I recently created a Flickr page dedicated to all of your awesome street photography titled: “Aspiring Street Photographers.” Feel free to join and contribute your images (as well as inviting your friends to join as well!) I hope to build a well-knit community of street photographers of all skill-levels to share their photographic insight with one another, while giving constructive criticism and feedback on images. Please join and hope to see you there soon :)
In lieu of the popularity of my last post about the “100 Things I Have Learned about Photography,” I decided to make a new list that pertains to street photography specifically. Also if you don’t know, I am currently writing a book titled: “Street Photography 101,” and the excerpts are being posted here. This new list is a homage to the Street Photography 101 book that I am writing.
Note that there is some overlap of some of these points with the previous list that I wrote, but I thought it may be essential for new-readers to note. Also, feel free to critique, comment, and share this list with anybody you want. I would love to hear your feedback.
Hope you guys all had a wonderful Labor-Day weekend! I just got back from the Bay Area (my hometown) after hanging out and visiting friends and family I haven’t seen for quite a while. Was planning on doing some street photography in San Francisco, but catching a cold over the weekend prevented me from doing so.
Anyways, before I left on Saturday to the Bay, I had enough time between Thursday and Friday to work on this slideshow of my street photography from Korea last summer. What the hell was I doing in Korea you ask? Well, I decided to visit Seoul, Korea for about two months in order to meet up with some long-lost family and friends, tutor English to some kids (while making some $$$ along the way), and of course, photography.
Haha–tricked you. As there is no “best” paintbrush for a painter, there is no “best” camera when it comes to the street photographer. The camera is merely a tool, and there are different tools required for different situations and tasks at hand.
In street photography as well as general photography, photographers can sometimes become more obsessed about camera gear over actually taking photos. Photographers who are obsessed with camera gear often feel that their images are lacking due to their equipment, when their underdevelopment of photographic vision is the culprit.
Therefore many individuals fall into this trap and go on a never-ending chase in the hope that buying more expensive camera bodies and lenses will help them get better images. However most of them are quite dismayed when they realize that when they buy the newest and most expensive equipment, their images don’t get any better. Now don’t get me wrong—nice bodies and lenses can indeed give you images with better sharpness, resolution, and color, but they won’t give one intrinsically better photos.
When it comes to street photography, I like to believe that the best policy is to have the least obtrusive camera and lens as possible. The antithesis of an ideal camera for street photography would be a 1D Mark IV with a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L lens attached to it.
Although my knowledge of cameras may be limited when compared to the 20+years plus photo veteran, I will try my best to outline the pros and cons of different cameras that street photographers use, including rangefinders, DSLRS, or compact “point and shoots”.
Rangefinders are glorified for their ability to take images without a battery, being small and unobtrusive, quick in operation, and virtually silent in terms of a shutter sound. Rangefinders are fully manual, meaning that you have to manually focus and manually control exposure through aperture and shutter speed.
The most popular rangefinder (by far) when it comes to street photography is the Leica. It carries all of the fore mentioned characteristics and has a tradition for being built like a tank with superior optics. Shoot—the granddaddy of all street photography (Henri Cartier-Bresson) used a Leica for his entire career.
Taking photos with a rangefinder is much different than many other cameras because what you see through your viewfinder is not necessarily what your photos show up as. There are superimposed grid lines showing the borders of how much your camera will actually capture which many photographers claim that gives them a sense of freedom and seeing entire scenes.
However there are obviously cons with using a rangefinder camera. First of all, rangefinders are fully manual, meaning that one has to learn how to constantly adjust for the changing lighting in an environment with aperture and shutter speed, while modern digital cameras can do this automatically. Although many advocates of using fully-manual settings do not see this as a disadvantage, the aspiring street photographer may have a difficult time constantly adjusting his or her settings.
Furthermore if one decides to get a digital Leica rangefinder, they are most likely going to drop a huge chunk of change.
It seems that nowadays many street photographers use digital SLRs (DSLRs) to take their photographs. DSLRs are massively popular due to their overall image quality, quick shutter speed, and their ability to interchange lenses, and relative affordability.
However the downside to DSLRs for street photography is that they are relatively large and clunky, and look intimidating to the average person. Furthermore due to the fact that it has a mirror inside, it makes a loud clicking (or clunking) sound when taking photos, which can disturb the serenity of a scene. There is nothing more apparent than the loud mirror-clacking of a DSLR on a quiet subway.
However that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to use a DSLR for street photography. I currently use a Canon 5D for my street photography and in order to make my camera more stealthy, I covered up my “Canon” and “5D” logo with black gaffers tape. I feel the advantage of this is that it converts my “professional-looking camera” into any old generic-looking camera. This makes the camera look less conspicuous in public, and makes people feel less anxious when you are taking photos of them.
Furthermore, DSLRS have great high-ISO capabilities, which make them ideal for shooting at night without having too much noise in the shots. The 5D is infamous for having creating clean images at even high-ISO’s. I never hesitate to shoot my camera at ISO 1600 or even 3200 at night when capturing scenes with faster shutter speeds.
Furthermore, another huge advantage of DSLRs is the ability to interchange one’s lenses. Therefore, one can switch up his or her lenses once in a while if you want to shoot at different focal lengths.
Generally for street photography, I recommend a 35mm “full frame equivalent” lens.
Point and Shoots
There are currently a handful of high-end point-and-shoots on the market that many street photographers use for shooting in the street. These cameras tout larger image sensors, which gives better image quality as well as cleaner images at higher-ISOs.
The advantages of point-and-shoot cameras for street photography is that they are small, have a virtually silent shutter, and that they are unobtrusive. However on the other hand, many point-and-shoot cameras have shutter-lag, which can make it difficult to capture moving people without getting them blurred out.
Micro 4/3rds cameras are also a fantastic option in street photography, because of their near instantaneous autofocus, small form factor and weight, as well as solid image quality. Their image sensors aren’t as good as Aps-c DSLR sized sensors, but they still make beautiful images you can’t complain about.
So after my guest post on Digital Photography School for my “10 Tips for the Aspiring Street Photographer,” I have been getting a lot of love from the online photography community. In order to get to know you guys better (and for you guys to get to know one another better as well), why not leave a comment and introduce yourselves? Let me know where you’re from, how you found out about my site, and what about street photography appeals to you? Looking forward in hearing from all of you :)
When it comes to street photography, everybody has their own style and techniques. What interests one street photographer may not necessarily catch the eye of another street photographer. However in order for you to get a better grasp of what kind of styles there are in street photography, I have compiled a few elements that street photographers like to use to their advantage when constructing their images.
Play with Juxtaposition
Juxtaposition is a big and fancy word that artists love to use. If you are not familiar with the word, it simply means drawing a stark contrast between two elements in an image. One could use juxtaposition in his or her favor by creating an image that is interesting, ironic, or just plain uncanny.
For example, if you were to see a sign that says “get fit” and you see a woman eating an ice cream, that makes for an image with great juxtaposition. Or you can see a sign that says “get big” with a small person standing next to it.
I love typography. I played around with some new free font I picked up at Smashing Magazine and playing with color schemes from Colour Lovers and mashed this little piece up together. Leave me a comment below and let me know what ya think!
Whoever is looking for a bike, take this advice from my friend Miles’ step-dad. He was a competitive biker back in the day, and he still fixes bikes for a living. An amazing period, with a great wealth of information. Big thanks to him for helping me purchase my first road-bike, a Nishiki Prestige (pictured above) for only $175 (I talked the guy down from 200) ! It runs like a dream, and is in mint condition. Also it looks pretty sweet with the red tires and all.
Here is the original E-mail he sent me. Hopefully this will help other people who are looking for bikes themselves.
Hi Eric (I’m Tom),
I think we can do this, I’ll scour Los Angeles Westwood craigslist and send some ads to you so you can go out and look at bikes. The best deals are the late 1980s Japanese bikes, the ones you want have aluminum alloy wheels, but a steel lugged frame. I highly recommend Centurion “Iron Man”, Nishiki ‘Prestige”, Miyata 600 and higher to 1000, Fuji “Team”, Shogun “1000”, Univega several models with 700c wheels, Schwinn “Tempo” and a few other models made in Japan like”Prelude”
In the mid to late 1980s, the dollar was strong against a weak Yen, the Japanese were producing world class bikes and selling them in the U.S. at prices that other manufacturers couldn’t touch. This ended about 1990 and started about 1985 so you want to look for bikes from that time period only. After 1990, bikes became overly complicated and the frame quality declined as the Japanese economy was pulling ahead.
Another possibility is an American bike like a Trek, or a British bike like a Raleigh, but the chances of finding those (a good quality one)for $200 is slim. (keep in mind that all the companies made low-end or junky bikes during this period as well as fabulous bikes, so here are things to watch for.
#1 Frame tubing, The best Japanese steel was Tange #1 and Tange #2, there will be a sticker under the seat on the frame tube saying whatever the tubing is, Tange 1 and 2 are double-butted chrome-Moly and that is the lightest and strongest. Double butted means the inside diameter varies, towards the ends that need extra strength, the tubing walls are thicker because that’s where the stress is. The middles of the tubes are thin. You don’t want to buy bikes where the tubes are dented at all or repainted, original finish is a must. Paint scratches are O.K. but dents are a deal breaker.
At 5’11”, depending on leg length, I’d recommend a 56 to 60cm frame, the measurement is from the centerline of the crank axle up the mast to where the seat-post drops in. People selling bikes often give false measurements so you need to bring a metric tape measure.
Avoid bikes with 27” wheels, if the bike has 27” wheels, it means the bike is either cheap or too old. Make sure you get 700c wheels, on aluminum rims, with aluminum hubs, bring a magnet if you can’t tell the diff.
The deraillers should be Shimano, it’s possible that they could have SunTour, but those are most likely older than the time period we are looking for.
Bikes of this period have a head sticker, not a headbadge, (unless it’s a Schwinn)
#2, spin the wheels, there should be no wobble or hop, this is important, the wheels should spin for a long time, if the wheel stops after a couple seconds, something is wrong.
#3 don’t worry about bad handlebar tape or worn or rotted tires, those should be replaced anyway when you buy a used bike, you never know where the last owner’s hands have been and you don’t need gross stuff on yours.
#4 bring a 5mm and a 6mm Allen wrench, loosen the seat post and make sure it is still adjustable, same with handlebar neck, bikes left in the rain often get alumi-ferric corrosion in those areas and get stuck, and you don’t want that. The seat post clinch bolt is usually only turnable on the chainwheel side remember, one side does NOT spin. Sometimes people put the clinch bolt in backwards though, so carefully try the other side if the bolt on the chainwheel side does not spin easily.
Lately I have been trying to contact a bunch of Los Angeles art magazines to have them feature my work. One of the magazines that contacted me back was Juxtapoz magazine. I was lucky enough to get featured as their “pic of the day” on their site. Hopefully one day I could get featured in their paper-back magazine. Below is a screenshot of their site.
Hope you guys had a great weekend and are ready for the rest of the week!
Anyways recently, I had the great pleasure to write a guest blog post for a photography site called “7×5.” I wrote a somewhat easy-to-read post written very colloquially how a beginner can get started with street photography. Definitely not the most eloquent or comprehensive guide, but an interesting read I still think anyways! I got lots of great feedback on Twitter about this post at @erickimphoto as well!
So on this day, I decided I would do something fun with my street photography, which was to ride around on my road bike and take photos. I have never done this before, but I thought– hell why not. I then pondered where I wanted to go take photos, and I settled upon going to Hollywood to take some photos. I then packed my Timbuk 2 Commute 2.0 messenger bag with some water and my camera, and hopped on my bike, not sure where this journey would lead me.
When heading toward Hollywood, I decided to ride down Westwood Blvd, and headed up Santa Monica Blvd toward Century City. The first thing I passed was this awesome wall on the side of a liquor store. I hopped off my bike and took a couple of snaps.
In front of the store.
I then headed to the back of the store (where there was more dots), hopped off my bike and thought it would be a great thing to model. It is a 1980’s Nishiki Road bike and it rides like a dream. Here it is lookin all purty with the awesome art in the BG.
A vertical shot.
Another mural I saw while riding by. Discrimination? HELL NAW!
I then headed into Beverly Hills, where I saw this awesome portrait of who I believe to be, Kobe Bryant.
As I kept on biking, I came upon a car rental in Beverly Hills. Supposedly it’s “Black and White” (ie full of ballin cars)
Some cool street art I also saw:
I love the dystopia-like look of the below image.
Man, American Apparel is getting more and more trashy.
Checked out some of the stores near Fairfax.
Lots of fun.
After biking around and taking so many photos all day, I was getting pretty damn hungry. I asked one of the locals where I should go to eat, and he highly recommended “Canters,” a local deli that has been around for more than fifty years. I went, and took a seat. The waitress asked me what I wanted, and I told her what was popular. Without even flinching, she struck my menu with her stubby and muscular pointing finer, which was aimed at the Pastrami Sandwich. Quite shocked, I jumped back and said I’d get one. She asked me what I wanted to drink and I automatically said “Coke.” Little did I know that Coke was going to cost me $2.50 (damn).
Anyways, the bad boy came out. And OMG… it was the most amazing pastrami sandwich I have ever had in my life. Perfectly juicy, and so soft and meaty. This photo just makes me drool thinking about it.
Oh yeah– I also wrote an essay about “Street Photography in Los Angeles.” I still gotta type it up and post it here.
After a bomb ass meal and getting a ton of writing done, I headed down Fairfax and came upon the Supreme store. Pretty sweet stuff in there.
Biked some more, and got my favorite image of the day below.
After a long days of biking and shooting, went back to “The Lab” where the magic happens. I still have so many photos to process…but stay tuned for more fresh street photography from Los Angeles.
An old image taken by Charles Choo while we were shooting street photography in Seoul, Korea last summer. I had tons of fun with the guy, and this is an image of us drinking a beer in the middle of the day in public outside a Korean “7-Eleven.” Got to miss the good times in Korea…
About a weekend or two ago, on a lazy Saturday morning, I decided that I was going to take photos that day–although not sure where or how I was going to get there. I therefore planned that I was going to check out the LA MOCA, and then took my stuff and jumped on the first bus that I could find.
However while I was on the bus, I saw something interesting on the side of the street, and got off my bus way too early. After taking my photograph of what I wanted to, I realized that I was lost in the middle of nowhere. However I just walked around the streets, meandering where I wanted to go next.
I then jumped on another bus and got off on the metro stop in the middle of Korea-town. I never took the subway in Los Angeles before, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Therefore I jumped on the subway, still not quite sure where I wanted to go. I looked at the map, and Chinatown was on the list. I had heard lots of interesting things about Chinatown in Los Angeles, yet never had the opportunity to go. I then thought to myself, “Why the hell not” and headed toward there.
I had never been to Chinatown before, so I kind of followed where the streets lead me. However I was quite pleased to say, it was a great opportunity for street photography. The Chinatown area was very quaint and quiet–with a few people strolling in and out of the area. If you look at the below images, you will also see they have an interesting “film” look to them. I recently made a new preset based on one that I downloaded online, and I quite like the look. I feel it gives that “dreamy” look that I felt when I was experiencing the place.
Hope you enjoy this little mini-photo essay of Chinatown in Downtown Los Angeles, through my eyes.
My full-series of Jacob Patterson, a Los Angeles based artist who specializes in graffiti, shoes, and street art. A truly amazing and inspirational artist and person. I look forward in collaborating with him more in the future.
I got in contact with Jacob, and he gave me a tour of the “ThinkTank” in Downtown Los Angeles, an art warehouse he is currently building up with fellow artists. We talked, chilled, grabbed a burrito (thanks Jacob!) and I told him that I would snap him a few photos before he left. This is the product of literally 5-10 minutes of shooting.
Serendipity. One of the most beautiful things about street photography. Stumbling upon something totally unexpected, but so intrinsically unique and beautiful it cannot be put into words. All of your sensations tingling, giving all of your sensory features a feast from a thing or a place that you have never known existed.
Serendipity. A reward for being adventurous and daring. Taking the road off the beaten path. Not being a dumb tourist and following everyone else like sheep. Being a nomad; thirsting for new sights and adventures.
Serendipity. Being in the present and on the prowl, like a jaguar in the streets. Disregarding your “common sense.” Taking the “scenic” rather the quickest route.
Serendipity. Your own little jewel. Taking it and forever keeping it in your box of memories. Taking a photo of it for a keepsake and making it immortal. Wanting to share it with the world, and wanting others to experience a small slice for themselves as well.
Serendipity. Living life without a map. Spinning around in a circle while closing your eyes, then throwing a dart on the map—determined to go wherever the hell it lands.
It is not the destination, stupid. It is about the adventure.
Serendipity. Taking your time and being patient. Not rushing to the nearest attractions but appreciating the beauty in the mundane. Looking for ordinary things, rather than the large and glamorous.
As a street photographer, you must jump into experiencing serendipity. Grab nothing but your camera and storm out into the streets, and letting your curiosity lead you.
Was able to meet up with the famous Jacob Patterson over in Downtown Los Angeles, in the Fashion District where he is working on his art. Was able to snap a few photos of him. Since I’m super tired right now and cannot process all of these images, I’d like to at least give you guys a sneak peak.
“What do I want out of photography” has been a question I have been grappling with for the last few weeks. When I was still in school, I had barely any time to even practice my photography, let alone contemplate what I wanted out of it.
However now, after graduating college and having more free time than ever, I have found myself in a quite stagnant position—sort of a limbo. Having always been so busy, I didn’t know what to do with myself with all of this free time. I then started to fill up all of my free time preoccupying myself by going out and taking more photos, working more on my website and blog, as well as participating more on Flickr and my friends’ blogs. However it seems that by the end of every day, I feel unsatisfied and wanting for more.
What do I want out of photography? Money, fame, prestige? Well I’m definitely not in it for the money. I have noticed that the more my photography gets involved with money, the less that I enjoy it and it becomes more of a job than a passion for me. Is it for the fame?I doubt that I will ever be as famous as Henri-Cartier Bresson or any of the other great street photographers without being a full-blown photojournalist or anything of the sort. The prestige?Sure I love attention (as does everyone else in the world) and enjoy having my work appreciated. However, I don’t want to ever become an “elitist” of any sort, congregating with snobby photographers and self-proclaimed “artists.”
I know I want to spread my love of photography to others. I love being a teacher—especially when it comes to photography. Nothing gets me more excited than teaching the basics of photography to an eager beginner. Being one of the co-founders and the president of The Photography Club at UCLA was one of my greatest joys. I want to give the gift of photography especially to those who do not have access to it, be it social or economic reasons. Something along the lines of “Kids with Cameras,” a non-profit situated in Calcutta, India which teaches children in the red-light district photography, while providing aid and support as well.
Although being a photographer is a very individualistic practice, it is beautiful to participate in a community as well. It is impossible to say that a photographer is completely original in his or her photography. He or she will always draw inspiration from other photographers merely by looking at the photographs of others. Like what Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, bad artists steal.”
They say that money doesn’t buy happiness. To bridge this into photography, neither does the number of views, comments, favorites, or subscribers that your website or Flickr has. In real life, it is not the number of friends that one that dictates their happiness and satisfaction with life, but rather the few and powerful connections that one has with his close circle of friends. Therefore it must not be the popularity that one has with their photography which brings them satisfaction, but the support circle that they have with their friends, family, and other fellow photographers.
A photographer that only seeks fame is doomed to be miserable. It is a never-ending quest, as there will always be a photographer more talented, popular, or skilled than oneself. This is definitely a path that all photographers should avoid at all costs.
Focusing on having a relationship with a close circle of photographers is crucial. The support that a photographer gets from others is the energy that continues to drive one another in going out and continuing their photography. A photographer that walls him or herself in without any support from others is a photographer who will have difficulty pursuing his or her art.
In writing this, it seemed that my vision has been clarified. I guess to find the true meaning of my photography, I need to do what I (as a sociologist) have always known, but lost sight of. That is to create community, teach, and share.
After hours of editing, choosing photos, and syncing the music, I was finally able to put together a slideshow of my black and white street photography from Europe. With the help of my girlfriend Cindy I was able to visit Paris, Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, Prague, and London. After sorting through 40,000 photos of my entire trip, these are my favorite and most memorable images.
The soundtrack is from Amelie:
-La Valse D’Amelie
Also feel free to check out this gallery to see a (more complete) portfolio of my images from Europe.
Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
Cindy and I took the bus from Chicago to Madison, where she is currently studying foVietnamese for the summer. I stayed there for a week, and was able to meet all of her friends as well as get amazing local food (thanks for the recommendations Cydney!) and check out some of the local sights.
Initial thoughts about going to Madison: “Wisconsin? What the hell is there? Just a bunch of cheese and cows.”
After coming home from Madison: “Damn I’m going to miss this place. I wish I could have stayed longer.”
Coming from LA, Madison was a complete 180 for me. Instead of being full of smog, traffic, and crazy drivers– Madison was full of fresh air, bikes, and friendly people. Whenever walking around, I would always get friendly “hello’s” from the locals while being able to soak in the feeling of “community” that permeated through Madison.
See Madison was a bit like a bubble…but a really nice and pleasant one. It is the ultimate college town, with students taking bikes and mopeds to class, hanging out at cafes and restaurants after class on State Street, which is a huge street which connects the campus of the University of Madison-Wisconsin to the Capitol Building. Interestingly enough, cars are not allowed to pass through this area, which makes it extremely pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly as well.
Life seemed to run at a very comfortable pace in Madison. I never felt rushed or anxious during my time here. This brought me an inner-calm which I cannot put into words. I could easily see myself living there–grabbing an ice cream cone on a hot day, heading to the lake, and relaxing with a beer-in-hand, while reading a nice book with Cindy by my side.
Anyways daydreaming aside, I whole-heartedly enjoyed my experience there and highly encourage other people to go visit. It is right next to Chicago as well–so you could get a 2-for-1 experience! Anyways, onto the photos:
First place on the list: Husnu’s. A local favorite, and the first restaurant that Cindy took me to. A turkish-and-Mediterranean joint, and Cindy couldn’t quit talking about the olive oil there (which was divine).
Afterward, we went to “The Daily Scoup,” which is Madison’s most famous ice-cream place. Cindy kept on raving about the ice cream there, and it did not disappoint. Creamy and full of texture… oh man I already miss it.
Then we headed to Cindy’s dorm– where I was able to meet all of her friends and also make some food in the communal kitchen. We seriously hung out there 90% of the time, just cooking, talking, chilling, and hanging out.
While I was in Madison, I promised to meet Cydney over at Material Lives. We met over the internet and had never met in person, but we were down for the challenge! We met over at Dotty’s Dumplings, another of the local joints. It was a great pleasure meeting her, and I even documented my feelings about the experience over at my wordpress blog. Long story short, she was an awesome and amazing person, and she really gave awesome tips about Madison while we were there. She was even generous enough to lend Cindy one of her bikes!
Surprisingly enough, Madison is full of hipsters. And along with hipsters are lots of cool and trendy vintage shops. Me and Cindy were able to check out a few.. and had a great time in the process!
Getting fat at a Gyro’s joint (supposedly pronounced “Euros”– who knew that?)
Walking around State street….
Cindy and I going to eat–when suddenly it started to pour like hell.
Going to visit the Capitol Building.
Beautiful architecture inside.
Walking alongside State Street, checking out more of the sights.
A quaint little boutique shop Cindy and I came upon–full of color and life.
Words could not be truer:
Studying at the amazing library at the University of Madison-Wisconsin. They even have robotic shelves that move when you push a button!
In Madison, they have a bike recycling center in which they take old bikes, fix them up, and then paint them crimson-red and hand them out practically for free to students. Cindy was able to borrow this from one of her friends, and she let me ride it around for a day or two. Do not let the looks deceive you: although it looks broken-down, it actually rode very comfortably. A great way to check out the local sights of Madison.
One of the posters advertising their exhibit for the “Triennial” that they have–in which many Madison artists exhibit their best work.
Inside with their beautiful architecture.
Photos taken from the roof. Downloaded a few cool presets from PresetPond.com, a site with free Lightroom 3 and Aperture plugins.
A picture of the Orpheum, one of the classic old-school theaters.
More of the amazing architecture–with the light coming in.
A portrait of one of the helpful guides at the museum. I told her how impressed I was by the modern art at Madison and how it could rival some of the exhibits in Los Angeles.
What I especially loved at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art was that it wasn’t too big, but not too small. At times museums can get so exhausting because there is that obligation to check out every single exhibit. However in about two hours, I was able to check out almost all of the exhibits pretty well-indepth, with some energy left to go exploring for the rest of the day.
A cute kid who was “working” with his grandpa (in the background).
In front of the Capitol Building with Cindy, having a picnic after grabbing some Five Guys, which is one of the best burger joints that I have ever visited. The burgers and fries (imho) are 10x better than In-and-Out’s.
The Juicy Juicy Insides.
Ton of people out for Madison’s “Outdoor Concert.”
Cindy Posing outside.
A beautiful sunset on the way back to her place.
So long story short… Madison is pretty awesome. Go check it out.
Two weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of heading to Chicago for the first time in my life. My girlfriend Cindy at the time (and currently still is) studying Vietnamese at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, and after being away from one another for a month, decided to meet in Chicago. I flew over from Los Angeles and Cindy took a bus from Madison and we both rendezvoused at the airport. After that, we were able to spend an entire wonderful day in Chicago, while eating at the “Taste of Chicago“, which is one of the largest food festivals in all of Chicago which happens once a year. We also met up with my cousin Holly who lives in Chicago, and she was able to show us around Millennium Park as well as some local food places.
Anyways a quick rundown of my impressions of the city: It reminded me of a mini-Manhattan, except with more greenery and better-tasting food. I got a great vibe from the city, as it felt alive, dynamic, and full-of-soul. Also it was great to visit a place where two of my favorite rappers (Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco) are from. I can truly see where they got their inspiration from in creating their music about the city (Chi-town) that they love.
Didn’t have too much time to take photos, as I was busy eating the amazing food (the deep-dish pizza is not hype) as well as taking in the environment. However I was able to grab a few snapshots which illustrates my impressions of the city.
The next day Cindy and I headed to Madison, where I stayed there for about a week. Photos to come…
One thing that I have always wanted to do was design T-shirts and maybe have my own little “Street Photography” line. Maybe Urban Outfitters would eat this stuff up?
I always have been fascinated with design–especially typography. I still definitely am a huge noob at it, but I think that it is something that I enjoy doing. What do you guys think of these graphics that I made? Could they look good on a T-shirt?
Version 1: White
Version 2: Black
Tell me what you guys think! Leave a comment below :)
So I ran my first “Show Your Favorite Photos” mini-contest on my blog today, in which anybody could participate by uploading their favorite photos to my Facebook Fan Page. Here are the gorgeous images of the people who participated and links to their sites (if they had one).
Before you go out and shoot, you must decide where to go out and shoot. I usually go to an area with lots of people walking around. Museums, parks, or any downtown area work very well. The more people you have in a certain area, the more likely your chance of finding interesting subjects to shoot.
However you shouldn’t only limit yourself to heavily-populated areas. The beauty of street photography is that it has no limits. You can shoot photos anywhere; it doesn’t only have to pertain to the streets. You can probably find great subjects for photographs in very mundane places like the grocery market or even the library. The entire world is up for grabs.
Above all, the best way to go out and shoot is to pick a location and simply go out. Have a few places that you want to check out in mind, and let your curiosity guide the rest of your little mini-journeys. When I go out, I prefer to take an entire day walking around while taking public transportation to get to my location, be it the subway, bus, etc.
I also bring all of my stuff in a messenger bag, as it makes taking things easily accessible. I typically only carry around 2 prime lenses (my Canon 35mm f/2 and Canon 24mm f/2.8) along with some water and some food. Also just in case, I make sure to pack an extra battery and memory card along with any other random necessities I may need. However I try to always keep my bag as light as I can. Just for reference, I use the Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 bag which I highly recommend that holds nearly all of my stuff. Although it is a bit pricy, it is made out of fantastic materials and also has room to carry my laptop as well. Messenger bags don’t have to be expensive, however. There is a great deal for several in different colors on Amazon for under $20.
Once you walk, bus, or metro to your destination, just feel free to walk wherever you want. Lead yourself down barren alleys, into random stores, and toward strangers. Open up and talk to the local people in the area and strike up a conversation. Tell them about your photo journey and if they have any places that they recommend you check out. Don’t be too picky with what photos you decide to take. If something just attracts your eye for one reason or another, take a photo of it. Don’t feel obliged to only take photos of what you would consider “street photography.” Keep your mind and options open.
After a long day of shooting, go home, download your photos from your memory card to your computer, and have the fun of picking your best images, while reliving your exciting little adventure.
Something that is imperative to street photography is to get close. Street photography is not only about documenting life, but being an active participant. Therefore in order to capture the true essence of a scene, use a wide-angle lens and get really close to your participants to capture the scene and the mood of a scene. Wide-angle shots allow the viewer to be immersed in what you are shooting and “see it from your eyes.” Furthermore by shooting with a wide angle lens, you are able to capture more of a scene which gives your images better context and life.
But if I am shooting with a wide-angle lens, doesn’t that mean that I have to get close to people? That definitely is true. This may be uncomfortable to many people, but often the most interesting images are created when the subjects that you are capturing are aware of your presence and react. Getting the looks of shocked people looking straight into your camera can create images that captivate your audience—making them truly feel that they are a part of your scene, rather than a voyeur merely looking in.
Although I advocate using wide-angle lenses when it comes to street photography, I am not stating that it is the only way to participate in street photography. I know a great street photographer named Tom Kaszuba who uses telephoto lenses to isolate his subjects and get great candid portraits of them in moments of contemplation. These can make effective images which are nearly as moving. However I would avoid using telephoto lenses when shooting in the street merely because you are merely “afraid” of taking photos of people. I have noticed through my experience that it is much more awkward to get “caught” pointing a huge lens straight at a person, rather than getting caught shooting a portrait of a person right in front of their face with a wide-angle lens. The reason being is that because you are so close, people will assume that you are taking a photo of something behind them.
If you are still a bit timid of shooting wide-angle portraits of candid people in the streets, practice on your friends and family. If you don’t have a wide-angle prime lens (such as a 24mm or 35mm, which I use) but a wide-angle zoom lens, practice shooting pictures of people really close at your widest setting. This will typically mean that you are standing only 3 feet away from that person. Note how wide-angle images of people will capture their essence while pulling the viewer into the images themselves.
What are you waiting for? Get close! Don’t be afraid, and see what happens.
This is a general tip which is quintessential to photography. Like they say, you are strongest as your weakest link. The same applies to photography; your photography is only good as your worst photo. If your audience sees all your work and stumbles upon a photo that doesn’t seem “as good” as your other images, it lowers the legitimacy of your photography by a notch. You don’t want to show your audience a series of snapshots; you want to show them a gallery of your best work.
A common mistake many photographers do is have two images of the same scene in a series. Sometimes a scene can interest us and we will take several images of it, and we feel that they are all great. As difficult it is, you have to strive to only show your best image.
To determine which image is your best, try to be brutally honest with yourself and just make the decision. If you are in a huge rut, you could always ask a friend for a second opinion. I did this quite often with my girlfriend Cindy. I show her two different variations of the same image and ask for her honest opinion. The majority of the time I go with her opinion.
I know choosing between two photos is like choosing between two children. It is very difficult– but it is something that has to be done.
You might have heard the phrase “open source” tossed around. But what does it really mean? To state simply, it is a movement in which individuals wish to provide access to technology or knowledge for free to the masses. A great example of one of the most popular open source platforms in technology is Linux, which is a fully-functional operating system (created to compete with Windows) except that all of its code (as well as the entire software) is open and available to the public for free. In addition to Linux, there is OpenOffice (Microsoft Office alternative), Gimp (Photoshop alternative), as well as a plethora of other software which allows users to have access to software for free.
Piggy-backing off the idea of open source software, I am a huge proponent of “open source photography.” When I refer to photography as open source, I am talking less about the technical aspects and more of the philosophy behind it. In the realm of photography, there can be a lot of elitism amongst photographers who have the latest and most expensive cameras and lenses. This often causes many new photographers (or photographers on a budget) to be intimidated and not delve into photography worrying that their point and shoot cameras are simply not “good enough” and that they can’t get a decent photo without having a thousand dollar+ camera.
One of my visions about photography is to tear down these walls of discrimination and allow photography to be open to all, regardless of the experience, gear, or interests that somebody may have. This passion that I had inside me helped install some of the virtues to “The Photography Club at UCLA,” a photo club that me and two of my friends started. Nearly half of our club was made up of individuals who had point and shoot cameras, and they were able to take photos nearly as great as others in the club who sported DSLR cameras. As the president, I also encountered many fellow students who were interested in joining the club, but always were reluctant to join because they didn’t have a “pro camera.” However I would always encourage them to join regardless of their background with photography. The only thing I told them was required was a passion for photography.
With the boom of the digital age, photography is now much more accessible as the advance of technology has also driven down prices. When point and shoot cameras first came out with less than a megapixel sensor, they cost nearly $500. Nowadays, you could get a camera with a 12+ megapixel camera for around $100-$200 dollars. The same is with DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Refex Cameras—ie. the “pro” cameras). The first DSLR cameras that came out cost thousands of dollars, but now you can obtain a solid starter DSLR for around $500 (still not a small sum of money by any means, but much more accessible). Even for individuals on a budget, purchasing a camera is now affordable.
Getting back to the concept of open source photography, I wish to provide as many of my photographic insights to others for the pure advancement of photography as a whole. This means that I never keep any of my photographic techniques secret. I strive to share with people how I convert my images to black and white. I strive to teach people how to best utilize their cameras. I strive to spread the love of photography for anybody who has the passion for it. Furthermore, I also strive to provide a hub in which photographers from all over can feel free to share their images, their insights, and their techniques on photography as well. Hopefully my photography blog will achieve this in one way or another.
Photography allows anybody to become an artist. Not everybody is gifted with drawing, painting, or designing, but photography makes creating art as simple as clicking a button. Granted that creating a good photograph is more difficult than just clicking a button, the potential of creating a captivating image is indeed that easy. Photography allows the creation of something tangible in mere milliseconds, something that cannot be done in any other form or art. Even children with no formal training in art can pick up a camera and take snapshots of life which can move and impress adults.
I am not quite sure where this journey of mine of promoting open source photography will take me, but I know that my passion for photography is not something I can keep to myself. Help me achieve my vision and promote this idea of making photography available to all—whether it be to your friends, family, or to that nagging little cousin who always tugs at your shoulder, wanting to learn how to take photos. You’ve got nothing to lose—but everything to gain.
Here is an essay that I wrote on Street Photography that I plan on including in the introduction of my Street Photography Book that I plan on publishing. It is a bit long, but I hope you enjoy it:
The Soul of the Street Photographer
I feel that street photography is the most pure out of all the forms of photography. In all other forms of photography, the photographer is always trying to strive to take a photo of something that is out of this world; be it a majestic sunset, a mysterious creature, or a flower so beautiful that we are shocked in awe by it.
However street photography does the exact opposite.
The photographer takes what is in this world, no matter how dull or mundane, and turns it into a piece of art. The man who is sipping a cup of coffee at the coffee shop, or the woman who is carrying her groceries home, or the couple who is sharing an embrace at the corner of a crosswalk. These are all very ordinary events and we all just let it pass by our very eyes. We don’t pay attention to these things, let alone see it as something “beautiful.”
That is where the role of the street photographer comes in. He captures that one instant and makes it immortal and frames it, and allows everyone to actually take a second out of their busy schedules and contemplate on it. Nobody truly notices these moments in their lives, and with the help of the street photographer, these people start cherishing these small yet wonderful things in their lives.
The idea to look at a very ordinary scene and to interpret it in a different way is the most difficult part of a street photographer. By paying special attention to lines, curves, shadows, light, and context, a photographer strives to make this ordinary scene into somewhat of a stage in which he wishes his actors to interact with somehow.
A street photographer has very little control over his images, as he simply tries to capture little bits and pieces of everyday life which are fleeting and once they disappear, they are gone forever. All a street photographer can do is frame his shot, check his camera settings, and click his shutter. He cannot control his environment as his stage is dynamic and constantly changing and evolving. The types of people who are constantly walking in and out or the way they act with the environment or other people are uncontrollable. So to take a truly great street photograph, the street photographer has to have a little bit of luck on his side to have the ideal conditions just when he hits that shutter.
This however, doesn’t mean that a street photographer doesn’t have skill and is simply “lucky” when taking images of his photographs. Granted that whatever scene a street photographer comes upon is beyond his control, a street photographer is the one who is able to creatively take with what he has and make it into a story.
If anything, a street photographer shouldn’t even be regarded as a photographer, but rather a storyteller of sorts who is able to capture a certain scene and have the viewer interpret it in a certain way. A true successful street photograph is one that piques the viewer’s interest, and has him or her constantly guessing and interpreting what “is going on” in the photo.
However the street photographer as a storyteller has the most difficult job of them all; to tell a story without having any control over it. Compared to a writer who makes up his own stories, a street photographer must work with what he has to tell a certain story or tale.
To be a successful street photographer, one must have a passion for seeing the world and exploring all the beauties behind it. How can one expect to capture great moments in life without actually going out to the world and seeing all of these things happening? Often individuals look at some of the world’s finest street photographs and mutter to themselves, “I could have taken that photo if I was there.” But the fact is, that the person was not there at that certain moment and if that person could not truly see like a street photographer, that person would have simply let that moment pass by.
If the street photographer is not at a certain place at a certain moment when something fantastic occurs, how can he not expect to capture it? It is metaphysically impossible not to do so.
While taking photographs in the streets, the street photographer is instilled with an incredible sense of freedom. He is like a lion to his jungle and is free to roam wherever he wishes. Nobody can tell him where to go, what to see, or what to do; he simply does as he likes. Only his instinct controls him where to go next.
While roaming around his urban jungle, he almost melds and becomes part of the environment. Although others are aware of his presence, nobody pays special attention to his motives or movements. The street photographer will be able to take multiple photos at incredibly close proximities to people, without having them even notice or without having them even caring. But to walk around and not be given notice to, he must be fluid in his movements and be careful not to disturb any of the life around him.
The street photographer is also adventurous and is willing to take the path less followed with the hopes of finding a moment of serendipity and genius. The street photographer will go down that mysterious alley or up those misleading stairs while others will not. The street photographer wishes to see new things and places and is not content with staying in the same place for much too long. When he finds himself in a foreign and daunting environment, he does not react with fear but rather with a sense of curiosity and is willing to explore.
A street photographer is also more preoccupied with his photographers rather than worrying about his gear. The fallacy of many photographers is that they often chase the newest cameras and lenses hoping that these expensive tools will help their shortcomings as a photographer. Granted that a point-and-shoot camera can have considerable lag when it comes to taking photos which makes it difficult to capture a certain moment in time, a simple DSLR or even film rangefinder can do the trick. The quality of his images are not dependent on how sharp they are, but rather the intrinsic quality of composition, genius, and creativity apparent.
However the only concern a street photographer must have when it comes to the question of camera equipment is by having his trusty primes nearby. Although zoom lenses may be more practical in other types of photography by allowing photographer to use multiple focal lengths, they are not as effective as tools when it comes to street photography. Their smaller aperture and larger size make them too slow for night settings and too conspicuous for street settings.
Prime lenses also help street photographers to be more creative with their work, by further imposing even more limits on what little control they have of their scenes. On top of not having control of the people around them, they are restricted to only a certain focal length which may invite them to think of more creative ways of capturing a certain scene which may have not been thought of before with a zoom lens. For example, if a street photographer had a zoom lens and saw something interesting in the distance, he may be simply tempted to zoom into the scene which disconnects him from the environment. However if a street photographer chose to use a wide-angle lens, it may invite him to become “part of the scene” and get closer to get stronger images which really put the viewers into the shoes of the photographer.
However all-in-all, a street photographer is a lover of life. He does not discriminate and sees all people as beautiful in their own inherent ways. He constantly pushes himself to immerse himself amongst people, and not only be a voyeur but a full-on participant. A street photographer cherishes every moment that he experiences and lives, and most importantly, strives to share those little slices of life with others.
In order to see more of your guys’ amazing photography, I decided to run a mini-competition for about a week (until Saturday) for people to contribute their images, which will get featured on this blog!