Mall Shooting... / by John Murray

OK this isn't a report from the US of A about another gun-toting fool going postal but about an area of photography that I love: taking photos in shops and shopping malls.  OK that maybe doesn't sound too exciting or too photogenic but trust me it really is both! Homebase, Sainsburys, Tescos, Lakeside, Westfield I've done them all with varying degrees of success.

Firstly let me talk about technique and the key word is discrete! Although I lug round a Canon 5D Mk3 I can still keep it subtle. I use a hand strap, keep the camera close to my body and pick my moment. The aisles in a supermarket offer cover (if you're a little nervous) and patterns, lots of patterns. Bottles, tins nicely lined up. Shallow depth of field. Bright colours. All of these appeal to me and make an interesting shot (I appreciate it's all very subjective of course). My choice of lens when I'm doing this kind of exercise is either the Canon 50mm f1.4 or the Canon 100mm f2.8. Both let in a lot of light and, wide open, lead to some lovely shallow dof shots.

The ISO needs to be cranked up of course and the white balance dealt with at some stage but there are so many subjects to focus on !

In a shopping mall it's less easy. Security invariably dish out a caution if I'm less than subtle. No arguments from me ever. It's effectively private space so best to smile, agree and move on.

A garden centre or DIY store with garden section is definitely worth the effort and less discretion is needed I find. I was approached by the owner of a garden centre once and he was a camera enthusiast and delighted when I showed him the shots I'd taken.

The other sensible approach in stores outside of malls is to simply ask if you can take some shots. I've done this successfully in a few shops including Lush. The answer is rarely 'No'.

I can only advise you to try to some time. For me it is always a great chance to fulfill one of my principle aims in photography: making the ordinary look extraordinary :)

The gallery below contains some examples of where I've dared to shoot in-store!