Size Matters A street photographers secret to minimize camera vizability

Street photography can be a real challenge. No matter if you have a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) or a Point And Shoot (PNS); pretending you can't be seen can be really difficult. The size of the camera, the noise from the shutter can all distract a subject when you are in close proximity. I'm quickly learning that small and quiet equals stealth and invisibility.

The digital Sony RX100 MKIII (bottom) shown with an old film camera made by Olympus; the XA 2 (Top) for size comparison

I recently purchased a camera that is the size of a pack of cigarettes. I'm not going to go into detail about it short of telling you I've written a great blog post about it on my fine art photography website linked below. This little camera is changing the way I shoot street photography!

One of the reasons I purchased this camera was because IT BLIENDS IN. It doesn't say "YO, I'm about to take a candid photo of you!" Besides barely making a sound when the shutter goes "kih" (that's right, it doesn't even go "click" when you turn off the audio) it's so small you can hide it in plain site.

For this image, I had enough time to turn on the camera, flip up the LCD panel slightly as I looked DOWN into it, take two shots that I would stitch into a panorama, turn off the camera and no one thought twice about it. PHOTO TITLE: Alternative TV
Not bEing the center of attention when the shutter clicks has serious advantages in a quiet environment.

Below I demonstrate one way of holding the camera. I've positioned it so most of the front of the camera is covered up with my left hand. My thumb is on the shutter button.

Touch an image below for full image view.

PHOTO LEFT: View from back of camera with left-hand thumb on shutter button. PHOTO RIGHT: View showing both the EVF and LCD display turned off even while taking photos.

In the photo above (right), you can see the Electronic View Finder (EVF) is exposed on the left side of the camera. In this photo, the camera is turned on and operating but you can't see any video image on the large LCD. There is a setting that lets me turn off the LCD display and send the lens preview feed to the EVF. Only by placing the EVF near to my eye will the preview turn on. Since my eye is away from the EVF, it never illuminates and appears to be turned off. By doing this the large bright display is also dark and doesn't attract attention as you walk through a crowd or even a quiet environment where someone could see what you are doing. The camera is dark and invisible essentially.

But what if you're right-handed? That's easy, hold it upside down in your right hand with your index finger on the shutter release button. Holding the camera this way you can shoot from the hip without disrupting unfolding events and without making a sound.

Just because you're not looking at the LCD or the EVF doesn't mean you can't push the shutter button!

Breathless after passing Commander Bond, she see's herself following him.

If you enjoy street photography, using a smaller camera can disguise what you are doing. As a street photographer, it doesn't matter if you are scared to get close to people and take candid photos of them; we're all chicken during the early stages of our photographic life. I'm still apprehensive, especially if I don't have a good reason to photograph. It's about getting the moment, capturing a configuration of elements that may only exist once and moving on without disrupting a single thing.

Pretending you are a double dog dare secret agent with a spy camera is kind of fun as well.

Copyright © 2015 Mark Gilvey Creative All rights reserved.
Photography by Mark Gilvey

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