Check out my snapshots from Tokyo, which include trips to camera stores, Charlie Kirk’s house, drinking, and fun with Bellamy Hunt!
Check out my snapshots from Tokyo, which include trips to camera stores, Charlie Kirk’s house, drinking, and fun with Bellamy Hunt!
(Fibonacci spiral above a photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson)
One of the questions that I have been pondering for quite a while is how much a great street photograph is objective versus subjective. I would say that the general consensus is that great photography, like most of art, is purely subjective. As what they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
However I would disagree with this opinion, and argue that great street photographs are more objective than subjective. This is much more of a controversial position to hold, but I argue it is more fun to play devil’s advocate than just go with the traditional way of thinking.
Many of my thoughts will stem from studying the works of Cartier-Bresson, in which most of his iconic images that an average person will call “great” is based on strict composition from geometry – based out of compositional theories from paiting. After all, Cartier-Bresson did start off as a painter and referred to his images as “instant sketches.” I will also draw upon some of my own personal observations and opinions—which you may or may not agree with.
I will make an attempt to try to discuss how much of composition, story-telling, forms, balances, objectivity, subjectivity, ratios, etc play into great street photographs. Take everything you read with a grain of salt, as this article is more of a personal essay for me to traverse some of my thoughts on the subject.
Be warned, this essay is ridiculously long (4,000+ words) so maybe bookmark this post and find the time to read it. You’re not going to agree with everyone I say, but if you read the entire thing I can assure you that you will start thinking more analytically about what makes a great street photograph.
“There is a big difference between a photographer and someone who clicks a shutter. One learns his craft and the other looks for a quick fix.”
I am an old school photographer born and bred on film. I have been shooting for a long time. When I was in photo school, it was mandatory to shoot 4 x 5 or medium format. Being a stereotypical ‘poor and starving’ student, I did not have a lot of money to spend on film, processing, and development. Every shot had to count. My medium format camera at the time was a Bronica ETRs with an 80 mm lens and one film back. It gave me 15 shots per roll. It had no meter and was manual focus. Shooting street with that camera forces you to shoot with purpose and discipline.
When I do my street shooting, today, with my current DSLR, I applied the same principle of making every shot count. I do not shoot for quantity I shoot for quality. Is every thing I shoot considered good? Of course not, but it makes culling the images easier because I know what I was aiming for when I shot. This is what Ansel Adams’ call “pre-visualization;” knowing what your photo will look like before you shot it. See his classics series on photography, Book II “The Negative,” for more info. The following is how I shoot on the street using one photo as an example.
This is the thought process that occurred as I shot my dog walker photo.
(“Cut” by Rinzi Ruiz)
I am currently reading Malcom Gladwell’s book: “What the Dog Saw” which is a great collection of his best articles published in The New Yorker.
There is a fascinating section talks about the difference between “choking” and “panicking” which I think plays really well into street photography:
If so, I’d like to invite you to my very special intermediate street photography workshop upcoming in Singapore on 12/17-12/18 in association with Leica Asia Pacific. We will be studying and analyzing the work of the great street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Elliott Erwitt, Vivian Maier, and many more! We will discuss their quotes, images, videos, and documentaries—and learn more about their specific insights into street photography. We will identify what makes these photographers great and apply these principles to your own unique style.
Read more to find out more details!
My Leica M9P* (gaffer tape upgrade) and 35mm Summilux 1.4.
About a few months ago, I finally achieved one of my lifetime goals: purchasing a digital Leica (the Leica M9 to be specific). Although I was enthralled by the camera the first month I tested it (when Leica loaned me one for my Paris trip as well as a 35mm Summilux) the initial glitz and glamor faded away. However after shooting with one, I knew I wanted to get one nonetheless for a variety of reasons (explained in this article).
For this review I am going to give you my honest review of the camera, not focusing much on the technical aspects (other sites have already done this to death) but how it actually performs when it comes to shooting street photography. Considering that I have only been shooting with the camera around 3 months—I am not an expert with the Leica M9. However having shot with it enough when it comes to street photography, I am very confortable discussing how it performs when shooting on the streets.
(All photographs copyrighted by John Cranford)
Circle Acres, a project I started in 2008, focuses on documenting the lifestyle of a young couple in rural NC who have devoted their lives to organic farming while distancing themselves from modern living. Originally, I had the intention of making some portraits while doing some casual shooting. No pressure. I was curious about their dedication to sustainable living and how they were working towards this lifestyle. The more I hung out and shot the more I realized there was a story to tell. As I looked through the images, the vocabulary began to present itself. I had started a photo project.
I studied Sociology during my undergrad at UCLA. I loved learning all of the ways that people interacted, communicated, and collected in groups. It really opened up my eyes to the world around me. However little did I know that all these things I have learned in Sociology (and trained myself to see) would apply so much to street photography.
Below are some things that I have learned about human nature and interaction – which has helped me along my street photography journey in terms of building my courage and candidly taking photos of strangers. Hope these are as helpful to you as they were helpful to me!
Thomas Leuthard (85mm) is putting together a fun street photography contest that is open to everyone in the world with the topic: “Headlines“. It is free to enter, and can be a great way to get more exposure in your photography. Below is more information about the contest:
The contest is open to everyone around the world. There is no age or any other restriction. The genre is Street Photography and the photos must be taken in a candid way, so don’t setup your photos. There is a minor amount of post processing allowed. This is not a Photoshop contest and your photo will not be accepted, if there are too many changes made. The photos must be uploaded to the “85mm Street Photography Contest” Flickr group. A basic Flickr account is free of charge. There are no special requirements to enter the contest.
The deadline for the contest is December 31, 2011 at the end of the day.
There are also cash prizes for the contest up to $500 (enough money to finally buy that prime-lens you have always wanted!).
Love the street photography by In-Public Blake Andrews or his witty “B” blog? Check out this novel idea: his portfolio from In-Public, family shots, unseen B Sides and outtakes, and other 35 mm personal favorites printed on 52 playing cards.
Grab your preorder for only $12 and support him and his photography. You can check out the cards here.
Also check out my past video interview with Blake Andrews on my blog.
(All images copyrighted by Manu Thomas)
Eric’s Note: Manu Thomas is a street photographer from Mumbai, India who has captured a colorful, playful, and multi-faceted vision of his environment. In a feature according to Nick Turpin, Manu also started off as a watercolor painter:
“While searching for camera and photos, I happened to hear the term street photography for the first time and came to know about some amazing street photographers and saw some wonderful photos. I got hooked up to street photography very soon and it became my passion ever since. I want to continue doing painting, but photography is my biggest passion right now”
Manu: I started pursuing photography seriously by the end of 2007. Almost all of my photos are taken from Mumbai, its various suburbs, city and seaside. I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have started photography in this city. Compared to other south Indian cities where I’ve been to, Mumbai is very energetic, fast, but extremely chaotic. It got everything to construct excellent photographs, but the elements are scattered all over the place. Its colors, forms, textures are all hopelessly jumbled up. It encompasses slices of lives from every part of the country. It contains all kind of people and classes from all over the country.
Huge thanks to Leica for making this show and our gallery opening possible.
And congratulations to Jordan Dunn for his VLUX-30 winning “Best of Show” piece:
Video Directed by Neema Sadeghi
Video Edited by Lonnie Francisco
Video Shot by Adam Boden, Lonnie Francisco, and Jacob Patterson
Find more about ThinkTank Gallery at http://www.thinktankgallery.org
Stay tuned for more great exhibitions like this in the future!
(Above photo by Debi Sen Gupta)
Below are the 32 best images from my recent Introduction to Street Photography Workshop in Mumbai, India. Read more to see all the images below!
(All images copyrighted by Dirty Harrry)
Eric’s Note: For this article I am pleased to feature the thoughts about Dirty Harrry, a prolific street photographer from Crete in Greece. His images shot with flash are not only surreal but technically well done. Make sure to also check out my interview with him here, and see his images on Flickr.
Hi Eric, thanks for your invitation once again here. My words may be obvious and don’t consider them “rules”. However these are my observations after shooting for 3 years with a flash in my street photography.
Hey streettogs, I am excited to say that I just finished my first batch of my Mumbai, India Street Photography Workshop! (I got two more groups to go). It was great to work with all the street photographers here, and their enthusiasm to learn was overwhelming.
Surprisingly before this workshop, there wasn’t much of a street photography scene in Mumbai. However after seeing all of the passion as well as the great talent from this first batch of the workshop, Kaushal Parikh is going to be starting an Indian Street Photographers collective. If you are interested in being considered in this group, send your portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more to see all the photos from the workshop!
I have been in Mumbai, India the last 3 days and have been having the blast of my life. Kaushal Parikh, an incredibly talented street photographer from Mumbai, has been my host and not only shown me the wonderful streets here, but has treated me like family and is feeding me well (I probably will gain at least 20 pounds before leaving).
For those of you who have never been to India, here are some of my thoughts about shooting street photography here:
I haven’t had a single negative encounter so far. I just make sure to smile and say “thank you”. People are very receptive here and LOVE to get their photo taken. I have even shot with my flash today, and people seem very amused with it, and appreciate the attention.
India has a massive gap from the wealthy and poor. The wealthy are incredibly rich (drive around Bently’s) while the poor are dying on the streets. It is really heartbreaking to see, but makes me appreciate what I have so much more.
However this can make for interesting juxtapositions between the rich and poor, in terms of the people as well as the buildings, cars, etc.
There is so much to see and so much to shoot. Although this can be a problem at times (there are sometimes too much people on the street). However it seems wherever I go, there is always people and something going on.
I am also preparing for my street photography workshop this weekend (I am hosting 3 of them while I am here). Wish me luck and I will keep everyone updated! :)
Also if you are an Indian street photographer and would like to be considered in the India Street Photographers collective, email Kaushal Parikh at email@example.com
When you are out traveling and shooting street photography, remember to connect with the local people and treat them as “equals”. Don’t see them as objects, but use humor to get more comfortable with them and see them as a “fellow human being”.
Stay tuned with these great One-Minute Masterclass series from Phaidon, as they keep rolling out on their site!
Have you ever used humor to connect with your subjects when shooting? If so, share your experiences below!
(Image above copyrighted by Emilio Morenatti)
Emilio Morenatti is a photo journalist who has covered various events in Spain, Afghanistan, as well as the Middle East. Not only has he covered the war and the fall of the Taliban, but he has also been kidnapped by gunman, and lost his left foot after being struck by a roadside bomb on assignment. In 2008 he was named Newspaper Photographer of the Year by Pictures of the Year International. See some of his images below.
Note: Sara T’Rula was one of the community managers for the “Street Photography Now” project. Read her thoughts about the SPN project and see some of her images as well below!
The SPN Project was a daring and unique year-long project, set up in September 2010 by The Photographers’ Gallery, Sophie Howarth & Stephen McLaren (who authored the book, Street Photography Now), with support from Thames & Hudson. It was daring and unique in bringing together weekly Instructions from 52 photographers featured in the SPN book, and a global community of participants, using social media to make it happen.
If you are in Cambodia or in Asia, make sure to check out the Angkor Photo Festival exhibitions coming up in Cambodia. I am also pleased to announce that some of my images will also be featured in the Asian Street Photography Group Exhibition. Make sure to spread the word, and let me know if you will be there!
Note: This blog post is by Kaushal Parikh, a street photographer from Mumbai, India.
Although this is an article about a camera, I don’t believe that gear alone can create good photographs. But I do believe that a good photographer can be inspired to make good images with the right gear. I recently acquired a Fujifilm FinePix x100 that I have come to love and thought I would just share a few thoughts and tips about this camera.