How to shoot people

Patrick Roddie has been shooting the people who attend the annual Burning Man event held annually in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for ten years. He’s learned a thing or two about how to approach people and photograph them in a way that captures the moment.

The strangest thing listening to Marc Silber’s video interview with Roddie is the fact that Roddie seems to me to be very shy. He’s almost inarticulate in some parts of the interview and yet the interview is one of the best I’ve heard on how to shoot people.

So where’s the gold in this interview? One is Roddie doesn’t use a ton of equipment. In fact, he advocates one camera with a 50mm lens. (On DX format cameras that would equal a 35mm lens.) He says he never loses eye contact with his subject and injects the camera into the conversation at the last moment.

In 2008 Roddie shot 54 rolls of Fujichrome Velvia using one Nikon F100 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens resulting in 1,302 scans and 938 images in his 2008 gallery.

And there’s lots more.

Anyone contemplating street photography would do well to watch this video.


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