :  when shooting strangers, take shots as long as you remain unspotted (if you ever are). Then deal with the reaction and do not be afraid of people. Being photographed by a stranger can be perceived as an intrusion so be ready to explain and be honest about it. People will react much better then if you simply walk away. Coming back to that man I met on Les Champs-Elysées, I think I got lucky since is acting wasn’t all that bad.  (click on picture to enlarge)


Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/2000, ISO200

15 Responses to “On permission : The Vuitton dandy”

  1. Wow, such a great character and stance

  2. Tibor dit :

    Excellent Yanidel. I like your subject exintricity and his moment of burnign a cigarette and especially your close-up shot. It is true it can be stressfull and uncomfortable getting real close to people and sometime you have to have the guts :)) But what a rewarding and adrelanine push experience it can be!


  3. Valery dit :

    Totally agree with you Yanidel, sometimes is difficult for me to get photos like yours because people don’t understand the reason of the photos. I do it when they are paying attention to other point.



    [Barcelona Daily Photo]

  4. Veronica dit :

    I just want to say that I adore all your photos. This is my favourite blog.

  5. admin dit :

    It indeed all about the adrenaline push!
    Jerome, great link, thanks.
    Veronica, I am honoured.
    And thanks all for the comments.

  6. Fernando dit :

    I love your pics.

  7. Eric Kim dit :

    What a badass.

  8. yve legler dit :

    Bravo Yanick. I like what you do a) because of the creativity behind your pictures and b) the personal comments you publish along with each of them. They give your pictures this « extra feeling » which flurishes through a combination of « image and thought », sort of a tri dimentional sensation. Your thoughts run as wild as your eye behind the lens. The Laïca is of course a beautiful tool to create with…
    I’m not a blogger, but I think I’ll keep your Web address!

  9. admin dit :

    Thank you Yve for your message that is an amazing summary of what I am trying to achieve ! Merci.

  10. ani dit :

    hmm nice tips on approaching a stranger
    shoot first..ask later :)
    thx for share.. nice portrait

  11. Danonino dit :

    Wow, wish I had your guts.. Im so freakin afraid that people will get mad, and would not know what to say then..

  12. Hope to approach people in France, not so hot on French so will wonder how it works out!

  13. admin dit :

    Danonino, most people never get mad, So start shooting thinking you’ll meet 95% of sympathetic people. And the remaining 5%, they have a problem, not you ;)

    Simon, if you act normally and with a smile, French people usually react well, so don’t worry too much. ;)