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© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

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).

1. Shoot who you are

USA. New York City. 1993. Businessman on Fifth Avenue. © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos
USA. New York City. 1993. Businessman on Fifth Avenue. © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

What I love most about Gilden is that he is faithful to who he is as a human being in terms of his photography. He doesn’t bullshit around and pretend to be someone he isn’t. Rather, he photographs like he says in his own words… “who he is.”

I think a lot of street photographers starting off often try to imitate the work of other more famous street photographers, without truly understanding their personalities.

For example, everyone tries to imitate the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson (even if their personalities might be totally different). HCB was a shy, introverted man who didn’t like to have his own face photographed. The way in which he shot was reflective of his personality.

Gilden is quite possibly the polar opposite of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Gilden is an extremely personable and social person. He shoots a lot of his work candid, but he also spends a lot of effort interacting and communicating with his subjects (unlike being sneaky just like Henri Cartier-Bresson).

USA. New York City. September 17, 2001. Man walking in Wall Street area.
USA. New York City. September 17, 2001. Man walking in Wall Street area. © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

For example, in his most famous video on YouTube he shoots mostly candid photos without the permission of others. However in one shot he took of an old man (who noticed him) he told the man that it was okay and for him to keep walking.

In another video of him shooting in the UK, there is a woman who gets visibly upset for him photographing her. He then explains why he photographed her and why he found her beautiful in her unique way– and then turned the streets into her own personal walkway. It was quite possibly one of the most charming things I’ve ever seen a photographer do.

USA. New York City. 1992. Women walking on Fifth Avenue.
USA. New York City. 1992. Women walking on Fifth Avenue. © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

It is true that Gilden can be quite abrasive. In a workshop that Bellamy Hunt attended with Gilden in Tokyo, Bellamy shared how harsh and direct Gilden could be. At first glance, one could have taken it the wrong way that Gilden just was mean-hearted. However over time, Bellamy began to understood the language of Gilden and how he communicated. If a photo wasn’t any good, Gilden wouldn’t piddy-paddle and sugar-coat his words. Rather, he would call it “shit” if it wasn’t any good.

On the flip side, if Gilden said a shot wasn’t shit it actually meant that it was a half-decent shot.

In terms of Gilden’s street photography shooting style, he shoots who he is. He has a strong and aggressive personality, and shoots at an extremely close range with a 28mm and a flash. He doesn’t do it simply to scare people, but he uses it in an artistic way, angling his flash to highlight the human drama and theater. He does this to highlight the anxiety of his subjects in the city in which he is photographing in.

Takeaway point

Gilden’s advice for street photographers is “shoot who we are.” Gilden shoots who he is in a direct, honest, and aggressive type of manner.

If you find yourself to be quite similar in personality to Gilden– you might also find yourself shooting with a wide-angle lens and getting close to your subjects.

Personally I feel that I relate more with William Klein than Gilden in terms of photographic approach (interacting a lot with my subjects as well as candid shots). I also shoot with a flash not to scare people in the streets, but to simply illuminate them during the day (especially when they are in the shade).

If you find yourself to be a shy and introverted street photographer and you feel uncomfortable interacting with strangers, it is probably not a good idea to start shooting less than a meter away from people and flashing them in the face.

Shoot who you are. Understand your personality– and shoot accordingly. If you don’t like to interact much with subjects and prefer to be candid– shoot more in the style of Henri Cartier-Bresson. If you like to interact with your subjects and stage then on the streets, shoot like William Klein. If you want to work more candidly while also working at a close proximity, you might shoot similar to Gilden or Garry Winogrand.

2. Document humanity

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© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

One statement that is quite controversial that I will share is that I feel that Bruce Gilden is more of a humanistic street photographer than someone who just snaps photos on the street.

What do I mean by that? Well, I feel that Gilden’s best book (which isn’t as well known) is “Haiti.” I remember when I first saw the book, I was quite shocked to see the depth, emotion, as well as the socio-political themes that went throughout the book.

Most people who don’t know much about Gilden is that they think he is just a madman who likes to provoke and scare random strangers in New York City.

In his Haiti work, he visited over and over again over the course of around 19 trips between 1984 and 1995- getting to know the people locally and built trust over time.

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© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

The images in the book are quite dark and chaotic, and showcase the anxiety of Haiti. Images that come to mind is a woman being pulled in several different directions in a large crowd, a man whose face is obscured and grimacing, as well as a corner where a large group of people almost seem that they are going to collide.

There are also quieter moments in the book, which showcase a man getting his hair cut and even a stray dog that looks over his shoulder with a look of concern and fear.

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© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

Overall the book left me with a very strong impression– that which showed more emotion and humanity from the people of Haiti shot from a close proximity. You can see to get the shots that Gilden got, he truly embedded himself into their society. He didn’t just come as a foreign photojournalist, snap photos of the destruction, and just leave. He spent time getting to know the Haiti people and documenting their everyday life- and the viewer feels like a part of the society there.

To compare Gilden’s Haiti book with let’s say the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson Gilden’s work is much warmer and intimate. Although HCB’s photos are compositionally phenomenal and perfect in some regards– they leave you feeling cold and empty.

Takeaway point:

I think that street photography’s ultimate goal should be provoking an emotional response from the viewer. Gilden certainly does that with his work– it is something that packs a punch and hits you straight in the gut.

His “Haiti” book especially shows the hard work he took to get to know the Haitian society – over the course of nearly 11 years. His photos provoke emotion, thought, and humanity– what I feel we should all strive to do as street photographers.

3. Create unconventional compositions

USA. New York City. 1989. Feast of San Gennero, Little Italy.
USA. New York City. 1989. Feast of San Gennero, Little Italy. © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

I feel that whenever one sees the work of Gilden– what they immediately feel is the energy, rush, and adrenaline of his photos. I feel that part of this has to do with his use of the 28mm lens, flash, and close proximity– but also due to the fact of his unconventional compositions.

For example, many of his photos are taken from extremely low angles, making his subjects look larger than they really are. He often cuts off subjects in odd places in the frame (only showing one half of someone’s face), while still filling the frame.

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© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

I learned from Charlie Kirk especially how Gilden pushes the envelope when it comes to compositions. Gilden has been shooting on the streets for over 40 years, and yet still strives to innovate through his work and not just putting his photos directly in the middle of the frame.

Takeaway point:

Don’t try to make all of your compositions the same and boring. Don’t just put your subject smack dab in the middle of the frame, or just use the rule of thirds. Experiment. Try different angles. Try shots from extremely low angles, or extremely high angles. Throw your camera vertical. Use an off-camera flash to cast unconventional or unusual shadows. Use a 28mm lens (or wider) and get close to your action to fill the frame– while intentionally chopping off people’s faces or placing their heads on the extreme left or bottom of the frame.

Don’t be stuck by the conventional rules of composition – try to break free and innovate.

4. Create mystery

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© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

I think the best street photographs are the ones that ask more questions than offer answers. I feel that Gilden’s work does this extremely well.

For example, I think Gilden’s most memorable photos are the ones that have that air of mystery in them. One of my favorite shots of Gilden is of two Yakuza gangsters smoking in Tokyo. One of the gangsters is lighting the cigarette for another who is looking straight into the eye of Gilden (as if he was caught at a wrong moment).

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© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

Another photo also from Tokyo (form Gilden’s “Go” book) is of a man in a fedora looking over at Gilden, reaching into his coat pocket as if he was going to pull out a gun.

An equally puzzling image is of a man lying on the ground, looking as if he has jet-black blood pouring from his head. But in reality, he was just getting his hair dyed.

Takeaway point:

Don’t just create photos that tell the whole story. Show less, than showing more. Create an air of mystery in your photographs, and let the viewer crave to create a fun little story in their head of what is going on in the scene.

5. Keep going over the same streets and keep breaking new ground

USA. New York City. 1988. © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

Gilden has been shooting in the same streets of New York City for many decades now– and keeps shooting there. However he hasn’t given up shooting there. I still hear stories of other street photographers who see him shooting on 5th avenue, with his Leica in his right hand and his old-school off-camera Vivitar flash in his left hand.

I think one of the most difficult things in photography is to continue to photograph in the same streets–especially when they are familiar. Not only that, but how can you keep visiting the same places over and over again and break new ground and innovate?

Takeaway point:

Regardless of where you live, you can make interesting street photographers. Even if you live in a suburb, you can take interesting street photos without people (think of William Eggleston and Lee Friedlander).

I know a lot of street photographers who dream to shoot in big cities like NYC, Paris, or Tokyo.

However the street photographers I know who live in these places also get bored of them as well.

When you are bored of shooting in the same place, try to be like a child and see the streets with new eyes. Imagine you visited your city for the first time as an outsider or tourist. What would you find unique and interesting about the city?

And when you are bored of shooting your own city– don’t just give up. Keep going, over and over again. Be persistent, and you will find the subtle differences and nuances of your city that make it unique. And with enough time dedicated to your street photography in the streets where you live– you will break new ground and innovate and shoot what nobody has shot before in a way nobody has ever shot before.

The best place to shoot street photography is in your own backyard.

Conclusion

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© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

I have learned many lessons from Bruce Gilden when it comes to street photography– but I would say that these 5 lessons are what I have distilled from him the last 4 years or so I have been inspired by his photography.

Regardless if you may agree with his approach in street photography or not, he has created incredible bodies of work in New York City, Tokyo, and Haiti– and is someone who hasn’t let up in his photography (he is over 60 and still working non-stop).

I think we can all gain inspiration from him– as someone who has broke ground in street photography and never stops his hustle.

Interviews by Bruce Gilden

Videos on Bruce Gilden

Below are some of my favorite videos on Bruce Gilden, a combination of him working the streets and some interviews.

Interview on Haiti

An interview by Catherine Camille Cushman for FLY16x9.

Bruce wanders around the streets of New York City looking for characters

Gilden on shooting and printing

Coney Island: The Maquette

Bruce Gilden “Head On”, presented by British Journal of Photography

Bruce Gilden meets Jake La Motta

Bruce Gilden working in Oxford Street

Bruce has a ball

Books by Bruce Gilden

Facing New York

Gilden’s seminal book on the streets of NYC. Highly recommended.

After the Off

A lesser-known book by Gilden. Love his use of unusual angles in the book and his proximity to his subjects.

A Beautiful Catastrophe

A nice compilation of his photos that is relatively affordable. Not the best print quality, but a good introduction to Gilden’s work if you don’t own any of his books.

GO

One of my favorite book of his on Tokyo. Extremely expensive and rare to find.

Coney Island

His newest book on Coney Island- an incredible body of work. Also very rare and expensive now.

Haiti

Probably my favorite Gilden book – you can read an in-depth review of the book by Charlie Kirk here. Highly recommend everyone serious about street photography to buy a copy of this for their bookshelf.

Follow Bruce Gilden

What have you learned from Gilden and his approach in street photography? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and please keep your comments civil. Any anonymous trolls will be banned.

61 replies on “5 Lessons Bruce Gilden Has Taught Me About Street Photography”

  1. To say that HCB’s photos leave you cold and empty, especially in comparison to BG, is just ludicrous. If anything, that’s how I’d describe the affect of a maturity of Gilden’s work on myself. HCB is the quintessential humanist photographer. Just because he didn’t get into people’s faces doesn’t mean he was “sneaking.” Don’t confuse beautiful compositions informed by a knowledge of the history of art as being cold and distant.

    I still believe and always will that standing in the middle of a street and waiting to flash someone in the face is just plain rude and obnoxious. No wonder many of his subjects have disturbed expressions. To his credit the last photo in section 3 of this article is quite nice.

    1. Agree 100% and to state that “everyone tries to imitate the work of HCB” is equally ludicrous.
      You seriously have to consider what your posting Eric because this type of stuff is damaging the reputation you have worked so hard to get.

      1. ” […] this type of stuff is damaging the reputation you have worked so hard to get.”

        I doubt that Kim’s reputation is based on any accuracy or incisiveness in his commentary. Kim’s main virtues are raw enthusiasm with a work ethic to match, indefatigability, and a sense of bonhomie he encourages among the “streettogs”. “What’s up, streettogs?” What’s up is that Kim’s accomplishments are not primarily photographic (though I am not very much opinionated about his photography as I have not looked at his prints, or printed reproductions, themselves) nor in photographic commentary, but rather in using the Internet for self-promotion. An Internet search for “international street photographer” brings as the very first hit: Eric Kim. Before Cartier-Bresson, Marc Riboud, William Klein, or anyone else, is Eric Kim. Now, that is an accomplishment!

        Eric Kim’s commentary seems not even intended to be well thought, well researched, incisive, accurate, consistent, or even coherent. Rather, his articles, either individually or in comparison with others, are hastily conceived talking points for, sometimes at once, various points of view. Their main virtue is in provoking discussion and, for Kim, bringing visitors to his site (from which to promote his workshops) and to add to a stockpile of keywords for Internet searches.

        And perhaps no one has done as much as the peripatetic Eric Kim to bring out “street photography” not just as a kind of photography but moreover as a really cool thing to do, a kind of globe trotting, GoPro accessorized lifestyle.

        Meanwhile, his postings are a trove of embarrassments. For example, two of my favorites:

        Comparing his car trip, sponsored for purpose of advertisement by a car manufacturing corporation, to Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans’, a work of bitter criticism of American commerciality. (To be fair, of course, Kim did not claim himself to be at the level of Robert Frank, but still, even to couch his car ride as any way in the lineage of Robert Frank should raise more than an eyebrow. His corporate sponsored ride has as much to do with Robert Frank as my getting under the shower in the morning has to do with Olympic platform diving.)

        Remarking that one doesn’t have to be a very good photographer to write about photographer (I agree) but stating John Szarkowski as an example, which is a statement I cannot imagine made by anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the photography of John Szarkowski.

        No, writing about photography is not Kim’s strong suit. But we should hoist a glass (of whatever local beer is featured at the pub on whatever street in whatever city he’s leading his happy band of workshop streettogs) to his energy, shrewdness, and, if nothing else, ubiquity.

        GrandMinnow

          1. My sentiments, exactly! Eloquence, humor, and intellect. I’d definitely read your blog, if you have one.

        1. Thanks very much for the comment GM – I think you know me quite well! I am certainly not the best photographer out there nor the best writer. I have a lot to learn still but I just enjoy sharing my personal thoughts and opinions on the blog.

          A very insightful comment too – thanks again :)

          1. What Eric Kim said in this thread goes for me too [paraphrasing]:

            “I am not the best writer. I have a lot to learn, but I enjoy sharing my thoughts and opinions.”

            I wrote as best I could to express what was on my mind. You found it pretentious; others found it eloquent, and Kim himself, if he spoke honestly, not sarcastically, appreciated the post too. I am inclined to take the good mentions over your bad one.

            .

      2. Thanks Stephen for the comment. I would say that the majority of street photographers try to imitate the work of HCB (especially when starting off). After all, he is the most famous street photographer

    2. To clarify- I am not talking about all of HCB’s photos – several of them are quite warm and whimsical. However the majority of his work (in my opinion) is about forms, shapes, and composition – and not as emotional as the work of other photographers.

      And regarding disturbed expressions – this is people’s reactions to Gilden about to take a photograph

  2. Well I agree with Eric, but not his thougts about HCB though.. What people and photographers must understand is that if the streets becomes a place where you have the right to privacy, we will not live in a democracy anymore. If you dont want to be seen, you should not go out in the public space, its as simple as that. We must stand up for our rights of freedom in the public space or else we will soon loose it.

    1. If Eric says that HCB’s photos leave him cold and empty that is an honest and valid opinion and doesn’t warrant being called “ludicrous”. I am personally thankful that someone like Eric puts himself out there and gives us things to look at and think about – its called sharing. What do you share Daniel?
      While I’m putting my 2bits worth into the mix I also want to add that personally I’m not too fond of b&w photography in general, including HCB. And, I have perfectly valid reasons for my position. I was born into a black and white world at the end of 1944 – I saw everything in black and white- newspapers, books, films and finally tv. I was more than happy to get away from all that. Now does that make me ridiculous?

      1. “I am personally thankful that someone like Eric puts himself out there and gives us things to look at and think about – its called sharing. What do you share Daniel?”

        For Mr. Bykhovsky to merit stating his own opinion, he doesn’t have to share anything other than his post. One doesn’t have to have post photos on the Internet, or have a web site, or make promote international workshops, or anything else, to qualify for responding critically to Kim’s post.

        GrandMinnow

        1. Maybe I should be clearer. You’re perfectly correct GrandMinnow. I’m expressing a personal opinion and so was Eric. And our opinions in no way negate the importance, historically and artistically and in example, of HCB and his work. I just found the word “ridiculous” a little strong when talking about someone’s opinion.

          1. Well, I find calling HCB’s work “cold and empty” to be disrespectful towards the work of HCB and those who are moved and awed by the images he captured. To say “I don’t like the work of HCB.” is to express an opinion. To call his work “cold and empty” is tantamount to a moral judgement.

      2. “I was born into a black and white world at the end of 1944 – I saw everything in black and white- newspapers, books, films and finally tv. I was more than happy to get away from all that. Now does that make me ridiculous?”

        I don’t think it makes you ridiculous, since your reasons for preferring one thing to another may, of course, be personal. But what you mention does not strike me as a very sound basis for evaluation of photography.

        GrandMinnow

      3. I have a lot of respect for HCB, and still find a great deal of inspiration from him. I think his most memorable images are the emotional ones he created– which he has a great deal of. However he does have a fair amount of images that are mostly about geometry and shapes– that doesn’t do anything for me emotionally

  3. “It was quite possibly one of the most charming things I’ve ever seen a photographer do.’

    Every day there are thousands of photographers out there inveigling subjects to do, or not do, this or that for the camera. That bit with Gilden was not special. And of course, such interactions aren’t in themselves a mark of good photography. We get to say whether the pictures are good or not, pretty much irrespective of whether or not the photographer knows how to sweet talk a lady. And pointing to such video examples does not matter very much for understanding what sense of humanity is, or is not, present in Gilden’s pictures. So he flattered a woman by intentionally under-guessing her age; meanwhile, I’ll decide from the pictures themselves what sense of humanity there is in the pictures.

    By the way, apropos another recent thread, this is another example, and even more clear, where Gilden overtly directs the subject. I don’t object to that, but I would ask people who do claim that such things must be declared outright: Is he artistically/ethically required to include such a disclaimer in a caption if he displayed the picture?

    “Although HCB’s photos are compositionally phenomenal and perfect in some regards– they leave you feeling cold and empty.”

    There sometimes is an aloofness in Cartier-Bresson’s pictures, but “cold and empty”?! Not for me.

    “The best place to shoot street photography is in your own backyard”

    That’s not much more than a platitude.

    GrandMinnow

    1. P.S.

      “The best place to shoot street photography is in your own backyard”

      Not only is that a platitude but it’s hypocritical said by someone whose raison d’etre is to be an “international street photographer”. And it falls apart as soon as you realize that if every photographer took it to heart then we wouldn’t have much more than a lot of pictures made by people of their own backyard (even granting that ‘backyard’ may be taken in a pretty broad sense).

      GrandMinnow

      1. I think the fact that I did a lot of international travel has made me realize more and more how much of a virtue it is to shoot in your own backyard. I am actually starting to get a bit burned out from international travel – I am striving to spend more time at home

      2. “The best place to shoot street photography is in your own backyard”

        If I were to take that advice seriously, I’d be a macro photographer.
        ….not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  4. I find it disappointing that any critique of an artists work has to be done at the expense of another. It’s fine to say one likes Gildens work and why, but don’t denigrate Bresson (or any other photographer for that matter) to make that point. It’s poor critical style to do so.

    To say this:

    ” HCB was a shy, introverted man who didn’t like to have his own face photographed. The way in which he shot was reflective of his personality.” is fine as I believe this has a lot to do with how photographers develop a style. Styles usually spring from one’s personality. It is a legitimate statement.

    However, in the next paragraph to say “unlike being sneaky just like Henri Cartier-Bresson” is just unacceptable. It is uninformed and incorrect to accuse him of being “sneaky”, a rather perjorative word to select, simply because his style does not agree with yours (and Gildens). Curiously, by holding Gildens work up to Bressons, you’re actually admitting that a yardstick for greatness is Bresson, or why bring up his name.

    Calling Bresson’s approach sneaky is also insulting to a large portion of the “steettogs” you write for as this is a legitimate style of photography. There are people whose style is to avoid inserting themselves into the scene, but prefer to capture life as it flows by. It is the capture of pure human gesture (as Jay Maisel has said), and emotion, untainted by the photographers presence they seek. They believe this is the story they are trying to capture, not the reaction to their presence. So that is sneaky?

    As others have written here (especially GM whose statements are quite eloquent and right on the mark) you do serve a great service to the people-who-photograph-others-in-public (god I hate the term street photography…) you have great energy, you provide a gathering point for people like us – even when we don’t agree with you. Your energy and enthusiasm for what you do seems boundless, and for all of this I thank you.

    You are a 20 something, very productive, blogger. You might consider the fact that blogs are out there forever, and, much like tattoos, may not age well.

  5. You are on a journey Eric sometimes good sometimes not so good. Keep going and one day you will find your style.

  6. Eric,

    I can’t fully agree with point number, I’d like to interact with you when you state,
    “If you find yourself to be a shy and introverted street photographer and you feel uncomfortable interacting with strangers, it is probably not a good idea to start shooting less than a meter away from people and flashing them in the face.”
    Here with a simple brush stroke you are communicating the following equation:

    Introverted personality = Faraway shots
    Out-going personality = closer shots

    First, whether one chooses to shoot subjects close and faraway should not be dictated by ones personality, but upon what the photographer is trying to communicate with the subject. Some shots call for the photographer to be faraway and other shots call for the person to be closer.

    Second, even out-going people would have a problem with candid close shots.

    I believe my sister is one of the most out-going, people loving persons that I know who loves making photographs, yet the whole candid close (even faraway) approach to not be her cup of tea.

    My outgoing sister finds the candid approach awkward because she is not used to it and it is foreign to her, and not because she is some secret introvert.

    Second, to equate the outgoing and introverted dichotomy with what a person can or cannot do is limiting. Take for example, the introverted teacher or the introverted actor/actress.

    There are a lot of great actors who act with passion, and teachers who give lectures who are introverted. In actuality, it seems that a lot of introverts in my circles seem to be the artistic types.

    Going back to the point I am trying to make is that even the most out-going people in the world couldn’t take a up close candid shot at a stranger even if their life depended on it.

    So thinking that up-close candid shots fit the out-going personality type is a mistake because up-close or shooting faraway does not depend on personality type but depends on what the photographer is trying to communicate.
    It is not the introverted personality type that hinders the photographer from expressing and communicating, it is fear that all personality types feel and face when dealing with taking pictures of strangers.

    Bruce Gilden himself stated that the antidote to fear is not courage, but “passion.” Are extroverts the only ones that would have passion? That would be idiotic if were to say that, logically it is a mistake.

    When Robert Capa stated “If your pictures are not good enough, you are not close enough.” I whole heartedly agree with Capa here.

    Bruce Gilden took Capa’s advice. Capa knew that shooting up-close required a fearlessness and passion, and his advice was not for “introverted” photographers, but for every photographer. If you are a candid street photographer, at one point you will need close shots in order to communicate what you want to communicate, and express through photography, and the way to get comfortable shoot up close is to do it often, going out there and shoot up close over and over again until it becomes second nature.

    Bruce Gilden stated that as he gets older he gets closer to his subjects, does that mean as he go older he became more extroverted. Haha, of course not, he did not change as a person, but he developed as a photographer. He got hungrier for better makes, he wasn’t satisfied, etc, it’s not because he was less extroverted when he was younger.

    If Gilden in his workshops communicates the following equation:

    Introverted personality = Faraway shots
    Out-going personality = closer shots

    Then Bruce Gilden is wrong, and I would have to agree to disagree with him. Even one of the greatest photographers can be wrong about things. But I am pretty sure that this is not what Gilden meant to say, then why hold workshops to get better. If your personality determines what type of photographer you are, why should a photographer improve? And get over fear.

    The truth of the matter is introverts, extroverts, ambiverts love Street photography, and they make certain shots (up-close and faraway shots) not to show their personality but to communicate and express their picture-poems.

    If Gilden meant by “shoot who you are” as in to encourage photographers to not shoot clichés then I would agree with Gilden.

    There are two types of Street photographers to me:

    First type of photographer: “Oh, what kind of photographs do you like? I ask because those are the types of photographs that I have to take in order to please you.”

    Second type of photographer: “I shot these photographs from the heart, and chose the best working photographs, here is my work, take a look at them.”

    If you’re the second type, you’re an artist. If you’re the first type you’re a slave.

    In reality you need a balance between the first and second type of photographers, yet more of the second type.

    What are your thoughts?

  7. >>> “What I love most about Gilden is that he is faithful to who he is as a human being in terms of his photography. He doesn’t bullshit around and pretend to be someone he isn’t. Rather, he photographs like he says in his own words… “who he is.” ”

    Yet there are so many people ripping Gilden’s style and vision, even down to his swagger and tough guy demeanor. Yet these people are *nothing* like him at all. It’s all wannabe; people wanting to live his life and show others they are (even through videos), rather than carve out something fresh and true to one’s self.

    Gilden was/is a pioneer. Respect…

  8. fwiw Eric, I always thought your pedestal placement of Gilden comes at the expense of your photography. Just my opinion. Thankfully, you’re not an asshole though. ;)

  9. Why the hyper-critical commentary on Eric’s musings? Is there a rule book for photography? Is he commiting some great crime? Why do we hold some famous photographers in such high esteem that it’s sacrilegious to say anything untoward about them? Elitism is a prison and it’s funny to see people’s feathers get ruffled when someone stirs the pot, or like Eric, share his opinions and admittedly learn-as-he-goes style in his journey in street photography. And what’s wrong with calling it that too?

    Frankly I think Eric’s writing is much more interesting than Grand Minnow’s take on the subject. Eric is down to earth and somewhat challenges conventions. He’s honest enough to admit that he contradicts himself at times. He’s in his early years with photography at a much different time than the photo greats. Lighten up people and try not to get your undies in a knot. Just go shoot. Negatives to positives, that’s what we should focus on.

  10. Eric Kim: GIVE UP. you’re just mumbling things which make no sense. You have acquired NONE of the class that Gilden has and you will never learn to be ‘sneaky’ (??????) like HCB. You may take a lot of photos—-but you LACK SOUL.

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