How do you make your camera more discreet?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by zensu, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. Ashenwelt

    Ashenwelt Mu-43 Regular

    40
    Apr 13, 2016
    San Diego, CA, USA!
    Robert
    LMAO. No.
     
  2. Matt Drown

    Matt Drown Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Dec 9, 2015
    I'll add to the original poster's question.

    Attitude and comfort. That's part of the key to shooting street.

    You need to have the proper attitude, you are walking the street, you are aware of things, you have confidence, you belong (even if you don't). The point is that you need to not be timid, not feel like it's an issue. Self fulfilling prophecies have a tendency to come true...

    Comfort, carry a bag and a camera you want. Wear the clothes you are comfortable in. Only take what you need, not what you think you need. Less is definitely more in street photography. I carry a domke bag with a wide zoom, and the camera with a standard zoom. Sometimes without the second lens. I did this with a full frame Canon 5D, and now with an Olympus EM1. Wear clothes appropriate to the weather and footwear for the amount of walking you are doing.

    I've just spent the past 18 months travelling around the world taking pictures, both in "first world" and "developing" areas. My overwhelming take was that people are friendly 99% of the time. And that as long as you act like you are comfortable in the area where you are, things go smoothly.

    Be comfortable, take pictures, enjoy what you are doing, don't let fear stop you.
     
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  3. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    976
    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Frank
    Wear your camera. Don't put it down on the café table while you eat/drink. Your camera is already nice and small. Look around you, don't be too focused on one direction, just enjoy the scenery.
     
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  4. Walter

    Walter Mu-43 Regular

    103
    Aug 6, 2016
    Germany
    Hi Bobby,
    I've been around with my various cameras for the last decades with no problems at all.
    My way of tackling this topic: I've never had a "camera bag" whatsoever with me. I know beforehand what I'm going to shoot, so there is one lens on the camera and the other one in the pocket of my anorak or jacket (I prefer those with lots of pockets for all the additional things you need: second rechargeable battery / memory card, tiny flash, lens-cleaning kit, etc. - but no special "photographer's outfit"). I always wear my cheaper denims with no-name t-shirt, nothing about me suggesting I might be interesting to any petty thief. The camera is strapped around my neck, with my hand around the lens covering the brand name and the type. The bodies of the Olys - including the much-loved OM-4 - have such a retro look that compared to the bulky Canon-Nikon-etc. gear they look too old-fashioned to be of interest to those who want to make quick money. And the Lumix TZ-61 fits neatly in my hand (strap around my wrist) with no one seeing what camera exactly it is. When I'm sitting somewhere in a café, restaurant or bar the camera is in my cheapest shopping-bag (cotton) that I always carry with me.
    In my opinion it's the "signals" you give (show off) that make you interesting as a possible target or not.
    No need for being afraid, just keeping your eyes open for any queer person around you and avoiding to stroll around certain areas just on your own.
    And the best invention for shooting people unawares are the rotatable displays. You look at the display as if you were checking your shots, and at the same time you get the best shots of people without being noticed (or you switch it to 90°).
    Best of luck to you, and many rewarding "shooting sessions" ;-)
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  5. System13

    System13 Mu-43 Veteran

    268
    May 11, 2016
    Wisconsin USA
    JR
    So much written don't know if I can add much. As phrased the question sounds like how to take pictures with spooking the subjects, but as responded too it sounds like how do I take pictures without having my equipment stolen.
    To be unobtrusive use the tilt screen to take off axis pictures and put your camera in silent (heart) mode.

    To safe guard you/your equipment I've come up with the following

    1) I've found a nice over shoulder messenger style bag ( Amazon.com : Think Tank Photo Hubba Hubba Hiney : Photographic Equipment Bags : Camera & Photo ) to keep the camera close at hand and sewn 75 lb titanium fishing leader within the shoulder strap. I picked the Hubba Hubba Hiney because it fits the E-M1MarkII with the Panasonic 100-400mm attached. Titanium doesn't corrode,and is non magnetic so I have no problems at airports.
    If someone tries to snatch-and-grab 75 lb will stop them pretty quick. If someone tries to cut-and-snatch good luck cutting titanium, and finally if I get caught in something I weigh considerably more than 75 lbs so the bag and I WILL part ways before I'm dragged behind a car or something. (Amazon.com : American Fishing Wire Titanium Surfstrand Bare 1x7 Titanium Leader Wire, Black, 75 Pound Test, 10 Feet : Sports & Outdoors wire)

    2) I've assembled an alarm system from a retractable reel and panic alarm. I attach the reel to my bag strap and the alarm pull, and the alarm pull to my camera strap ring on my camera. I replace all cord with steel split rings
    With this I can pull the camera out of the bag one handed, bring it up to eye level, take pictures and put it back in the bag, or... hand carry the camera without pulling the alarm and this also gives me the advantage of if I attach the real higher up on the shoulder and I drop the camera the reel will keep it from smacking the ground (if I'm standing). If someone grabs-and-runs the alarm WILL go off after 48-inches of pull, hopefully scaring them away. (Reliance Controls THP210 Personal Guard Alarm Home Security Products - Household Alarms And Detectors - Amazon.com alarm and Amazon.com : Heavy-Duty Retractable Key Chain Reel 48 Stainless Cable - Great for ID Swipe Cards Model: Office Supply Product Store : Badge Holders : Office Products reel)

    Sorry for the long reply
     
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  6. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    743
    Feb 2, 2012
    Use a large expensive looking camera and dress well like a reporter. Have a name tag with a vague title.People will try to get you to take their picture. Or use a large telephoto lens. People will not be aware that you are taking their picture.One time I took a 400mm F2.8 with a giant hood. People kept joking that I was an astronomer. A nervous sneaky guy with a small camera will be spotted a mile away.
     
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  7. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    743
    Feb 2, 2012
     
  8. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    752
    Nov 18, 2013
    Give them something else to look at - Out in the sticks I find that more people look at my open carry Blackhawk than my Gx8/100-400 combination:)
     
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  9. NoSeconds

    NoSeconds Mu-43 All-Pro


    What gave it away... The desert bit or the Western Australia in my sig...?


    Your general duties cops don't carry... Its pretty bleeding hard to shoot someone if you don't have a firearm... hence my comment!

    I don't care how many criminal shitbags get killed per capita, in the UK Or the USA, quite frankly there's not enough of it and the coppers need to lift their game!
     
  10. System13

    System13 Mu-43 Veteran

    268
    May 11, 2016
    Wisconsin USA
    JR
    nope, not once. I was pickpocketed once in New Orleans... 35 years ago, made me a little paranoid.
    I developed this rig when I went to Rome last summer. In a 3000 year old city you know what the number one thing I was told to look for? ...look for pickpockets. Was there two weeks, and I never saw one person pickpocketed.
    If you want to play odds, well you shouldn't worry about it, but if you want to FEEL safer then I would, and I did. Wife laughed at my paranoia, son was embarrassed by my paranoia, me? After I set this rig up I never thought about my paranoia again. So for me it worked :)
     
  11. System13

    System13 Mu-43 Veteran

    268
    May 11, 2016
    Wisconsin USA
    JR
    to paraphrase from my post
    If someone tries to snatch-and-grab on while foot, 85 lb test fishing leader line will stop them pretty quick.
    If someone tries to cut-and-snatch while on foot, good luck cutting steel, and finally;
    If I get caught in something I weigh considerably more than 85 lbs so when someone tries to snatch-and-grab from vehicle the bag and I WILL part ways before I'm dragged behind a car or something.
    It's all a matter of momentum. Had a friend who thought it'd be cute to grab the butt of a pretty bicyclist from inside the car he was in drove by. Two elbow surgeries and three months with his arm in a cast has dissuaded him from forgetting about momentum ever again ;)
     
  12. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    976
    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Frank
    That's very different from someone who would typically try to steal your gear. There are pick-pockets in Paris, New York, NOLA, Atlanta, Toronto... they work on stealth anywhere they can hide in crowds or take advantage of distractions. They do NOT want to be seen, and are very good at not being seen.

    But it's not nearly the same thing as someone who is ballsy enough to try and take your gear away from you.

    Do people where the OP is located really want to steal camera gear that often? and "fiddley-small camera gear"?

    Actually, if you google Karl Grobl, he's got some pretty good tips for securing your stuff. He took an interesting route by using a clamp-harness system to mount his cameras to a belt.
    He travels to some pretty theft-prone countries. It might be worth it to check him out.

     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  13. zensu

    zensu Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 8, 2012
    Alabama USA
    Bobby
    Thanks @fortwodriver@fortwodriver, I'm familiar with all the areas in my city (Montgomery) that are safe or not. It's when I travel to visit family or friends in bigger cities such as Philadelphia, Atlanta, or New Orleans, sometimes even mid-sized cities I am not familiar with such as Jacksonville, Memphis, Nashville. It's these unfamiliar places I get concerned about. I don't expect to stop someone who is determined to steal my gear. I would rather give up the gear and keep myself safe. I would just like to have the thief think twice and move on because my gear doesn't look like a lot of money and wouldn't want to hassle with taking it. Of course this question only applies to a normal thief not a hopped up dope head looking for a fix. They would be the most dangerous.
    Thankfully when I travel my host almost always know the good and bad spots and can guide me in a strange city. I know this sounds dreadful but I'm just wanting to be the thieves second choice when they see two potential victims. Please forgive me. :sorry:
    Bobby
     
  14. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    Your statement is not dreadfull at all. I live in a suburb of Utrecht, which I think has the most bicycles (and -thieves) per capita in the western world. I put three locks on if I leave my bike behind, hoping someone with less locks is chosen when a thief needs a ride....
     
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  15. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus Mu-43 Regular

    107
    Sep 28, 2015
    Wear a high-vis jacket. It's astonishing how invisible you become to other pedestrians in one of those. The dirtier the jacket, the less noticeable you are.

    16924032660_45027414fa_b.jpg
     
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  16. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I have been thinking about this question since Matt posted his response above talking about attitude and comfort. While he hit on some key topics, I think that your question is actually a two-part question and your thread title only touches on one part - the camera. Gear and bags are a part of the equation, but what a lot of people responded to in their posts was the other part - you as the photographer.

    Matt and others hit upon some key points, but I am wondering if there is still another facet that I am not able to easily describe. We can work on things like attitude and comfort, but there is still a "core" to what we project and how we react to the world around us, and its ability to both allow us to blend in situations or to quickly adapt to them seems highly variable. This core seems to respond mostly from our life experiences, although I could certainly we wrong, so I am not sure how quickly we can go from projecting one desired image to another.

    I know a number of folks who rarely project any fear or nervousness when they are in uncertain situations, and they also seem to blend in and get along with folks who are radically different from them, camera in hand or otherwise. Others always seem to look out of place no matter what the situation. I admit to a bit of envy of the former as I am somewhat social with people I do not know, but I am often unable to blend in like they do. I guess what I am saying is that you can (and should) do a number of things that will make you less of a target for thieves (as Matt and others have suggested), but there are some things that you just have to accept about who you are. Perhaps that is what Matt was getting at in his description of attitude? But still, it might be best to accept some of our core personality and know that attitude and comfort may not be able to fully overcome those traits and allow you to blend in and be a second choice for thieves.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
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  17. zensu

    zensu Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 8, 2012
    Alabama USA
    Bobby
    Thanks Ken and to all who took the time to respond. My main concern is for my safety, if I loose a little gear in exchange for being unhurt then I'll pay that price. When I go out to shoot on the street I only carry one camera body and lens on a sling type strap. My E-P5 with P/L 15mm on a Peak Design Slide Lite strap. Everything all black. So far all I've done is to be careful and situationally aware of what's going on around me and be confident looking wherever I go. In 40+ years as an amateur photographer I've never been assaulted by a thief or thieves on the street. I think it's my fear of looking like the old frail person that thugs look at as a very easy target. There is nothing anyone can help, it's part of growing old. I'm just thinking others here have valuable advice about being more invisible on the street as far as attractive photo gear goes. I've gotten some great advice so far and wish to thank everyone again for responding to this thread.
    Bobby
     
  18. Rick Waldroup

    Rick Waldroup Mu-43 Veteran

    424
    May 28, 2009
    Texas
    Perception is everything.

    I have been shooting street and documentary photography for decades and I have never tried to conceal or make my cameras look less conspicuous or anything like that. I try to project a confident but friendly demeanor and always try to blend in where ever I find myself. I do not shoot with an attitude, whatever that may mean. Even as I get older, I still pretty much shoot the way I always have and in all these years, I have only had a handful of confrontations, and most of them were not serious in nature at all.

    I truly believe that your personality and body language can go a long way in how you are perceived on the streets.
     
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  19. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    244
    Nov 14, 2012
    Nottingham
    That is shooting with attitude. Not an attitude, shooting with attitude. Body language conveys that you belong, your personality being confident and friendly rather than defensive or confrontational; that's exactly what I was suggesting.
     
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  20. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    USA
    I have put black tape over camera name and model number on Olympus and the Japanese Aki Asahi leatherette covered the same on Panasonic GX1. I also sometimes just put camera away for a while into a messenger bag and pull it back out if I see something interesting.
     
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