‘The Great Portrait Ambush’

The Portrait. 

‘The Great Ambush’  A Friday morning in Northamptonshire. 

As soon as I entered work, opened up my office and as the kettle starting to boil with the second of my morning’s cup’s of coffee. The plan set in place. The camera ‘dialled in’ as the last photo’s were taken under different conditions. Tripod, chair and back-drop in position as I pour this much needed coffee. My trap is set, waiting for it first victim, the game is on. The trap didn’t have to wait long before the first unwitting victim appeared in the shape of my old man. 

“Alright boy” This question hasn’t changed in thirty five years and never will. 

“Not bad thanks Chap, you alright?” 

“Yeah good thanks, what’s with all the camera equipment mate?” as he looked everything up and down, he’s well used to the camera equipment being setup, but not at this time of day.

I didn’t explain myself, but simply said “sit there please” 

“bit early for that boy”  as my Dad tried his hardest to escape. 

“sit down, this won’t hurt you.” was my firm but no nonsense reply. The next bit would be key, he could escape the Portrait trap at any point. “Sit there, now.”  I instructed my Father and without a word, he sat down, four picture’s later, he’s done and heading off away from me and my camera at 0815 in the morning. He was the hardest of my victims as I had foreseen, but the patten was set. Anyone that had the misfortune of stepping into my office that Friday met with the same order, “sit there, you’re going to have your photograph taken.”  I had no complaints from anyone, some of them were well up for it and really enjoyed it which is always nice and it make the experience better for them and me. 

 What have I learn from this exercise? I have learn that I have the ability to take control of the situation in my own way to get the photograph I want or need. In my own curd and uncouth way I have come up with this mentality, and this applies directly to photographing strangers in crowds when trying to capture a background plus people or portraits. “I don’t give a shit what you think, I’m taking your photo.” If someone really have a problem with this, they will say something and that’s fair enough, there has to be a line and if someone said to me, please don’t take my photograph I would have nothing but respect for their wishes. But until then, tough! This attitude might not work for some but for me it has help me greatly and helped me remove a layer of shyness towards raising my camera up at someone to capture their image. 

Dave Watts.



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