An opinion piece in the NY Daily News recently caused quite a stir after referring to street photography as “gender-based violence.” The author shares her encounters with street photographers, two of which ended in her calling the police. She even proposes a law that would “protect women against all nonconsensual, exploitative photography and videography.” As you can imagine, her opinion wasn’t appreciated by street photographers or anyone who appreciates this photography genre.
Vivian Maier is probably the biggest photographic phenomenon of 2010s. After her negatives were discovered, her immense talent was shared with the world, and there’s even a documentary about her. If you look up to her work, Frederik Trovatten has a really interesting video for you. In the very first episode of How to Take Photos Like…, he analyzes Maier’s work and tries to replicate her unique style.
While teaching a recent workshop I joked that street photography was the only genre where people would buy £3k worth of cameras and lenses and then deliberately use them to make out of focus, grainy, imperfect images. This led to a pretty interesting discussion about the merits to imperfection, and I think some of those points are worth sharing here, as it really helped contextualise some of the students ideas about their work, and allowed them to shoot a little more freely, chasing down perfection in moments rather than technicalities.
It goes without saying that if you want to get better at something you have to practice. Simple, right? The thing is, that unlike more structured pursuits such as sports or music, the idea of practicing street photography seems a bit hard to wrap one’s head around. But before we get into that, we should establish the best methodology for practice in in general.
How many people remember my interview with Eric Kim? This was a huge deal for me! I remember when I first started shooting street, his blog was one of the first that I came by. It was filled with so much information, but what was more interesting to me were the interviews he did with other street photographers. These interviews helped me discover so many photographers, Brian Day, Damian Vignol, Josh White… I could name so many. I just remember thinking, my work is going to be next to theirs… again it was just really exciting for me.
Street Photographers are not known for their reserve. We are happy to give advice on gear, framing and technique. But I believe the best photographers are those who also seek advice and look to learn from others. But not all advice is equal, and some ideas are outdated, narrow minded, or just plan wrong. In this article I am going to go question some of the advice that has almost become folklore in Street Photography, and pose the question, is it time to move on?
Figure to ground means that a subject or idea (figure) is clearly defined against a background. This can be achieved through technical means, ie depth of field, or compositional means. My preferred method is to make sure that everything in my photographs fit neatly in place. Unless elements are specifically interacting then they do not need to touch. No lampposts coming out of heads in portraits, no walls going through bodies.
Everything where it needs to be, like pieces of a puzzle.
Shooting Street Photography without a project is like food shopping when you’re hungry. You might get a few nice treats, but ultimately you get back and find there is nothing to sustain you.
So, if you’ve ever been out shooting street photography and found yourself uninspired, demotivated by not finding new material, or just not knowing what it is you’re looking for, I have the perfect solution for you – personal projects.
Coronavirus has had a huge effect on, not to mention been frightening, everyone, from “common folks” to huge companies like Sony. The fear of infection has left some of China’s cities looking like ghost towns. It’s hard to imagine a city of 24-million people like Shanghai empty as if it were a setup for a movie or a video game. But it is happening, and photographer Nicoco has managed to capture it. In her latest series titled 一个人城市 One Person City, she shows the sad and eerie atmosphere in Shanghai’s streets during the coronavirus outbreak.
I’m going to share with you 11 Secrets to up your night street photography game that I teach paying customers on our London Soho Night Street Photography workshops. Don’t worry if you’re coming to one I have many more secrets!
I love the way cities come to life at night with neon lights, the sound of laughter, street lights, reflection, shop windows, it’s a different world which I’ll equip you to not only shoot but shoot well. Before you ask, all of the images here are shot handheld on various Fujifilm cameras, mainly the XT3 with 35mm f1.4 lens which is their 50mm equivalent.