It has been a two week long craze, being busy both at my day job as well as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 review. The amount of emails I received was unexpectedly overwhelming, and I do need time to catch my breath before I reply all of them. If I have not got back to you, please do understand that I need to eat, sleep, earn a living, do my shutter therapy, watch movies, do my stalking on Facebook and all the ordinary things that people do. Ok, not so much on the stalking, but you get the idea.
It was on this glorious Sunday morning that Luke called me out for a street shooting session on his new-found favorite shooting ground, Bukit Bintang in KL. I must admit this is not a place I shoot often, and I should explore different places instead of just sticking to my usual hunting grounds. After a quick breakfast, a group of street crazy shooters (Wilson, Yeow, Mun Keat, Luke and myself) attacked the streets.
I armed myself with my trusty Olympus DSLR E-5 with lovely Zuiko lenses, 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 macro. I did not exactly have anything specific thought out in my mind for this session, and I intended to walk casually and shot at whatever subjects that attracted my attention. Sometimes I think too much careful planning and anticipation killed the interest and excitement of the whole process. On the streets, one of the main contributing fun factors would be the unpredictability of what you will chance upon. Not knowing what you will be shooting next is what drives your curiosity and the hunger to explore more and more at every corner and turn of the streets. Life is similar in this context, you cannot have everything laid out perfectly in front of you, many times, it is the spontaneous moments that get you going.
Umbrella and Book
Conversation on a bridge
Luke and the Red Dot
Understanding that you are not in control is important to have an open mind approach to street photography. Street photography is a process similar to photo-journalism, having a huge part of documentary, to record what is already there, and capture the moments that happen in such brief fraction of time. The restriction that holds many photographers from going all out on the street is the natural instinct to control everything in their frame. Often, the subjects will never appear on the most auspicious location, and the light will never fall in the right position to properly illuminate your subject. Acknowledging the fact that we have very little control over the subjects on the streets will minimize the fear of "not getting the shot". There will always be the photographer's considerations of "what if there are blown highlights all over" or "what if the background distracts my viewer's attention away from the subject" or "should I add flash to compensate for the dark areas of the frame". Every single technical debate happening in your mind on how to make the photograph better, every single hesitation that you exude before you press the shutter button to bring out the best in your photograph is a dangerous risk you take, missing the crucial moment.
Yes, sometimes, you do not have the best composed image. Sometimes, the background appeared to be messy. There are many factors that could have improved the shot better. Many street photographers have agreed that technical perfection is not what street photography is about. It comes down to the core of street photography: WHAT are you shooting on the streets? WHAT are you trying to tell? WHY did you shoot the image? WHAT caught your attention? WHAT did you see that you want others to see?
Images should not be forced to happen on the streets. It is not prudent to create what is not there. We should learn that we are just a part of the world, and having a privilege to capture and share those tiny moments through our photography work is something wonderful. A street photographer observes, and then takes that observation one step further by translating it into images. Such observation is powerful, because they represent what was truly there, the natural state of occurrence in the world. Truth is often more impactful and can appear much stranger than fiction.
Have you shot on your streets lately? Do share your thoughts !!