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Discussion in 'Black and White' started by elsie350, May 18, 2012.
Please feel free to comment and provide feedback
Get in closer. Wider. Street photography is a dirty messy business.
Thanks Boid, these were shot from the hip. Will tighten up the camera wrist strap and get in there
Point of focus
I agree with Boid, for most street work the intention is to capture the individual/s rather than a general open shot that makes you ask "what is the photographer looking at?" I do not proclaim in any way to be an expert but it is an aspect of photography that I enjoy and I always try and ensure that each image has a clearly defined primary subject matter so the viewer is in no doubt about what I wanted to capture.
It is a rewarding type of photography with many challenges, not least is having the confidence to get closer to your primary subject but like anything, practice will improve that skill so I would just say - go out, get close (but not intrusive) shoot and enjoy.
Getting in close does pay off - here are 3 of my recent ones from a trip in Mar (Pany GX1)
Taking a slightly different tack, and in some ways a more general one ... when I look at a photograph I want to be able to have an understanding of why it was taken (that understanding could be verbal, intellectual, emotional or whatever) ... if it was just as a snap (lots of mine are snaps) then that's fine of course ... but sometimes I look at photographs labeled as "street" and all i see are random shots where it is hard to discern anything beyond the fact that it is a street, with some people in it ...
which i suppose is another way of talking about "intent".
I don't "do" street myself , but when I see it really well executed by masters of the genre, then the results can be breathtaking
@Kev - Have a look at some top notch street photography and see what makes the images work (our very own Streetshooter (Don) makes images that really sing ... and is as good a place as any - and better than most - to start)
Thanks Iansky, your images are awesome and I completely see your point.
Going to get some more practice
Thanks for the feedback pdh, very grateful for the advice and pointers
I really like the third photo the best Elsie, because it's interesting due to the subject interaction -- the lady with an uncomfortable look at the two gentlemen and their dogs.
I'd have probably cropped it differently -- a little less room on the left and more to the right. Was there something to the right of the photo that you cropped out?
Definitely get closer. Get as close as you are comfortable, then take two steps closer... Make your subject THE subject. Leave your viewers in no doubt as to what you are shooting, and why.
All this is easy to say, of course. Some days I can do it, some days I can't. Practice is essential. See if you can get hold of a book called "Vintage 80s, London Street Photography" by "Johnny Stiletto". It is effectively a reprint of "Shots from the Hip" which is the best introduction to street photography I know.
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Getting closer, framing such that there is no doubt what you wanted to shoot is all good advise. But be aware of cultural differences. What is completely ok in one country/region may not be appreciated in other parts of the world. A few from different places.
Thanks Armanius, there was another person slightly ahead of the lady who was looking the other way. I cropped them out but looking at it I could have cropped the left to balance it.
Thanks for the advice Lightmancer, will see if I can find that book. I'm very grateful for the feedback, can't wait to get back out and put it into practice
The hardest lesson you will ever attempt to learn is.....
Try to unlearn all that has cluttered your mind. Forget all the techniques, styles etc you have learned.
Forget what everyone, especially me has tried to drum in your brain.
It is taught by many to try to see something as if your seeing it for the first time.
I teach to try to see something as if it's the last time.
Breathe only for your next image.
Connect your eye, heart and mind and let the finger do the rest.
Everytime you do this without question, you've made a image that is the Decisive Moment.
Thanks Retow, thanks for sharing your images they're very good and I see what you mean. I find it difficult in this country to get close, on the occasions I have asked rather than shooting from the hip everyone declines, only one person said "if you must"
Thanks streetshooter, and that's great advice. I love that with street photography something is always happening, it's not planned. I hope with practice I can improve and enjoy it more. What do you think of photowalks as a means of practice?
That's what I do. Some are strollers but not on my streets. Walkers only.
It now is about observations. It's why I stress the point of the non intrusive camera. We can walk and observe and as the moment starts to form... the camera is at the ready.
That's all there is to it..... Unless your a stroller. Then, things change dramatically.
Elsie, Don's been giving me (and many others) roughly this same advice since I've known him. I know its meaningful because he's done some of the best street photography I've seen, but I have to admit I don't know quite what he's talking about. My loss.
My limited advice, for whatever little its worth, is that getting close is really important, as others have said. Try whatever different techniques seem to make sense but you have to get comfortable enough with the technical parts of the shooting process that you don't have to think about them when you're doing it - you just do it. This takes time - I've tried a number of things in the past couple of years I've been doing this street photography thing. Now it feels very natural, but I'm not sure exactly when it became second nature - it was a gradual process. But its really tough to nail the moment when you're thinking about your camera.
Once you get comfortable with HOW you can shoot and get close, the main thing, as Don has also said innumerable times, is to live for the MOMENT - watch it develop, anticipate it, get in position for it to the extent you can. Its a real dance, its improvisational. Most of us miss waaay more than we really hit. But if you keep dancing, you'll hit plenty.
The main thing is to have fun. Even in my earliest days street shooting, when I didn't have the smallest CLUE about what I was doing, there was something about the process that I just loved. That's what kept me coming back and allowed me to get better. If you're having fun, just stay with it and it'll come to you. I've only been doing it a couple of years - I'm competent but hope I continue to improve and expect if I keep shooting and loving it, I probably will. Don's been doing this for many many years (I'm not sure exactly how many, but I've seen some of his old film work and its really startlingly good). Bottom line is it takes time and committment. The rest should take care of itself. And none of our advice will matter near as much as what you discover for yourself about what works for you...
My personal take is that I find there are two different types of street photography: close-up, as well as a broader, more environmental style. I think the images you posted sit somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, edging closer towards environmental. I don't get too hung up on which is better. Each style is legitimate and has it's merits.
Close-up is more about capturing emotion or personality and composition tends to be more reactionary and based on the subject's position. Environmental is about adding context, and composition is mostly based on the surroundings. With more time involved to work with, concepts such as the use of light and shade, natural framing, perspective, symmetry (or assymmetry), or use of landmarks are the cornerstone of a good environmental street image.
To give some visual examples:
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I fully agree with Nic about environmental and up close / personal / intimate shooting. Except that I pretty much always find the personal / intimate shots much more challenging. I find the close up more challenging because it's all about the subject and the moment and the anticipating. The composition is secondary to the story and the emotion. The environmental seems easier because you find an interesting scene/composition, plant yourself there, and wait for something to happen. And something happening is often not much more than people walking through the scene. It's rare that you really connect with the person or people in those - they're almost props to give the shot a bit of life. Ideally you get a great personal moment and a great composition, but those shots are very rare and, in my case at least, as much about luck as anything. And they pretty much happen when I'm after a close, intimate shot, and luck into an interesting composition. I don't recall ever going for an environmental shot and also getting a really intimate or personal shot.
Here are a couple more examples.
Of the personal/close up:
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This shot is also close, but not personal or intimate - she's there, but the composition is what this one is about....
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Thanks Ray, I think I'll work on that so that my street photography can improve, all the advice and encouragement is a great help and it is lots of fun for sure