Ask the Community: What is Your Street Photography Story?

by Eric Kim on May 3, 2011

1x1.trans Ask the Community: What is Your Street Photography Story?

"Escape" by Eric Kim (one of my earlier works)

We all found out about street photography in different ways. Some of us may have been inspired after looking at the images of Henri Cartier-Bresson photo book while some of us may have learned about it by chance.

How did you learn about street photography? Leave a comment below and share your story! I will select the best stories out there in one of my next blog posts!

  • http://myx100year.tumblr.com Andrew

    Hello.

    My name is Andrew, and I’m addicted to the streets. My first paid job was as a press photographer for local rags, taking pictures of old men and the vegetables they had grown in their allotments. I then went to work as a studio manager for a company that did post work for calendar girl pics, seeing how we could make any old rubbish into something amazing ruined my impression of what photography was about. We used to keep a catalogue of good body parts to swap in. So I quit photography and taught myself 3D, did work for TV and feature films, then became a lecturer, and now many years after first using a camera to make money, I’m using one on the street for fun. The reason? I started to grow up.

    2 years ago I got a used D200 and stuck it to my Nikkor 50mm prime I had lying around from who knows where, the lens just arrived under my bed one day. I had the yearning to make photographs, and wanted to try digital. I did the usual crap we all have to do, then I saw a picture that changed my life, by James Nachtwey. I watched his documentary, and was blown away. Speechless. That man is my here, then and now. I watched that film over and over, I still do, and something inside me started to move. I started to see something more about photography, the stuff that had been taken away by the time editing work to the point it was no longe ra photograph was starting to be replaced by watching James at work. I couldn’t go to war, my girlfriend would kill me, so I turned to the next thing, protests! I hunted them out, and luckily (for some) the big London G20 protest was a couple of weeks away, and promised to kick off good and proper. I got on a train and got stuck in, me and my Nikon. I had found my place, I was buzzing. And then I saw the pictures I had taken, and I realised it was all too easy. The people there didn’t care about the camera, it was a turkey shoot. I needed more, I turned to the street.

    That was 2 years ago, this is now, street is hard. I’ll never make a photograph I’m happy with, I’ll never beat it, the street will always win. That is what keeps me coming back. I now shoot with an X100, but am looking at an M2. My mind has become more focussed, I have grown as a person because of the street. I look more, see more, and understand people more. the street teaches you. How did I learn about street photography? I accidentally fell into it. I could go on.

  • http://www.fokkomuller.nl fomu

    I was doing a 365 project and shooting everything but on the street. I asked a friend on Twitter to give me an instruction for the daily photo of the next day. She said: ‘Your pictures are beautiful but there are almost no people in it. Make a street portrait of an old person.” And so i did: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fokkomuller/5016144938/in/set-72157625729796100

    After that day I liked shooting on the streets so much that I started to read about it in books and on the internet. I got inspired mostly by your photos and tips Eric and by the colorful photos and columns of Yanidel (Yanick Delafoge). Thanks for that!

    Now I must admit that I only shoot on the streets and that it is the passion of my life. Please take a look at my website http://www.fokkomuller.nl and let me know what you think!

  • http://www.85mm.ch Thomas Leuthard – 85mm

    I started street photography, not really knowing what I was doing, during the Olympics in Beijing, China, in August 2008. I was fascinated by the things which happened in the busy streets of this foreign city, all these interesting faces, things we don’t see over here in Europe. I had a Lumix Bridge camera with a built in 18x super zoom lens. I took a lot of photos of a lot of different things. The photos are still online on http://beijing.leuthard.ch

    It still took me nearly another year (till May 2009) to really start street photography as I do it now. I started with my 85mm lens to take only street photos. I created a website and a profile in a online community. That was where it started. I got closer and closer to people and started to take really close candid portraits of strangers. The 85mm lens got soon to close and I used a 50mm for portraits and also other things.

    I also started to travel to the big cities of Europe and the World to perform my passion. With my Nikon D90 I took over 120’000 shots in cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, New York, Beirut, Amsterdam, Istanbul, etc. Now I have a Nikon D7000 and since about a year a Lumix GF1. It turned out that the GF1 is really a great camera for streets.

    In August 2010 I got notice of a Korean guy from Los Angeles who had some good tutorials about street photography on his website. When he asked for donations for a trip to Beirut to teach Street Photography I saw my chance to help, to do something good for the community and to have an adventure. I donated 2/3 of the plane ticket and we flew both as strangers not knowing each other to a foreign country to teach what makes us waking up with a smile in the morning. It turned out to be the trip once-in-a-lifetime and we met a lot of highly motivated and friendly people down there.

    In 3 weeks this Korean guy will come to Switzerland and we will do another workshop about street photography together. I think that the last 6 months he made me doing more in the area of street photography and especially in online communities. And there is still a lot to do and a lot to share. It’s all about sharing.

    “Street Photography is a way of life, not a way of earning money…” – 85mm

    P.S. This Korean guy is called Eric Kim…

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Beautiful story, and looking forward to teaching that street photography with that Swiss guy ;)

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dreifachzucker/ Jörg Richner

        If you are doing a street photography workshop here in Switzerland, I ‘d love to know more about that.

  • http://anindya.smugmug.com Anindya

    I started my journey into street photography after I got little tired of landscapes. After starting with landscape and macros I quickly got into few astonishing books of HCB, James Nachtwey and many many more photographers and different emotions, frames really excited me. When I started to look around in different blogs, forums, photo sharing sites I saw some splendid pictures taken by many photographers I started to think in that angle.

    Although I was a lot shy back then to ask people for shots or even getting camera out in street, after quite a few tries I managed to get over it. Few good photographs, few fleeting moments made this even more exciting and right now with my Panasonic lx3 I almost roam around everyday for few hours. I may or may not get photographs, the experience of seeing others itself is great for me.

  • http://flickr.com/mattfromjava Matt

    I shot my first pictures last year during the G20 events in Toronto. The camera wasn’t even mine. I felt such a thrill that I went out again the next day, and the day after that. It was like a second birth, an awakening. The buildings, the people, the situations kept me walking for hours on ends. My eyes got better everyday at spotting picture-worthy situations. Of course, I had my fair share of out-of-focus shots and near-misses, but the satisfaction of being out there and witnessing life as it unfolded was fabulous. After about a week, I bought my very own camera (Canon Rebel XS, budget!), and it hasn’t left my side since.
    I’ve bought a standard 50mm, then a 55-250mm, but I’m saving up to buy a standard 24mm (35mm on a crop sensor, the mother of street photography lenses).
    I hope my story inspires others to take on the streets and witness life like I did. It is such a rewarding passion!

  • http://www.images.ifp3.com Guy

    My first photo teacher sent us on the street to build stories with pictures. That was 30 years ago. Then, I spent years ans years looking at all theese great pictures from Cartier-Bresson, Willy Ronis, René Jacques, Peter Turnley, Jeanloup Sieff, Brassaï, André Kertész, Sabine Weiss, Robert Doisneau, Édouard Boubat, and many, many more. I went to to a lot of expositions, spent hours in the library looking at pictures. Ten years ago, I started to seriously make photo for the second time in my life. Nature, nice places and so on. But a few years ago, I discovered that taking pictures in the street was what I always wanted to do. Now, I am really involved in street photography. When I shoot, my life comes perfect… It’s the thing I like the most. Bringing back a good picture is not a matter of luck but as more to do with guts. And the more you do it, the more guts you have. Your pictures get better and better. Street is the best place to make pictures and the hardest way of getting a good photo. But it is so rewarding. The feeling you get from a good picture is unbeateable. So you want to got back again and again. I leave my digital camera home since a coupe of years, bought a M3, load it with black and white film and I have the hope of adding a few pictures to the marvelous bank of street photography that was built during the 20 th century.

  • darci

    Dang. I feel like such an interloper here.

    In the previous post, your guest author talked about making time for photography and how to treat it as not a hobby…well I’m sorry, but the thing I “make time for (while working a 40hr job)” is writing fiction. Photography is very much a hobby for me, but it’s one I do take at least somewhat seriously. I began only a few years ago, when my digital point-and-shoot died and I decided that I wanted to learn more. I wanted to take better pictures in general and maybe start to get creative with it instead of just taking holiday snapshots.

    So I bought a refurbished PowerShot S5. It’s a fixed lens, sure, but I can shoot in full M or full auto or anywhere in between so I can learn in stages and see how far I really want to take things without breaking my bank account right up front. I joined a few online photography groups, on Flickr and Livejournal and elsewhere. As I kept scrolling through other people’s photos from all different genres, my ideas of what I like and don’t like and how to articulate that began to gel in my head. But it was seeing a giant retrospective (traveling!) exhibit at the Art Institute just over a year ago on Cartier-Bresson, that solidified things and made me realise how strong my pull is to what is now called street photography. And it wasn’t until even more recently that it dawned on me why *this* genre more than any other, and how it shouldn’t be a surprise now that I think about it.

    It’s another way to tell a story. :)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Well stated Darci. I think the more you get into street photography, the more deeper you will get addicted…

      Well at least I know that’s what happened for me ;)

  • http://stevefoonphotography.blogspot.com SteveSFO

    I guess I had something to do with cameras all my life. Not that I took a whole bunch of photos – this was still in the days of film. Being a kid, I had no money to spend.

    Like most of us, High School photo class taught me a few more things and I was lucky to be at a school that also had a closed circuit TV station. Grand thoughts about being the next Roone Arledge and to cover sports/events was something special…. but I still thought of it as just a cool thing to do.

    Flash forward to about a year ago. Since my day job allows me to be outside most of the time, I started to observe all the goings on around me and wished that I was actually taking time to document what I am seeing.

    HCB and the rest were totally unknown to me at the time. All I thought of were the wonderful pictures I recall seeing in the newspaper and in the magazines such as Life and National Geographic. After going out with a way too big DSLR and a 70-200mm lens, I started to understand what “Street Photography” was all about. Capturing the moment is important but also being close to the capture brings a certain amount of joy. This fortunately or unfortunately lead me towards a Leica.

    The more I photographed… the closer I felt at peace with myself. The stress of the job and the day vanished as I focused on looking at the world versus just allowing the world to pass me by.

    Street Photography is tough. You have a split second to compose the shot in your mind and heart. That over used phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true. The few times where I think I got it “right” in terms of a good “Street” shot, the image did speak for itself and conveyed a message that I wanted to relay without having to resort to words.

    Street has become more than just taking candid photos. More than just being a good documentarian. This form of art and communication becomes nirvana. It does become a part of you.

  • http://www.arovingvision.com Kit Taylor

    I’ve been photographing for over 50 years, but photography has only become a consuming interest in the last 10 years – and has usually been tied in with travel. For some time I’ve noticed that after returning from a trip and sorting through the photographs, my favorites have been unposed shots of people going about their normal business. Sure, I’ve shot some stunning landscapes, villagescapes, riverscapes, sunsets and sunrises, etc. And those have usually been the shots I’ve printed large and have had some success with as art gallery sales.

    About two and a half years ago I was preparing a travelogue slide show from the thousands of photos I’d shot on a two-month Amazon trip which had included following part of Humboldt’s 1800 route on the Orinoco and Casiquiare rivers — certainly the most remote place I’ve ever traveled. But it was the people shots that jumped out — market workers in river towns cities, folks hanging around the docks waiting for a boat, a one-man recycler flattening beer and soda cans with a wooden post, people in a river village watching a boat being repaired. I realized I had been doing street photography in the Amazon.

    Becoming more aware of where my photographic interests were heading, I began to look more carefully at this genre — at the work of Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson, Salgado, Lange and others. Then I started poking around the web for current examples of street photography. Eric’s blog has been very helpful, particularly his interviews with various photographers.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/minneapolispics/ Tom

    Street photography is something that evolved from me, trying to sneak cigarettes from my anti-smoking girlfriend. I still only smoke while shooting and the cravings still get me motivated, but now I can connect with my creative self.

    I’m an extremely shy, introverted person, and have always been a natural student of human behavior. Street photography simply allows me to capture pictures that are similar to the pictures that have been stored in my mind for years.

  • Eljon

    Hi. I’m just starting with Street Photography, but here it goes:

    I don’t actually remember when did I get interested in photography. But just from that interest, I loved taking random pictures with my previous camera phones and was contented with the photos I took. I then discovered some cool fashion portraits, but thought that camera phones will just not do the trick.

    For some time, I worked for small jobs online and save allowance money to buy a DSLR. I was having problems on what camera to buy decided. As I have read and heard some suggestions of going for a less expensive camera and invest with better lenses, I decided to go with the Nikon D3000 last year.

    As I am learning photography in general for the past year and reading some tutorials online, I stumbled upon a guest post in a photography blog entitled “10 Tips for the Aspiring Street Photographer” which eventually lead me to this blog.

    To put it short: I loved street photography and decided to practice it because of the street photographs which shows the emotion of real life that I saw in this blog.

    Hope to learn more and sharing photographs that I will be taking in the future.

  • http://sweetronit.com/blog Sweet Ronit

    Eric,

    What a thoughtful question! I was thinking about this a few months ago, here is my story/post (which includes being inspired my Cartier-Bresson!):

    http://sweetronit.com/blog/2010/11/04/looking-back-head-in-hands/

    A few years later, I switched out that little point and shoot for a Pentax K1000. I pretty much stuck with film until about five years ago. But regardless of the tool, I will always be drawn to documentary photography and street shooting in particular – there’s really no greater thrill for me!

  • Pingback: Life On The Streets | Fuel Your Photography

  • Seanbodin

    Oversættelse fra Dansk til Engelsk

    I became interested in street photography many years ago when I happened to read a book by Bernard Plossu!

  • Joao Pires

    Cannot see:

    “Escape” by Eric Kim (one of my earlier works)

    Can you republish it ?

    Thanks
    Joao

  • Gene

    I became interested after I saw photographs by Dan Hammetree who is in the So. Florida Camera Club.

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