Street or contemporary photography

 The way to go

The way to go

Street Photography is a term I don’t like very much even if I use it at some work shops for my Hanoi Photography Club. In my opinion Garry Winogrand put it in the right sense as he pointed out that the term is kind of an ad absurdum. He didn’t use this example but if Street Photography is about Photography in the Streets, is Photography in the tube, Tube Photography?

All in all the democratisation of photography due to easy gear access as well of its quality is perfect for everyone interested in photography. As more and more photographers go out and shoot most times the easiest target, which seems to be the nearby streets a playground for most of the new photographers, you can find thousands of images labeled "street photographs". 

At this point the democratisation didn't help this genre not very much. Nearly all newbies misunderstand the idea about Street Photography and their approach it is just not right in my opinion. But the term "street photography" on its own is hard to describe. There are so many different views about it. It gets even more difficult to isolate the extent of street photography if you ask photographers from different countries and ethnics.

Most assume that it is about the location ‘Street’, but in my opinion it should just be seen as an ‘approach’ to this genre. Images taken in places where there is public live should be valid as well. Photography of the ordinary and contemporary life at large should be included in my opinion.

 Relaxing in the train

Relaxing in the train

The style and method of this genre various a lot as well. Since the beginning of photography many photographers have taken advantage of discretely picturing and revealing intimate moments of life between work, home and commuting in between as well as shooting it very open, depending on their style or gear. Images that show humans reading, sleeping, staring, thinking and lately especially engaged with their tablets and phones can be found in multitude on the web. 

Searching and looking at work from the more popular photographers who made their effort in documenting people I am obviously not the first to be drawn to making pictures of people in transit and movement, my latest project. Studying all these images in transit I am not the first to notice that in this time of anonymity you can picture passengers, bystanders and shoppers in scenes that are picturing contemporary live ver easy.

Good examples of well known photographers are Walker Evans, Michael Wolf, Nick Turpin and many more just to list some better known image artists. I like the quote from Evans who liked to catch his subjects disguised. He said something along this line: “The guard is down and the mask is off”. 

My fellow photographer Michael Wolf has a body of work focusing on life in mega cities. One of his  projects has been shot in Tokyo. Here he marvellous pictured under others the compression of passengers on the Subway packed and pushed during the rush hour in the tube cubicles. This is something you should check out.

There is by any chance someone or somebody else who has inevitably been doing something similar before. Nevertheless I try to show that even if that is the case I take my own individual approach and vision to this diverse theme.

As our gear gets better and better there is as well an all embracing bound - PERFECTION . Everyone of us strive for it in our images. Perfect exposure. Perfect composition. Perfect sharpness. But, street photography actually isn’t about perfection. At it’s core it is about capturing life. And that is, as everyone knows, far from perfection.

In my opinion it is a good thing to go first and foremost to the style that works for you, when in the Streets you have to listen to the beat and rhythm until you might here your inner voice shouting: “HERE!!! Shoot” and press the trigger. When you make up your mind try to focus on what’s important for you and what you see and feel in this moment: AND CLICK.

 Emotional

Emotional

If your are not impressed by your own work who else would be? Try to get the image you have in your mind and not alone the perfect reality. If is not good enough, you are not close enough - a phrase you hear often quoted by Robert Capa. It seems to be some Street photographer’s creed. But be aware that the physical closeness to subjects won’t get you better results, it just creates a different  point of view. Close means more your feeling and staying true to your ideas. If you are true to your style than this might show in your images as well and they will transform in a way showing your closeness to your audience as well. 

 Who is waldo but interesting I think as masses are concerned

Who is waldo but interesting I think as masses are concerned

Stay away from "Who's Waldo Images". Who's Waldo Images in my opinion are photos which show everything and nothing. There is to much information in it. Simplicity might be the key. If you show less you the better it is. Plus limitation is said to produce creativity. This simplicity and plain approach is as well a good idea in regard of your gear you take.  You even won’t look like a photographer, more like a tourist and that will give you more chances taking photos in an unobtrusive way. Today's humans are very much aware of any camera, if something looks like a toy, they won’t care as much as if you would bring your big telephoto lens.

On the other hands I like to go out as well with some really old vintage gear. Most of the time if I like to take portraits. It's a great way to lure strangers into conversations and able to convince them to pose for a portrait.

Anyway you approach your kind of photography just do it. Here some of my contemporary images of life in different states of transition. Images taken with digital and analog cameras post processed in Lightroom (cameras used are Sony A7s, Leica M2, Mamiya 330c and Hasselblad 500cm. Hope you like some and any constructive comments are welcome!

Alternative scanning

Usuperana (perar) japanese for flimsy