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  1. #1
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Streets of Montreal

    Tonight was the last day of this weekend's big street sale on Saint-Laurent boulevard in our good city of Montreal, and I went with my 35mm to try my hand at some street shots. To my own dismay I was frankly unmoved by anything that was happening. I left the crowd to walk on the side streets, grabbed a few alley shots, and then went on Saint-Denis, the other big commercial avenue. I found some interesting window displays, and shot along a bunch of mannequins and store crap, but I could still not feel anything really happening with the humanoids.

    So for you street shooters, and especially those of you who live in Montreal, if there are, what makes you tick? What makes you react? Do you seek something or do you trust your city to impress you? Is New York the only city for street photography?

  2. #2
    rjs003's Avatar
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    mhv
    I have visited your fair city several times and found it a treasure trove of photographic opportunities. Perhaps your are too familiar with the subject matter. I know that some people think that just because I live in the Finger Lakes of New York, I must have unlimited subject matter; which is true, but sometimes I just don't see it.

    So how do I get myself out of this root? I slow myself down and clear my mind of all the other STUFF ( BS) going on in my life and start looking at the world to see it for it really is or isn't.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    ... what makes you tick?
    What makes you react?
    Do you seek something or do you trust your city to impress you?
    Is New York the only city for street photography?
    rjs003's is great advice. Seeing images in isolation from the surroundings I think often helps.
    to answer your questions ...
    1. sorry can't answer that for fear it will incriminate me .
    2. what excites me generally, is capturing interactions between people, amusing compositions of people vs back grounds or an amusing/telling juxtaposition of people. Something that tells a story, or is of interest.
    3. I normally start by looking at what the light is doing, where it is and plan for where it's going. Also if there is a special event or some unusual action of interest happening that would help 2. above. Also often look for an image that I may already have in mind.
    4. Definately not. Some of my favourite images came from relatively quiet/sparcely populated places. Though photographing in these circumstances perhaps requires different skills (it can be harder to take grab shots for example).

    Mons Cartier-Bresson once said "I'm like a bag of nerves waiting for the moment, and it wells up and explodes.... seeing is everything".

    Hope you don't mind. I've included a couple of scans of prints. The first was taken in a very sparcely populated area, the second at a festival.
    Best, John.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails St2_4_05_08sm.jpg   Mardigra_002.jpg  

  4. #4
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Hi guys, thanks for the observations.

    I get really tense when I'm in the middle of a crowd. I haven't found a way to dress or to carry the camera around without feeling that I look like a tourist. I'm much better in less crowded spaces, but I'm still to shy to ask people if I could take their picture. Not that I am a shy person, but with photo, I am. John, you mention capturing interactions between people, but that is exactly what has to be snatched away--asking for permission would essentially destroy the moment one wants to capture.

    I've been living in Montreal for nearly ten years now, and often the scenes look like the same old story. Your advice on clearing your mind is sound, RJS.

    I'm also using a Praktica SLR which is a bit noisy for a reflex, so I'll consider using my Yashica D TLR instead, which makes no noise in comparison.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    ...I get really tense when I'm in the middle of a crowd. I haven't found a way to dress or to carry the camera around without feeling that I look like a tourist. I'm much better in less crowded spaces, but I'm still to shy to ask people if I could take their picture. Not that I am a shy person, but with photo, I am. John, you mention capturing interactions between people, but that is exactly what has to be snatched away--asking for permission would essentially destroy the moment one wants to capture...
    After spending more time at it, you'll become more comfortable. When the desire to get a particular image overcomes the discomfort of being observed you find yourself pushing the boundaries to discover what you can get away with. I use a trick of moving into a situation quitely but (outwardly) with confidence and just ignore everyone for a few minutes. Then when an image emerges just take it and see what happens.
    Your comment is spot on - as soon as the person becomes aware of you taking their photo, the characteristic that attracted you will probably disappear. The moment is lost. The type of candid photography that appeals to me generally requires an absence of influence by the photographer. Non-verbal communication is important imo. I've never once (verbally) asked for permission to take someones' photograph.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Street 2_4_05_08.jpg   Street 2_4_08.jpg  

  6. #6

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    Just remeber, because of the different and stronger privacy laws in Montreal/Quebec you you have to be careful of photographing people on the street - especially if you ever publish them anywhere, including the internet...

  7. #7
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim
    Just remeber, because of the different and stronger privacy laws in Montreal/Quebec you you have to be careful of photographing people on the street - especially if you ever publish them anywhere, including the internet...
    What would be the legistlative body responsible for that? The province or the federal gov't? I'd like to read some of those legistlations.

  8. #8
    Uncle Bill's Avatar
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    MHV,
    I do street photography here in Toronto, being an expat from Montreal going on 25 years. I got to know my adapted city very well, I think the secret is just observe what's going on and don't hesitate. I took some really good shots and yes there are some other occaisons I put the lens cap back on because I did not feel comfortable with the situation. The Main and Rue St. Denis would be great spots for street photography. I would also look at Rue Cresent as well. I would also shoot at special events as well i.e The Montreal Jazz Festival and the Francaphone music festival as well.

    Bill
    "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you might just miss it."
    Ferris Bueller

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    What would be the legistlative body responsible for that? The province or the federal gov't? I'd like to read some of those legistlations.
    The Quebec Consitution/Charter of Rights has a form of a right to privacy in it, unlike the rest oif Canada.

    There was a case 4 or 5 years ago or so where a woman had street photogoraphs of her publised in a Montreal art magazine without her permission. It went to the Supreme Court which found in Quebec (like France) the Rights of Freedom of Expression and of the Press are balanced against this right to privacy. The Court put limits on how a persons image can be published or broadcast without their permission (i.e you can't just publish "street photogrpahy" type work, or use say a generic shot of a woman fighting with her umbrella in a news article to illustrate "April Showers" or such. Other things such a crowd scenes (of public importance - e.g. G8 riots) or public figures - "biker gang boss in court" etc may be published without permission.

    You can find the court decission and various discussions of it online, but the name of the case has slipped my mind right now - I think it might be Vice Versa? or somthing (the name of the magazine)...

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by tim

    You can find the court decission and various discussions of it online, but the name of the case has slipped my mind right now - I think it might be Vice Versa? or somthing (the name of the magazine)...

    http://www.robic.ca/publications/Pdf/173.08.pdf

    http://www.worldlii.org/int/cases/ICHRL/1998/63.html

    http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-sc...scr1_0591.html

    A year or two ago I read a report that snce this case, the number of actions against Qebec newspapers and TV stations has increased significantly

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