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The sneaky shot

The sneaky shot

Vietnamese girl at a sandwich stall near Hoi An

Vietnamese girl at a sandwich stall near Hoi An


Well, I can say, even though I love approaching people and interact with them, sometimes you have to be a little sneaky.

I am not talking about rude sneaky, and stick my camera in people’s faces while they are eating. But the nice sneaky that will allow you to get a shot that you could not have otherwise.


I am thinking about kids for example: when they are not used to see a photographer / foreigner in their country, they might get shy and step back when trying to photograph them. It could also be the sneaky kind when you focus on someone’s head when they are not looking and waiting for them to look up, or look at you, and then take the shot. Of course you need to combine this sneaky method to a big smile and them coming and showing them the photo. People usually take it with a smile, and rarely take you as a “bastard sneaker”.

To the sneaky technique, you can combine the “woohoo” method, a little more viscious!

IMPORTANT NOTE: this is something I use with children. I will decline all responsibilities to what may happen to you when doing this with a tattooed biker from Darwin.

The woohoo technique is simple: when walking along a road, and noticing someone walking in front of you:

– prepare your camera settings and make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to give you a clear image. You are going to take a photo while walking so things can get a bit shaky. You know, sneaky and shaky go well together…

– focus on the back of your subject’s head, while you keep walking at the same speed as your subject.

– then yell “WOOHOO!!!”.

What is going to happen is that half of the people in the street are going to turn and look at you and directly judge you as someone insane just out of the crazy hospital. But that is not the point. Your subject, the one you focused on the back of their heads, is also going to turn around, in a very natural way.

– The click! With a bit of chance, you will get a natural, surprised, funny, scared, or everything all together, look on your subjects’ face.

Believe me it works. This is how I got my Mona Lisa shot:

Portrait of a Vietnamese girl

Portrait of a Vietnamese girl

In my case, I am mostly taking photos of Asian people, I have to underexpose the photo as I am focusing on some dark hair. The face being much brighter, the camera might over expose it.


Yes, I admit I am an experienced Woohoo photographer, and proud to be!



Founder of Pics of Asia, Etienne is a teacher with a photography habit.


  1. Scott on March 5, 2014 at 6:29 am

    I like it, I’m a bit of a “fart” photographer. If my subject is giving me a miserable facial expression I’ll often blow a raspberry and take a photo of their reaction. They’ll think I’m nuts but I’ll get a much more genuine facial expression.

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