thanks jason. it's early days yet and i don't like my results but i hope to improve over time.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
Alisha, i'm less than a year into my photography and i only got into it after shooting street one time. it might not be for everyone but for me it is really rewarding. i can walk around the city streets and not take any frames and come away with something. i get exercise, see things out of this world, meet people and feel a rush with most clicks of the shutter. most recently i've started to approach people for their portraits. 95% say yes. i never imagined that would be the case.
i've subscribed to this thread. i look forward to hearing about your experience on the street. and if you ever feel shy about it just watch this video of Bruce Gilden doing his street thing. granted you won't survive more than an hour doing this outside of NYC but still... :)
Alisha (and others):
One thing to keep in mind about most types of photography, street photography included, is that with time and effort, you will most likely gain skill at it. Each experience will teach you something more about it, and add to your list of tricks and techniques.
It is amazing how much less anxious you will feel once you gain some experience :).
It also really helps to have an identifiable purpose. Most of my street photography was done in the context of working for a newspaper. It really helped if people knew why I was doing what I was doing.
The more I study the work, and working methods, of "famous" street/documentary photographers the more I realize that those who excel in their field are gifted. Yes, hard work, tenacity, drive, luck, proper choice of tools, what-have-you, are all important elements to the successful career. But there's a special gift of getting out there, in your face (so to speak), getting the right shot, over and over, that can't be made up for by an over dependance on the choice of tools.
For myself, I have a fundamental personality trait that tends to avoid confrontation. This is a bad thing for a person wanting to "be" a street photographer. So, I dabble at it. But I know, painfully so, when I just want to take a shot, but something inside myself won't permit it. Luckily, there's landscape and scenic subject matter. :]
One of the way's I find helpful for street photography is to use my old Flexaret TLR. I can usualy set up and focus, take my time, look uninterested in what others are doing and use a cable release to fire the shutter. The other way is to just ask if the other party would mind it I fired off a few shots. Usualy the answere is no, go ahead. I've missed some fantastic oportunities to shoot some really unusual and colorful subjects because I hesitated in asking and only had a large medium format outfit with me and it was to cumbersome to set up. The old TLR is far more portable and the only attention it seems to draw is curiosity from those around me, which is a real plus as it opens even more doors. I'd rather suffer the short term embarresment of being rebuked than the days and weeks of regrets for a really great missed oportunity. Good luck.
The gear I currently use for my "street-people photography" is a Nikon F3HP (with MD-4 motordrive), and either a Nikkor 105mm f/2.5, or a Nikkor ED 180mm f/2.8 lens. I also have a nice Tokina AT-X 28-85mm f/2.8-4 lens for when I need to go wide.
Photographing total strangers as they go about their business can be hard at first, but once you gain confidence in yourself, and your equipment, it gets easier. Make your shots quick, and be unobtrusive as you can...Even IF using a camera/motordrive combo that's as large and as "noisy" as the F3HP/MD-4 is.
In the UK you are going have to be careful:
"....new laws are introduced that allow for the arrest - and imprisonment - of anyone who takes pictures of officers...."
I like to do my street photos a little discrete. Not because I "donīt dare" to shoot with a big SLR. I just think
it is easier to get the shots I want unnoticed.
I also use a little planing. Eksampel: The rain it coming down hard and I would like a pic of a beautiful lady
carrying a umbrella. I find a spot where I donīt get wet and the background is good. An old building or
whatever...Then I wait until the pic come to me, and of course I can take the pic without she is aware of it.
Hope it make some sence:-)
In SoCal a lot of folks feel it their duty to show solidarity with dear Paris by hating papparazzi. So street with a big modern-looking SLR gets you a lot of heat. But street with a shabby Zorki people seem vaguely O.K. with, and street with a Mamiya Universal people are too amused at the weird camera to get mad.
That's a very good point you raise. In today's climate, if you get in someone's face with a lot of gear, then they will automatically be annoyed. This is for several reasons, I think:
Originally Posted by Lahnet
(1) nowadays, a lot of snapshots wind up on the web. Until ~10 years ago, people could assume that in the worst case they might wind up in some magazine. But now, regardless of the quality of the image and the professionalism with which it was made, millions might see that image.
(2) some folks are also reacting quite strongly to "big brother" fears and there are cases where this is warranted. For example, some government employees worry about being recorded in the context of a street protest or such because that puts them automatically on a watchlist which could then delay (or derail) promotions. It used to be unlikely that this would happen, but now, with the possibility of facial recognition software in use even at big sporting events....
(3) the number of people who will point a digital camera (or cell phone) at a given street scene has gone through the roof. Nowadays anything of interest will be surrounded by large numbers of people recording it with all kinds of gizmos. If you happen to be the subject, then of course this could be quite intimidating. I think we've seen the effect on government officials as well, there is the fear that somebody's gonna 'capture' you, and then it'll wind up, photoshopped, in some weekly grocery rag. In this context it is a lot more reasonable for people to resent street photographers than it was 10+ years ago.
Overall, discreteness is just as important for street as it is for wildlife... we want to record the subject in a natural disposition. This is my issue with Winogrand, so much of his work (esp. later work) was borderline invasive IMHO. And if somebody sees your camera rather than your face, then of course they will react aversely.
In the end, every photographer has to assess the effect of being seen by the subject. Some may prefer it, citing emotional connection; others may prefer the wildlife-stalking (for lack of a better term) discrete approach. It's definitely a good thing that we don't all think the same way and take the same photographs.