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.
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.
Eric’s Note: I am honored to share this interview with James Whitlow Delano, a talented photojournalist whose work has been awarded intentionally, including the Alfred Eisenstadt Award (from Columbia University and Life Magazine), Leica’s Oskar Barnack, Picture of the Year International, NPPA Best of Photojournalism, PDN and others for work from China, Japan, Afghanistan and Burma (Myanmar). His most recent iPad book Black Tsunami (FotoEvidence) documenting the Japan tsunami and nuclear crisis took a 2012 PX3 Award.
James is now trying to get his “Black Tsunami” book published as a hardcover book. Check out the Kickstarter page and support this noble cause, and also check out my interview with him below.
See how you can incorporate the barbell theory to improve your street photography, like these guys pumping iron and getting stronger. Photo by Guy Le Querrec, FRANCE 1979. Copyright: Magnum Photos
One of the most influential books that read in my life is “Antifragile” by Nassim Taleb. The book is part philosophy, and part a practical guide on how to live a virtuous life.
One of the central concepts of the book is the “barbell theory.” What is the barbell theory you ask? Well, it is the concept that whenever it comes to things in life– we should approach two extremes (and avoid the boring middle). It is a concept that I have applied to many fields of my life, including street photography. I hope this article can shed a new way on how you see the world, and how you can apply this to your own personal work.
So many choices, so little time. Dotwell Camera in Hong Kong
For the last year and a half or so, I have been shooting my personal street photography on exclusively film. After shooting digital for around 7 years or so, it has been a great experience so far and I have learned a ton.
When I first wanted to start shooting street photography I had a lot of fears. What if the photos don’t turn out? What settings should I use? What film is ideal? Where do I get my film processed? Or should I process it myself? What camera should I use? What chemicals do I need? The list goes on.
I am certainly not an expert when it comes to shooting film, but I wanted to write this article as a primer for those of you who want to get your feet wet (but may not know where to start). I will use my personal experiences and opinions– but of course, feel free to experiment. And if you see any mistakes in this article, please correct me in the comments below and I will revise it.