Trying Street Photography   

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Last week I wrote about my short adventure wandering Denman Street and the Stanley Park area of Vancouver, BC, with my camera.

Each morning I got up early so I could stroll Denman Street before the sidewalks filled with too many people. I wanted to try to find the kind of people some street photographers do find, but I’ll admit that I am not very comfortable with that invasive type of photography.

I am sure there are some street photographers that might laugh at my reticence at photographing people going about their life in any area, be it city street or a back alley, with their various paraphernalia of shopping carts, back packs, box houses, or bicycles. I really like the genre of street photography; I mean to say I really enjoy looking at photographs made by photographers that are good at street photography.

I think that successful street photography captures a moment from the society around us. It’s a moment in time that is an important for the present and future.

I am sure some photographers shoot for the challenge, and there are some that wander the city with their cameras as a release of stress from everyday existence, while others have a need to make some statement about the world in which they live.

I try to do a bit but I expect it will take me more preparation than a few early morning walks to get my head in the correct creative space it takes to do street photography.

I searched for some street photography tips and here are a few I found.

  1. Use a wide-angle lens.
  2. Get close.
  3. Look for juxtaposition.
  4. Focus on the essential.
  5. Look for the light and shadows
  6. Look at the foreground and the background.
  7. Tell a story.

I read that in a good street photograph it is possible for a viewer to see and maybe imagine more than the original photographer intended. Practicing street photographers capture fleeting moments, interpreting life around them, and challenging our perceptions of the world.

I have had some limited success at country fairs and city festivals in the past. This time I intended to get pictures of people going about their daily life on Denman. There is so much happening on a city street, or even within a small neighborhood, that it takes a good eye, and a fast camera, to capture it all.

Most of the street photographers I follow online shoot with small mirrorless cameras and are good at getting up close, but, personally, I would have been more comfortable with a mid-range telephoto. However, attaching a big lens on big DSLRs makes a photographer stand out. When I pointed my camera along the walk people would actually stop and wait for me, or change course to walk around me. Oh well, there will be another time and I can plan on trying again.

Wikipedia defines Street photography as ”Photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places”.

The genre of street photography is an old one and since the early days of photography there are those that have left us with their own styles of street photography that affects each viewer on an emotional level.

I welcome the comments of street photographers.

54 responses to “Trying Street Photography   

  1. Yes, really cool shots! I especially like the dog one.
    Now and then I venture into Newcastle and do some ‘street’. I don’t think I’m very good at it yet, but I do really enjoy it. Most street I see is converted to B& W, but I like colours and tend to look for them in my street stuff. It is very nice to have a mirrorless camera with a swivel screen so I can shoot from low down pretending to fiddle with the camera when really I’m taking a shot 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very enjoyable read… excellent images too I might add. I share your feelings about approaching strangers with my camera. It definitely takes some getting used to and it takes me out of my comfort zone. My best friend who was a pro had no qualms whatsoever approaching strangers. Now that was back in the old days when we both were stationed in Japan and traveled from country to country. Some of my best images from that period (1977 to 1980) came from watching his techniques and copying them. I believe it was easier then since most of my subjects knew that their image would not be widely distributed so there was less fear from my invasion of their privacy.
    Today the tables have changed… whenever someone notices a photographer pointing a camera in their direction, their first reaction is not normally a pleasant one. With social media most people do not want to be part of your digital world without some controls. I can’t blame them as I would feel uncomfortable with my image appearing somewhere without my approval. For the most part my current photography consists of the things I love to photograph the most… historic buildings, landscapes, details and the design of things and nature.
    I do enjoy my occasional use of black and white but limit it to film and not digital conversions in my camera or on my PC. I love colors and how they can change with the play of lighting so black and white doesn’t fly with me for people. My “street” photography, while living in Japan, is in glorious color (mostly Kodachrome 25) and the images speak to me with their color.
    Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Chris, I really like what you have to say. I am glad you took the time.
      When I began working as a photographer in the early 1970s in LA, my job was to document alternative education programs. That meant I spent my days photographing people all over Los Angeles, but they always knew and expected me to take pictures.
      I knew people that did street photography. They had rules, “only use a 50mm and no cropping”. Of course they shot B&W.
      These days I have stayed away from film. I am sure haven’t I used film since 2002. However, now that my wife has a Yashica TLR I plan on getting one too.

      Regarding B&W. I got an SLR camera when I was in the Army and mostly shot B&W. Although I do have some poorly developed slides I took while serving in Viet Nam.
      I was excited when NIKsoftware came out with SilverEFx. I really like B&W prints and have always printed. When I first began printing digital I was disappointed with B&W, but Epson’s pigment printers and SilverEFx changed that.

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      • Neopan 100? Neat, I had forgotten about that great film. I will hope for some good shooting weather for ya.
        I am just about to register for a camera swap meet that’ll happen on Nov. 1st in Vancouver here in British Columbia……that is a 5 hour drive thru the mountains for me (I hope the snow will hold off)
        My goal is to sell a bunch of old lenses -mostly old film manual zooms & some 70s cameras. And I really hope to find a Yashica EM for myself!

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  3. Thanks for the good thoughts for good shooting weather. I’ll post some pics on my blog when they come in. Best of luck on finding a nice EM. A very nice one just sold on eBay for around $90 US. The light meters often fail on old TLRs but having said that many are still going strong (and accurate) after 50 plus years!
    Good luck on the no snow and I hope your lenses and bodies bring top dollar.
    Regards,
    Chris

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  4. The only skill you need for street photography is keen interest in what you’re photographing. If you think a something is really interesting and you can’t take your eyes off it, if it piques your curiosity, if you’re immensely fascinated, photograph it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for you advice.
      Maybe I am making more of Street Photography than there is. However, when I look at those Photographer’s work that make an impression on me I can see all of the compositional elements that make any good photograph and a story.
      You may be right in your thoughts on Street Photography and I thank you for them. But personally, I need more depth and I always need the photographer to be telling me a story.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Salve, ho visto che hai piu’ di un genere fotografico, la street photography e’ una passione che ho e condivido con un gruppo che si chiama SPI Street Photography Italy su Facebook se vuoi postare le tue foto sei mio ospite. Vedrai il livello dei post, ti consiglio di visitarlo se la street ti piace. Bravo le foto vanno lette una per una. Possiamo anche condividere questa passione. Grazie

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    • Thanks, I expect I will continue “trying”, but truth be told I prefer looking at the creative work of street photogs like you. (and I just did)
      The stories and visual discussions intrigue me. Each different photographer’s blog brings (puts might be a better word) part of themselves into their street photography and I follow several that are all so very, very different from each other and from your work

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good reading how someone interprets such broad area of photography. To me shooting street photos is more defined by approach than content since I’ve seen so many images that feel like a street photo but are shot in the countryside or with no people (as demonstrated above). Street photography gives us opportunities for memorable pictures.

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    • Thanks deeves, Well put. I agree that “street photography” has become a very broad genre. You wrote, “street photos is more defined by approach than content” And that may be so. I wrote that I searched for some street photography tips and here are a few I found:
      Use a wide-angle lens, Get close, Look for juxtaposition, Focus on the essential, Look for the light and shadows, Look at the foreground and the background, and lastly,Tell a story.
      The selection I posted in may article we for discussion. Although I do enjoy viewing the work of dedicated “street photographers” I don’t include myself in that group.
      I really appreciate your comment and look forward to your opinions in the future. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. gorgeous images, I paint but this is truly art. I love how you think..truly. i think you may like what I talk about in my blog as well, It would mean so much to me if you would take a look and let me know your thoughts 🙂 Sending you so much light

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  8. I remember vividly living on the streets of NY and street photography was my passion. I so miss it, but living where I am currently it’s not an option. I always, always took my camera with me where ever I went faithfully.I loved your images!

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    • Skylar, in response to your questions. I became interested in the study of photography when I was introduced to the work of Man Ray. He was known for his photography, painting and being part of the French Surrealist movement.
      I don’t have a “style” by definition. Although I tend to be conservative in my approach, I change my creative approach depending on the subject and, of course, how I feel at the moment.
      Lastly, my inspiration is forever changing. You must realize that I became interested in Photography as a medium to study back in the 1970s. That has never changed.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Enman, an interesting piece, I love street photography, it is a style of photography that to be honest I never really gave a great deal of thought to, I just go out and photograph what I see. Unfortunately I only have a few images on my space because I have only just started the blog, but I hope to add more soon. I would be interested to hear your thoughts …. Karen

    Liked by 1 person

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