People; People Everywhere

Bruges, Belgium
{Copyright 2019 Andy Richards}

I know. Its a song (by Brother Love). But the thought often comes to mind these days, when we are traveling the world. Probably because we don’t often go to “out-of-the-way” places. We go to known attractions. And world tourism – at least before the pandemic – was at an all-time high. In fact, some of the most sought after destinations (like Venice and Santorini) are (or were) actively seeking ways to limit tourism on their islands. Understandably. Cruise ships and masses of people are taxing the infrastructures and the shear beauty of places like this. I have read, anecdotally, that the canals of Venice have actually cleared up, with the lack of visitors during the pandemic. It is a bit of a dilemma for me. I see places and I want to go there and photograph. And as such, I am perhaps adding to the problem.

There are some places that are still crowded, but perhaps less so. One of them seemed to be Bruges, Belgium when we were there, although my shot of the tourboat might suggest otherwise 🙂 . After visiting busy places like Paris, London, Dublin and Amsterdam, it was a nice change to wonder the comparatively quiet streets of Bruges, and to sample some local beer, chocolate and wines.

Looking for a Lifeboat

Lifeboat aboard Princess Cruise Ship
Copyright Andy Richards 2013

I

t seems like ages ago, but this was taken on the lifeboat deck of our first ever Mediterranean Cruise, aboard a Princess Cruise Ship. As I post this, I have just learned (not surprisingly) that our scheduled, “Canary Islands” cruise has been cancelled. Disappointed, but certainly not shocked, I cannot wait until things get back to some semblance of “normal” and we are able to travel again. In the meantime, I will have the memories through photographs.

Somewhere In The World

Burano, Italy
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]
Is this the Caribbean? Or is it the Mediterranean? 2013 was perhaps the most far-reaching travel year we have ever had. We started in the Caribbean in January. It was our first cruise where just the two of us went alone, to seek adventure. And it was our first cruise on what was to become our preferred cruise line, Celebrity. We made lifelong friends, and we saw parts of the world we had not been to.

In July, we spent a few days in San Francisco, visiting our daughter.

In September, we flew to Venice, where we spent several days, before embarking on our first Mediterranean cruise. Again, on our own. Seasoned now :-).

This is Burano, Italy, one of the islands in the Venice Archipelago. Venice is a place of magic and wonder for the world traveler and we have been back and will go back again. As I worked on this image, it struck me just how much it resembled some of the buildings in the Carribean.

I Don’t Do “People” Photography

Nice, France
[Copyright Andy Richards 2019]

I wonder how many times I have said that over the years, to people around me and even here in writing? And how many times I have been asked to shoot portraits or events? And its true, I do not make a point of photographing people or their events. At least not in the portraiture sense. But every image in this post has at least one person in it.

In spite of my leanings, I do think it is sometimes desirable to purposely place people in a photo, and sometimes, to make them, if not the subject, at least a subject of the photograph. These days I actually seek people out

 

Sometimes people in the image gives the viewer a sense of what the event is about – as this popular Cruise stop attracts tourists and their cameras
[Copyright Andy Richards 2019]

I have long understood that including people in images has a certain inevitability. People are often unavoidably around the scenes that I photograph. In that case, sometimes a little patience will reward the wait with a clear moment (or longer). I have also noted here previously, that with the ability to digitally “retouch” photographs these days, I will at times try to shoot when the “people-placement” is such that I know I can remove it from the final image. But other times, when I know they are an inevitable part of the image, I will try to place them in such a way as they give context, scale, or both.

In Dublin City Center in 2014, my objective was to photograph the Ha’Penny Bridge. It didn’t look like I was going to get a chance to shoot it empty that morning, so I tried, instead, to show why it is so difficult to get an “empty” shot 🙂
[Copyright Andy Richards 2014]

When I am out shooting, I shoot scenes that interest me and they often involve people doing things. It may be their jobs. It may be as an observer or participant. But in each case, “people” are an important part of the photograph.

Sometimes, I shoot photos to show someone doing something important in the circumstances I am in. This was our pilot for a catamaran tour during a cruise stop in St. Kitts.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]
At its termini, Cable cars are turned around on a hand-operated turntable, and these are the guys who do that.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2011]

While you might think this guy’s job is to help the tourists find and see Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone and other parks, his real job is to protect them from the bears (or maybe more appropriately, to protect the bears from people – who constantly harass them 🙂 )
[Copyright Andy Richards 2012
San Francisco is noted for its steep streets and its quaint Cable Cars. Without the human participants, this shot is just a cable car on a hill.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2011]
Mounted Gendarmeir are common in Paris. Here they are ever watchful of the goings on
[Copyright Andy Richards 2019]

In spite of my leanings, I do think it is sometimes desirable to purposely place people in a photo, and sometimes, to make them, if not the subject, at least a subject of the photograph. These days I actually seek people out in the appropriate instance.

While this is surely my photograph, I totally stole the idea from a participant in a workshop in which I was acting as a local guide.
{Copyright Andy Richards 2012]

 

In 2012, my good buddy, Rich and I went to Jackson Hole to photograph Grand Teton Iconic sites. This image kind of tells the story about what we were doing there.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2012]
The banner image on my personal Facebook Page is an image I sought (after seeing it done by others) on my first trip to Venice. I wanted an early morning photograph with the motion of the rocking boats. There were very few people out that early, but there was on other, doing her thing with this iconic scene 🙂 .
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]
There are some really, really good people photographers out there. What they tell me is that they are very upfront about it. They often (if not always) approach their subjects and make their intentions and friendliness known. They usually will offer the subject a print. And they shoot with smaller equipment and lenses, which makes the whole experience less imposing to the subjects.

I made this on thinking it could be used as an advertisement for the Caribbean; for relaxation in general, or perhaps to illustrate diversity in our society.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2015]

While I don’t fool myself that I am going to break into stock photograpy in a big way, I ofen take photographs that I think might sell as as stock image. Usually they are illustrating a specific theme – in this case, cruising.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2020]
I thought this illustrated the “romance” of touring in Europe. In spite of the Irish Beer sign, this was taken in the Provence, France region.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2015]

Obviously, I have not mastered that art. -:)

The Shrines and Temples of Kyoto, Japan are “eye candy” for photographers. But anywhere can present an opportunity for a “people picture.”
[Copyright Andy Richards 2016]

Over the years I have actually made a number of images with the thought of selling or using them as illustrations for advertising or other content. But as you can see I am not generally approaching my subjects. Fortunately, they are usually not recognizable, and are in public places. In the uncommon event where I have made an image of a recognizable face, I know it would be advisable to approach the subject and obtain their permission to use it. I know that there are sometimes copyright issues and these days, almost always privacy issues that need to be addressed. I also am aware that in some situations, an individual has an economic interest in their own image. I know many pros carry releases with them.

 

This shot of an older gentleman and his bicycle in Tokyo intrigued me. I wondered what he was looking back at – though I never did discover it. I know it was not me, as I was way up above him and slightly forward of where his eyes point.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2015]

I don’t, and in spite of the language barrier, I probably should have approached the gentleman in the opening image, made in an outdoor cafe in Nice, France. But in that instance, my shot was not made for any intention of stock, advertising or other commercial use. It was for me. It reminds me of many things, including the quiet, slow pace of some of these locations, and the need to take some time for yourself occasionally.

New Orleans is one of those cities that is really about people. And music. So when in New Orleans . . . .
[Copyright Andy Richards 2018]
Culturally, this one probably says more about New Orleans and its age – old traditions.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2018]

As I contemplated this post, I was curious about the percentage of images I have made over the years that involve people as at least an indirect subject. I was surprised.

This is one of my favorite “people” images. This was made in San Juan in the Artisans Market in Old San Juan City.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]

I have not yet become comfortable in most cases with approaching people. Therefore my images tend to be candid or incidental. But I had quite a few. They probably often show my timid approach to people, but I curated a few of them just the same.

Almost any shots with people in them migth be usable as a stock image. This one gives a sense of “place”
[Copyright Andy Richards 2011]
Wandering the streets of Rome one afternoon, this gentleman was completely unaware of me standing on a bridge above this alleyway, but his presence it what made this photograph a “keeper” for me.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013]