Interview with Tomas Leach, Director of “In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter”

INGH7 - Saul Leiter and Director Tomas Leach
Saul Leiter and Director Tomas Leach. Click to read more.

Eric’s Note: I am pleased to share this interview with Tomas Leach, the director of  “In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter.” If you haven’t watched it yet, make sure to catch a screening near you, and also check out my interview with him below.

American Street Portrait Interview #1: Eric Rivera, Ex-Wall Street Trader Turned Philosopher in Philadelphia

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Eric Rivera in Philly, 2013

When I was in Philly to pick up my Ford Fiesta for the Fiestamovement campaign, I met up with Chris Urie, a street photographer and journalist based in Philly. We took a stroll around one of the major parks there (forget what it was called) and we started to chat with some of the people we met in the park.

One character I was fascinated with was named Eric Rivera. When I first spotted him, he was chilling on a park bench, enjoying the beautiful weather, while puffing on a nice cuban cigar — donning his Knicks hat with crocodile leather on the bill, and some pretty fly looking sunglasses.

I approached him and commented that I liked his outfit–and we just started to chat. As part of my “America” street photography project, I had my GoPro with me and asked to interview him–so I could learn more about his personal story. What he shared surprised me.

How to Be Grateful For What You Have

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Someone will always have it better than you.

We are always tempted by what’s new. We want the newest cameras, the newest cars, the newest computers, the newest smartphones, the newest tablets, and more.

When does all this madness end? In this article I share some of my experiences succumbing to “G.A.S.” (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and some techniques I have learned from the philosophy of Stoicism to overcome it.

The Importance of Letting Your Photos Marinate

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Hong Kong, 2013

I think one of the most difficult aspects of photography is the editing process (choosing your best images). Garry Winogrand famously said, “Sometimes photographers mistake emotion for what makes a great street photograph.

Winogrand famously shot like a madman (shooting several rolls a day for his lifetime), but had the discipline to not even process his photos for a year after he shot them. Why did he do this? In order to forget the memory of having taken those shots– so he could be more critical and objective when it came to choosing his best images.

It is always easier to judge and critique other people’s photographs. Therefore one of the benefits of forgetting some of the shots you took is that you can look at your own photos not like that of your own– but that of a stranger.

Environmental Portrait GoPro POV at Kane’s Diner in New York

The story: When in New York, I stayed with my good friend Spencer (childhood friend) in Queens. Another of my good childhood friends (Aditiya) mentioned that before I left New York, I had to check out Kane’s diner— a 24-hour diner which they frequently visited.

I didn’t expect to go there– but one of the days when I was walking to the subway, I spotted it. I stepped in, checked the Yelp reviews, and saw that their Steak and Eggs were quite popular. I ordered some.

I also started talking with the waiter–who was extremely friendly. We connected well, and he gave me the best steak & eggs I have ever had (at a reasonable price).

I then remembered my new Ricoh GRD V in my bag, and my GoPro that I brought to do some POV videos during my travels. I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to ask him to take some photos.

Review of the Ricoh GR for Street Photography

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Self-portrait with the Ricoh GRD V in Detroit

Disclaimer: I have been provided a Ricoh GRD V (no strings attached) from Pentax-Ricoh. However I will try to keep this review as un-biased as possible.

Update: The new Ricoh GRD V (Version Number 2) is out, which is essentially the same camera with Wifi and some other minor changes. If you’re interested in the Ricoh GR, I’d just pick up the older one (unless you need the wifi setting).

Disclaimer aside, I think this is currently hands-down the best bang-for-the-buck digital camera for street photography currently out there right now. I love the compact size, the superb image quality and high-ISO performance, as well as the ergonomics and handling. It has been traveling with me alongside my Leica MP as a second shooter — and the camera seriously kicks ass.

While I still prefer shooting with film at the end of the day, it is an amazing camera and I highly recommend it to all street photographers who want a smaller alternative. Keep reading for more of my thoughts on the camera.

Also note I don’t really care for spec sheets and technical aspects, so I will keep this review as practical as possible for actual usage on the streets.

The Transformative Experience of Shooting Street Photography Abroad by Dimitris Makrygiannakis

Photo by Dimitris Makrygiannakis. Click to read more.
Photo by Dimitris Makrygiannakis. Click to read more.

Eric’s Note: I first came across Dimitris Makrygiannakis on Hardcore Street Photography, and was blown away with his unique vision. I love the way how he captures life through his lens, with a surrealistic flair. To see more of his images and his thoughts on street photography, check out his feature below.

Capturing the Chance Moments of Everyday Life: Interview with Julien Legrand

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Photo by Julien Legrand. Click to read more.

Eric’s Note: Julien Legrand is a street photographer based from the north of France, with a keen eye for the chance moments of everyday life. I was initially drawn to his color work– but have also been impressed by his monochromatic work. Check out his work and thoughts on street photography in this interview below.

Groom Slash Wedding Photographer: My Experience Shooting My Own Wedding

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Photo by Robert Larson. Click to read more.

Eric’s Note: This guest blog post is by Robert Larson, a talented documentary photographer based out of Los Angeles. He recently got married (congrats man!) and also documented his own wedding– groomside. If you have ever been curious how it would be like to document your own wedding, check out the article that Robert put together.

The Humanistic Street Photographer: Interview with Satoki Nagata from Chicago

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Photo by Satoki Nagata. Click to read more.

Eric’s Note: I recently taught a street photography workshop with Satoki Nagata in Chicago, and had a chance to sit down for him for an hour and interview him. This is a transcription based on recording we made. If you want to learn more about his philosophies in his street photography, and how he combines it with documentary work — make sure to give it a read. It is a very in-depth interview, which I personally think you will gain a lot from.

Also make sure to attend “Lights in the City: a multimedia presentation” by Satoki at the Harold Washington Library Center, Pritzker Auditorium at Monday, August 5, 2013, 6:00pm.

The Tao of Street Photography

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NYC, 2013. Click to read more.

A fun and uplifting book I recently read was “The Tao of Pooh.” To sum up the book, the author explains the philosophy of Taosim through (believe it not) Winnie the Pooh. Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous, but the author does a superb job sewing the two concepts together– in a language relatable and easy-to-understand for the viewer. Having grown up on Winnie the Pooh, I can certainly say that it brought the concepts of Taosim to life for me.

Similarly to Zen Buddhism, Taoism is a philosophy which was first introduced by Lao Tse in a book called: “Tao Tse Ching.” The philosophy of Taoism advocates staying calm and happy in all circumstances, no matter how difficult or arduous the outside world can be.

So what is the difference between Buddhism and Taosim?

  • Buddhism sees the outside world in a much more negative light– describing “the bitter wind of everyday existence.”
  • Taoism sees the world as “…not full of traps, but valuable lessons.” Therefore through Taoism we should appreciate, learn from, and work with whatever happens in everyday life.

A great analogy explained is the analogy of tasting vinegar. Many different people often taste vinegar, and complain of how sour it is and groan. However the Taoist would taste the vinegar and regardless of the taste, still smile. The takeaway idea is that we should turn negatives into positives, regardless of the situation.

There are lots of insights I’ve gained through Taosim and especially “The Tao of Pooh” that I can relate back to street photography. Also note I am not an expert on Taosim, so please correct any mistakes I make in the comments below.

4 Lessons I’ve Learned from the Magnum Photos Toronto Workshop

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Eric’s Note: This article is written by Neil Ta, my manager and good friend who recently attended a Magnum Photos workshop in Toronto. The project he worked on for the week was “Meat Locker.” Below is his write-up of the experience and the lessons he’s personally learned. You can see upcoming Magnum workshops and events here.

Neil: I recently had the opportunity to attend a Magnum Photos workshop in Toronto as part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, which is one of the largest of its kind in the world. For the last six years, Contact has invited members of Magnum to run workshops focusing on photojournalism, documentary storytelling, and street photography.

This year’s line-up of instructors included Magnum Associate Moises Saman and Magnum Nominee Zoe Strauss. Moises is most well-known for the work he’s done in Afghanistan and Iraq and his focus more recently has been in documenting the Arab Spring. Zoe’s extensive work is more regionally focused in the community where she was born and raised – Philadelphia.

I ultimately chose to go with Moises over Zoe because I felt his work was a lot different than my own and I hoped he’d be there to guide me through a more photojournalistic project over the week.

10 Lessons Weegee Has Taught Me About Street Photography
Photo by Weegee. Click to read more

Weegee is certainly one of the most infamous street photographers in history. Although he never called himself a street photographer (he worked as a press/news photographer) his obsession with capturing people was unparalleled. With no formal photographic training, he covered some of the most gruesome murders (and shots of everyday life) around New York City from the 1930’s to the 1940’s. Armed with a portable police-band shortwave radio, he was always on the beat for new stories to cover– and he even had a complete darkroom in the trunk of his car. This allowed him to get his photos to the newspapers as quickly as possible.

Weegee is also famous for the use of his 4×5 Speed Graphic large-format press camera and flash– which added even more drama to his gritty black and white photos. He was certainly one of the forefathers of shooting street photography with a flash (back when they used flashbulbs). He generally shot his camera preset at f/16 at 1/200 of a second, with flashbulbs and a set focus distance of ten feet (and didn’t always know what kind of photos he got until he processed them).

Many street photographers are under the false impression that shooting with artificial light in street photography is just a recent phenomenon. It started as early as 1887, in which the journalist Jacob Riis started using flash power to document destitute people on the streets. Certainly Weegee has had a strong influence on shooting flash in the streets to photographers such as Diane Arbus, William Klein, and Bruce Gilden.

If you want to learn more about the philosophy behind Weegee’s work read on.

Note: some of these photos are gruesome and NSFW. 

Curate and Sequence Your Own Custom Book at OCULI’s “HOME” Interactive Exhibit (May 22nd, 6pm, Sydney at the Cleland Bond in The Rock)

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Photo by Andrew Quilty
Oculi is presenting a unique book making opportunity during the Reportage Festival in Sydney.  
As a part of the 2013 Reportage Documentary Photography Festival and in partnership with BLURB books, Australia’s photographic collective OCULI presents HOME, an interactive exhibition where viewers are able to curate and sequence their own custom book from the Oculi Collective’s imagery.

The exhibition opening is May 22nd at 6pm and will run until June 10th at the Cleland Bond in The Rocks (Ground Level, 33 Playfair St.) in Sydney, Australia.

>> Link to the Oculi exhibition and book event

For more info about the exhibition, images, and questions to the members of Oculi, read on.

Zen in the Art of Street Photography

Photograph by Rinzi Ruiz

(All photographs in this article provided by Rinzi Ruiz)

My good friend Nicholas Susatyo recently recommended a book to me: “Zen in the Art of Archery.” In-fact, it was the book that Henri Cartier-Bresson said had the deepest influence in his photography. I have been meaning to read it for a while, so on my flight to Philly I decided to give it a go.

The book is written by Eugen Herrigel, a German philosophy teacher who went to Japan for several years and learned the art of archery (while teaching philosophy at a Japanese university). He heard about the art of archery, and was fascinated with the zen philosophy which was embedded in the art.

Radiate Magazine: Issue 4 Available!

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Cover photo by Todd Gross

I am very excited to share that Issue 4 of Radiate Magazine is available! If you love street photography I highly recommend getting a printed copy (nothing beats reading it on a Sunday morning with a warm cup of coffee). I just ordered my hard copy, and the printing and binding is superb.

In this issue there are photos by  Simon Becker, Thierry Clech, Artur Eranosian, John Goldsmith, Todd Gross, Andrew Quilty, Kay von Aspern, and Ania Vouloudi.

Read more to see pages from Issue 4 and other links!

Capturing the Melancholy of New York City: “NY Diary” by Federico Chiesa

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Eric’s Note: Federico Chiesa was born in a small town in Tuscany, Italy, in 1979. He studied commercial photography at “I.E.D” in 2005 and now works as a professional advertising photographer and retoucher. Street photography is one of his favorite vocations. See his “New York Diary” project and his thoughts on street photography below.

7 Lessons W. Eugene Smith Has Taught Me About Street Photography

NYC, 1956. Copyright: Magnum Photos
NYC, 1956. Copyright: Magnum Photos

W. Eugene Smith is one of the legends of photography. Although he was notorious for being maniacal, emotionally distant, and unreasonable– he channeled those energies into being one of the best photographers history has ever seen. I consider his approach to be very similar to that of Steve Jobs.

I hope that this article can help you get a better understanding of W. Eugene Smith, his work, and his philosophies of photography– to take your own work to new heights.

America Street Photography Roadtrip 2013-2014

(Above video: I chat a bit about my ideas for my American Street Photography Roadtrip)

One of my favorite photography projects of all-time is “The Americans” by Robert Frank. I have always had a dream of working on a similar project–to take my car and travel across America–documenting the people and places that I encounter.

I am excited to share that this dream has come true (or at least the means). Ford contacted me about a few months ago letting me know about their new “Fiesta Movement” campaign in which 100 “agents” are given a new pre-production 2014 Ford Fiesta with 8 months of gas and insurance covered. The catch? We are given fun video assignments once a month to complete (that somehow have to incorporate the Fiesta).

Documenting Coney Island for Over 40 Years: Interview with Harvey Stein

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Eric’s Note: I am excited to share this interview with Harvey Stein, a prolific street photographer from NYC. He has been shooting the streets for nearly half a century, and has recently published his book: “Coney Island 40 Years” which is one of my new favorite street photography books. Check out some of his work and thoughts on photography in the interview below.

Why Less is More in Street Photography (and Life)

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Brilliant photo by Josef Koudelka, showing how minimalism can be more in making a powerful image. NORTHERN IRELAND. 1978. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

In today’s age, we are always obsessed with the concept of “more“. We falsely believe that we need more stuff, more money, more more cameras, more lenses, more megapixels—more, more, more.

In one of my favorite books “Antifragile” (I mention this book in a prior post on the “barbell theory”), the author Nassim Taleb advocates that the secret of health, wisdom, and happiness can be obtained through less, not more. Taleb calls this approach “via negativa that we should focus on subtraction, not addition in life.

For example, nobody really knows what makes us happy. However, we know what makes us unhappy and miserable. Therefore the key to happiness may not so much be the “pursuit of happiness”– but the “avoidance of unhappiness.” I think the same applies to happiness in street photography — focusing on less, not more.

How to Direct Your Subjects When Shooting Street Portraits

(Above video: New street portrait POV video I recorded in Chicago. Chicago Street Portraits, Volume #5)

I have always been drawn to people, especially those who I find are interesting “characters.” I tend to gravitate towards people who have interesting facial expressions, to those with outstanding outfits, or accessories.

Although the majority of the street photography I do is done candidly, I have been drawn towards doing more posed street portraits of people I find interesting. Why? I find it gives me more time to interact with them, learn more about their lives, and also to take more photos of them (with their cooperation).

So once I get my subjects’ attention– how do I direct them and what is some of the psychology that goes behind it? I will share some candid thoughts (pun intended) about my process in terms of directing my subjects when taking portraits of them.

“Black Tsunami”: Interview with James Whitlow Delano about Documenting the Devastation of the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami

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Eric’s Note: I am honored to share this interview with James Whitlow Delano, a talented photojournalist whose work has been awarded intentionally, including the Alfred Eisenstadt Award (from Columbia University and Life Magazine), Leica’s Oskar Barnack, Picture of the Year International, NPPA Best of Photojournalism, PDN and others for work from China, Japan, Afghanistan and Burma (Myanmar). His most recent iPad book Black Tsunami (FotoEvidence) documenting the Japan tsunami and nuclear crisis took a 2012 PX3 Award.

James is now trying to get his “Black Tsunami” book published as a hardcover book. Check out the Kickstarter page and support this noble cause, and also check out my interview with him below.

How the Philosophy of the “Barbell Theory” Can Improve Your Street Photography

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See how you can incorporate the barbell theory to improve your street photography, like these guys pumping iron and getting stronger. Photo by Guy Le Querrec, FRANCE 1979. Copyright: Magnum Photos

One of the most influential books that read in my life is “Antifragile” by Nassim Taleb. The book is part philosophy, and part a practical guide on how to live a virtuous life.

One of the central concepts of the book is the “barbell theory.” What is the barbell theory you ask? Well, it is the concept that whenever it comes to things in life– we should approach two extremes (and avoid the boring middle). It is a concept that I have applied to many fields of my life, including street photography. I hope this article can shed a new way on how you see the world, and how you can apply this to your own personal work.

An Introduction to Shooting Street Photography With Film

So many choices, so little time. Taken in Hong Kong
So many choices, so little time. Dotwell Camera in Hong Kong

For the last year and a half or so, I have been shooting my personal street photography on exclusively film. After shooting digital for around 7 years or so, it has been a great experience so far and I have learned a ton.

When I first wanted to start shooting street photography I had a lot of fears. What if the photos don’t turn out? What settings should I use? What film is ideal? Where do I get my film processed? Or should I process it myself? What camera should I use? What chemicals do I need? The list goes on.

I am certainly not an expert when it comes to shooting film, but I wanted to write this article as a primer for those of you who want to get your feet wet (but may not know where to start). I will use my personal experiences and opinions– but of course, feel free to experiment. And if you see any mistakes in this article, please correct me in the comments below and I will revise it.

Take Your Street Photography to the Next Level in Detroit, NYC, Toronto, San Diego, Istanbul, LA, SF, Tokyo, & Kyoto!

Istanbul, 2012
Istanbul, 2012

I am excited to share that I added a new workshop to my schedule: my first charity-based (pay what you can) workshop in Detroit with Brian Day (May 10-11th). 100% of the proceeds will be going to charity. I hope this will be a great way for street photography to give back to the community. You can see more info and register here.

There are also a few spots left for my upcoming NYC workshop May 17-19th with Richard Bram from In-Public. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity.

And of course, I still have spots in my other upcoming workshops — don’t miss out!

Street Photography Workshops 2013

May 10-11th

Detroit – Charity Intro to Street Photography Workshop (feat. Brian Day) – Info & Register  NEW!

May 17-19th

NYC – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop (feat. Richard Bram) –  Only 4 Spots Left!

June 13-16th

Toronto – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop (feat. Josh White) – Info & Register

July 26-28th (*new date)

San Diego – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop – Info & Register

August 12-14th

Istanbul – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop (feat. Charlie Kirk) – Info & Register

August 16-18th

 Istanbul – Intermediate/Advanced Street Photography Workshop (feat. Charlie Kirk) – Info & Register

* (There is a 50% discount available if you attend both Istanbul Workshops)

August (Date TBA)

Los Angeles – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop – Register intent

October 17-20th

San Francisco – Intro to Street Photography Workshop – Info & Register

November 8-10th

Tokyo Introduction to Street Photography Workshop  – Register Intent

November 15-17th

Tokyo Intermediate/Advanced Street Photography Workshop – Register Intent

November 22-24th

Kyoto Film Street Photography Workshop – Register Intent

Stay Updated With My Future Workshops

Student Photo from Chicago Introduction to Street Photography Workshop 2013 by Abhishek Das Gupta
Student Photo from Chicago Introduction to Street Photography Workshop 2013 by Abhishek Das Gupta
If you want to stay updated with my future workshops, enter your email below:

The Quiet and Subtle Color Street Photography of Mat Thornton from Sunny Manchester, UK

Mat Thornton-1

Eric’s Note: Mat Thornton is a 41 year old freelance designer and art director based in sunny Manchester, UK. I first stumbled upon his work in a Hardcore Street Photography thread, and was impressed by his strong graphical form and subtle use of color. Not only that, but how much of his street photography is quiet and doesn’t involve much people. Check out this brief interview with him below, and see some of his superb color work.

How to Gain Mastery in Street Photography

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The master William Klein surrounded by students and fans, wanting to learn more about his work. Photograph by Guy Le Querrec. Copyright: Magnum Photos

I recently finished a book titled: “Mastery” by Robert Greene. The book is one of those inspirational books which outlines the stories of many famous masters and how they gained mastery. Although the book was a bit cheesy at times, I still found it to be an uplifting read, filled with interesting anecdotes that definitely gives you a huge kick in the ass to go out and to “discover your life task.”

I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from the book– and how one can plan to use some of the author’s advice to gain mastery in street photography. Certainly following these steps won’t necessarily cause you to gain mastery, but I certainly think it is a great blueprint.

Why You Should Shoot with One Camera and One Lens

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Manila, 2013

Eric’s Note: This article was first published on the CSLR blog, but I am reposting it here in-case you didn’t have the chance to read it yet! 

I first got introduced to photography when I was 18 years old. At my high school graduation ceremony, my mom gave me a little Canon Powershot point-and-shoot. I never considered photography before in my life, but I was amazed by the power I now held in my hands.

I had the power to capture life around me — to photograph those fleeting moments and make them eternal through my camera.

CUP presents “In-Public – In Stockholm” – A Street Photography Exhibition and Workshops (May 22 – June 26th)

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I am excited that a bunch of my good friends and street photography colleagues in Stockholm just founded “CUP” (Contemporary Urban Photography) to raise awareness of street photography in Scandinavia. They have partnered up with In-Public and are presenting an exhibition and workshop with Blake Andrews and Nick Turpin (May 22 – June 26th). All the juicy details below!

Street Photography Camera Game-Changer: The Ricoh GRD V

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The new Ricoh GRD V (or just the “GR”)

There are a few cameras that make me excited. The Ricoh GR-series are one of them.

Ricoh has an almost cult-like following in Japan (and all around the world) for its compact size and versatile functionality. In-fact, Daido Moriyama (one of Japan’s most famous photographer) uses the GR-series cameras exclusively (he used to shoot black and white film, and now digital GR’s). Frankly, I haven’t met a single street photographer who doesn’t like the camera.

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