So here you are - eyes open, camera in hand - in a wonderful, colourful, busy market (or bazaar, or souk, or whatever you choose to call it). Money is changing hands. Buyers are buying. Sellers are selling, And you want to get some good pictures. You want to show people at home what it's like here. So, what do you do...plunge in and wander round, click-click-clicking away? By all means! Give it a go. Catch the vibe, go where your lens guides you...
That's what I like to do. I like to be guided by whatever I find round the next corner but I also know that this rather random approach can result in a set of pictures that are all rather similar - you get caught up in the moment and concentrate on whatever particular aspect of the market takes your fancy on that particular day. I've learned that it's good to have some general ideas about what to look for, what to expect and what might make good subjects for an interesting photograph.
Markets are great locations for taking photographs. Stallholders deliberately try to make their wares look attractive. There's lots of interaction between people. There's often lots of movement - people coming and going, people picking up things to look at. There is rarely a shortage of photo opportunities.
So, here's a list of things to consider when photographing markets. The items on the list are not rules. Feel free to ignore, adapt and improve...
Look for patterns - repetition of shapes and colours - pots, animals, packets, foods...markets are full of them!
Look for colours - especially in food markets.
Look for characters - market sellers are often great characters but remember they are here to make a living.
Look for people as they go about their business in the market - the buyers, the sellers, the browsers and the things they are selling or buying or looking at. Viewers of photos are always interested in the things that people in photos are looking at.
Sometimes markets are full of bustle - can you somehow capture that bustle in your images? Can you show how crowded it is or how ordered it is or how laid back it is?
Markets are sometimes full of unusual smells...can you find a way to show the smell in you pictures (if you do, please let me know how you do this!)
Look for items that are on sale that are unusual compared to what you might see at home.
Look for items that are on sale that are the same as you might see at home but displayed differently, or sold in different quantities, or packaged differently.
Close-ups - markets are often great for close shots, but beware of getting in the way of potential customers - you don't want to cause market stallholders to lose business.
Is the market inside or outside? Can you show where the it is taking place? There is often a temptation to concentrate exclusively on smaller scenes and close ups, but markets are often very big areas - can you give a sense of that big area in your pictures?
Can you find an unusual viewpoint? Low down? High up? Even mundane scenes can be made interesting if shown from an unusual viewpoint.
Can you make your market photos mysterious? Can you make viewers of you photo concentrate to understand what they are seeing? You can do this by making your photos more abstract, perhaps using very limited depth of field, perhaps by limiting what you show in the picture.
Look out for animals in markets - they don't always do what you think they might do but they can make for fascinating subjects.
Is there anything else you consider when photographing in markets? What else would add to this checklist?