Jean-François Cléroux | Flâneur & Lens Creative
Different Lens, Different Story!

Tag: Class

Finding Your Voice: The Photographers Journey from Composition to Personal Style

Saturday February 17th & Sunday 18th, 2017.

A comprehensive two-day workshop that will look at Composition and how its understanding leads to Personal Style.

This workshop will examine much more than the ten basic rules of composition including:

1. The Science and Psychology of Imagery
2. The Importance of Subject Matter
3. Elements of Composition
4. Medium Specific (In-Camera Controls)
5. Placement/Point of Focus
6. Division of Space including Negative Space
7. Display
8. Balance (including how to recognize balance)
9. Notions and Devices
10. Breaking the Rules

And will further define and explore Style:

11. What is Style
12. Artistic & Photographic Style
13. Defining your Style
14. How to refine your 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 two-day workshop is $179.00 per person. 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.

Classes will run from 9:30am to 4:30pm 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.

Please contact francois@northernexposures.com

Class Notes for Part-01 – Required Reading 3

• Part-1.3 – Nick Turpin: Street Photography Pie

You can tell by his writing and well thought out points that Nick Turpin believes in his definition of what Street Photography is. His point and arguments are concise as are his replies to comments on his page.

He starts off correctly with his statement of

“redefined the phrase Street Photography to what we recognize today…a documentary form that celebrated the candid public moment. And now whether you like the phrase or not there is unarguably a large and growing international community of photographers for whom it is very important that their approach to making pictures is purely observed, whose intention is to record public life as it is found.”

With the points of “candid public moments” and “to making pictures is purely observed” and “is to record public life as it is found” being key points in explaining what Street Photography is all about. This definition is the root, of what Street Photography is, what its about, and leads us to the Truth and the importance of Truth in Street Photography.

This definition excludes posed portraits, subjects directed by shouted comments or directed by photographic confrontation techniques.

The statement also brings up another very good point; “international community of photographers for whom it is very important that their approach to making pictures is purely observed.” If the root of Street Photography is about Truth and real life, its important that Street Photography hangs on to that. No matter what other genres are trying to claim or what Artists that are trying to push boundaries state, Street Photography is about ‘real life’.

(C) Jeff Wall - Mimic 1982

(C) Jeff Wall – Mimic 1982

His example of Jeff Walls Mimic 1982 is a great example. If the consumers of the image believe that street photography is real, it should be real. If they think and posed images or directed emotions are acceptable, then Street Photography will become nothing more than ‘fake news.’

 

Again, his comments are backed up with this comment

“The reason I get up again and again to defend candid Street Photography is because I believe IT REALLY MATTERS HOW PHOTOGRAPHS ARE MADE, it matters because it changes their meaning and historical value.”

If ‘all’ your images are faked or posed, what value to they have? Then you need to think about the integrity of your work, if some of your images are directed, how can viewers NOT question the truth or validity of the remaining images? A reader to his post commented on whether Street Photographers should take an oath like Journalists do and the reader suggests that we shouldn’t need to. I honestly believe that most good Street Photographers have taken an oath to themselves. And, this is why Nick’s statement below is so important and so valid

“it’s why we need the Street Photographers candid approach to be understood and respected.”

If Street Photography turns into nothing more than “Fake Images”, the art of Street Photography will be forever lost.

On this site I post some posed images that are “obviously” posed in that I like to share moments and some of the people I encounter on the streets. But, none of my other images are directed or posed. I do show a few images where I have been caught in the act of taking an image. This is so that I can; further setup the article that I am writing about what Street Photography is and; share with those learning Street Photography that these moments do happen; use then as examples of what maybe or may not be Street Photography (as in the bird down below).

Nick Turpin’s Street Photography Pie is a little over simplistic and doesn’t guide the reader that well. The three questions would fit into a flow chart much better. His explanation however is better

“It’s Photography yes, it’s Documentary Photography yes and it’s Candid Photography…yes.”

It’s Photography? Well we use cameras, so it is obviously photography.

Its Documentary? For this let’s take a closer look at what “documentary” means. Definitions for Documentary mostly go along this line; “Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter.”

We then need to further break this down and look at “objectively” meaning; “Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices,” and “editorializing” to mean; “to insert one’s personal opinions into an otherwise objective account.”

So, shouting out ‘Hey, look angry’ would lead to a photo that is NOT OBJECTIVE and one that IS EDITORIALIZED.

And lastly, we need to look up “candid”; meaning several things including “Characterized by openness and sincerity of expression” and meaning “Not posed or rehearsed.”

I think this says it all. This is what I believe street photography to be and I have taken that personal oath to making “candid” image. It’s what I aim for every time I am out shooting.

(C) Boogie - No Head Pigeon

(C) Boogie – No Head Pigeon

One last comment about what Street Photography is or isn’t based on Nick Turpin’s article. In the comments below his article he responds to someone and leaves good links to photographer’s sites (and a book) that are clearly NOT Street Photography (or at the very least not great Street Photography).

One reader comments on ‘Boogie’s work’ As being “fairly vacuous and fabricated.” It’s clear going to this link  http://boogiephoto.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/nyc that he is correct. He is also correct in pointing out that Boogie’s previous work that put him in the Street Photography Spotlight, is rather good. “Belgrade Belongs to Me” is great work. Some images are obviously staged while others are clearly candid. But take a close look, you’ll find some in between images where we do not know?? Are the images all “truthful?” I think not. And, just because a known Street Photographer takes a photo of a dead bird, it doesn’t mean its Street Photography.

What’s your belief? Should Street Photography be Candid? Is it important? Is it important to you? And, more importantly, is it important to the survival of Street Photography? More to follow in my Street Photography Definition article.

See you on the truthful streets!

 

Class Notes for Part-01 – Required Reading 2

The article brings up a lot of points for discussion. Many of these points are what I would consider the subject of the Philosophy of Street Photography, or even just the Philosophy of Photography. These are my Class Notes on:

• Part-1.2 – Eric Kim: What is Street Photography?

I have been researching this topic and will write a lengthy explanation on not only my thoughts of what “Street Photography” is, but also on why there is confusion and disagreement on the subject. I think that when you look at the reading material given to us by Eric Kim and specifically some of his points in his article “What is Street Photography?” you can see that his statements just don’t add up. For now, I will not get into too many details, but I will point out what I think are errors or misreading on Eric Kim’s part.

I think his comment about what Street Photography isn’t is off the mark:

“I believe that often the best way to define something is by defining what something isn’t.”

And based on his two examples of it’s not Landscape Photography and it’s not Studio Photography?? He concludes with the statement:

“Therefore, I feel that street photography needs an element of spontaneity and uncertainty rather than the predictable/manipulative nature of studio photography.”

I couldn’t agree more with this statement. How he concludes this based on Landscape and Studio not being Street Photography is beyond me. But yes, Street Photography needs to be spontaneous and uncertain.

Then he goes on to say:

“I personally don’t think that street photography has to be candid.”

Candid photography is spontaneous and uncertain. Photography with permission, or directed, or posed is “predictable” and “manipulative.” I have countless examples, and we all know and have our own examples, that once a subject makes eye contact with a camera, that the expression changes. What you capture in front of the camera is almost never the subject’s true self once they have seen the camera or worse, have interacted with the photographer.

In his example of William Klein’s ‘Kid with Gun’ he states correctly that Klein himself stated the image was ‘directed.’ The kid was asked to ‘look tough.’ Klein’s paraphrased response of:

“although it was he who provoked his subjects to play up a certain reaction or expression– it was his subjects who ultimately reacted the way they did.”

That’s the point isn’t it? It was the subjects who ultimately reacted the way they did to his interactions, to his direction, to his involvement. Without his provocation, the kid would NOT have reacted. What if you faked a robbery and ‘captured’ images of scared bank customers? Is that life as it really is? What if you just followed a woman along closely and scared the bejesus out of her? Is that real life on the street?

Another thing we must look at is the context of the image. There are several points to be made here. Klein was a Vogue Fashion Photographer. He had been commissioned to photograph New York, specifically to document New York post war. NOT commissioned to Photograph as a Street Photographer but to capture the essence of New York. His documentation included still life and buildings. His still life images and urban landscapes are not street photography in this case. They are a part of the documentation of the city, two very different things.

He later moved to Paris partly because of his dislike of New York and went on to say that those New York images showed everything he hated about New York. He went in with a specific ‘mindset’ and photographed to make a point. This is also NOT street photography. Street Photography is supposed to be politically neutral in motive. The reason for the image should be the artistic value of the image. If it happens to capture a ‘political statement’ that is an aside. Shooting to capture a ‘political statement’ is by definition, Documentary Photography.

As a Street Photographer you are there to observe and capture what you see. It’s why Paul Martin, who is considered a pioneer of Street Photography, making candid un-posed photographs of people in London and at the seaside in the late 19th and early 20th century to record life AS-IT-WAS. Martin is the first recorded photographer to do so in London with a disguised camera because he saw the need for, and the importance of the images to be candid. He noticed that people changed, their expressions changed, and that they behaved differently when confronted by a camera. To that point Paul Martin was a Street Photographer. William Klein was NOT a Street Photographer. Although he is highly regarded as such because of the abundance of excellent images that do qualify as Street Photography, however, he was not a Street Photographer. Can a Fashion Photographer on the streets capture candid Street Photography images, of course he can? Does that mean ALL his images are Street Photography? No. Should we not consider ALL his images to be “Fashion Photography?” Of course not.

And more importantly, do you trust his images to be real? How many are posed, or guided? Do his images give you a real view of the hardships, the emotions, the faces? Or, are they fake? Where is the integrity? What of the truth in Street Photography?

Eric Kim goes on to say:

“I care less if a photograph is staged or not– but whether it elicits some sort of reaction in my gut and heart. Who cares if a street photograph is posed or candid– if it doesn’t stir something in my soul?”

Wait what, staged images are OK? So, I could hire a couple as models and have them kiss with fake glycerin tears in their eyes and as long as I shoot on the streets, it’s Street Photography?

I think that capturing images that stir emotions is a great goal, and one that we should all aspire to in Street Photography. But, it should not be at the cost of the Truth.

Eric talks about another Klein image and then a Diane Arbus image. When you look at these images and know the stories behind them you clearly see that they are staged or at the very least guided and that the subjects are willing participants. Again, it is not recording life as it is and would quickly fit into the category of Street Portraiture. And again, by definition, they are not even Street Portraiture when you consider what a ‘portrait’ is.

In both Klein’s and Arbus’ images and attached contact sheets you can clearly see they shot multiple images and poses until they had something they wanted. Life doesn’t work that way.

We can save the indoors/outdoors argument for another time but my general comment here is that in Street Photography images, the street should be implied. It does not need to feature in the image, but it needs to be implied. When Eric claims that his

“belief is that street photography can really be shot anywhere as long as it is open to the public to enter and leave as they please.”

I think he is missing the “street” component of Street Photography. There are countless silly examples of what would clearly NOT be street photography that would fit this description. Is a photo of two climbers atop the Half Dome Summit, Street Photography? Or you walk off the street into a NY Islanders hockey game and shoot the hockey players on the ice. Is that Street Photography? Or would it be called Sports Photography? Enough said.

Lastly, Eric uses Eugene Atget’s image of a building with no people in it to suggest that it’s a street photograph because Atget is a Street Photographer. Again, by trade Atget photographed storefronts for the local papers for advertisements, that was his job. Atget was a commercial photographer. Because of his work on the streets over many years he photographed many candid’s, people in posed portraits, some urban photography and even some still life street photography. He shot it all. But, it’s not all Street Photography. He even photographed some street prostitutes he was intimate with. Are those images “Street Photography?”

The lesson to take from this, as with most photography related materials found on the net, is to not just take everything in as gospel. I have the greatest respect for Eric Kim, his work, and what he has done to further Street Photography. But, read it all, take it all in, analyze it as best you can with your current knowledge, scrutinize what you read or ideas that are passed on to you. Do some historical research. And after giving it some thought, what makes sense to you? Does it fit your definitions, your ideas, your purpose?

And, don’t be stubborn, have an open mind. As you do more street photography, as you grow and develop as a photographer, as you learn the language of Street Photography, know that you can change your definition and, at the very least, don’t just take my word for it.

As I mentioned above, I will write more on this very shortly (After I finish Part-1 of the Free On-Line Street Photography Class). After all, what is a Street Photography website/blog, if it doesn’t define what Street Photography is?

Class is In Session

Bang!

For those of you that are wanting to start the On-line class, here is some information.

Please Subscribe to this Blog (link at the right) via E-mail, this will help keep you informed.

Go to the Learn Street Photography Menu and read the About this Class page. Then go to Part-01 and read all the required materials. Note that the very first thing to read (Introduction to Visual Sociology by Howard Becker) is probably the most difficult to get through as it reads a little like a scientific paper. Push through it as its worth reading. The others are easier.

This class is meant to be done at your own pace. There are things that are asked of you that are designed to specifically address different elements of Street Photography. It is important that you do them if you want to get everything you can out of this class. This includes setting up your Free WordPress site where you will post your notes and images. This is where you can have friends or peers review your work, offer CC or make recommendations. It also serves as a log of your work so you can see how you progress over the years. The writing component of street photography is a helpful and powerful tool that will make you a better photographer.

As I have just set all this up and created the site in the last two days, we may run into some obstacles. If you have any issues, concerns, or suggestions with any of the class materials please let me know. Note that I will be doing this class one part at a time and posting my results and observations here. See you on the streets!

Also, you may want to read the post below this one as it will help introduce you to me and how I got started in Street Photography.

A New Journey

Part of a study of division of space.

OK, so it’s not new. I have been doing street photography for some time now. My journey started with my annual ‘step out of your comfort zone’ challenge where I push myself to learn new things. I try to choose new things to learn that I don’t want to learn but should. The new acquired skills always come in handy.

In the fall of 2012 I challenged myself to do street photography. I decided to take a one evening Street Photography workshop with Vancouver based Barry J. Brady on August 30th, 2012. I have been doing street photography ever since.

Tension shot from the hip.

The images shared in this post are from that class outing. Nothing special, but they are what got me hooked. In an upcoming post I will discuss these images, why I shot them as I did and what lessons I learned.

Why did I choose Street Photography? Street Photography can be done by anyone who owns a camera. Any camera. It can be done anywhere, in any city. But, like with other genres, there are specific skill sets required and time and patience must be invested. And again, like with most other genres, it’s important to know, understand and have an intimate knowledge of your subject!

Your subject is not just the places and the people, its all of it. It’s the people’s actions and reactions, interconnections, transactions, and emotions. And, as usual, it’s about the backdrop and the lighting and the timing. Oh, and don’t forget about the composition! To know street photography is to know human nature. And above all, you must see things unfolding before they happen to be ready for the decisive moment.

I enjoyed this part. I enjoyed being on the streets, loitering as it were. Carefree. Observing. Watching. Photographing.

Caught!

I have photographed in Europe, the US including NYC and in Israel. Each country is unique, each city different, each neighborhood a new adventure. But, street photography is not just about shooting in new places. It’s about the people and getting an understanding of those people and their neighborhood. That can only be achieved by returning to the same hoods over and over again. Meeting the actors and players. Learning who to follow, who to watch and who to ignore. Along the way, you take it all in and become comfortable with the places and people and atmosphere. Ever watchful.

I want to share what I have learned on my Street Photography Journey with you on this site. I will post articles and a large reference section with links to other articles, downloads, and videos. I have posted an updated 11 Part Street Photography Workshop that you can do on your own, with a friend, or in a group or club. In the Spirit of Eric Kim’s “Open Source Photography” from which I have based the workshop, it is all available on this site for free (*please note exceptions below). I will host some inexpensive photo walks and continue to host my Street Photography Workshops if you need or enjoy hands on guidance. But either way, I hope you can join me on this journey. See you on the streets!

*Any images or articles on this site are fully copyrighted by me or their respective owners as indicated. I do grant use of my images for web based non-commercial educational use only and only with credit provided. Need my images for other purposes, please contact me as I am always trying to help out. Please don’t steal images.

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This site supports and promotes the Street Photography Community in Vancouver and surrounding areas. If you have any events or news to share, please let us know!

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