Hey streettogs, I am excited to announce that my good friend Todd Hatakeyama (the owner of the Hatakeyama Gallery) is undergoing a plan of creating a dedicated classroom, to continue to nurture the local arts scene in Los Angeles! The Hatakeyama Gallery was used to featured numerous photography workshops, exhibitions, and is on the Downtown LA art walk route! The venue would be used as a hub for all photographers to meet and interact, while giving a location for up-and-coming photographers to display their work as well.
(Above photo by Daan Loeff)
I know it has been a while since I featured street photography from the community – but here is the last batch of great shots I have noticed on Facebook! If you would like to get one of your shots featured in the future, make sure to upload them to my Facebook fan page! (I prefer using Facebook because it is easier to sort/look through all the photographs).
Some tips to get included in the next post:
- Don’t use watermarks on your photographs or white/black borders. They are often distracting to the image and take away from the power of the photo.
- Don’t over-process your photographs. Once your photo looks too “HDR’y” you should tone it down.
- Street portraits are great – but try to incorporate the subjects/backgrounds more.
- Get good lighting. Try not to include shots that have been shot mid-day.
- Think about balance and composition. Don’t have your subjects too center-focused.
- Don’t shoot people’s backs. Sometimes they work but typically they don’t.
- Think about the statement your photograph is trying to say. Is it just a person of a person walking on the streets, or something more?
- Generally photos of street performers/homeless people are cliche and not very original. Try to find the extraordinary in the ordinary- rather than capture ordinary photos of extraordinary people.
Eric’s Note: I am happy to feature the work of Stéphane Daniel, a street photographer based in Montreal. Check out his background in street photography and his images below!
Stéphane: During my childhood in France I first learned photography from my father, who showed me how to make a right exposure on his Ricoh. To be quite honest, I remember it as somewhat boring. I also remember for Christmas one year, I received a an ugly red full automatic camera. As a student I used to record “souvenirs” on disposable cameras.
The day I finally had a decent salary, I bought an EOS300 and start to travel with it. Until that moment my life changed. I discovered on photo-magazines the way to shoot with a 24mm, I visited photo exhibitions in Paris and fell in love with Depardon, Salgado, Cartier-Bresson and Nachtwey’s black and white pictures.
Note: Photos used with permission from Martin Parr
As of late, Martin Parr is one of my idols in street photography. I love his never-ending passion for street/documentary photography (Alec Soth recently called him the “Jay-Z” of documentary photography)- and the thought-provoking images that his photos tell. For this article I will share 10 things that I learned from Martin Parr and his work that I hope will help you in your street photography as well!
Having fun with the boys in Koreatown in Los Angeles. Showing Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter) a great time during his last night here!
People featured in the video
Cameras mentioned in the video
- Ricoh GR1v
- Ricoh GR21
- Leica M9-P
- Leica M6
Some behind the scenes footage from my student exhibition at the UC Riverside Extension Course I taught this quarter (I showed some of my photos as well!) Many of the students had never shot street photography before, and I was very proud of the images they were able to create during the quarter! Thanks to Colin Westerbeck (author of Bystander: A History of Street Photography) who helped edit and sequence the student photos as well!
Enroll in the Spring course here: https://www.extension.ucr.edu/enroll/catalog/olr_course_details.php?crsid=27030
*4-2-12 Update: We have randomly chose a winner, and it was Julien Rath! His winning comment was below. Stay tuned for the next free giveaway! :)
The good folks at Custom SLR (one of my site sponsors) has generously provided a Custom SLR Glidestrap + C-Loop ($64.95 value) for a give-away on the blog! You can have the chance to either win this great strap which is perfect for street photography- especially on your DSLR, Leica, or rangefinder camera. It takes a ton of strain off your neck- while letting your camera hang to the side – perfect for getting ready for “the decisive moment”. You can see a sample video of it in action here.
To enter this giveaway, all you need to do is:
Share your tip on how to re-inspire yourself in street photography when you are feeling uninspired (in 7 words or less)
There are three ways to enter (the more ways you enter, the more chances to win!):
- “Like” me on Facebook and share your tip on my wall!
- Tweet your response, and include the following text anywhere in the tweet:
- http://bit.ly/GJFl9s #streettogs
This contest will end Friday, March 30th, 2012. We’ll randomly pick a winner and announce it on the blog!
*Credit to PetaPixel for the contest idea!
After a month-long trip in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and London – finally had some time to sit down and think about my travels, my friends, family, and what I want out of life. Traveling has been tough on me mentally, physically, and emotionally – but it has been through the support of the community and those close to me who have helped me keep on going!
Also watch the video above to hear about my crazy story of leaving my luggage at home (and surviving a month on the road without it!). Thanks again so much for everything guys :)
- Fujifilm 18mm f/2 (~28mm full-frame equivalent)
- Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 (~50mm full-frame equivalent)
- Fujifilm 60mm f/2.4 Macro (~100mm full-frame equivalent)
Still haven’t had the chance to play with the new Fujifilm X-Pro 1- but have been hearing great things about it so far! Hopefully I will have the chance to shoot with it on the streets soon and let you guys know what I think!
I recently taught a street photography workshop in Kuala Lumpur at the Leica Store Malaysia and had a phenomenal time. Huge shout-outs to Shannel and rest of the Leica Store Malaysia crew for making it such a successful workshop! The above video include some snippets shot with my GoPro HD camera in the streets of Kuala Lumpur during the workshop. As you can see, nobody got punched in the face – and most people in the are are extremely friendly!
Also check out my upcoming street photography workshops below, and click more to see all 162 snapshots from the workshop!
12/9-12/15: Calcutta, India – Week-long Immersion Course – Info – (with Adam Marelli and Jason Martini) – NEW!
You can also stay updated with my future workshops by signing up here.
Thanks to Martin-Neep who found this hour-long interview with street photography master Henri Cartier-Bresson. If you have time later today, grab a nice cup of hot cocoa- kick back- and enjoy!
Share some insights you find interesting by leaving a comment below!
For those of you who may not know, this quarter I taught my first online street photography course with UC Riverside Extension titled, “All the World’s a Stage: Introduction to Street Photography“. Many of the students who enrolled in the class had no experience with street photography before, yet have done incredibly well in the course.
This Friday (3/23) from 6-9PM we will be exhibiting the best street photographs taken by the students from the course.
The exhibition will be held across the street from the extension Center (1200 University Ave in Riverside).
1299 University Ave. Suite 203
Riverside, CA 92507
The event is open to the public. Please feel free to bring your friends, family, and fellow photographers! Looking forward in meeting all of you!
Link to Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/252298181531296/
Eric’s Note: I am very pleased to share the work of Fabrizio Q on the blog this week. I met Fabrizio while I was in London, and saw his “160 Yen” series – a project he worked on while living in Tokyo. It is a strong project full of the idiosyncrasies of Japanese life– all jammed inside the Tokyo Yamanote Line. See more about Fabrizio and the project below.
Fabrizio: I have always been fascinated by the pulse of Tokyo life, by its pure, elemental energy, by how the city and its inhabitants embrace each other like partners in a dance: naturally, gracefully, in perfect unison.
In April 2010 I had the opportunity to spend a whole month in this great city. While I had been shooting in the streets there previously for photographic projects, this time I set off with a very precise purpose – documenting the countless aspects of Tokyo life by photographing commuters throughout the day.
[Read more…] about Street Photography Essay: “160 Yen” by Fabrizio Quagliuso
(“Nails” from my City of Angels series)
Editing in street photography is one of the most important aspects to know. When I refer to “editing“, I am referring to the act of choosing your best images, rather than “post-processing”. However nowadays when most photographers refer to “editing” their work, you can almost determine with 99% accuracy that they mean “post-processing” their work. Due to this confusion and interchanging use of the word “editing” – the true art of editing of choosing your best work is a lost cause.
For this article, I will attempt to explain why editing is so important in street photography and give practical tips and advice on how you can become a better editor of your work (and how to ask others for advice as well). Keep reading if you want to find out more!
In this Google+ Hangout video, Magnum Photographer Martin Parr talks to Aaron Schuman, photographer and curator about his own personal work, capturing the uniqueness of boring objects, how to take non-cliched photos, and his general insight about photography. You must check this video out, probably the best 18 minutes you will spend all day! :)
One of my favorite quotes from the video was when someone asked him what one phrase of advice he would give aspiring photographers (14:18 mins in):
“Find the extraordinary in the ordinary” – Martin Parr
Which quotes from Martin did you find most inspirational? Share them in the comments below!
While I was teaching my street photography workshop with Gary Tyson from F8 Photography in Hong Kong, I had the huge pleasure of being interviewed as well. In this video I talk a bit of my reflections on the workshop, as well as general questions about my approach and thoughts on street photography in general. Great production by Gary and the rest of his team!
F8 Photography runs workshops and training in Hong Kong and Cambodia for photography enthusiasts, more information can be seen at the website, f8photography.com.hk or on the blog at f8photography.com.hk/blog
If you want a quality-education in street photography, I recommend either buying, borrowing, or browsing though some of the books below. Books that are bolded are some of my personal favorites.
- Magnum Contact Sheets
- Magnum: Degrees
- Magnum: Stories
- Mark Cohen: Grim Street
- Street Photography Now
- Bruce Davidson: Subway
- Bruce Davidson: East 100th Street
- Diane Arbus: A monograph
- Helen Levitt
- Lee Friedlander: Friedlander
- Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best
- Richard Kalvar: Earthlings
- Andre Kertesz (Editions Hazan)
- Robert Frank: The Americans
- Garry Winogrand: Public Relations
- Garry Winogrand: Figments from the real world
- Garry Winogrand: The Animals
- Bruce Gilden by Stern Magazine
- Bruce Gilden: A Beautiful Catastrophe
- Bruce Gilden: Haiti
- Bruce Gilden: After The Off
- Bruce Gilden: Facing New York
- Bystander: A History of Street Photography
- Joel Meyerowitz
- Jun Abe: Citizens
- William Eggleston: Chromes
- William Eggleston: Guide
- William Eggleston: Before Color
- Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places
- Daido Moriyama: The World Through My Eyes
- Alex Webb: Istanbul
- Alex Webb: The Suffering Of Light
- Jeff Mermelstein: Sidewalk
- Walker Evans
- Fred Herzog: Photographs
- Vivian Maier
- William Klein: Contacts
- Joel Sternfeld: American Prospects
- Martin Parr: The Last Resort
- Martin Parr: Small World
- Tony Ray-Jones: Best Of
- Josef Koudelka: Gypsies
- Anders Peterson: French Kiss
- Anders Petersen: Cafe Lehmitz
- Zoe Strauss: America
- Henri Cartier-Bresson: “The Decisive Moment”
- Josef Koudelka: Exiles
- Anders Petersen
- The Education of a Photographer
- David Hurn: On Being a Photographer
- David Gibson: The Street Photographer’s Manual
- Siegfried Hansen – hold the line
- Matt Stuart: All that Life Can Afford
- The Photographer’s Playbook: 307 Assignments and Ideas
- Trent Parke: Minutes to Midnight
- Trent Parke: The Christmas Tree Bucket
- Trent Parke: The Black Rose
- Harry Gruyaert
- Gus Powell: The Lonely Ones
- Alec Soth: Songbook
- Ping Pong Conversations: Alec Soth with Francesco Zanot
- Constantine Manos: A Greek Portfolio
- Constantine Manos: American Color
- Constantine Manos: American Color 2
- David Alan Harvey: Divided Soul
- Photographers’ Sketchbooks
- Harry Callahan: Retrospective
- Slide Show: The Color Photographs of Helen Levitt
- Mark Cohen: Frame
- Saul Leiter: Early Color
- Saul Leiter: Early Black and White
- Dan Winters: Road to Seeing
- Todd Hido: Photography Workshop Series
- Mary Ellen Mark: Photography Workshop Series
- The Open Road: Photography and the American Roadtrip
- Jason Eskenazi: Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith
- Kaushal Parikh: “Fragments of a Spinning Rock”
- Sunlanders by Sean Lotman
Free Books by Eric Kim
If you love learning, read the books below:
- 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography
- Street Photography by Eric Kim
- Photography by Eric Kim
- Personal Photography Manual
- Street Photography Contact Sheets Volume II
- Street Photography Contact Sheets
- Monochrome Manual
- Street Portrait Manual
- Street Photography Composition Manual
- How to Overcome Photographer’s Block
- Street Photography 101
- Street Photography 102
- Zen in the Art of Street Photography
- Film Street Photography Manual
- 31 Days to Overcome Your Fear in Street Photography
Street Notes is a pocket-sized assignment journal to break outside of your comfort zone:
50 Ways to Capture Better Shots of Ordinary Life
Street Photography: 50 Ways to Capture Better Shots of Ordinary Life is a great starting point for beginners:
Photo Book Reviews
Recommended photo books
AG: Photography is nothing without seeing. The light, colors, shadows, contrasts, patterns. Human life in general. And it is in seeing that a good photographer will be able to replicate what was seen in a photograph.
This is one of those works that really invites you to just see.
[Read more…] about Streettogs Gallery Feature: “Surreally” by Nico Chiapperini
My good friend Mijonju from Tokyo recently got his hands on the new Fujifilm X-Pro 1 in Tokyo and made this little mini-review on it. Hope you find it entertaining and helpful!
X mount to M mount adapter
All the specs
What do you think about the new X-Pro 1 for those of you guys who have shot with it? Worth the hype or not? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Eric’s Note: For this feature, I am pleased to feature the work of Tomasz Lazar to the blog. Having seen tons of street photographs, I don’t see photographs that often move me. However looking at the work of Tomasz takes me to another world– one full of energy, excitement, and darkness. Quite possibly one of the best street photographers out there, and has had the recent honor of winning the World Press Photo of the Year for News, 2nd place. All of these photographs in this post are from his “Theater of Life” series.
Tomasz Lazar – freelance photographer. He was born in 1985 in Szczecin. Graduate West University of Technology, Computer Science. First year student at the Univesity of Opava – Photography. He participated in many workshops such as Tomasz Tomaszewski, Edddie Adams Workshop in the USA. Winner of photography competitions in Poland and abroad (including the Sony World Photography Award, International Photography Award, BZ WBK Press Photo, World Press Photo).
I just finished my street photography workshop in London with Charlie Kirk (two cute dogs) and thought I’d make a quick GoPro video on the behind-the-scenes action! The footage shows us shooting in Brick Lane in London, with the students shooting on the streets (with a little bit of encouragement from myself and Charlie!).
Below are some of my upcoming street photography workshops. Register if you would like to attend, and sign up to stay updated with future workshops!
Over the last few months, the amount of haters and online trolls I have attracted has increased exponentially. They are everywhere—on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogs, Online forums, and the worst—YouTube (I swear, half the things people say there…).
To be quite honest, I used to take a lot of these hateful things to heart—and it still does sting pretty hard time-to-time. Growing up, I always took criticism very personally—but through my experiences on the blog and my online social presence has helped me overcome (mostly) all of this haterade people on the internet love to drink.
For this post I will talk about a bit of my experience with haters on the internet, and some advice I would give to anyone else dealing with online trolls whose sole mission in life is to make you feel like crap (while they are still living in the basement of their parents’ house).
Recently when I was in Kuala Lumpur, I had the great pleasure of meeting Robin Wong, a passionate local street photographer. He was also lucky enough to get a test-unit of the new Olympus OM-D EM-5 directly from Olympus, and tested it extensively the past few days.
As mentioned in my last post, you don’t want to fall victim to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). However if you are using a DSLR and find it too bulky or have a point-and-shoot and want something a bit beefier yet compact, I found the Olympus OM-D EM-5 a pretty solid option paired with the Olympus 12mm f/2 Lens (which is great for zone focusing). However if you already have an Olympus EP-3 or any other relatively Micro 4/3rds camera out there, I wouldn’t recommend an upgrade.
If you got any questions about the camera, make sure to ask Robin Wong over at his blog.
Eric’s Note: CritiqueMe is an on-going street photography critique series by Ollie Gapper, a photography student and street photographer based in the UK.
Ollie Gapper: So this week I thought I’d try and do something different with the CritiqueMe series, where, instead of trying to offer a full critique to a photographers work, I wanted to shape the critique around one particular aspect I feel the featured photographer and community in general may find useful.
Mark Carey, 48, is a London based, self taught documentary photographer. Trained as a carpenter, Mark made a dramatic career change in 2009 to become a full time reportage wedding photographer. During the spring and summer he shoots weddings in a photojournalistic style and during the winter heads off to India and South East Asia to shoot street and documentary photography.
Marks has been particularly influenced by the wonderful geometry photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and the complex compositions of magnum photographer, Alex Webb. Mark has also recently been accepted as a member of the Indian street photography collective ‘Thats life‘. You can see more of his travel portfolio here.
We are all gear-heads at heart. We love hearing about the newest and greatest camera out there, and we love seeing comparisons with different lenses, at different apertures, and the sharpness and “characteristics” of each lens. I think it is fine to think and discuss about gear in photography, but when discussed about in excess– it starts getting unhealthy and like a disease.
I am weak, and I get tempted by gear all the time, but I try to constantly remind myself not to fall victim to gear acquisition syndrome (also commonly known as “gas”). Based on sociology, psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, and my personal experiences I will suggest some tips how you can cure yourself of gas (no not your farting, you might need to lay off the beans or get some stomach medicine for that).
1. Realize that you are weak
If you ever watch an introduction to alcoholics anonymous, each person in the group goes around in the group and says, “Hi, my name is “X” and I am an alcoholic”. Similarly, it is important to realize that we are human, and we are weak– and we fall quite easily to temptation. We love to think that we have strong willpower, but studies show that we actually have extremely weak willpower. Admit to yourself that you get tempted to gear as much as the next person, which will help you better resist the “poisoning” of gear around you. I shoot with a Leica camera, and I meet a lot of Leica users and shooters– and many gearheads and collectors. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a gearheads or collector, but it is a vicious cycle that I feel never brings one true satisfaction and happiness (as we always want more).
Take for example yesterday in Kuala Lumpur. I just finished my street photography workshop and had a cocktail and VIP party at the Leica store, and stumbled upon a Leica MP with a .58 magnification viewfinder. It was so goddamn gorgeous, and I felt my own gear whoring come out of myself. I then started feeling that my Leica M6 was inadequate, and that the .72 magnification viewfinder was useless with a 35mm lens. Also I marveled at the Leica script that was embossed on the top plate of the MP, and told myself I needed one. I had a drink and played with the MP some more, and it felt so right in my hands, with the heavy brass and the “mechanical perfection” of the film advance lever. The guys around me were laughing and “poisoning” me in all good fun, and I knew I had to resist myself. I reminded myself how weak I was to peer pressure and gear — and took a step back and gave back the MP.
2. Create physical constraints
As humans, we have very weak self-control and constraint. Take smoking for example. Many people try to quit “cold turkey” using just their will– but few people actually succeed. Statistics prove that majority of smokers quit when having some physical aid (using a e-cigarette or nicotine patches) to overcome their addiction to smoking. I feel that the same goes with gas. You need to create some physical constraints on yourself. For example, I am awful with money. If kept to my own will, I would spend all of my money on Leica lenses, crocodile leather shoes, and ice cream cones (I love ice cream almost as much as Allamby). I know this, and therefore consult my girlfriend Cindy before making any serious monetary investments.
About a month ago, I asked Cindy what she felt about myself buying a Leica MP (yeah I have been thinking about it for a while). She essentially smacked me upside the head and told me I would be a complete moron if I did, and talked some sense into me. She gave me a ton of clarity, and by having her as a “gatekeeper” to my wallet–she helps me a ton from making stupid decisions. If you don’t have a beautiful and bossy girlfriend to help you keep your money in check, perhaps hire a financial consultant and tell them to prevent you from making stupid financial decisions (including gas). Even by putting all of your savings into a fund (that you can’t touch) and keeping a certain limit on your credit card, you will prevent yourself from buying crap you don’t need.
3. Don’t hang out with gear-heads
One thing I learned in sociology is that “you are the average of the three closest person to yourself”. Therefore if you hang out with a lot of gear-heads, you will be a gearheads yourself and succumb to gas. Rather than hanging out with gearheads and stroking your Leica and lenses with baby oil, hang out with photographers who talk less about gear, and more about photography. Finding a community more focused about shooting (and less about gear) will in-turn make you more focused on photography and less on gear. Inevitability we all love talking about gear at one point or another (the latest Leica rumors, the new Fuji camera, or the new Olympus micro 4/3rds) but try to find a group that keeps it to a minimal.
4. Stick to one camera and one lens
Currently the only cameras I own are my Leica M9 and my Leica M6, along with my 35mm summicron f/2 asph (yeah the latest version baby!) I gave my old Canon 5D to a close family friend’s younger brother (who is an aspiring photo journalist) along with my 35mm f/2 and my 24mm f/2.8. I told him it was all he needed to take incredible photographs. He asked me if he should buy a 70-200 lens and I threatened him that if he bought it, I would take my Canon back. I also recently had a 21mm Voightlander for my Leica, and returned that. I also gave my 21mm to my good friend Todd at the Hatakayana Gallery to use on his sweet new 21mm Leica lens (yeah the same guy who gave me his M6! Even trade.) The last three months or so (since I inherited my M6 from Todd in Tokyo) I have been working on all of my personal projects on film (tri-x and portra 400).
Nowadays my M9 is my backup camera (and really expensive point and shoot camera). Therefore all I am really using for my street photography is my Leica M6 and 35mm summicron f/2. It is one camera and one lens. Nothing more and nothing less. What I love most about having one camera and one lens is that it is just less stressful, and plain bliss. I never concern myself with having a different focal length for a situation (having a 28mm if someone is really close or a 50mm if someone is further away) but rather I learn to adapt to my situation, and become more creative. I have used a 35mm focal length more or less exclusively for around 4 years now, starting with my Canon.
I now know the focal length inside and out, and know how my frame looks in any situation. I don’t really even have the desire to have any other lens, as the 35mm framelines on my Leica are difficult enough to see with my glasses. Less is more. Having more choices simply gives us more stress. Remember the last time you wanted to order something at a restaurant, and there were like five million options on the menu? You then order something, wishing for the best, and it comes out and you feel disappointed? (damn, this chicken Alfredo sucks– I should have gone with the beef stew). Less options is less stress on us, and doesn’t cause “paralysis by analysis”. But damn, if I got a Leica MP with a .58 viewfinder and 28mm lens, it would be pretty sweet. Ahhhh nooo! Eric, stop this self-poisoning of yourself.
5. Calculate the lost opportunity cost
New cameras and lenses are expensive, and often that money can be used towards better things related to photography (buying photo books, going on trips, buying film, or paying off your maxed out credit card). I currently have the M6 which is worth around $1300 usd. The Leica MP is around $3300 usd. The cost of upgrading will be $2000.
Let’s do some math:
What else can I better do with $2000?
- I can have enough money to buy two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the world. ($1000 a ticket times two)
- I can have enough money to buy and process 200 rolls of film ($5 a roll and $5 to process a roll).
- I can have enough money to buy 40 photography books ($50 usd for a decent photo book).
All of these things will do me so much more for my photography and happiness than a new shiny Leica. Do your own calculations for what gear or lenses you may be pondering, and see how ridiculous your ideas may be.
6. Buy a film camera
The best thing I have heard digital cameras likened to were computers. Think about how long you can use a computer before it gets outdated. 4 years, at best? Digital cameras as essentially computers. They get outdated fast as hell. There are always new digital cameras coming out with moar and moar megapixels, iso, dynamic range, faster autofocus, and crappy features like hdr and panorama, etc). I doubt you can use a digital camera longer than 4 years, without it being considered a dinosaur.
Ever since I got my film Leica, I no longer am very impressed or concerned with these new cameras coming out (besides the MP). A film Leica will last you a lifetime, and you never need to upgrade. It is simple and straightforward, and remember- all film cameras are “full frame”. Regardless of my MP envy, I would say that having my Leica M6 and 35mm summicron — I feel truly “content” with my gear. If you want to make a purchase, remember to get a good lens, as they will last a lifetime (more or less). They will outlast your camera, as there is only so sharp you can make a piece of glass. I doubt they will ever quit selling film- and don’t worry about Kodak going bankrupt. Their film business is stilly profitable.
Remember, when photography first came out people said nobody would ever paint anymore. People still paint. People said cd’s would kill vinyl records. Vinyl records are now thriving more than ever (thanks to all the hipsters who shop at Urban Outfitters). Classic things never truly “die”.
7. Don’t spend time on gear forums
If you spend an unhealthy amount of time on gear forums, stop. It is quite possibly the worst thing you can do in your spare time. I actually suggest downloading an add-on for chrome or Firefox that prevent you from visiting these sites altogether.
Rather, spend time visiting sites about photography. Spend time on invisible photographer Asia, la pure vida, burn magazine, in-public, the magnum website, little brown mushroom blog, Blake Andrews blog, and so on. Looking at great photographs will inspire you to take great photographs. Looking at reviews of gear and lenses will make you want to spend your money. Remember, you are what you eat.
8. Realize that sharpness and bokeh is overrated
In street photography, sharpness and the “bokeh quality” of a lens is the most overrated thing ever. Sure if you give me a Noctilux and have me shoot that bad boy at .95 I will squeal like a little schoolgirl about how creamy and “bokehlicious” the photo turn out, but it is quite useless in street photography. When is the last time you saw a great street photograph from any of the masters and said, “Wow, that photograph is really sharp” or “Wow, that photograph has really nice bokeh”.
Another thing that I used to do a lot (which I am trying my best not to do anymore) is look at someone’s photographs (who are very good) and ask what camera or lens they use. It is like asking your chef what pots and pans he or she uses to cook your meals (if the food is really good). If you don’t want to get slapped in the face (or your food spit in) realize that it is the artist that creates the art, not the tools.
Frankly speaking, all prime lenses out there are pretty damn sharp (and you will always sharpen the photos a bit in post-processing anyways) and I feel that street photography is best captured using a large depth of field using zone focusing. Therefore don’t worry about having a large maximum wide aperture– unless you want to take nice bokeh shots of your water bottles at home, that is.
9. Realize that you will never be satisfied
Material things never bring true happiness. Yeah, yeah we have all heard it before but it is true. We all tell ourselves, oh–if I only had full-frame I’d truly be happy. If I had that Leica I’d be truly happy. If I had that one 1.4 lens I would be truly happy. Realize that with gear, it is a slippery slope. As humans, we are biologically greedy. We want stuff, and like having lots of it. It was our genetic way of making sure that we wouldn’t die. After all when we were cavemen, if we hoarded tons of food for ourselves, we would have a higher likelihood of making it through tough winters and droughts.
Nowdays modern day life is much different. Most people in the modern world don’t suffer from famine and most of our basic needs are met (food, shelter, clothing). However the instincts we have make us never satisfied with what we have. And of course, advertising and consumerism has a large part to blame as well. There is no “end goal” of gas.
Let’s say you start off with a dslr, you will want a full-frame. You get a full-frame, you want that nice canon L lens. You realize the canon L-lens zoom isn’t enough, so you get some nice prime lenses. You then realize the whole damn thing is too bulky, and go for a Leica. You then get a Leica M9, and need more lenses. You end up collecting all the lenses, and then realize you want the M9 titanium. M9 soon becomes passé, and you get a S2. The madness never ends. Be content with what you have and of course feel free to purchase gear, but realize once you find a system you are reasonably happy with (80% satisfied) stick with it.
10. Realize a lot of gas is just bragging rights
Many of us try to rationalize what we do in terms of our purchasing decisions. We tell ourselves that the cameras and lenses we buy are “investments” and thus make rational decisions. Let’s cut away a lot of the bs. A lot of us (including myself) want to just show off with our gear and have bragging rights.
One of the reasons that I kept my old 35mm 1.4 summilux for so long was so I could state that I had a summilux for the sake of having one. The summilux wasn’t the optimal lens for street photography (far too big and heavy) and I never used the 1.4 (only when taking snapshots of my friends at bars to show them the creaminess of the bokeh!)
The reason a lot of us buy expensive cameras or gear is to try to fit in (if our friends all have a certain camera or lens, we will want to get one). Another reason is that we might want to differentiate ourselves from other people (like Leica users vs Dslr users). We want to feel superior with superior gear to be seen by others as having a higher status. With more status comes more prestige, comes more opportunities for us to connect with other people with high status, and have a feeling of “smugness”.
We all love our toys and cameras and lenses. I don’t see any problem “geeking out” with gear with the friends or playing with our friends new camera or lens. It is perfectly healthy and all fun. However what becomes an issue is when we concern ourselves with gear excessively. Photography is a damn expensive hobby, and not being able to have the best and greatest sucks. We don’t want to be the loser with the “crop sensor” or only having the f/2 lens instead of the f/1.4 lens. We just want to fit in and feel “important” with other people with nice cameras and things.
If you currently suffer from gas, admit to yourself that you are a gear whore and decide for yourself if you want to cure yourself or not. If you have the cash and enjoy continually acquiring lenses and cameras, no problem. If you don’t have the cash and you are taking out credit card debt to feed your addiction, you should probably reconsider things. Life isn’t about getting nice things and being happy.
Spending time with others and being social is what makes us truly happy. Therefore quit spending so much damn time on gear forums and thinking about that stuff, and get out of the house and call some buddies and go shooting. The more time I find myself going out and actually taking photographs and spending time with my fellow streettogs, I am truly happy. I geek out and at times have wet dreams about the next Leica purchase myself, but I realize that I am weak and easily susceptible to peer pressure or advertising. Take a moment to consider how addicted you may be to gas, and I hope this has helped you.
After traveling and having done many workshops on street photography, I have met many Leica M9/rangefinder users who have had difficulty configuring their camera for shooting on the streets. There are lots of misconceptions out there, which make things confusing for people. Therefore here is some advice I have for Leica m9 users (or Fuji x100 or rangefinder users) when shooting street photography. (Note that for the original video, the audio gets cut out at 16 minutes, so I edited the video down).
Check out the video below, and I have things written in more detail below!
Here are some snapshots from my recent street photography workshop in Hong Kong with Gary Tyson from F8 Photography. See all the behind-the-scenes fun and goodness below!
Also check out all of my upcoming workshops in London, Melbourne, Sydney, and Sweden by clicking here.