Street Photography Contact Sheets #1: Face Tattoo, Downtown LA 2014

At a recent workshop in Downtown LA, I was shooting with one of the students (Luis) when we come across an interesting character with all these tattoos all over his body. He told us he just got out of jail (a few days ago), and was struggling on the streets. We gave him around 2 bucks, and asked him if it was okay if we took some shots. He had no problem with it– and to pose for the camera.

I asked him somewhere along the line what other tattoos he had, and he got excited and showed us all of his other tattoos all over his body.

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On Going With the Flow in Street Photography

1x1.trans On Going With the Flow in Street Photography

Indianapolis, 2014

I just finished reading a book titled: “Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity”. It was a fascinating read on the paradox of “wu-wei”– which is a concept in Taoism of “action without action”. This means nature accomplishes everything without effort. Similarly, we should be able to accomplish many things in our life without unnecessary effort. In-fact according to wu-wei, most things in life (especially things we love) should be effortless.

Of course you know in my blog, I like to relate everything I read back to street photography. And I think this idea of “wu-wei” in street photography is quite fascinating.

To sum up, in street photography (according to wu-wei), our best shots should come to us naturally– without making any unnecessary effort.

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What Do You Want Out of Street Photography?

1x1.trans What Do You Want Out of Street Photography?

Many of us shoot street photography because it is challenging, fun, and brings us great joy. However one question I find that most people don’t ask themselves (myself included) is what we ultimately want out of photography.

I just finished an intense week-long street photography workshop in Saigon which was absolutely incredible– and one of my students Sascha Jung asked me what I ultimately wanted out of my photography, and whether I wanted to become a great photographer or a great teacher.

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On Free Street Photography

1x1.trans On Free Street Photography

Detroit, 2013

One question I am asked a lot is how I make a living in street photography, and questions about selling prints, and making money.

To start off, I am blessed enough to make a living from my street photography in teaching workshops. I make about 95% of my living from workshops (and around 5% from Amazon affiliates from links to books and other products on the blog).

But I have always been an advocate of “open source” in life and photography– and the greatness of having things open and free.

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Looking for the bigger picture, Interview with SelvaSP Collective

1x1.trans Looking for the bigger picture, Interview with SelvaSP Collective

Photo by Gustavo Minas

(Editor’s note: All photos are the respected copyright of the members of SelvaSP) 

Take a look at this interview of  SelvaSP. They are a street photography collective hailing out of Sao Paulo, Brazil. We explore how this collective is being run, what it is they look for, and how they approach the art of street photography.

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On Bridging the Gap in Street Photography

1x1.trans On Bridging the Gap in Street Photography

Tokyo, 2012

I feel one of the most important traits to become a better street photographer is first identifying what makes great street photography. This means having good taste.

A quote from Ira Glass from NPR comes to mind– in terms of having good taste:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.”

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On Polarization and Street Photography

1x1.trans On Polarization and Street Photography

Hong Kong, 2012

I am a big fan of Nassim Taleb and his concept of the “barbell theory” which he derives from his book: “Antifragile” (one of my top 3 favorite books).

The concept of the “barbell theory” is that you embrace two extremes in life– rather than going for the boring “middle” strategy. For example Nassim Taleb says it is better to save 90% of your money in boring cash– and invest 10% in hyper-risky investments (rather than just putting it all into “medium risk” ventures). Nassim Taleb also mentions that regarding drinking, it is better to drink liberally 3 days a week (and completely abstaining the other days) rather than drinking “moderately” everyday.

I recently read a book titled: “A Perfect Mess in which the author promotes the benefits of randomness and messiness.

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