Category: Street Photography
We all look at newer and better cameras, and we as photographers spend a ton of money on them. Why? We want to take better photos. By buying a new camera what we are doing in essence is blaming our existing gear. Is it a gear problem?
Clearly not. Most of us turn to the masters, whether they be Street Photographers or Landscape Photographers, we all aspire and strive to be like them. Often, people will study these masters haphazardly, will learn what gear they used, and will most of the time not learn ‘how’ these photographers worked. Often, it is the ‘how’ that is most important.
Most of today’s cameras far surpass in quality the cameras of yesteryears master. Yet, most photographers still think they need better cameras. Case in point, are those that look to Ansel Adams as their ‘master’. They love the images, they aspire to do the same, yet they are too lazy to hike their gear to the majestic scenes and too lazy to even use a tripod as Ansel Adams did. So, what do they do when their images are still not the same as the masters and a little blurry? The look for another lens or new camera.
Your camera can do it. As long as you purchased the right camera for the right job, i.e. Not an old 8×10 View Camera for candid street photography, you are probably good. Most Phone, Pocket, Rangefinders, and DSLR digital or film cameras will do the job. All of these technologies can create amazing images. I have created award-winning images that have been published from a camera I purchased many years ago, a Canon 40D with only 10.1 megapixels.
New gear is NOT the answer. Venders and salespeople will tell you it is. Oh, shiny new objects they will put into your hands. Don’t do it. Don’t get caught in the trap.
So, if it’s not the new gear, what should you do to become a better photographer? Well, you can turn to podcasts, magazines, books, classes, workshops (DIY or Expensive varieties) but the most useful way of learning is by going out and shooting. I know photographers that purchased studio lights, read several books on lighting, took three workshops on lighting, upgraded their lights to newer shinny ones, and would not go out and work with a model because; their words, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Get out, shoot, make mistakes, learn from them. There is NO BETTER WAY to learn, than by doing. Doing, shooting, is the absolute best way to learn and get better.
”Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Books, classes, and workshops can help give you better insights and can show you different ways of doing things, and can help with some tips and tricks. Remember however those different ways are not always the best for you. These other ways may not suit your style or your personality. Or, they may. Without trying different ways, how can you know which way is best? You need to invest in these different ways. By invest I mean, time. Don’t try a new skill or technique for an hour or a day and decide it’s not for you. Some techniques, like Zone Focus shooting from the hip, need many outings to master. The rewards however are great. Many skills and techniques are like that. Spend the time, shoot lots, you will be rewarded.
I have had students that have been stuck because they were taught one way to do something and were very reluctant to try different methods or techniques. Many would rather buy new gear (yet again) than change what or how they do things.
Seriously, Podcasts, Books, Classes, and Workshops are for the most part ALL better ways of learning to create better images than getting a new camera and capturing crappy images with more pixels. Get out and shoot.
In the next few posts, I will talk about ways of Self Learning based on a class I teach and will discuss workshops. How to choose workshops, how to prepare, and how to get the most out of them.
See you on the streets.
Finding motivation, let alone inspiration during these extreme weather, lockdown, potential war, COVID times, can be very difficult for some. Add to that a spouse that gets a brain aneurism followed by a stroke, followed by a nasty long to deal with CDIF infection, three surgeries, and COVID-19. That made for difficult times for me. In the past, I was able to turn to photography to rest my mind. But, with everything going on and with work so extremely busy, it has been nearly impossible. I have not picked up a camera in 2 years and a bit.
Things are turning. My life is settling down after a difficult move. Things are settling in. In the last two months, I have judged/critiqued for clubs and in the next week, I will do one more remote session and will for the first time, judge/critique in person!! I am so looking forward to that.
I have dusted off my cameras and lenses and I am eager to get back out shooting. My first foray out will be this Saturday in an easy-to-shoot neighborhood. A camera, a friend, coffee, and a Camera Store. The makings of a perfect day provided the weather holds.
During my COVID break, as I call it, I did very little except for reading some photography books, working on the conceptual aspects and planning of several projects I am working on, and listening to a whole lot of podcasts.
A great street photographer, Valerie Jardin, whom I am sure you are all familiar with (if not, you should be) has been podcasting for 8 years. She finished her show with her final Episode of “Hit the Streets” (https://valeriejardinphotography.com/podcast), Episode number 192 on September 2, 2021.
In that series, there are some excellent episodes and interviews. I tend to listen to them in the car, rather than listening to depressing news when I’m not listening to music. All part of my dealing with the COVID Break. It has been fantastic. There are other Street Photography podcasts I will mention that are also very good, but I wanted to mention this one now as I heard that Valerie Jardin may not keep them available on-line much longer. She suggested they may be gone by the fall or sooner.
All the episodes are available to download for free on her site (link above). I do suggest you grab them while you can. For now, my break is over. I will share some images, even bad ones if they are all I have, after my outing!! Time to get back to work! See you on the streets!
The Photographers Journey from Composition to Personal Style
Dates: November 23 & 24, 2019 (Sat & Sun)
Location: Ladner BC.
A comprehensive two-day workshop that focuses on a better understanding of Composition beyond the basic “12 Rules of Composition”. This workshop will introduce you to many more Composition Guidelines including many advanced techniques.
This workshop will examine:
- The 12 Basic Rules of Composition
- The Science and Psychology of Composition
- Breaking the Rules
- The Importance of Subject Matter
- Elements of Composition
- Medium Specific (In-Camera Controls)
- Placement/Point of Focus
- Division of Space including (Foreground/Background, Negative Space)
- Understanding and Guiding Eye Movement
- Balance and Weight (including how to recognize balance)
- Notions and Devices
And will further define and explore Style:
- What is Style
- Where does Style come from?
- Artistic & Photographic Style
- Defining your Style
- How to refine your Style
We will also do a quick review of “Projects” and why they are important for you to develop as a Photographer and Artist and how they relate to Style.
Although this is a Photography workshop, it is perfect for most artists including Painters and Illustrators. Based on class composition, Jean-Francois will discuss some other Mediums when appropriate. This class has some pre-workshop homework. This two-day workshop is $189.00 per person plus taxes. Note that this class is limited to 8 students and has sold out quickly in the past. Classes will run from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday in Ladner, BC. Lunch will be from (approx.) 12:00 to 1:00 each day. There will be Q&A time throughout the class and from 4:30 to 5:00 each day. Breakfast (Muffins, Donuts, Fruit) is included both days and Tea and Coffee will be provided throughout the day. Students to provide their own lunches. We will break for 1 Hour for lunch each day. There are several local food vendors nearby in Ladner where classes are being held.
Register here: Weekend Workshop – Finding Your Voice
Questions? Contact email@example.com
On Eric Kim’s Blog Post: Why Shoot Street Photography?
I do not have much to say about this article except that I believe that it is right bang-on. Perfect. Well said.
I only have two small notes… one in that I have found that Street Photography also makes you a better photographer in general. With ‘ANY’ Genre. And, if you shoot in B&W, the skills required to shoot great B&W imagery will help you create better Color images.
My second note is from his statement
“Street photography gives you the opportunity to make yourself naked in front of others.”
OK, I do NOT recommend that lest you get arrested. I think it may have been a language thing where I assume, he meant to say, “Street photography gives you the opportunity to bare yourself to others.” Of which, I completely agree with.
Seriously, re-read the article. Take in EVERY line, EVERY statement. It’s all true. And, if you ever feel defeated, or need some encouragement or motivation, read it again!!
Here are three more images from the weekend workshop with Ian MacDonald.
The young woman above was sitting at the Vancouver Art Gallery listening to her music, watching some skateboarders. A smile and a wave of my camera was all it took to get a approving nod from her as an OK to take some photos.
The images below were all studies in practicing ‘light’, ‘shadows’ and silhouettes.
In this next image I was capturing shadows cat by people waling in front of the lit pillar. I was having some success but it wasn’t until this cyclist walked by closer to me, out of the light that I captured this. At first glance it appears to be a shadow on the pillar but upon closer inspection you can see the cyclist is just a silhouette. The added bonus here is the mirroring of the two similar cyclists.
The image below from the Waterfront Station had this man on the phone. I liked the lighting but the image was not working. It wasn’t until he leaned over to look out the window that the ‘story’ gets captured. It appears he is looking at the man outside the right most window. This may not be the case at all, but from the viewers perspective, that’s how the story reads. This lends to the importance of the man outside being there. Imagine this image without the man outside. The story changes completely.
There are many things to photograph on the streets. These can become a distraction if you wander around aimlessly. If you choose ‘something’ to photograph ahead of time, like specific subjects, themes, or in this case, lighting, it becomes easier to get images because you are actively searching them out.
One thing that always (mostly) works well in Street Photography is capturing moments. No, not the right timing and not the Henry Cartier-Bresson “decisive” moment, but rather a moment where emotions can be read in people’s faces. A moment between two people or a moment when someone realizes something or notices something and you can see it in their face.
These moments can be difficult to catch as they are often fleeting moments. One must be ready, and quick. Or, one must be stealthy and maneuver into place and then get the shot knowing you will only fire one or two off before they notice you and the moment will be gone. They can also be difficult because the perceived moment we see in real life will not always transfer into the final image. Sometimes the lighting will cause problems or perhaps the subjects face will not transfer or display emotions well when captured in camera.
Here are two examples of moments shot this past weekend. The above one is a calm, caring moment between two young people in love. The background and location help set a story for you to read into. In this case I had to do the stealthy thing and be ready as I approached. Amazingly I was able to fire 5 or 6 shots and continued on my way and I’m not sure if they even noticed me.
In this example I was chatting with Ian and the camera was hanging from my neck. On and ready. All of a sudden, this woman started yelling at this man. Keep in mind this is in Chinatown close to the Vancouver East Side. We had seen and heard a lot of people yelling for no reason all day. After a few short yells she grabbed him as it was time for him to take the family photo in front of the pond. They were both so loud and animated at the very beginning. As they were so close it was startling at first but then the “get this shot” got in my head. I quickly fired off two shots before the event was all over.
This is the other kind of moment where something dramatic happens and all you can do is react quickly to catch it. The gestures here play an important role in telling the story.
The exposure was not perfect as I was set to underexpose by one and a half stops as I was working on “shadows”. But, still managed a workable grab. You can never set this kind of stage!!