Bruce Gilden is one of the best street photographers currently alive. He is a photographer who has had a deep influence on me and my approach in street photography– especially when I first saw the video of him shooting in the streets of New York City.
Bruce Gilden is also one of the most controversial street photographers– and I also feel one of the most misunderstood.
In this article I will write what I personally learned from his street photography and how I see him as more of a humanistic street photographer (rather than just being an asshole as others might misinterpret him to be).
Click to see the video via the Magnum Blog (will not play here)
Recently Magnum Photos has been doing a great initiative via their Facebook fan page and Twitter titled: #AskMagnum. They have been soliciting questions for Magnum Photographers and asking the best questions.
They recently did a great interview/video slideshow with Bruce Gilden on their blog. The questions posed related to advice for street photographers, how he stays motivated to shoot new projects, as well as other interesting questions!
Check it out the interview here. Also read more to see Bruce Gilden’s portfolio.
Had the chance to collaborate with Leica Camera and Magnum Photos to ask Bruce Gilden a few questions about his work in Port-au-Prince, Haiti alongside Josh White. Very humbled to have asked him some questions about his work, and found his answers to be very honest and insightful.
Eric’s note: The following guest blog post is by Simon Garnier, part scientist and part street photographer who lives and works in New Jersey. Read about his experiences in getting close in street photography–and how he grapples with the idea of getting close in street photography. Interestingly enough this post was written before Fabio Pires’ video came out, but it is more relevant than ever.
Simon: I am not an experienced street photographer. I started shooting street and candid pictures about a year ago, after several years of irregular experimentations with film and digital cameras. Everything you will read in this post is therefore the result of an ongoing reflection about something that I thought was true, but that I start to find overestimated, and potentially problematic for street photography in general.
Charalampos Kydonakis (or known online as Dirty Harrry) is a street photographer who was born in Heraklion of Crete and raised in Rethymnon. Dirty Harry is indoubtly one of the greatest contemporary street photographers out there. Not only does he consistently create solid work, but he also creates innovative images getting close and at times shooting with a flash. He is an architect by trade, but creates his true artistic vision through his street photography. Read more to see the rest of the interview as well as his inspirational images.
I enjoyed the experience and this time aimed my flash aiming upwards from a low angle (while crouching down). As you can see through the video, a lot of people were very friendly (as long as I smiled and said “thank you” or that I liked something they were wearing). A few people objected and gave me weird looks (as you can see) but I am pleased with a few of the resulting images.
On the day of the Leica Magnum Paris event, I had the huge pleasure of meeting Bruce Gilden. After the official product announcements of the Leica M9-P and the 21mm f/3.5 Elmarit lens, I headed upstairs for some small appetizers and some wine. After chatting it up with some fellow photographers and bloggers from the event, I spotted Bruce from the corner of my eye. My hands got clammy, and I could feel the adrenaline flowing through my body. It was my hero—Bruce Gilden in person! I knew that I had to talk to him.
The second he was about to pass my left shoulder, I politely leaned in and asked, “Excuse me, are you Bruce Gilden?” He then said with a grin in his scruffy Brooklyn accent, “Yeah I’m Bruce Gilden—who are you?” I then introduced myself that I was a street photographer and blogger from Los Angeles and that I was a huge fan of his work. He then told me, “Oh—I think I know who you are.” My blood froze. How could someone like Bruce Gilden know who I was? I then asked him how he knew me and he told me, “Yeah a guy named Charlie in my workshop told me about you. He said to keep my eyes open for this overly enthusiastic Asian guy.” I then grinned and started to chat with him.
"Lace" - Santa Monica. Shot with my Ricoh GRIII and flash.
When it comes to street photography, I am always open to new ideas and styles. One technique I have been particularly interested in is shooting street photography with a flash. I have been very inspired by the work of Bruce Gilden and Charlie Kirk. Although this style is quite controversial, I think that shooting with a flash does add an extra dimension to an image, and isn’t quite as unethical as most people claim it to be. After all, it was Bruce Gilden who said, “…the people I shoot in the streets are my friends” and Charlie Kirk who says he shoots “…openly and honestly.” Therefore the last three or so weeks I have been shooting street photography with a flash, and with great success. I will discuss my technique of shooting street photography in the streets with a flash, with special emphasis on mindset as well as technical settings. Read more if you are curious.
"Power to the braves..." - Thomas Leuthard (shot with a 50mm)
I believe that getting a good street photograph is 80% balls and 20% skill. If you look at the work of such street photographers as Bruce Gilden and Charlie Kirk, you will see that they have incredibly memorable images. Why is that? It is because they get close to their subjects—uncomfortably close by most people’s standards.
One of the most popular questions I am asked by the community is how to build courage when it comes to street photography. I have learned a ton over the last several years about building the guts to get extremely close to people and take their photograph without their permission. In this blog post I will go in-depth about how you can become a fearless street photographer.
Note: Every week, I feature street photographers with great skill and soul. For this week, I decided to feature street photographer Laurent Roch from France. When I first stumbled upon Laurent’s work on Flickr, I was thoroughly impressed by his gritty black and white portrayals of the city. In his images, you see a great deal of symmetry and balance, which cradle solid compositions. Not only that, but the man knows how to really work The Decisive Moment. Want to hear where he finds inspiration and how he shoots on the street? Read his exclusive interview below and be blown away.