Presentation: Capturing Emotions and Interacting with Subjects in Street Photography

I am teaching a two-day crash-course in street photography in Stockholm the next two days, and here is the presentation I am giving to my class. It is a collection of images from great Magnum and contemporary photographers (as well as some of my own work) in terms of capturing emotions on the streets, as well as how to interact with strangers. In each photograph, I ask each student: what makes the photograph memorable, great, and how does it capture emotion?

At the end of the presentation, I also share some of my contact sheets which I hope is a good educational behind-the-scenes look/tool.

Feel free to download, share, and distribute for any educational purposes.

See this presentation on Slideshare and see all of my street photography presentations.

A Near-Death Experience

1x1.trans A Near Death Experience

Bien Hoa, 2014

(Originally written October 24th, 2014)

I am being a little over-dramatic— but I recently had a near-death experience.

It was another normal day. I was simply writing for my blog, drinking coffee, and just finished a workout. I was a bit hungry, so I went over to my kitchen, poured out a hand-few of cashew nuts, ate them in one huge chunk, and continued to work.

Suddenly, I felt around 40% of the left side of my throat swell up. It felt hard to breathe. This was the same exact feeling I had when I had my first anaphylaxis (throat swelling up) from having an allergic reaction of eating shellfish.

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Keep Shooting or Die

1x1.trans Keep Shooting or Die

What keeps me going at the moment: medium-format and (lots of) coffee

I recently was listening to a podcast interview with Tony Robbins (on the “Tim Ferris Show”) and was struck by something Tony said: progress is happiness.

As you guys are probably well-aware of, I think a lot about happiness and progress in life. I want to live a happy and fulfilling life. I don’t want to feel stagnant. I don’t want to feel that I am hitting roadblocks. I want to fulfill my creative potential, and live a life without regrets. I want to suck out the marrow of life.

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5 Photography Friendly Places Where You Can Practice Street Photography

(A.g.’s note: I asked some of the folks over at Streettogs Academy what part of their street photography they want to improve on. One of the many things that popped up was people are still shy going out to shoot or finding interesting places to shoot in. Hopefully this article gives you new ideas on where to shoot)

The best way to become good at something is if it becomes second nature. You have to constantly build habits and the right attitudes so you can turn something on and be in the zone when you need to. That principle applies to street photography.

If you are still uncomfortable venturing out in the streets, here are some places that can be a great venue to take street photographs without the fear of being hollered upon or confronted so you can concentrate on practicing and making images and not be wary of other things.

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How to Show Empathy in Street Photography

1x1.trans How to Show Empathy in Street Photography

Detroit, 2013

I recently read a quote that went something like this: “If everyone knew how much suffering there was in the world, and how much pain, anxiety, and sadness that their enemies had (and also knew how much love they had in their lives), the world would be a much better place.”

Pretty much the concept was this: we are often suspicious, jealous, envious, and hateful of others. However if we realized that those we hated the most also went through pain and suffering in their lives, and also had joy, hope, and love in their lives— we would treat them with much more empathy, kindness, and love.

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1,000 True Fans in Photography

1x1.trans 1,000 True Fans in Photography

Berkeley, 2014

I currently wrote an article titled: “Advice for Aspiring Full-Time Photographers” which had a lot of interest. I have also been connecting a lot of young photographers lately (high school and college students)— and wanted to focus on doing more blogging which aimed at the younger photography population. Of course this doesn’t just have to be age— it can also be based on experience. So if you consider yourself as a young photographer (age-wise), experience-wise, or want some insights about the economics of being a full-time photographer, this article might be of some insight to you.

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“Letters from a Street Photographer” #6: How to Live a Purposeful Life

1x1.trans “Letters from a Street Photographer” #6: How to Live a Purposeful Life

Provincetown, 2014

Tied into the previous chapter on how to live a happy life– I also encourage trying to live a purposeful life.

What is the difference between a happy life and a purposeful life?

I think simply a “happy” life is to be free of pain, to be overall joyful, and to be free of stress and concern of how others think of you.

However when it comes to a “purposeful” life– I think it is to live a life not for just yourself– but for others.

As a social creature, we often gain the most happiness by helping others. And I think one of the biggest secrets to a “happy” life – is to live a purposeful life. By living a purposeful life– we not only help build value, love, and help others – but we also benefit ourselves (we are “happy’ as a by-product.

Marcus Aurelius also shares the same ideology– know that you have a purpose in this world. And it isn’t to live for yourself– but to live and serve others:

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“Letters from a Street Photographer” #5: How to Be Happy

1x1.trans “Letters from a Street Photographer” #5: How to Be Happy

Provincetown, 2014

For this chapter I want to focus on a section which I think is important for everyone in life: learning how to be happy, fulfilled, and content with your street photography (and your personal life).

Happiness is one of the most elusive things in the world– which we have always chased for millennia. However the problem is that we often go down the rabbit hole and follow the wrong things. We try to chase money, fame, power, wealth, prestige– all external forms of recognition to confer “happiness” unto ourselves.

However happiness is more than that– happiness is an inner-state, which can be controlled by you (not affected by external conditions).

How do we seek to gain more happiness, purpose, and contentment in our photography and lives? Let us seek the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius in “The Meditations”:

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“Letters from a Street Photographer” #4: Fuck Fame

1x1.trans “Letters from a Street Photographer” #4: Fuck Fame

Provincetown, 2014

I’ll admit it. I’m incredibly jealous. Whenever I see my close friends, other photographers, family, or anyone else doing “successful” things– I feel a tinge of jealousy. In the back of my head– I might think negative thoughts like, “That person didn’t deserve that recognition or success” – self-doubt myself “Why am I not as successful as that person?” and I start to sink into a hole of despair.

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