If you want to read two cute dog’s deliberately controversial (yet incredibly insightful) tips on street photography, read more:
Rinzi and I talk about overcoming subject fatigue, the famous Rinzi style and how it came about, preparing a photo trip, the perfect street shooting camera, appearing benevolent and adjusting your energy, the importance of facial expression and, of course, the ultimate zen experience.
You can see all of the past episodes from “The Shooting Street Show” below:
Charlie: A week or so ago, Brian Sokolowski posted on Facebook: “Is it me, or is there a whole lot of street-photography out there that’s set up and posed? No, it’s not me… there is. What’s the point of that? I mean if it’s set-up, that’s fine. But don’t try to pass it off as street-photography, because it’s not.” I agreed with him and cited a few photos from the HCSP group that looked staged. I’d like to expand upon my thoughts here.
Let me start by saying that, like Brian, I am not against staged photographs per se. Jeff Wall is one of my favourite photographers, and I love the portraits of Gilden – who, I would argue, is the best “street photographer” alive today. What I take objection to is deception which may or may not be a result of a loosening of the commonly held perception that street photography is candid.
(All photographs in this article copyrighted by Jason Eskenazi)
Eric’s Note: I am pleased to share this interview that two cute dogs did with Jason Eskenazi on his stunning book, “Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith“. The book is a journey through the former Soviet Union that took Eskenazi 10 years to complete. The original interview was conducted by two cute dogs with Jason Eskenazi in a bar in Istanbul, and I transcribed the audio to make this text-based interview.
In the interview two cute dogs talks with Jason about his background, what got him interested in starting the project, as well as practical advice about how he put the book together, sequenced it, and how to see more of the frame. Curious? Read on.
Ask yourself the following questions:
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, I am excited to announce my upcoming street photography workshop in Istanbul. Imagine the dusty roads with the soft golden light peeking through the sky, the colorful bazaars, the lively sound of the people and music in the streets, and the beautiful mosques covering the skyline. For those of who have never visited Istanbul, it is quite unlike any place you have ever been to—and one of the best places to shoot street photography in the world.
For this unique workshop, I will be having street photographers Charlie Kirk and Andy Kochanowski as my co-teachers. This will be an incredibly interactive, comprehensive, and hands-on workshop which will be a strong primer to anyone interested in street photography or wanting to improve their current skills.
Interested? Read on.
My friend Charlie was generous enough to provide this article to discuss how he shoots street photography with a flash with his film Leica MP. Also if you haven’t yet, check out his documentary on Uchujin’s blog!
I thought I should write a short piece about using a ﬂash for street photography. I don’t profess to be an expert on the technical side, so this is simply a few paragraphs about how I shoot and what I have learnt. I am writing from the perspective of a Leica MP user, although a large part of this will apply to anyone that wants to shoot ﬂash manually.
The Leica MP has a ﬂash sync speed of 1/50th of a second. What this means is that the shutter speed must be set to 1/50 or slower – otherwise, for complicated and boring reasons, black bands appear on (I think) the left hand side of the photo. Practically this is a limitation. The background will likely blur unless the photographer has a steady hand. I tend to try to shoot at 1/50th as much as possible to avoid this. Shooting at less will increase the blur. While some people might want this, I ﬁnd it distracting – especially in a city like Tokyo where what happens is that you will get a lot of light trails. But I’d encourage everyone to experiment.
As with non ﬂash photography, I select the ISO according to the time of day and weather. The thing to remember with ISO (and aperture) is that these settings affect the distance that the ﬂash can ﬁre. The lower the ISO the weaker the ﬂash will be. Therefore to shoot in the day a very strong ﬂash (ie one with a high guide number) is required. I use the Nikon SB900. The other problem with shooting in the day is that the photographer is constrained by the slow sync speed. Therefore, it’s usually necessary to close down the lens to f/22 to accommodate for the slow shutter speed.
I tend to want to have as much depth as ﬁeld as possible to account for focusing errors. The fastest I will shoot at is f/8, and I’ll only do this to let in more ambient light. The more closed down the lens the weaker the ﬂash power.
The general point to remember is to take a meter reading ﬁrst, setting the shutter speed to 1/50th. For example, on a sunny day:
Shutter speed – 1/50th (constrained by x-sync).
Aperture – f/11 – f/22
After this, I’ll underexpose the ambient by a stop or two for a more dramatic look. So, if the meter reads f/11, I would set to f/16.
Then I’ll enter the ISO and the aperture into the ﬂash and see what distance it gives me. For my ﬂash this will be about 1-2 meters. This means that my subjects need to be at the distance from the camera that is showing on the back of the ﬂash. If I want to take a picture of a subject that is further away, I can zoom the ﬂash, which sometimes might get me an extra meter or two.
I take the same approach at night, although I care less about the ambient light as often the background is just black sky. The other difference at night is that the ISO will be 1600.
This means that the ﬂash reading will probably be around 5 or 6 meters. So I reduce the ﬂash power to give me a 1 meter or so reading.
I’m no technical expert, but one thing I have noticed is that the ﬂash tends to freeze subjects when they are closer to the camera. This is important as a 1/50th shutter speed will not freeze them. But when subjects are close it is very important to get the ﬂash power correct, otherwise subjects will be under or overexposed. Underexposure is very common due to the inverse square law (light falls off more quickly the closer the ﬂash is to the subject).
The other point to note about the inverse square law is that it is very hard to light multiple subjects at different distances from the camera with one ﬂash, especially where the nearest subject is close to the camera. The only way around this is to bounce the ﬂash off the ceiling, use more than one ﬂash, spread the ﬂash beam (if you have that setting) or shoot when the nearest subject is a bit further away.
So that’s about it. Please let Eric know if you have any questions.
I am pleased to announce that Adrian Storey (aka Uchujin) has just put up the documentary of two cute dogs. Having met him in Paris for the Leica Magnum Event, I would say it captures his eclectic personality quite well. He is quite the character and an awesome guy to hang around with. He takes street photography very seriously, and has created some amazing photos in the last year or two he has been shooting. In addition to his love for street photography, he was one of the major contributors to the Japan Earthquake Charity Print Auction.
Regardless of all the controversy online shooting flash, you can see in the documentary how he is able to interact with his subjects and get personal with them. He isn’t sneaky with his photography, but does it openly and honestly. I also consider him one of my good friends and also a mentor–who has really pushed me to take my photography (and blog) much more seriously. Although he may come off as brash at times, he has a huge heart and is one of the most generous people I know.
And why is his name “two cute dogs”? Well he has two cute dogs.
Let us know what you think about the documentary in the comments below!
Today is the last day that I am in Paris, and I wanted to give you a few last updates. I was able to interview Alex Majoli from Magnum, an incredibly passionate and down-to earth photographer. Once I get back home, I will post the interview for you to read. Also I had the chance to walk around with JJ from Leica and take photographs, and also have a great meal of crepes with him and William Yan. Lastly in the night, I met up with Damien Rayuela, Charlie Kirk, and Alexandra Uhart with William. We had a ton of fun (and drinks) — make sure to read more to see the video and the images from today ;)
I just arrived safely in Paris and spent an entire doing street photography with my Leica M9 and 35mm f/1.4 Summilux with Charlie Kirk and my host Damien Rayuela. We had a ton of fun, and Charlie even taught me how to shoot street photography with his off-shoe flash, and I got some pretty interesting results. Read more to watch all the videos I recorded and see all the images I shot!
When it comes to street photography, I am always open to new ideas and styles. One technique I have been particularly interested in is shooting street photography with a flash. I have been very inspired by the work of Bruce Gilden and Charlie Kirk. Although this style is quite controversial, I think that shooting with a flash does add an extra dimension to an image, and isn’t quite as unethical as most people claim it to be. After all, it was Bruce Gilden who said, “…the people I shoot in the streets are my friends” and Charlie Kirk who says he shoots “…openly and honestly.” Therefore the last three or so weeks I have been shooting street photography with a flash, and with great success. I will discuss my technique of shooting street photography in the streets with a flash, with special emphasis on mindset as well as technical settings. Read more if you are curious.
I believe that getting a good street photograph is 80% balls and 20% skill. If you look at the work of such street photographers as Bruce Gilden and Charlie Kirk, you will see that they have incredibly memorable images. Why is that? It is because they get close to their subjects—uncomfortably close by most people’s standards.
One of the most popular questions I am asked by the community is how to build courage when it comes to street photography. I have learned a ton over the last several years about building the guts to get extremely close to people and take their photograph without their permission. In this blog post I will go in-depth about how you can become a fearless street photographer.