I just watched Dr. Strange – and man, I was blown away. I was blown away with the morals of the movie (the idea of living for something greater than yourself), the visuals (surreal), and the cinematography was fantastic.
“Sharpness is a bourgeois (rich person) concept.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
1. Softer lenses often have more soul
I remember when I started digital photography; the sharper the photo, the better.
In reality, a sharper photo is not a better photo. Often, a softer photograph gives you a more pleasing, soft, warm, and emotional aesthetic.
I want to encourage you — use your smartphone more for your photography.
First of all, what is the point of photography? The purpose of photography is to uplift your soul. To make meaning in your life; not photos.
Therefore, I believe that shooting with your smartphone is probably your best tool for photography. Why?
All photos included in this post are photographed on an Android smartphone, processed with VSCO.
There is nobody more important to photograph than our loved ones.
1. Why travel to photograph?
Why is it that we always try to photograph the exotic?
For example, it is more interesting to photograph a villager in some African tribe, than to photograph our partner.
It is more interesting to photograph a Parisian couple at a cafe drinking espressos, rather than to photograph our mother or father.
It is more interesting to photograph an epic sunset, rather than photograph our children, our friends, or ourselves.
I’m the first to admit that in the past, I gave far too many fudge ice cream cones what others thought of me, my photography, and my art.
Leonardo da Vinci was the ultimate ‘autodictat’ (someone who taught himself everything). He had no formal schooling, yet he didn’t let that get in his way. He was the world’s keenest observer— he would just look around himself, take notes, and followed his curiosity. He stayed like a child his entire life— never stopping learning, writing notes, or sketching.
He is one of the most celebrated artists of all-time, and for good reason. He was one of the first to fuse mathematics, science, and art all together. Many of his anatomical drawings of the human body were used in medical schools for hundreds of years.
A lot of us labor to be ‘original’ in our photography— but realize, everything in photography and life is a remix:
One of the biggest benefits I had studying history was this — understanding the root and origin of a lot of ideas which I once thought were ‘original.’
For example, I remember when I started to shoot street photography, I imitated Henri Cartier-Bresson. But then a lot of people said I was ‘copying’ him — which made me feel unoriginal. But when I started to study the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, I realized that a lot of his inspirations came from the surrealists, as well as Matisse, and the image which inspired him to start photography was a black and white photo of three boys playing by the water. Even his idea of ‘The Decisive Moment’ originated from a poem.
I wanted to write you a letter on the art of street photography, based on my personal experiences, my personal passion, and things I’ve learned along the way
1. Photography style
But what exactly is “style”?
For me, “style” in photography is about consistency of subject-matter and consistency of aesthetic (how the photo looks).
For example, if you want to build a definite “style” in your photography — seek to work on a photo project, where you focus on a specific subject-matter. You can focus on a specific person (personal documentary), you can focus on a certain city (your own hometown), or you can focus on a certain social issue.
One question I’ve been wondering to myself is this: is it better to have plans and goals in our photography, or to have none?
Should we just harness our spontaneity in the streets when making images, or have some concrete plan? Should we plan for the future? Should we expect things to go to plan? Should we have goals in our photography and life?