When I first started photography, I did what most people do. Lots of landscape photography in saturated color, surreal contrast and composition, as if what I see with my eyes is not interesting enough, always needed the extra boost. For the longest time I never liked to photograph people much, one being I am not a people person, secondly people come and go in your life and a lot of times not on a good note.
However, years goes by, I get bored doing all the landscape and waterscape, because quite frankly, I am very good at it. It’s almost like you passed the test and after that it became less interesting. Besides you will run out of landscape unless you travel a lot. That’s when I decided to try my hands on photographing strangers on the street – street photography.
At first, I do not have a clue on how I should look at street photography. It was just something new to try. Do I go around and photograph every strangers on the street pointlessly, and hopefully they did interesting things in the frame while it has very nice tone? At first that seems to be the case. But after awhile I figured out the purpose.
Street Photography should be documenting people, with emotions in the photo. I am not talking about purely the emotion expressed on the faces in the photograph, its the emotion, thoughts and feelings that comes to the viewer when they’re viewing the photograph. Initial visual impact is not the only key ingredient anymore, although proper framing , exposure and tonality does helps a lot to make the photo to set itself even further apart. Everybody on the street are equal, as long as I see something interesting that I can connect, either its happy, sad, funny, somebody who happened to walk into great light, or something I’d like to introduce to you, I will try my best to photograph it. Street photography is never meant to be strictly picking on specific group of people such as the less fortunate, or pointlessly sticking your camera right 3 inches in front of peoples faces, which I find the later very disturbing.
Street Photography is challenging. First you have to be a good observer, then you have to be quick on adapting the ever changing lighting on the street or inside buildings, plus you have to focus and compose, and then hopefully you won’t mess up the development. Other than that, you have to learn to be more people friendly, sometimes using actual and/or body language to let the others know you are friendly, but at the same time trying to be extremely discrete. It’s a lot harder than you think .
Finally, I would like to share the thoughts on a photo I took last week as you can see at the beginning of the post, which previously seen in my last blog post, but I like this photo too much. First of all, I am not trying to poke fun of her because she’s sitting on the sidewalk at the bus stop, if that’s all you see you’ve completely missed what I see in the photo. I was in the car at the stop light, I saw on the side walk next to me was this lady with taped up glasses, sitting on the ground, and hesitate to look up. That brings up a lot of questions. Why is her glasses broken? How did they break? She can’t afford to get them fixed? Now most importantly why is she staring at the ground and avoid eye contact with others? Is she tired? Why is she sitting down on the dirty side walk? And so on. I was very close to her (35mm lens you are looking at) and I didn’t want her to know I was going to photograph her, misunderstanding I am purely trying to embarrass her. Luckily I had also an AF point and shoot camera with me besides the lynx, I briefly waved it by the window and pray it worked out, and It did very well under the circumstances.