Eric’s Note: I first came across Dimitris Makrygiannakis on Hardcore Street Photography, and was blown away with his unique vision. I love the way how he captures life through his lens, with a surrealistic flair. To see more of his images and his thoughts on street photography, check out his feature below.
Eric’s Note: Julien Legrand is a street photographer based from the north of France, with a keen eye for the chance moments of everyday life. I was initially drawn to his color work– but have also been impressed by his monochromatic work. Check out his work and thoughts on street photography in this interview below.
Eric’s Note: This guest blog post is by Robert Larson, a talented documentary photographer based out of Los Angeles. He recently got married (congrats man!) and also documented his own wedding– groomside. If you have ever been curious how it would be like to document your own wedding, check out the article that Robert put together.
Eric’s Note: I recently taught a street photography workshop with Satoki Nagata in Chicago, and had a chance to sit down for him for an hour and interview him. This is a transcription based on recording we made. If you want to learn more about his philosophies in his street photography, and how he combines it with documentary work — make sure to give it a read. It is a very in-depth interview, which I personally think you will gain a lot from.
Also make sure to attend “Lights in the City: a multimedia presentation” by Satoki at the Harold Washington Library Center, Pritzker Auditorium at Monday, August 5, 2013, 6:00pm.
A fun and uplifting book I recently read was “The Tao of Pooh.” To sum up the book, the author explains the philosophy of Taosim through (believe it not) Winnie the Pooh. Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous, but the author does a superb job sewing the two concepts together– in a language relatable and easy-to-understand for the viewer. Having grown up on Winnie the Pooh, I can certainly say that it brought the concepts of Taosim to life for me.
Similarly to Zen Buddhism, Taoism is a philosophy which was first introduced by Lao Tse in a book called: “Tao Tse Ching.” The philosophy of Taoism advocates staying calm and happy in all circumstances, no matter how difficult or arduous the outside world can be.
So what is the difference between Buddhism and Taosim?
- Buddhism sees the outside world in a much more negative light– describing “the bitter wind of everyday existence.”
- Taoism sees the world as “…not full of traps, but valuable lessons.” Therefore through Taoism we should appreciate, learn from, and work with whatever happens in everyday life.
A great analogy explained is the analogy of tasting vinegar. Many different people often taste vinegar, and complain of how sour it is and groan. However the Taoist would taste the vinegar and regardless of the taste, still smile. The takeaway idea is that we should turn negatives into positives, regardless of the situation.
There are lots of insights I’ve gained through Taosim and especially “The Tao of Pooh” that I can relate back to street photography. Also note I am not an expert on Taosim, so please correct any mistakes I make in the comments below.
Eric’s Note: This article is written by Neil Ta, my manager and good friend who recently attended a Magnum Photos workshop in Toronto. The project he worked on for the week was “Meat Locker.” Below is his write-up of the experience and the lessons he’s personally learned. You can see upcoming Magnum workshops and events here.
Neil: I recently had the opportunity to attend a Magnum Photos workshop in Toronto as part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, which is one of the largest of its kind in the world. For the last six years, Contact has invited members of Magnum to run workshops focusing on photojournalism, documentary storytelling, and street photography.
This year’s line-up of instructors included Magnum Associate Moises Saman and Magnum Nominee Zoe Strauss. Moises is most well-known for the work he’s done in Afghanistan and Iraq and his focus more recently has been in documenting the Arab Spring. Zoe’s extensive work is more regionally focused in the community where she was born and raised – Philadelphia.
I ultimately chose to go with Moises over Zoe because I felt his work was a lot different than my own and I hoped he’d be there to guide me through a more photojournalistic project over the week.
Weegee is certainly one of the most infamous street photographers in history. Although he never called himself a street photographer (he worked as a press/news photographer) his obsession with capturing people was unparalleled. With no formal photographic training, he covered some of the most gruesome murders (and shots of everyday life) around New York City from the 1930’s to the 1940’s. Armed with a portable police-band shortwave radio, he was always on the beat for new stories to cover– and he even had a complete darkroom in the trunk of his car. This allowed him to get his photos to the newspapers as quickly as possible.
Weegee is also famous for the use of his 4×5 Speed Graphic large-format press camera and flash– which added even more drama to his gritty black and white photos. He was certainly one of the forefathers of shooting street photography with a flash (back when they used flashbulbs). He generally shot his camera preset at f/16 at 1/200 of a second, with flashbulbs and a set focus distance of ten feet (and didn’t always know what kind of photos he got until he processed them).
Many street photographers are under the false impression that shooting with artificial light in street photography is just a recent phenomenon. It started as early as 1887, in which the journalist Jacob Riis started using flash power to document destitute people on the streets. Certainly Weegee has had a strong influence on shooting flash in the streets to photographers such as Diane Arbus, William Klein, and Bruce Gilden.
If you want to learn more about the philosophy behind Weegee’s work
Note: some of these photos are gruesome and NSFW.
The exhibition opening is May 22nd at 6pm and will run until June 10th at the Cleland Bond in The Rocks (Ground Level, 33 Playfair St.) in Sydney, Australia.
For more info about the exhibition, images, and questions to the members of Oculi, read on.
(All photographs in this article provided by Rinzi Ruiz)
My good friend Nicholas Susatyo recently recommended a book to me: “Zen in the Art of Archery.” In-fact, it was the book that Henri Cartier-Bresson said had the deepest influence in his photography. I have been meaning to read it for a while, so on my flight to Philly I decided to give it a go.
The book is written by Eugen Herrigel, a German philosophy teacher who went to Japan for several years and learned the art of archery (while teaching philosophy at a Japanese university). He heard about the art of archery, and was fascinated with the zen philosophy which was embedded in the art.
I am very excited to share that Issue 4 of Radiate Magazine is available! If you love street photography I highly recommend getting a printed copy (nothing beats reading it on a Sunday morning with a warm cup of coffee). I just ordered my hard copy, and the printing and binding is superb.
- Purchase a print copy from Magcloud or download a free PDF by clicking this link
- Read the magazine for free on Issuu by clicking this link
- See past editions of the magazine here
Read more to see pages from Issue 4 and other links!
Eric’s Note: Federico Chiesa was born in a small town in Tuscany, Italy, in 1979. He studied commercial photography at “I.E.D” in 2005 and now works as a professional advertising photographer and retoucher. Street photography is one of his favorite vocations. See his “New York Diary” project and his thoughts on street photography below.
W. Eugene Smith is one of the legends of photography. Although he was notorious for being maniacal, emotionally distant, and unreasonable– he channeled those energies into being one of the best photographers history has ever seen. I consider his approach to be very similar to that of Steve Jobs.
I hope that this article can help you get a better understanding of W. Eugene Smith, his work, and his philosophies of photography– to take your own work to new heights.
(Above video: I chat a bit about my ideas for my American Street Photography Roadtrip)
One of my favorite photography projects of all-time is “The Americans” by Robert Frank. I have always had a dream of working on a similar project–to take my car and travel across America–documenting the people and places that I encounter.
I am excited to share that this dream has come true (or at least the means). Ford contacted me about a few months ago letting me know about their new “Fiesta Movement” campaign in which 100 “agents” are given a new pre-production 2014 Ford Fiesta with 8 months of gas and insurance covered. The catch? We are given fun video assignments once a month to complete (that somehow have to incorporate the Fiesta).
Eric’s Note: I am excited to share this interview with Harvey Stein, a prolific street photographer from NYC. He has been shooting the streets for nearly half a century, and has recently published his book: “Coney Island 40 Years” which is one of my new favorite street photography books. Check out some of his work and thoughts on photography in the interview below.
In today’s age, we are always obsessed with the concept of “more“. We falsely believe that we need more stuff, more money, more more cameras, more lenses, more megapixels—more, more, more.
In one of my favorite books “Antifragile” (I mention this book in a prior post on the “barbell theory”), the author Nassim Taleb advocates that the secret of health, wisdom, and happiness can be obtained through less, not more. Taleb calls this approach “via negativa”
that we should focus on subtraction, not addition in life.
For example, nobody really knows what makes us happy. However, we know what makes us unhappy and miserable. Therefore the key to happiness may not so much be the “pursuit of happiness”– but the “avoidance of unhappiness.” I think the same applies to happiness in street photography — focusing on less, not more.
(Above video: New street portrait POV video I recorded in Chicago. Chicago Street Portraits, Volume #5)
I have always been drawn to people, especially those who I find are interesting “characters.” I tend to gravitate towards people who have interesting facial expressions, to those with outstanding outfits, or accessories.
Although the majority of the street photography I do is done candidly, I have been drawn towards doing more posed street portraits of people I find interesting. Why? I find it gives me more time to interact with them, learn more about their lives, and also to take more photos of them (with their cooperation).
So once I get my subjects’ attention– how do I direct them and what is some of the psychology that goes behind it? I will share some candid thoughts (pun intended) about my process in terms of directing my subjects when taking portraits of them.