I'm not really a dedicated street shooter but I've had a go from time to time.
It's already quite a tricky genre as people seem to be increasingly uneasy about having their photo taken in public. Using a 200mm lens sounds completely voyeuristic. If I want to shoot street, I tend to use 24mm, 35mm or 50mm tops.
Paul Jenkin (a late developer...)
I find that shooting street, with long lenses draws a lot of attention to you from passers by ,quite often if I'm shooting close up with a standard or wide angle lens many of my subjects tend to pretend they haven't noticed me quite often.
fmajor - I fired a S&W 629 .44 magnum at the local police range a few years ago I found it so powerful that it was very difficult to hit what you were aiming at, I prefer something 9mm like a Browning HP that I had in the military.
Last edited by benjiboy; 10-22-2009 at 10:10 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Today, I was shooting street with a Hasselblad 501CM and a 4/180 lens, a beastly combination, indeed.
Some of the shots were while I was sitting down and drinking fresh orange juice with a old classmate who is jazz pianist and talking about artists and survival. A few frames where taken while we were walking to our parting spot.
I found out that the camera doesn't make much difference when people realise they are being taken photographs of.
People have reacted to my Hasselblad, my Rolleiflex, my Olympus XA, my Holga, my pinhole and my cell phone camera. Some don't pay attention. Some stare back at you. Some few will try to get out of the shot. And the very few will respond with mild aggression.
Sure the equipment makes a difference: the Hasselblad is loud, the telephoto is huge, the retro styled cameras are weird and so on. But it is more the attitude of the photographer: if you show balls and careless indiscretion, if you keep your cool and give them a genuine warm smile as a quiet thank you, most of the times, it is all it takes. When questioned, you reply with honesty that is the beauty of one's face/lines/colors/etc that attracted the artist and that takes care most of the encounters. If one is looking for a fight, well, try your best to avoid it. I never gotten in such a situation myself, though.
A camera is always intrusive and many people will react to it, sometimes negatively. Learn to deal with it.
Real photographs, created in camera, 100% organic,
no digital additives and shit
Shooting street with a tele is unthinkable to me. It completely ruins what street photography is about; blending in with the scene and showing the environment of the subject. The flat photos people get by shooting street with a tele throw me off too, it becomes a registration of some individual. There's no sense of 'street photography' at all, the feeling is gone.
With a short lens, you can easily get it out of your pocket and take the photo. With a long lens, you have to lift the whole thing up (A combination like this would be at least 2kg, vs 500grams with a short lens), frame, reduce shake, hold your breath, shoot, and hope for the best.
I dont know if this has been mentioned before in this thread, but Henri Cartier Bresson would be able to take the photo in under a second. I have yet to discover someone that can do this with a tele.
Personally I really dont care what equipment a photo has been taken with, as long as the photo is worth looking at. There has been compelling, even iconic street work done with literally anything. Re good street work with telephoto lenses one name that comes to mind is DiCorcia, he made his famous book "Heads" with 400-600mm lenses (and remote studio lighting btw).
Telephotos will give that compressed look to your photos, typically used for portraits, and will inevitably lead you to portraity type results. Because if you try to shoot a scene with a tele and fit it all in, inevitably you will have to move back a few metres. By moving back perspective changes: say there's two people one in front of the other, you will not be able to tell who is actually closer to you just by looking at your photo. Things will look flat and compressed making it harder to convey to the viewer that sense of "being there". Its just a different aesthetic, more distanced, more remote. Just like every other photograhic tool and technique, that can be used as a means to visually communicate something. Do you want your photos to look like that? Use a tele. I dont, but others do and have produced interesting work, DiCorcia is only one of them. Its all about understanding how gear affects the final product, the photo, and making your choices accordingly.
Last edited by Spyro; 11-19-2009 at 11:19 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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My memory is that diCorcia was shooting at least 4x5, making 400-600 not THAT long. Although, frankly, isolated street portraiture is a different--maybe even opposite--genre compared to "street" in the eyes of a lot of street shooters.
DiCorcia, he made his famous book "Heads" with 400-600mm lenses (and remote studio lighting btw).