street photography

Disposable Camera Street Photography by Eric Kim

$5 Disposable Camera from Walgreens. My new street photography camera.

When it comes to street photography, I am a huge advocate that it doesn’t matter what camera you have for street photography. You don’t need a $6900 Leica M9 to do street photography–whatever camera you have on you will work. In-fact, there is no “best” camera for street photography, as every camera out there has its own pros/cons.

To help bring some light to the issue that what camera you use for street photography doesn’t matter, I decided to do a new project involving disposable cameras. First inspired by the Mosaic photography contest, where contestants in Beirut, Lebanon had to take photos with disposable cameras– I was quite amazed by the results. And at $5, disposable cameras are certainly cheap. Sure buying a ton of them and developing the film isn’t, but I thought it might be a fun exercise regardless.

All the images taken below were with a disposable $5 Walgreens camera. I am quite pleased how they came out (no post-processing applied):

Finding Inspiration from Edward Hopper’s Paintings for Street Photography

Recently my mother sent me a video released by the National Gallery of Art with paintings from Edward Hopper. His paintings truly show images of life from urban New York, raw and colorful. After watching the video, I saw many wonderful compositions which can inspire any street photographer. Spend the 8 minutes to watch the video–the images are truly exceptional.

Are there any other urban painters which inspire your street photography as well? If so, leave a comment below and leave us some links to check out!

Why All Street Photographers Are Amateurs

corazón callejero
Photo Credit: Carmen A

Street photographers are all amateurs. Not to say that we lack skill, insight, or vision– but that we do street photography for the love of it (not the money). Although people typically equate calling someone an amateur in a negative way, the word amateur roots from French meaning “love of.”

I know very few (if any) street photographers that make a living doing only entirely street photography. Honestly in this day and age– I would say it is near impossible. However, us street photographers try to take out every minute of our days and free time to go out and do what we truly love doing–shooting in the streets.

Having a passion for street photography for the pure reason of loving photography is beautiful. There is nothing better than wandering the streets, stumbling upon serendipity, as well as meeting fascinating people along the way. Not only that, but there is no greater joy than getting “The Shot”–rushing home–downloading your photos to your computer–processing them–and finally uploading them on the internet for others to appreciate as well.

When I realized that I shoot street photography purely for the love of it and not for the money, I tried my best to take away the temptation of making money from my passion. I knew this would only cause me to be miserable and lose the true sight of why I love photography. In-fact, I hear many photographers who go into commercial and wedding photography…they feel that photography is more of a bore and a chore than their passion. I never want this to happen to myself.

Sure I could always use a bit of extra money–but I knew that I wanted to spread the love of photography rather than making myself richer. Therefore I founded The Sukhee Chung Photography Foundation which strives to spread the love of street photography to under-privileged youth. I have already raised enough cameras for the high school class I am teaching (with a very generous grant from Jonathan Murray) and am looking forward to helping out other photography programs in Los Angeles as well.

So remember–shoot street for the love, not for the money (as my good street photographer friend Thomas Leuthard loves to mention). Be an amateur and truly bask in it. Before there is nothing more noble than doing something purely for the love of it.

Photo Essay: The People of Beirut Lebanon

During my time in Beirut, Lebanon– I was fortunate enough to meet some of the nicest and most fascinating people in the world. Not only were the people extremely cordial here, but they actually liked getting their photos taken (compare this to Los Angeles and New York). Regardless of the fact that I was a blatant tourist (I was probably one of the only few Asians in the city), people were genuinely interested about my life story and why I was “gracing” their presence by visiting Beirut, Lebanon. Considering the fact that everybody there is trilingual (speaks English, French, and Arabic), it was extremely easy to converse with everybody I met.

I will forever remember Beirut, Lebanon for not only having some of the friendliest people in the world, but also for being extremely photo-friendly as well. Considering that there are practically no laws against street photography (except taking photos of military personnel and embassy buildings), it is truly the street photographers’ dream city.

If you are an avid street photographer and looking for a new place to travel to, definitely check out Beirut. When you go there, say hi to all the people in the street and tell them that “Eric says hi.”

The Son and Father - Beirut Street Photography Eric Kim
The Son and Father

Why Street Photography Brings Me True Happiness

I Love Street Photography
I Love Street Photography
I Love Street Photography

Street photography is one of the biggest passions in my life. I spend a large amount of time either shooting on the streets, blogging about street photography, tweeting about street photography, and talking/thinking about street photography. But why do I love it so much and why does it bring me a lot of happiness?

The answer is “Flow“–as psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it. I’m sure all of you guys have experienced this when shooting on the streets. You go out and take photos, and become totally immersed in the experience and forget a sense of time or space. You can be out for hours shooting, and don’t even realize that time is passing by.

Whenever I am on the streets and shooting, I feel pure euphoria. I am out there in almost a zen-like state–simply wandering wherever I want to go, while capturing the beauty in the mundane. I meet interesting people, and I experience fascinating and new places. There is no feeling quite like it.

However the problem that many street photographers (myself included) face is that we lose sight of what really makes us happy (shooting photos) and we chase other things such as fame, wealth, or prestige. Would making a few bucks out of our photographs really make us happier? Will the $6900 Leica M9 make us happier? If we become as famous as Henri Cartier-Bresson–will that make us happier? I beg to disagree.

After watching the TED talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on flow and his theory on the matter– I am convinced that the true happiness I will gain out of street photography is quite simple and in front of me. Shooting in the streets.

For those of you who are interested in watching the TED video that inspired me, take 20 minutes out of your day to truly change your perception about photography, happiness, and life. And if you are really interested in the subject, purchase his book on Amazon titled Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness.

So my question to you guys is that do you experience this zen-like feeling of “flow” when you are shooting on the streets as well? Leave a comment below and let us know what your experiences are like!

Street Photography 101 Workshop Powerpoint and Outline

Street Photography 101 Workshop Eric Kim Thomas Leuthard

Hey everybody!

After having the time of my life teaching my Street Photography 101 workshop in Beirut, Lebanon with Thomas Leuthard, I thought that I’d spread the love to those of you who couldn’t make it! In alignment with my ideas on open source photography, I will be providing all of my slides as well as my outline to those who are interested. Feel free to use this information in any way you’d like–but all I ask is credit back to myself or to Thomas Leuthard (for his slides). I hope you guys enjoy and spread the love as well!

If you are interested in having me lead a street photography workshop in your city, please shoot me an email to erickimphotography@gmail.com. You can also contact Thomas Leuthard at photography@leuthard.ch.

Links:

Street Photography 101 Slideshare Link

Street Photography 101 Outline [.doc]

Street Photography 101 Powerpoint [.pptx]

My Love Story With Beirut, Lebanon [recap]

Beirut Lebanon

(11-17-10, waiting for my flight at 6:25AM at the Beirut, Lebanon Airport)

Beirut Lebanon
My beautiful morning view

My last week in Beirut, Lebanon has truly been a very humbling experience. I left leaving Los Angeles to teach my street photography workshop in Beirut, Lebanon with my friends/family telling me to “be careful” in Lebanon as it was still “politically unstable” and that I might “get shot” while here. Many also suggested for me not to go, but I decided to take my chances and plunged both feet in.

Featured Street Photographer of the Week: Jonathan Murray

Note: Every Wednesday, I feature street photographers with great skill and soul. For this week, I decided to feature talented street photographer Jonathan Murray. I first met Jonathan Murray on Twitter, and witnessed his great images and thoughts on his blog. Not only that, but he generously donated 11 brand-new Canon Powershots to the photography class that I teach to under-privileged high school students. Oh yeah, also feel free to check out all of the other featured street photographers of the week here!

1. How did you get started in street photography?

Burmese Karen Refugee Child, Tham Hin Camp, Thailand
Burmese Karen Refugee Child, Tham Hin Camp, Thailand
My interest in ‘street’ photography has emerged over recent years driven by both necessity and a desire to overcome my own personal limitations as a photographer.

Do you have Leica M9 envy? Then read this.

Leica M9 Money
Leica M9 Money
Leica M9 = $

Let’s admit it–if you are a street photographer and not driving a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, you probably want the Leica M9. Trust me, I want it really badly too–it has been on my mind for quite a while. But honestly, can we justify purchasing a $6,900 camera just because the camera we have doesn’t pay an homage to Henri Cartier-Bresson and all of the other street photography masters? Mind that this is not taking into account the extra $2000 or so you need to purchase Leica lenses as well. So before you plunge yourself $6,900 deeper into debt, perhaps you should read this:

An Inspirational Lesson Learned About Street Photography

Note: I got this email from aspiring street photographer named Tasos. It was quite inspirational and eye-opening. I thought I would share it with you guys!

Hey this guys shooting us! - Tasos
"Hey this guys shooting us!" - Tasos

The other day I was out, and as usual I had the camera with me.

I took a photo of 2 gentlemen. It was a great learning experience.

I shared my thought with another member on flickr who was kind enough to comment on my photo.

Here is my letter to Mary (fellow flickr(er)):

Hi Mary. Thanks for your comments.

You know this photo is very important to me. Not because of the subjects, composition, lighting etc. I am hoping to take much better photos than this one. The reason why this photo is important to me is because it taught me something about shooting “street”. I am getting my courage up shooting with a wide angle lens, and getting close to people. I think that it is important/necessary when shooting street. So I think I’m getting comfortable with that part. I practice even when the camera isn’t to my eye, by trying to hold eye contact with strangers for as long as possible, seeing if the other will turn away first (something that was hard for me because I’m normally not that type of personality). Sometimes the other person looks away first, sometimes they smile, and sometimes they scowl (that’s when you have to break a smile). Having said this, here I am in this parking lot. I get out of my car, full of confidence, and I am walking up to these guys. At first they are unaware of me and I snap a couple of photos. Nothing special. but then on the last shot, the man on the right takes notice. He didn’t seem all that enthused. I had my shot, and I moved on. At that moment I thought highly of myself as I had the shot, wasn’t timid etc.

When it came time to leave I got into my car.

The man on the right had left. The man on the left was still sitting there.

As I drove by him. He was looking at me, with a sort of questioning look, and at the same time kind of upset. I didn’t break eye contact, and he looked away first. This time I felt very poorly of myself. It was as if I had broken him. As if I had taken something from him that he wasn’t willing to give.

It was at that moment I learned my lesson.

You see, street photography (I am learning) walks a thin line. On one hand you are documenting the human condition, and you want people to be natural and unposed, unaware of you. But what happens when you get noticed (like I was)? My reaction (just walk on by), at least in this case, wasn’t the right one. I should have approached them, made some small talk, and let them know what I was doing. Instead, I felt as if I had been caught taking something that wasn’t mine.

Later that night I came home and found a link to this article titled: “People Like to be Honored.” It clarified what I had experience earlier that day (almost as if fate had it waiting for me).

Links:

Add Tasos as a contact on Flickr and follow him on Twitter!


Have any of you guys had an epiphany or lesson you learned about Street Photography? Leave a comment below and share your story with us!

How to Take Street Portraits (without being awkward)

Some may argue that posed portraits of people on the streets is not “street photography” per-se. However regardless of all these definitions, I still feel that there is merit in taking portraits of people you might encounter on the street who have fascinating stories to share. There have been many occasions in which I have randomly started talking to people and wanted to simply take their portrait as it interests me as a photographer. However one problem that many people have is that they feel “awkward” doing so. Therefore I will teach you guys some practical tips how to take street portraits without being awkward.

1. Use a preface

Shinji - Japanese Chef Street Photography
Shinji - An amazing hot-dog chef I met in Los Angeles. He had an incredible life story he shared with me.

Asking to take somebody’s portrait is a bit uncommon in western culture, although not everybody is totally opposed to it. To break the ice in asking a person for their portrait, using a preface is always a great way to make the other person feel relaxed.

My favorite preface to use when asking random people on the street to take their portrait is “I know this might seem weird, but would you mind if I took a photo of you?” In saying “I know this might seem weird,” you are acknowledging to the other person that what you are doing is against “the norm”, but it reassures the other person that you have no malicious intent. When asked this, most people shrug their shoulders and say, “Sure I guess so–why not?” Granted that you will get some people who say “no,” but I would say I find much more people who say yes.

25 Ways How to be a Bad Street Photographer

Street Photo Fail

Note: I love making lists, as I feel that they are fun ways to learn and gain more insight about street photography. Please do not be offended by this list, as they are some of my own personal opinions about street photography. However I feel that these “rules” are broad enough to apply to most street photographers. If you don’t agree with any of the points below, leave a comment and tell me otherwise!

  1. Never carry your camera with you
  2. Be “too lazy” to go out and take photos
  3. Only keep your batteries charged half-way before you go out and shoot
  4. Take photos of your subjects a mile away
  5. Make excuses that “your camera is not good enough” for street photography
  6. Be afraid of taking photos of people in public
  7. Try to imitate the styles of other street photographers, instead of nurturing your own
  8. Spend more time on internet forums than on the streets
  9. Never share your photos with anybody else
  10. Miss “The Decisive Moment
  11. Always follow tourists when looking for photo opportunities
  12. Stop taking photos in a public space when confronted by police
  13. Only take photos during the day
  14. Never experiment with your shots
  15. Be unwilling to accept constructive criticism of your photos
  16. Don’t backup your photos
  17. Be suspicious in public
  18. Look at your LCD more than you look at the street
  19. Stick out like a sore thumb
  20. Shoot before you think
  21. Only take photos of peoples’ backs
  22. Walk around in public with a massive telephoto lens
  23. Never travel to new places to take photos
  24. Run away from your subjects after taking photos of them
  25. Only capture extraordinary subjects/scenes, not the mundane
Street Photo Fail
Don't be like her

Like this list? Make sure to also check out my other popular lists, 101 Things I Have Learned about Street Photography as well as 100 Things I Have Learned About Photography.

3 Ways How Being Injured Helped me Become a Better Street Photographer

About two weeks ago, I was playing basketball and when I went up for the rebound, I landed on someone’s foot and fell my entire weight roll onto my left ankle. Then I proceeded to hear the cracks (like cracking your knuckles, except times five) and then the final pop at the end. It was a pretty serious sprain.

I then went to the doctor the next day and got an x-ray. Although I didn’t break any bones (thank God), I was going to be in crutches for at least 2 weeks. This meant going 2 weeks without shooting any street photography.

As you guys can imagine, I got pretty antsy staying at home all of the time. I felt that the streets were calling my name–and longed to go shoot.

Fast-forward 2 weeks and now I am walking with a slight limp (thanks for all the words of encouragement + prayer). I took the liberty the other day to shoot street photography, and I gotta tell ya–it was pretty damn painful. Every step forward felt like a thousand needles piercing into my ankle, and it was hard to even walk the distance of a block or so.

But as I like to think, “Everything happens for a reason.” I then noticed that although it was difficult shooting street photography while still injured, there were some learning points that I got out of it. This is what inspired me to write this post. I will therefore tell you how being injured helped me realize some points that helped me

1. Walking slower helped me capture moments I might have missed.

"After the Rain" - Santa Monica Street Photography
"After the Rain" - Santa Monica

Due to the fact that I was injured, I walked extremely slowly while shooting street photography around the 3rd Street Promenade. Although at first this was incredibly frustrating, I started noticing things I might have missed while healthy. I started to see more “interesting characters” I might have missed if I were walking at full speed. In slowing down, I started to “see” better as a street photographer.

“The Conductor” – Poem

Note: Remember that great poem that my student Edward Lim wrote about my photo, “Midnight Dining“? Well he is at it again and this poem that he wrote is on one of my favorite photos, “The Conductor.” Show him some love and leave a comment below!

"The Conductor" - Downtown Los Angeles
"The Conductor" - Downtown Los Angeles

Eyes blind in concentration,
Hands perched in the air,
The barren floor, waiting,
Instruments ready.

Hand and baton descends
Liquid notes leaps up,
Graceful with rhythm,
A grand Forté.

From the ground,
The baton leads a river
A gossamer cascade
Glistening gold

A dance of light,
Symphony of water
In harmonious key
The midnight waltz

Featured Street Photographer of the Week: Jimmy Dovholt

Note: Every Wednesday, I try to feature street photographers with great skill and soul. For this week, I decided to feature street photographer Jimmy Dovholt! The brother has a great eye and is representing the streets of Stockholm, Sweden. I remember stumbling upon his blog one day, and being totally blown away by his great eye. Peep this great bio written by him and give him a big hand as English isn’t his first language! Also feel free to check out the feature from last week with Neal Bingham.

1. How did you get started in street photography?

"Shapes & Distractions" - Jimmy Dovholt
"Shapes & Distractions" - Jimmy Dovholt

I took up photography in the summer of 2006 when I bought a cheap DSLR to go with a couple of old Pentax lenses I had from the early nineties. I realized pretty soon that I was not going to evolve quickly enough on my own, so I became a member of a large Swedish photo community.

Later that same year I shot what I consider to be my first street photograph (pictured above) and began looking for the right pool in the community to get some feedback. I found something called street photography and loved it instantly.

“Mime at St. Pancras” at Tom Kaszuba’s Crib

Tom Kaszuba is a very talented street/architecture/landscape/HDR photographer based in Norwich, Connecticut. He is a photographer that I look up to highly, as he was one of the first people who gave me a ton of support and love when I was starting off my street photography. We originally met at the Black & White Vision forum at Fred Miranda, and our relationship has been solid after that.

Recently on Twitter, I asked why people loved street photography. Out of all the responses I got, I loved Tom’s the best:

@tomkaszuba: My fave thing about street photography is making art out of real life.

To show my gratitude for his guidance through my photography and just having awesome insights into street photography, I sent him one of my favorite prints, “The Mime at St. Pancras.” He was even awesome enough to send me some photos of it hung up in his house! (That lovely lady in shot #1 is his wife btw)

Keep posted to see if you can win more photos from me ;)

Which is better? Film vs Digital for Street Photography

Film vs Digital Street Photography
Film vs Digital Street Photography
Contax IIIa on the left, Canon 5D on the right.

As of late, film has been having quite a comeback. Many photographers enjoy the “look” of grainy analog film, and many people even say that they enjoy the experience of shooting with film as well. In an article published by Wired, Charlie Sorrel states:

“Kodak’s US marketing manager of professional film, Scott pro film Scott DiSabato said that sales of color film are steady, and that black and white film is ‘doing extremely well’ He sees it as a mini-revolution, adding that ‘it almost feels that there is a very real resurgence for film.’”

Many places such as Urban Outfitters have caught upon this trend, selling Holga cameras, which are toy-plastic film cameras which give images an interesting cross-processed look. Sales for these types of cameras are strong within the young demographic, and it almost seems to be a rebellion against digital.

Holga 120s and Photo
A Holga 120s on the left, and an example photo on the right.

This leads to the question, what is better for street photography, film or digital?

This is definitely not an easy question to tackle, as both sides of the debate have their own valid points and refuse to give up any ground. However for the purposes of this post, I will try my best to give an un-biased view to both sides of the argument.

@faireunvoeu on Twitter sent me this quote from film photographer Simon Watson on digital photography:

“There is a smoothness that is so ugly & slick, it looks like a gimmick.”

In my own personal experience being born and having grown through the “digital revolution,” digital photography is the only thing I have ever truly known. Sure I remember when I was a kid and having to wait for the film from my mom’s old camera to get developed, or waiting on prints from my old disposable camera from field trips. However other than that, digital has been everything to me. My first camera was a Canon Powershot SD600, and the other two cameras after that (my Canon Rebel XT and Canon 5D) have been digital as well.

It is quite ironic, because I have been attracted to the “film look” as well. I use Nik’s Silver Efex Pro to add grain into my images as well as strong vignettes in my black-and-white workflow. There is something that I couldn’t put my finger on, but I feel that it pays homage to the old “film look” of the street photography masters.

"Wine by the Seine" - Paris, France 2009
"Wine by the Seine" - Paris, France 2009. Note the grain I added to give the image a more "moody" feel

Digital definitely has its pros when it comes to street photography. It is no secret that it is much easier for photographers to learn photography on digital cameras as opposed to film cameras. First of all, digital cameras allow you to instantly see the results of your photos on the back of your LCD screen, to check for exposure, framing, focus, and even sharpness. This takes a lot of guess-work out of photography, as with film it takes much more time to develop and process images. Therefore when shooting street photography, an aspiring street photographer will thus have an easier time learning from his or her mistakes, or even learning how to better compose when shooting from the hip.

However recently, I have inherited an old film rangefinder, the Contax IIIa. Although I have only shot a few rolls with it, there is definitely a much different experience shooting with film. I feel that when I am shooting with film, I feel much more calm, and that there is some sort of inner-peace that I get shooting with it. Due to the fact that I am not able to “chimp” and look at the back of my LCD after shooting every image, I focus more on the experience of shooting on the streets, rather than focusing my efforts on the outcome of my images.

Me shooting in the streets with my Contax IIIa. Shot by John Golden

Furthermore, due to the fact that I can only shoot about 24 exposures or so from each roll of film, I am much more selective with my shots, which makes me focus more on my framing and composition of shots, so I don’t “waste” any of my film.

However I think in the long run, the convenience of digital trumps film by far. Being able to take raw images, edit them on your computer, and directly upload them to Flickr or online is much better than having to purchase film, send it to get developed, wait, download your images to your computer, then upload it online.

The way in which we share photos has fundamentally changed. Remember back in the days when people actually shared physical photographs with friends and family, and even made duplicates for them to have? Such an experience is now foreign to the modern person, as Facebook is much more convenient.

Leica M9
The Leica M9 - The First Full-Frame Digital Rangefinder

Getting back to the subject at hand, I feel that digital is still much more advantageous to the modern-day street photographer than film. I do not discount the merits of shooting film, but with new digital incarnations of even “classic” cameras such as the Leica M8,8.2, and 9, there is a huge shift toward shooting digital. Even Chris Weeks who wrote a book on street photography “Street Photography for the Purist,” he was initially turned off by digital cameras, but upon getting his Leica M9, he is starting to embrace it much more, as said in his more recent film documentary, “Street Photography: Documenting the Human Condition.”

Street photographers–what is your opinion on digital vs film photography? Leave a comment below and leave your 2 cents!

The 5 Most Common Questions about Street Photography (and the answers)

Hey guys,

I thought about writing this blog post after receiving many questions regarding street photography. I saw it as a great opportunity to help clear up some misconceptions about street photography, as well as answer questions from many aspiring street photographers from around the world! If you have any other general questions, feel free to leave a comment below and have either me or some other street photographer from the community answer your question!

1. Do I need a model release form when shooting people in the streets?

"3 Men"- note that although the man's face is visible, he is not identifiable. Thus I do not need a model release for this if I wanted to sell this print. Also I have no restrictions in posting this online.

No. As long as a person is in a public area and not on private property, you are free to take their photo without having a model release form. However the tricky part is when it comes to selling images of people shot in public areas. If the photo you are selling clearly defines a person’s face, then you need a model release form.

Edit: In the US, you are allowed to sell a recognizable photo of someone on the street as a work of art. What you are not allowed to do is to sell it for commercial photography — that is to say, photos being used to sell a product. This would prevent the sale of photos of a recognizable person to (let’s say) a stock photo service, but not as a work of art, or photojournalistic purposes.

Relevant reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nussenzweig_v._DiCorcia

-Thanks Brandon!

3 Tips How NOT to Look Like a “Creep” when Shooting in the Streets

Don't look like this guy.

One of the questions that I often get from aspiring street photographers is, “How do I not look like a ‘creep’ when shooting in public?” I believe that this is one of the main factors which bars many photographers from getting their feet wet with street photography. In many societies, taking photos of strangers on the street is definitely not the “norm,” and can be interpreted as offensive to many. However although a photographer may feel like a “creep” when shooting in public, he most likely isn’t.

Street photographers try to capture the beauty in everyday-life, and attempt to journal their life through their lens. The term “creep” implies that the person is shooting strangers for some ill or mischievous reason.

In order not to look like a “creep” in the streets, you must first change your mindset that you are not a creep. In thinking that you are being “creepy” by shooting random strangers in the street, your body language will show it as well. Your movement in the streets will be erratic, your eyes will be shifty, and you will make other people feel uncomfortable. It is sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy in this way, therefore it is important for you to shift your frame of mind.

If you constantly tell yourself, “I am a street photographer there to capture the beauty in the mundane and I mean nobody ill will,” thoughts of being a creeper will disappear over time. Granted that every street photographer will have a difficult time doing so, the more you do it, the less awkward it will be.

In order to help you get over that feeling of being a “creep in the streets,” I will give you three quick tips on how not to look like a creeper when shooting street photography.

The Ultimate Aspiring Street Photographer Resource Post

This post was originally posted here by Neal Bingham, but I thought I’d repost it here to share it with the rest of you guys. A great resource for any aspiring street photographer. Please pass it on! Also follow Neal on Twitter!

I thought it would be useful to create a topic where people can share links to resources – whether that’s tips for beginners on how to get started, interesting articles found elsewhere on the web, or just amazing examples of street photography to give us all a bit of inspiration.

For starters:

Websites:

In-Public – collective of modern street photographers:
www.in-public.com/

Photographer Not a Terrorist – a movement dedicated to defending the right to photograph in public – find out more about your rights here (UK only)
photographernotaterrorist.org/

Magnum Photos – legendary photo agency founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and others:
www.magnumphotos.com/

Articles:

Michael David Murphy’s invaluable ‘Ways of working’ guide:
2point8.whileseated.org/wow-footer/

A view from photographer Nick Turpin on the relationships between street photography, fine art photography and photojournalism:
www.sevensevennine.com/?p=429

Opinion and discussion: 99% of street photography is crap:
blakeandrews.blogspot.com/2009/09/streetwise.html

Street photography for the purist – free ebook by photographer Chris Weeks:
www.e-booksdirectory.com/details.php?ebook=270

Videos:

NYC street shooter Joe Wigfall in action, demonstrating how he ‘sees with his hands’ to capture candid moments without interfering with the scene:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-IOEAlBpSo

Documenting the Human Condition – documentary discussing street photography and the rangefinder camera:
Part 1: vimeo.com/6497905
Part 2: vimeo.com/6502390
Part 3: vimeo.com/6504591

Please feel free to share any other relevant or useful links below!

How to Shoot from the Hip

Pushing Along Shooting From the Hip Street Photography
Via http://www.fortysixtyphoto.com/shop/

In street photography, one of the popular techniques that photographers employ is “shooting from the hip.” To sum it up, “shooting from the hip” it is holding your camera at wait-level, and shooting upwards without looking through the viewfinder. One of the reasons why this technique is widely popular is because it allows you to take much more candid images of people, as they do not see you shooting them with your eye through your viewfinder, and assume you aren’t taking images. Another thing is that when shooting from the hip, you often get a much more interesting perspective as you shoot from a much lower perspective.

Although there are some individuals who are opposed to shooting from the hip and consider it as the “easy way out,” simply disregard their words. As you will soon find out, framing while shooting from the hip is very difficult when starting off. For every 100 shots you take shooting from the hip, you will probably only get 5-10 or so “decently” framed images.

Although I do not use shooting from the hip as my primary type of street photography, I will try my best to walk you through how you can effectively shoot from the hip and get amazing candid images of people.

The Death of Street Photography (and what you can do to stop it)

Lately on the web, there has been a ton of buzz about the phobia that people are having about street photographers. We have been called creepers, pedophiles, and even in some cases, terrorists (as the TSA would like the public to think). Is all this anti-photographer sentiment leading to the death of street photography as we know it?

TSA Poster Street Photographer Illegal
I don't wear hoodies when doing photography in public.

101 Things I Have Learned about Street Photography

Smile

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.

101 Things I Have Learned from Street Photography

KOREA GOT SEOUL – Black and White Street Photography from Korea

KOREA GOT SEOUL - Black and White Street Photography by Eric Kim

Hey fotog friends,

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.

The Best Camera for Street Photography

Leica M9
This is the best camera for street photography.
This is the best camera for street 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

Leica M9

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.

DSLRS

Canon 5D

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.

"The Corridor" - Shot by me with my Canon 5D in Prague.
“The Corridor” – Shot by me with my Canon 5D in Prague.

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.

"Sunflower" - Shot by me and my 5-year old Canon Powershot SD600
“Sunflower” – Shot by me and my 5-year old Canon Powershot SD600

Micro 4/3rds

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.

Learn more about street photography equipment

Check out my newest and up to date recommendations on cameras for street photography here: Recommended equipment for street photography >>

The Top 4 Street Photography Techniques

"Skating" - Paris, France.

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

"Skating" - Paris, France.
"Skating" - Paris, France.

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.

“Dots” Feature on Juxtapoz Magazine

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.

Eric Kim "Dots" - Juxtapoz Magazine Pic of the Day
Eric Kim "Dots" - Juxtapoz Magazine Pic of the Day
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