Um.. where's your face, Dutch?
So I was trying to practice shooting from the hip while on a walk yesterday -- something I really suck at. I always think I'm aiming the camera in the right spot but I never am, or if I get the subject in the view then they're out of focus. Yesterday my girlfriend and I were on a walk when I saw a woman with a couple dogs and I thought they'd be a perfect practice shot. I dropped my camera down to my side and tried to photograph one of the dogs as we crossed the street. I looked at the screen -- rats... just a blurry dalmation head and an in-focus car off in the distance.
I turned to my gf and said, "I really should just quit trying to do this," and right when I finished my sentence I heard the woman walking the dogs say, "Are you trying to shoot from the hip with my dogs?"
Caught! I turned around and said, "Well, I'm trying but it's really not working." I held up the camera in an offer to show the images, just to kinda prove I'm not a creeper. She was smiling (thankfully because some people aren't necessarily thrilled when they catch you trying to take their photo) and she gave me a serious surprise by saying, "Do you want to try it again? I'm a photographer too and I shoot from the hip a lot."
My gf just started cracking up, but I got excited. How randomly wonderful that the person whose dog I was trying to sneakily photograph a) caught me and b) wants to give me pointers about doing it better!
The woman's name is Amanda Bradshaw and she is a dog photographer. You can tell by her work on Frolic Photography that she is extraordinarily good at what she does. She's also really great at giving pointers on shooting from the hip. First, I had my settings all wrong -- I was using settings that are great for aiming at something, but not great for trying to capture whatever lands in front of the camera at a moment's notice. I also had a 50mm lens on which happened to be on the camera when I left the apartment for my walk, and she noted that switching to my 17-55mm lens would give me a much higher success rate.
It was a great, odd experience and I couldn't be happier that someone called me out on shooting from the hip. Not only is Amanda's attitude inspiring -- she actually ditched the person she was talking to on her cell phone to stop and give me pointers -- but so too is her dog photography. Looking through her website shows me how much I have to learn in my own dog photography, and it got me excited both to practice more with dogs. And of course, she also inspired me to keep chugging along at practicing shooting from the hip.