Therapeutic street shooting

Hong Kong images I saw this week. Capturing sites, views, and not to forget some healthy munchies all along. An effort at taking pictures of the people of Hong Kong. Voyeuristic? Open? Sneaky? Connecting with people or not at all?  

All in all shooting street photography in Hong Kong is entertaining. Places like Wan Chai and areas in Central are easy to discover, but there are lots of other locations that will meet your photography appetite. 

What's this?

What's this?

Let me tell you: there’s nothing quite like an idea in mind a camera and scenery like Hong Kong to recharge your creative batteries. I took my time to intensively test the new 23mm f2 lens with my Fujifilm X-Pro 2, which I've got arriving in Hong Kong.

Picking some favorite places I was wandering, breezing and meditating street photography. My challenge: limited time just for three days, and a new lens to test.  I managed to pull together a small series of street shots in a kind of Noir style which I liked very much, configuring the Acros setting to my taste. 

Walk the line

Walk the line

As it is nearly impossible to force anything, and staging life in the streets has not been on my mind, I had to predict as best what’s about to happen before your my eyes. To be observant and ready to shoot helps and is one of the most important points to use in the trade. 

After the hectic times in Mumbai, I find it kind of therapeutic, and entertaining to observe people in the streets.

A therapeutic turn 

A therapeutic turn 

Ansel Adam Quote

The quote from Ansel Adams:

 "A PHOTOGRAPH IS USUALLY LOOKED AT — SELDOM LOOKED INTO" 

You choose a magazine or browse a website and flip within looking at the photos.  Mostly for less than a second. Maybe some few grab your attention, and you look a little bit longer.  What is the difference between these photos you select and the other you didn't?  Why are some images great and others mediocre?  

If you ask different photographers, the answers are often quite similar.  The primary qualities are in various orders but are composed of the following:

Light, Emotion, Creativity, Timing, Composition, Context 

When you view an excellent photo, you get lost on the subject, the story and the feeling it most probably evokes. You don’t think about the camera, the technique or any metadata. Shooting with a Leica, a Hasselblad, a DSLR or mirrorless won’t make your photos any better. What makes a photograph a piece of art is what makes any representation work, whether photo, painting, sculpture or alike. To become a better photographer, think outside the Box. Don't only look at your scene look at its potential.

A deeper look in Hong Kong bowls

A deeper look in Hong Kong bowls

Fashion before heritage - behind the scene

Come behind the scenes at on one of my fashion shoots. Shots like this can be intense, particularly when you are on a time crunch. To be creative in time pressured atmosphere can be hard or a creative spark. The questions - how to pose your model and methods of making sure everyone’s mind is at ease should be at the forefront of your mind.

Here a little peek or behind-the-scenes look I took at a local home in Mumbai for an upcoming Publication about heritage in India.

shooting in the house behind blinds

shooting in the house behind blinds

I was contacted by a friend, about a week before.  I knew then that for the fashion shooting that I would have to look for a fresh setting and put it all up closer to the photo shoot date.  The house I choose was decorated in its style. And it was not too easy to find in the middle of such a great modern city like Mumbai. 

caught by the model

caught by the model

Sometimes you need luck, which I had, and here some images from the fashion shoot. The heritage issue is in the making.

Using the architectural settings as a frame

Using the architectural settings as a frame

It All Starts with an Idea

So you have a magnificent idea of what you want to get at a shoot?  A look, a feeling, and or a mood you want to achieve? That’s the best start! 

It’s good to have all this creativity and inspiration! Ideas concerning clothing, makeup and not to forget hairstyle will all help you to get the best outcome. 

So, who should be part of your team? Three suggestions come to mind. You might not need all but a Make-Up Artist is quite handy.

1. A Make-Up Artist (or MUA)
2. A Hair Stylist
3. A Clothing Stylist

Having a team, you now have to figure out where the best location is to take the images. The importance of this can't be underestimated, especially if you are a natural light photographer. Beautiful light can bring out the best in you and your model. Choosing the right time to shoot is as well a point to consider.

So off you go! Start to make mistakes and correct them at the next image or at least at the next shoot. Thanks to Dagmar Urlbauer the model and the helpers she organized.

No plan - just mistakes

Sometimes you might get out without a plan, and one mistake hit the next.If you planned it or if you didn't is of no concern. Taking the first shots on the day and they turn out to be a mistake let us often look closer on how to approach this individual setting. 

Would you have registered the image if nothing would have gone wrong? Embrace the potential of your error. Try to perfect it and just when you put the final touches everything might come together to get what you want.

pointing the way or pointing at his brain?

pointing the way or pointing at his brain?

Be patient and don't despair when you end with something useless. Through practice and patience, you might find order in disorder. Let some oddballs through, and your creativity will thank you.

At last, the image I wanted. Point the way

At last, the image I wanted. Point the way

Dare, daring - disliked

Dare to be disliked. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or other social groups, you might crave for public affirmation. You want to be famous and liked. Who wouldn't? But as lately shown - millions of people can be fantastically wrong. Wrong on and in different fields of life, politics, fashion, and so on.

Is there wisdom in crowds? I certainly doubt it. There have been countless of ideas which have been rejected by the masses. Only dead fishes are swimming with the tide. Go once in a while against the tide of what is popular, and you might come out as a trendsetter.

It's risky - granted. But is it reasonable to be always walking with the herd? Be original and get challenged. If your idea is good, it will survive. Otherwise, try it for some time - change is always possible.

Black is still not out - if you don't like - black it out.

Black is still not out - if you don't like - black it out.

Pursue the unexpected

If you aren't into screwing up maybe it is time to pursue the unexpected, something surprising. The mindless hunt for the perfect image is a mathematically impossibility. Do yourself a favor. Pursue the unexpected like some hipster I caught strolling by.

hipsters are ageless

hipsters are ageless

Screw up - Stand out

The dictionary definition of 'screw up' is slang and means "One that makes a mess of an undertaking; a bungler." In other words, everything which might be a disaster or a flop.

Just a sliver of light

Just a sliver of light

But what if it is deliberate and exactly as it should be? Maybe that's the time you stand out. Take the supposed failure and flip it the other way round. The thought of failure might become the key element in producing something different, eventually something new.

show only what's important to your eye

show only what's important to your eye

Observing

Be an observer is the most common way to do street photography. Just walking the streets of any city, small or large and reacting to a scene or subject which triggers your interest. 

You may be struck by the way the light is illuminating people sitting on the quay like here in Mumbai, or an interesting expression or gesture, a color, etc.  

The more you photograph people on the street, the more in tune you will be with your surroundings. Becoming so aware of life on the streets that you might kick yourself whenever you leave the house without your camera.

Finding a subject can be a headache

Finding a subject can be a headache

21st Century Bresson

In these days we are surrounded by cameras and the images taken by them. Still and moving. By amateurs, professionals and security cams. To be different, to see different, to swim on top of the ocean of pictures is difficult and reaching out for fame on the social platforms a daily struggle. If your heart is in all this, then you will be satisfied even if you might not become the new 21st century Bresson, you will be documenting the street life and have a lot of fun in the meantime.

The look

The look

I am Art

Scenes in street photography changes and alternates so quick, they are flashing rapidly, fading away hastily and it is not always possible to grasp them in a frozen memory. Susan Sonntag, a well-known American writer, intellectual and activist, made some remarks on wandering the city as a photographer in her book “On Photography” (1990). She wrote:

…the photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, a connoisseur of empathy, the flaneur …

Most of our big mega cities are full of eccentricities and Mumbai is undoubtedly one of them. Each district each part of this City is broiling with people. Each urban space differs from each other. A melting pot of individuals from all walks of life. As photographers, we are observing the happenings in the street, peeking in alleys, windows, and house floors either in or out. 

This time I pointed the camera on myself - because I am art as well.

I am Art

I am Art

Did you hit your wall of creativity?

Did you hit your personal wall of creativity? Your creativity cells have gone to sleep? Feeling like an empty sac? When you feel this doom wave rolling over you, crushing your inspiration is terrible. To fight this "Angst" syndrome,  Ted Forbes at "Art of Photography" will help you eventually with his Photo Assignments series.

A simple concept with monthly assignments to challenge your creative brain muscle. An excellent way to enlarge your photography community sharing your work and studying, learning and getting input from each other. 

"Variations," is the first in a series of assignment. So don't hesitate and have a look, contribute and get inspiration on the way in participating.

Focus - Compose - Click

There isn’t much time to focus and compose to catch a fleeting moment. Knowing your tool is essential and expecting things before they happen a great chance to catch them on camera. So taking the “P” mode on your gear isn’t such a bad idea. Shooting manual doesn’t make you a better photographer, just a better technician.

 Scenes in street photography changes and alternates so quick, they are flashing rapidly, fading away hastily and it is not always possible to grasp them in a frozen memory. It's always a challenge of seeing and acting. 

Nearly stationary scenes are easy to take

Nearly stationary scenes are easy to take

Fleeting moments more difficult  

Fleeting moments more difficult