I admit– I’m a lazy photographer.
Most of the time I’m not out on the streets. Most of the time, I’m going from coffee shop to coffee shop, espresso to espresso. Sometimes cappuccinos:
Funny thing though — the best photos I’ve made weren’t forced.
Rather, I let the photo opportunities come to me — instead of hunting for these photos.
1. Coffee shop photography
For example, in this photograph that I shot, I was hanging out with Cindy at a coffee shop here in Hanoi.
The story behind the photo is this: I was enjoying a nice cup of coffee, on the balcony of the coffee shop, after attending mass with Cindy. I wasn’t caffeinated (yet), so I used that opportunity to look around myself, and enjoy the view.
I noticed while drinking my coffee that there was an interesting silhouette through the door that connected the upstairs and downstairs. I thought to myself: “This might be a good photograph.”
I then took the Ricoh GR II out of my backpack, and waited for the girl (who was delivering the coffee) to appear again. I think I took about 3-4 photos of her entering and exiting. This final photo, I just got lucky. A perfect silhouette of the side of her face.
I had a feeling I got a good shot. I looked at my LCD screen, and with the high-contrast black and white preview, I knew I think I had something good.
I (quickly) imported it into Lightroom, and applied the ‘Eric Kim Monochrome 1600’ preset to the RAW image. I looked at the photo on my computer, did some slight adjustments in terms of exposure, and exported it as a JPEG.
I knew I had a keeper.
I looked at the image, and I loved the sense of mystery, of mood, and nostalgia. Strangely enough, a lot of people thought this was a photo of Cindy.
What I like about the shot is the silhouette of her face, and the ‘cherry on top’ is the hand on the door.
Furthermore, I think for myself, I enjoy the photograph even more because it is a candid street photograph — in one of my favorite places (a coffee shop).
2. Always walk with your camera
So as a general philosophy, I think for me — I like to let my photos come to me.
I generally have my Ricoh GR II around my wrist, and always try to walk with my camera whenever possible. I keep my camera on “P” mode, center-point autofocus, and ISO 1600 (in RAW). Whenever I walk and I see anything interesting, I just click the shutter. I decide later whether I want to keep the photo or not.
Even another of my favorite photos shot near Hoan Kiem lake in Hanoi — I was just on another typical stroll, camera-in-hand:
I saw an interesting potential scene, so I ‘worked the scene’ and took many photos of the scene. I got lucky with the last shot, and I’m glad I shot it with a flash (it brightened up the flowers around the man):
To learn more about how I composed this photograph, check my lesson on “Figure to Ground.”
Also see the full explanation of how I got this photo below on YouTube:
3. Don’t hunt for photos
But the biggest takeaway point is this: let your photos come to you. Don’t anxiously ‘hunt’ for photos. Rather, just live your normal life, and have your camera by your side. Better yet, have your camera in your hand as much as possible.
Because you never know when a great photo opportunity will present itself. But when it does, be ready for it.
Re-inspire your photography
If you have photographer’s block, eat these lessons:
- How to Level Up in Your Photography
- How Not to Give a Fuck of What Others Think of You
- How to Overcome Procrastination in Your Photography