Lisette Model was one of the great twentieth century photographers. One technique she used to photograph was to set the camera on the curb and photograph people’s legs walking by. In Legs Walking, 42nd Street, New York, 1940/41 Model creates a scene of just legs walking. The blurred legs of a woman appear in the foreground with the crowd’s legs sharp in the background. In another image of the Running Legs series, one woman’s leg shows up in the frame with a 1930s style black car in the background. At the very top of the frame is part of an American flag.
In order to get a similar shot to Model’s you have to set your camera on the curb next to the street and aim it at the people walking by on the sidewalk or set your camera on the sidewalk close to a storefront and aim it toward the sidewalk. When people walk by you keep snapping your camera to get a series of fascinating shots.
After I followed the steps just described I came up with the image of one leg you see here. It’s kind of a modern version of Model’s—a man instead of a woman and a modern black car. When I saw that black car (in the background) I immediately set my camera near a storefront so that the foot traffic was in front of the car. That’s how I got the picture of the man’s leg in front of the car.
This is an excerpt from the new book 101 Quick and Easy Ideas Taken from the Master Photographers of the Twentieth Century.by