You don’t have to go to the most exotic places to take great photos. Often when it comes to street photography, we think of the masters like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau who shot in the streets of Paris or hardcore street photographers such as Bruce Gilden in New York. However just because you do not live in a huge city like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London doesn’t mean that you can’t take great photos. Sure you might not see as many people in the streets, but that is hardly an excuse.
I know a street photographer by the name of Tom Kaszuba who lives in a very small city in Norwich Connecticut where there are barely any people roaming the streets. Although it does make the process more difficult to find more people, it doesn’t deter him from still getting breathtaking images that convey the beauty of every-day life. He would go to street fairs or any other events in which had a large gathering of individuals and would take amazing candid portraits of individuals walking around the streets. His subjects come in all different colors, sexes, and sizes. Although he may not live in New York City or Los Angeles, his vision and determination to photography has helped him create memorable images of a seemingly “unmemorable” town.
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For the majority of my college life, I had always dreamed of going overseas to take exotic images in Europe. I had convinced myself that the streets of Los Angeles no longer appealed to me and that the only way I could get truly memorable images if I went to the most romantic cities in the world (all which of course, were in Europe).
Then during the summer of my Junior year in 2009, I was blessed with the opportunity to backpack through Europe and travel through the cities of London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, and Prague. It was like a photographer’s dream come true. Every city was so unique and special in its own way and I could not quit taking images as I was so taken back from the intrinsic beauty of each location. I took nearly a thousand photos a day during my trip (by the end of my 30-day trip in Europe I had amassed 40,000 images) and constantly craved to see more. I had convinced myself that there was no other place like Europe and that if any photographer wanted to be great, he or she had to go to Europe and take some images.
However as my trip progressed, everything stated to look more or less of the same thing. The epic cathedrals that I had once entered which made my jaw drop to the floor started to merge together as my eyes became visually saturated with great architecture. The once unique and fascinating back-alleys of Paris soon became commonplace as I encountered similar alleys in Prague. Europe started to become less and less of a fairytale and more of reality.
That’s when I started to truly open my eyes and see that although the sights to me were awe-inspiring, they were just ordinary sights for the local residents. They didn’t even bat an eye when they passed the Eiffel tower, nor did they scream in delight when entering the crystal-clear waters of Cinque Terre. I recall being a bit furious at the locals. Didn’t these fools see how blessed they were to have such a majestic place to live? Don’t they know how many people from all over the world would die to see and experience what they did? Why did they take all of this for granted?
It then hit me like a ton of bricks. I had done the same exact thing when I was back in Los Angeles. I had seen major landmarks like the Walt Disney Concert hall as well as the regal-red arches of Royce Hall at UCLA. Although when I had first experienced them I was taken-away, they soon became boring and old to me. I then remember I would always scoff when I would see families or foreign students gasping at the sights on the UCLA campus while busily snapping away. No big deal—I would think to myself. What a hypocrite I was.
Case in point, there is no need to travel the entire damn world to experience beauty and majesty in life. Rather, if you can learn to appreciate the splendor that is in your backyard, can you truly experience and appreciate the photographic gems in every-day, mundane life.