Do Not Disturb The Decisive Moment
One of the the greatest photographers who used the stealth style of photography was Cartier Bresson. He came up with an idea called the decisive moment, a moment when something special was happening, that shouldn’t be disturbed but that had to be recorded in photographic form. To do this he chose equipment that didn’t bring much attention to himself and more importantly that didn’t disrupt the moment he was trying to capture. If you want to shoot with this level of stealth, you will need the right equipment.
Choosing A Stealthy Camera
Not all cameras are great for stealthy shooting. Many of the professional and amateur DSLR cameras are not the best choice. They are not the best choice because on each shot a mirror is lifted and snapped back down into place, this causes a very loud sound that brings attention to the photographers and that disrupts the scene that they are shooting. When choosing a camera, you will need something that has a quiet shutter, that doesn’t have loud mirror slap and that is small and easy to handle.
Snipers Need Silencers & Photographers Need…
In the last section we talked about how most SLR cameras do not make the best stealth shooting cameras, especially up close. Most of the greats use range finders because they do not have a loud mirror that will sound off every time you snap the shutter. They also choose smaller cameras that are easier to hide, that might not look like what ppl see professional photographers shooting, although these cameras are just as expensive. They typically use cameras that hide into the background, that allow them to look like a tourist, that do not bring much attention to the the photographer.
Choosing The Right Lens
It is always our believe that the best place to spend your money as a photographer is on lenses and not cameras. Camera bodies become outdated, they all basically do the same thing for their class, but the lenses that you buy are often the greatest factor on determining your end product. When it comes to shooting with stealth in mind, we can look at what some of the greats used. Some used mid range primes like a 50mm, most use 35mm to get up close and have a wide angle, and some use telephotos so that they can shoot at a large distance from their subjects. All of these make really good stealth shooting lenses and all depends on what type of results you want, how much depth of field, how much isolation or background do you want.
Cheating With Telephoto Lenses
There are many ways to be a stealthy photographer. You could depend on a quiet camera and sneak shots from up close or maybe you could use a telephoto and stay far away from your subject, capturing them in your camera like a sniper strikes down an enemy. This style can create some interesting images and your subject matter will likely never know that you have captured them. There are many telephotos on the market that are great for this purpose.
The Greats Get Close
Some of the best photographers who utilize stealth are not afraid to get in close to capture a moment. They jump in with cat like ninja quickness and take an image before anyone notices. They use quiet cameras and wide angle lenses to make a good image. This type of photography takes bravery but it is a lot of fun. There is a renewed interest in this type of photography and you might be interested in this style.
Putting It All Together
There is a lot of history when it comes to the need of a photographer to be stealthy. It all started with the great street and photo journalistic photographers who didn’t want to disturb what happened but only wanted to record it. Cartier Bresson, the famous street photographer focused on what he called the decisive moment, that perfect moment when life happens and when you need to be ready with your camera unknown to your subject matter. To achieve this goal you will need the right equipment. You will need a camera with a quiet shutter, you will need to decide how much guts do you have: will you cheat and shoot far away from your subject with a telephoto like a sniper or will you get right up close and snap a photos like the greats with a wide angle or some other prime? Each can make great photographs.