I have missed out my shutter therapy session for the past weekend. I worked full day on Saturday and then I had the Proposal assignment to shoot on Sunday, leaving me with no space at all for my usual street shooting. Somehow, I felt incomplete without street shooting to cap off the week, and the void stayed with me until the following the working week. My hand has gotten very, very itchy for some shutter action, hence today I got off work early and stormed Chow Kit with my Olympus PEN E-PL1 which I carry around everywhere, everyday now. I finally caught up with my much anticipated and missed shutter therapy, and I am whole again.
Some people may say that I am crazy, for getting so addicted to my shutter therapy sessions. Some people question whether I have anything better to do with my life, or spend my time on. Seriously, I do not go clubbing or bars, I do not have expensive hobbies like golfing or go-karting. I am happy just to pick up the camera and go about shooting at anything. Some people also question about the value of my photography work. What for putting so much time and effort in my street shooting if I am not even earning a bit in return? True enough. However, they did not see my facial expression when I managed to nail down that shot that I really loved, or know the excitement and rush that went through my pumping heart when I found a rare, golden photography opportunity. The satisfaction from the shooting alone surpasses many other things I have come across in life. This good feeling is keeping my life together, and it stays with me. The best part of all, it costs nothing (besides the initial camera purchase). Is this not better than any drugs or alcohol?
All images in this entry were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and 14-42mm Mk1 kit lens.
A reflection or a shadow?
GRAINY FILM Art Filter used.
Darn, that white paper should not have been there.
Exposed brick wall.
GRAINY FILM Art Filter used.
Somehow the motorcycle looks rather attractive in this image.
PINHOLE Art Filter used.
Just after the rain
Freedom to run
GRAINY FILM Art Filter used.
An entrance or exit.
Torn to shreds.
A passing company
Mobile phone culture.
It does not matter which street photography definition you choose and adhere to, the true approach in street photography has been an on-going and never-ending debate over the decades. While generally people agree that street photography should portray the scenes in public as naturally as possible, many are against the posed and direct eye contact with the people you photograph. In contrast to that, many also argued the importance of seeking the permission from the person you intend to photograph, prior to your camera clicking actions. To me, it is not important what rules or standards you apply, if your street photograph is good, no matter what definition you have applied in your style of shooting, it is still a good street photograph. I personally utilized a mixture of a little bit of everything, and really, rules are just rules. Lets just shoot and make more photographs happen.
There are multiple benefits that one can gain from doing street photography. You get to train your eyes to really open up, and see everything around you. Sometimes, it is not so much about how you shoot your subject, or the choice of camera and lenses that matter. Most of the times, it all depends on your choice of subject content, simply put, what you choose to photograph. You may have perfect technical execution, and the most expensive street shooting gear (throw in a Leica camera of your choice and a lens that costs three times the price of the chosen Leica) but if your subject content is not strong enough, lacking appeal and does not contain the interest and impactful "wow" factor, there really is nothing to see in that photograph. Learning to see is one of the most important part of photography. You capture what you see, and you show your audience so that they can see what you want them to see in your photographs. If you did not see it in the first place, how can you expect your audience to see your subject content?
Street photography, being practiced over and over again, can boost up your confidence as a photographer. It is important how you approach your subjects. If you look insecure, hesitant, and doubtful when you come into a close distance to the people you want to photograph, the reaction from that person would be the mirror of what you have shown them. They will hesitate, if you hesitate. On the other hand, if you confidently come nearer, and strike a warm, beautiful, confident smile, the first reaction from most people would be a return in smile. That friendly exchange of very basic human action and reaction is the crucial opening key to create that sense of connection between the photographer and his subjects. If your subject is comfortable around you, the pose and look in their face would be natural and more pleasing. Likewise, if you exhibit a negative aura around you, your subject will surely respond with a bad facial expression. I have learned this the hard way. I was timid and very nervous in my first few street photography sessions, but as I gained my momentum and confidence, I become more and more courageous, and that evidently shows in the reflection I see from my subject's facial expressions.
Besides learning how to see and boosting shooting confidence, I strongly believe street photography can train a photographer to be more alert. You have to be aware of what is around you. Once you find a photography opportunity, you have to act quickly, and respond in the nick of time. You must be very familiar with your camera and its settings, and execute your shots without hesitation at all, because any delay in judgment will increase the risk of losing the shot. The technique employed to capture spontaneous moments can shape you up to be a very efficient, and effective photographer. There are so many techniques and approach to street photography, each has its own pros and cons, but whichever method you intend to utilize, you need to know it well, and use it to get the job done. Predicting certain events that is about to happen, and preparing yourself in time for that occurrence, will ensure higher hit rate.
Is his head bigger?
So what if my subject poses and gives me the rock on sign? I still LOVE this shot.
Mobile phone culture 2.
if you love what you do, it shows.
Taking care of the kids.
Cat and strings.
Street walking. Just like what I do.
I guess the reason why I love street photography so much, is because it is a genre that is not entirely gear dependent. Street photography places more importance onto the photographer's vision itself. You have to get close enough to your subject. You have to be able to establish that connection with your subject. Yet, at the same time, you have to consider all your camera settings and make sure your focusing is spot on. There is a lot of things that go about just in one single frame, and if you screw up that one part, everything else will be affected as well. You have to be good at multitasking, and work your fingers on your camera subconsciously to a certain extent. Therefore, you cannot really blame your camera or lenses if your shots are not well accepted by your audience.
There are people who asked me "don't you get bored going to the same street over and over again? Don't you get bored of shooting street? Why don't you try something else?" Firstly, I do not get bored easily, and why should I, if I love to do what I am doing? How can I get bored of something that I truly love doing? Secondly, practice makes perfect. How can you be good at something if you just tried it a few times, I will do this again and again until I accomplish a standard that I personally would be satisfied with. I can only improve further, if I shoot more. Thirdly, shooting at the same street again and again does not mean my photography will become redundant and repetitive, There are different lighting situations, different people, and different ways to approach the people. I agree, street photography is not everyone's cup of tea, but it is mine. And I will do it again, simply because I love doing it. I will pick up other photography genres and dive deeper into them, but I wont stop shooting on the streets, at least not at the time being.
I am still very fresh to street photography (only been doing this for about a year now), but I am growing more and more in love with it. There is so much more to explore and learn, and obviously I have a lot to improve. I learn from my mistakes, and I will get better from each and every session I do my shutter therapy.
Street photography thoughts, care to share some?