Monday, March 26, 2012

Nothing Stays Constant

When I am in the craze, I would go out to any street of my choice and blast the shutter away, coming home with hundreds of images. Not all of my images would be keepers, and hit rates of what I keep versus what I delete varies greatly in each shutter therapy sessions. I have been reminded by a few friends lately to slow down, take a deep look into my photographs, and really look at them without being affected by what I feel and think in that temporary frenzy shooting state of mind. The reason is plain simple: my perception of what is beautiful at this particular moment of time may change in the next month, or sooner, weeks, knowing that the ever-changing preference and style of shooting being inevitable, thus not all photographs produced and passed self quality control at one time will stand the test of time in photography growth.

Street photography is a vast genre of photography, encompassing so many sub-categories including people, landscape, urban decay, photo-journalism, and most of them have at least two or three sub-categories intertwined with each other to form a full street photograph. It is difficult, or should I say, needless to restrict the definition of what a street photograph should be. There are many available sources of literature to fully describe and define what street photography should be, but I, as a new-born photographer in the digital era would not care too much on how or what the older generation photographers told us on the "rights" and "wrongs" of photography. We live in a different era now, and we should create our own history, based on our time, instead of reliving and recreating what has been done countless times before. Therefore, I would like to see myself as a modern photographer, with very different outlook in my own street photography work, that may or may not necessarily satisfy the rules in the books of old.

After killing ALL my time for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 review works that spanned two weeks long (you guys have no idea how much sleep I have lost, worse for my friend Sanjit who did the video), now I finally have some time to sit down, and breathe. Hence I decided to look through my photographs that I have taken throughout the year 2011 (including some from early 2012) and compiled a small set of my favorites, being shown in this entry. Those photographs that I selected may not hold any particular reason of being good example of street photographs, instead, they were favored based on my own preferences and what I thought I liked very much, even after months, or a year since the photograph was taken. I shall also include some brief description on why I love those shots.

All images in this entry were taken in the year 2011 (a few in early 2012), with various Olympus cameras and lenses setup.


Street Projections
E-PL1 with kit lens
Jalan Masjid India
Some random abstract projection from the streets. I believe street shooting should not be constrained to human subjects only. There are many inanimate subjects that make great street subjects. Left image was a reflection from a puddle of water on the roadside.

Speed Variance
 E-5 and 11-22mm with ND8 filter
Chow Kit
The focus of attention was the old man, which moved slower than the rest when he crossed the road.

Small House
E-5 and 50mm F2
Chow Kit
One of the most painful scenes I have encountered on the streets. A homeless lady living in a rubbish chute at the back-alley of shop lots. Yet the powerful impact in this photograph is the fact that she still found the strength to smile for the camera.


Wet and Sweep
E-5 and 11-22mm
Jalan Masjid India
I love shooting from low angle, and many times, from ground level looking upwards. Having the swivel screen and live view seriously helped my shooting in many situations. And yes, by now you should know I love reflections too. They open up a whole new dimension. The man was sweeping the water aside so that the ground would dry quicker, preparing for an event in the afternoon.

Waiting in Rain
E-PL1 and kit lens
Segambut Dalam, Near Mont Kiara
I was trapped due to heavy rain, but as I saw this man waiting across the road, I cannot help it but make this shot happen. I had to make sure the shutter speed was not too slow or else I cannot see the rain drops.

Sweetest Smile
E-5 and 50mm F2
Pudu
This is one of my most favourite portraits on the street, because the smile of the kid looked directly into me and gave me the sweetest smile I have ever seen. Most kids that age would give you the "blank" stare, or a "not so special smile" mainly because you are a stranger, but this kid just smiled so beautifully, it melted my heart.

Portrait of a Homeless Man
E-5 and 50mm F2
Pertama Complex, KL
When I came across this homeless man, I felt that he was safe to approach. I moved in closer to him, smiled, and then he smiled back. I guess somehow my body language shows that I mean no harm, and just wanted to capture a photograph of him. I went in, made my shot happen, and to my surprise, he gave me one of the most natural poses, without the uncomfortable or "WTF" look most homeless people would give you if you do not rub them at the right places. The direct gaze into the camera works for this shot.

Squat, Sit, Walk
E-5 and 11-22mm
Chow Kit
Sometimes, luck plays an important role in having good shots. I was fortunate to see this opportunity, and waited briefly as the man on the right walked into the frame.

Friendliness
E-PL1 and kit lens
Petaling Street
Most people on the streets are friendly, provided that you approach them with the right manner and attitude, and do not appear like you want to snatch something from them or take advantage of their situation. Having PEN camera is one huge advantage, you look pretty much harmless and less intimidating. Making that "friendly" connection is not an easy thing for most new street photographers.

Mother's desperation
E-5 and 50mm F2
Chow Kit
I am attracted to heart wrenching scenes as I walked the streets. Usually, I would not let this slip by. However, I know direct approach would not work, because I would be taking advantage of their misery, and that would not end well if I attack front on. Shooting stealthily from a distance is an answer for this. Alternatively there is the hip-shot method, but I wanted to show them in their environment as well. Sometimes, it is best not to get in too close, for your own safety sake, and to improve the overall presentation of your image.

Generation Gap
E-5 and 50mm F2
Chow Kit
I saw the old man in the background, and waited for the kid who were playing nearby to enter the frame. Too bad the kid noticed me shooting them, I intended this to be a natural "unposed" shot. Nonetheless, I do think that the younger kid hiding at the back adds mystery to the shot.

Big man, Small bike
E-5 and 50mm F2
Chow Kit
I thought that the bike's size seemed disproportionate to the man.

Freedom
E-PL1 and Kit Lens
Chow Kit
E-PL1 has issues focusing on moving subjects, especially kids running. Nonetheless, what I wanted to show was the expression on their faces, and it reminded me of myself long, long time ago when life is void of dramas and traumas.

Pasar Malam Vendors
E-5 and 50mm F2
Jalan Masjid India
Waiting for their stalls to operate in the afternoon. Wnat I loved in this shot is the natural expression on their faces. They were aware of my presence and me shooting them, but they did not care at all.


Sudden Movement
E-5 and 50mm F2
Chow Kit
The sleeping homeless was lying motionless, but suddenly made some very abrupt violent shaking and body movements, as he jerked his hands and swing his head. The passer-by must have been shocked.


Paper thin
E-PL1 and 20mm F1.7
Pudu
Homeless man sleeping at the five foot way. Some street photographers advise strongly against shooting homeless man, or people sleeping. I see no wrong in doing either of them. If I find the scene worth shooting, why not? They represent the truth on the streets, and as much as we choose to ignore such scenes, they are out there, and the pain will not go away.

Boxed In
E-PL1 and Kit Lens
Chow Kit
Sometimes, interesting things just happened right in front of you. All you have to do it snap !

Babies
E-PL1 and Kit Lens
Chow Kit
The housewives taking care of the young, as the husbands earn a living at the nearby wet market. Scenes like these moved me, because I personally feel the kids should be taken care of in a proper house, not in the back-alley of dirty market and shops.

Be Yourself
E-PL1 and Kit Lens
Chow Kit
I love photographing kids. As the parents were busy working (market of shops) the kids were left to play on their own. Such care-free nature of the young and innocent.

I am a learning photographer, I have only started being serious on the streets about a year ago. There is still so much for me to explore, and improve on. If you have anything constructive to add on, please do so. I admit there are many flaws in the photographs, but hey, only through making mistakes can we truly learn and move on, right? The biggest mistake that any photographer will make is trying to chase perfection. Sometimes, it is the imperfection that defines who you are, sets your photography style apart from the others, and gives you a distinctive identity. I don't want to be known as the 'perfect' photographer. Instead, I would want to be remembered as me, being just me, who I really am. That should do just fine.

Nothing stays constant.

Perhaps a year or two from now, those set of photographs in this entry will likely cease to be my favourites, as better and newer images were created in my future shutter therapy sessions. Would this mean that those images will bear no significance or meaning in the future? No, they would still hold importance, as an important page in my history that I can come back and remind myself of where I was, and why I fell so crazily in love with photography. If I ever lose myself, this would be just the right place to look back and rediscover myself, because as of now, I could not have been happier with my pace in photography. The passion, the love and the desire to shoot are growing stronger, and I just can't wait to push it further.

I am curious where this street photography will lead me to. For now, I shall just ride the current, and not worry too much.


34 comments:

  1. Another set of brilliantly shot photos. I didnt realize KL is so bad now.

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  2. The shot of the lady living in a rubbish chute!!!!! Wow

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  3. Your photo always reminds me that I have to try to communicate more before choosing new camera.
    Thanks!
    By the way, I ordered E-M5 after your review. haha. couldn't stop it.
    Thanks for great review too!

    Yama

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  4. Hello Calex,
    It is worse than before. And the government is not doing anything.

    hello Eric,
    Thanks !! Thats my favourite shot too.

    Thanks Yama !!
    I am sure you will have wonderful moments with your coming E-M5.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your ability and willingness to take such stark images is inspiring...and humbling.

    One has to cherish his surroundings for there are so many more less fortunate individuals (and families) out there.

    Regards

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello Mark,
    Thanks for the kind compliments. I did not come from a well to do family, hence I can relate very well to the sufferings I see when I walk on the streets.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Robin

    Fantastic as usual. For me your street photography is an inspiration; street at its best, quite wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the kind words, Walks !!

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  9. Great post. Except that green light (I don't like green), all the shots are very inspiring. I also find it great that you took pictures of homeless people. Clean photos with heavily retouched models certainly have their place, but it all has become a huge trend and by following it we just censor out most of the world we actually live in.

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  10. Hello Vladimir,
    How come you don't like green? Its the color of nature !!
    It is sad to see how ignorant the current society has become. We just walk on and close our eyes, neglecting the suffering so obvious everywhere.
    Photography is a medium of truth, through that I share the truth.

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  11. Exellent shots and, as always, great story.

    Keep going on!

    Zeljko

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  12. very touching, thanks for sharing !

    Also happy to see you recovering :
    "now I finally have some time to sit down, and breathe"

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks Mige0 !!
    Finally its over, things are getting back to normal now.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Robin, I've started to follow your posts ever since I stumbled upon your E-M5 reviews. I must say that you've become my inspiration for street photography. It's something I have not done before but I'm up for the challenge. I also do photography as a form of stress relief from work and other life stresses and I must say I like to call it shutter therapy too. I hope you don't mind.

    Please keep it up and don't worry too much! I often go back to my archives because I always finds shots that I like now that I didn't like before. I also think that for street photography content is more important than quality. Maybe I'm wrong but that's my perception.

    Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Eugene,
    Thanks for the kind support and compliments !!
    Yes, shutter therapy is a phrase free to be used by anyone, spread the love of shutter therapy !!
    Street photography is fun and stress free !! You will love it, I am sure.

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  16. Robin, these are very thought provoking images - thank you so much for sharing them. You're on the right track!

    I would think, looking at these conditions on your streets... if you are making a living and have a home you would feel incredibly wealthy in comparison.

    Have you looked to do anything with these images, to help the situation? are there organisations which could use them in campaigning for change? Just a thought.

    Thank you

    Brian

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  17. Hello Brian,
    Thanks for the compliments !!
    There are local charity independent organizations that go around the neighbourhood and distribute food and clothing to the homeless. Nonetheless, I think that would not solve the problem at all, but every effort being put will surely ease the pain.

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  18. Great post mate!

    On the subject of photographing various subjects, I give you this quote:

    "I like to think of photographing as a two way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both."- Garry Winogrand

    As for editing your pictures, I give you this quote;

    Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the picture as judgment that the photograph is good. - Garry Winogrand

    I wholeheartedly agree with this. Sometimes the simple act of photographing a subject may cause you to think the the photograph is good. But once you let the emotions calm down, go back and you may wander why you took that photograph in the firstplace!

    Your keepers shown in this post show your strengths in telling a story in your photographs. Except maybe the green traffic light one....lol

    Luke Ding

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  19. Thanks Luke !!
    But I love the green traffic light !!!! It tells a story too if you look deeper into it ahaha

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  20. Robin, haha I see have green tinge in my sight as I have looking 'deeper' into it lol

    Luke

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  21. Luke,
    I have been taught a lot about the mysterious behind the traffic light. A lot of countries have different practices and specific rules/regulations, but when it comes to traffic light, it is universally agreed that, when its red, it means stop. When its green, it means go.
    Rarely do we find something that is agreed upon and used throughout the entire world.
    It has been successfully implemented, observed, and well accepted.
    This is a constant that photography lacks. Photography, or art, is too "subjective".

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  22. Great photos, Robin.

    Thanks for posting.

    I also enjoyed your commentary on each photo - I like shooting street myself, but am not good at it.

    By the way, is there some way I can view EXIF data on your shots?

    Regards,
    Scott

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  23. Great photos, Robin.

    Thanks for posting.

    I also enjoyed your commentary on each photo - I like shooting street myself, but am not good at it.

    By the way, is there some way I can view EXIF data on your shots?

    Regards,
    Scott

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  24. Hello Newzild,
    Thanks for the kind words !! Do stop by KL, we go shoot together some day.
    I left the EXIF in tact for most shots. You may save the images and view the metadata individually.

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  25. Hello Robin,

    your photos are really excellent. Thank you for your reviews, it waw very usefull for me. I had E-520 and I was thinking about E-M5 (I bought E-5 in the end :-)).
    Your pictures are very inspirating - a regret that my town is so quiet :D

    I’m looking forward every new post!


    Greetings from Czech,
    Lenka

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Lenka,
      Thanks for the kind compliments !!
      E-5 is a great camera, I am sure you wont regret it. I think your country has some very nice sceneries !!

      Delete
  26. Hi Robin!
    I just wanna say I love your photos, specially your street ones! They are so moving! I really admire your approach and courage to go after such unpleasant scenes! Good job! It's also very useful to find detailed comments under each photo. Your site is very inspiring for me (obviously, not just for me)!

    Thanks for doing this and keeping your blog alive!

    Regards,
    Lenka Martinu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Lenka,
      Thanks so much for your kind words, really appreciate it !! It is my pleasure to share my photography works and thoughts that I have. I am glad people find them helpful in some ways.
      I will surely shoot more and share more in this blog !!

      Delete
  27. it is true, the earth and the sun moves thru space and turn on its own axis, so no 2 days are alike, the light fall in a different place slightly everyday! so take that when you can coz the light will not fall in that same spot until next year if ever again.

    ReplyDelete
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