Eric: This article is by John Hall, a photographer and human being I respect deeply. John Hall was one of my students at a week-long street photography workshop in SF, and since then he has been my zen master (he always reminds me to stay centered). He recently attended a Jacob Aue Sobol workshop in Kyoto, Japan and I loved the article so much I wanted to share it with you. You can see his original article here.
John: I just finished a week long workshop with Jacob Aue Sobol in Kyoto and it was terrific. The Leica team was also most helpful during the week as the workshop was held in their beautiful Gion Leica store. Jacob, Chloe and Albert did a super job with a diverse set of students. A highly recommended workshop!
Jacob really challenged each of us artistically to find our own voice through photography. Shooting more from the heart than the mind. Shooting and editing with emotion leads to emotional photos. The week also turned out to be a shift in my approach to putting together projects, i.e. series of photos that hang together in a portfolio.
Source (http://erickimphotography.com/) (https://johnlowellhall.squarespace.com)
Street photography isn’t the easiest discipline. The idea of bringing one’s camera into an uncontrolled situation, where anything can happen and the scene is never the same, can be intimidating, and that’s understandable. What we thought would be helpful is a collection of experiences from several prominent street photographers about this very topic. So jump in and hear from some of the biggest names today.
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My favorite digital camera for street photography
One of the questions I get asked most is what camera I recommend for street photography.
Like I mentioned, there is no perfect camera for street photography and everyone’s tastes are different. However my favorite digital camera for street photography is:
#1: Ricoh GR
Disclaimer: Ricoh gave me a GR for free to keep. I am not getting paid to include the camera here.
At the moment, my favorite digital camera for street photography is the new Ricoh GR. I think the biggest problem most street photographers have is that they never have their camera with them. The great thing about the Ricoh GR is that you always have it in your pocket, the image quality is amazing (it has an APS-C sensor), and it is small and unobtrusive. The awesome “snap focus” mode also allows you to pre-focus your distance, and take photos of “the decisive moment” without any lag.
You can see read my in-depth review of the Ricoh GR.
Film camera recommendation for street photography
#1: Leica M6 and 35mm f/2.5 Voightlander lens
I have a lot of people asking me for recommendations for film cameras for street photography. I have been using my Contax T3 a lot recently (love the compact size, image quality, and auto settings) but I still would choose my film Leica at the end of the day. Why? Film Leicas are indestructible, reliable, and can operate without a battery.
The Leica M6 is definitely the best bang-for-the-buck film Leica you can get. It is has a meter, all the frame lines you need, and is quite compact and light. I loved my first Leica M6 (thanks to Todd Hatakeyama for giving it to me as a gift) but I ended up upgrading to the Leica MP after I sold my M9. The MP and the M6 are pretty much the same camera, except the MP is newer and thus more reliable (which helps when I travel).
Eric Kim is one of the most popular street photographers the internet has produced. His shots dominate Instagram and Tumblr, and his Youtube videos have lead to a dedicated following of fans. He’s the tech-heads tech-head, who also manages to take interesting thoughtful street photos that are thankfully not of graffiti walls. He was recently in Australia presenting a series of workshops so we thought we’d interview him and try and scam some free advice.
VICE: This is your first time in Australia, have you seen anything local photographers might under appreciate?
Eric Kim: Australia has the best light in the world for photography—number two is Istanbul. I don’t know if it’s because you guys have a wild ozone system, I think it’s because of the longitude and latitude. The angle the light hits, it’s really edgy—and the lights, the shadows, are absolutely incredible. Look at the work by Trent Parke, the light here is just phenomenal. You can’t get this anywhere else in the world.
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Shin Noguchi is a freelance graphic designer and street photographer based in Kamakura and Tokyo, Japan. He describes his street photography as an attempt to capture extraordinary moments of excitement, beauty and humanism among the flow of everyday life and has an approach that is sensitive to the subtleties and complexities of Japanese culture. He is also a member of the Street Photographers collective. Eric Kim, a contributor to the Leica blog, conducted this interview.
Q: It’s a great pleasure to have you Shin. Can you share how you first got interested in street photography?
A: It was a book “A l’est de Magnum 1945-1990″ by Magnum Photos. I saw it in my teens and it made me conscious about street photography for the first time. Before I saw that book, I thought art and documentary were opposite from one another. However, I was surprised to see in that book, while reflecting on our daily life as it was with its various, overflowing emotions such as pleasure and sorrow; they were masterfully expressing their artistic opinion as street photographers by skillfully taking in elements such as composition and timing as well as light and shadow.
Christophe Agou is a street photographer from France, currently based in New York. He is a part ofIn-Public, and his published works include “Life Below: The New York Subway” and his newest book: “LES FAITS SECONDAIRES” ( SECONDARY FACTS).
Great having you Christophe! For those not familiar with you or your work, could you share how you first got interested in street photography?
In March of 1992, I moved to New York from a small town in France. I had a dream to pursue photography.
The city quickly became my muse. I began photographing on the streets and later on in the subways, feeling an almost “mystical force” leading me. Serendipity and chance encounters with photographers like Robert Frank and many other dedicated artists served to reinforce my dedication, as did the flow of invitations to gallery openings and photography events I received during one year addressed to “Mr. John B.,” the prior tenant and photographer of my apartment.
The energy of New York and human interactions has been sources of inspiration ever since I moved. At first I felt that the thousand-word picture was it. Then I realized it was not enough to convey my feelings. Storytelling became essential– working in a series, sequencing images with one another in order to create a visual narrative.
Inside Out was my first series of street photographs I made close to my home (Upper West Side NY 1995). I realized that human emotions exist right around the corner. At that time, I no longer feel the urge to travel halfway around the world to photograph existence.
Photographer Alec Soth showcased his work in Minneapolis' Walker Art Center, including exhibits entitled "33 Movie Theaters and a Funeral Home" and "Broken Manual." Twin Cities Public Television profiled him, and it's part of our NewsHour Connect series highlighting public media reporting from around the nation.
Source (PBS NewsHour) via (Eric Kim Facebook)
Photos in this article are outtakes/shots Eric is considering for his on-going “Suits” project.
One of the things I love most about street photography is how open and democratic it is. Anybody with any camera can shoot street photography. You don’t need anything fancy. Not only that, but street photography is accessible to everybody. You don’t need to be in Paris– you can simply shoot in your backyard.
However one problem that plagues street photography and life in general is this need for status.
In this article I will touch upon two aspects of status when it comes to street photography: 1) Status via cameras/equipment, and 2) Status via social media:
Why do we crave for status?
To be human, we naturally seek to gain or elevate our status. We do this in many different ways:
First, we can try to gain dominance in a social circle by becoming the “alpha male” (or alpha female). Secondly, what we often do is seek material things which raise our status. This can be buying a BMW, having a Louie Vuitton handbag, buying a bigger house, or as a street photographer– owning a Leica.
When I started street photography around 6 years ago, I remember googling “street photography” and coming upon Henri Cartier-Bresson. I heard that he used a Leica most of his entire life– and was blown away by his images. The sucker in me was lead to believe it was because he shot with a Leica– that he was able to create such amazing images.
Therefore started my black hole into lusting after a Leica. I remember reading countless amounts of reviews on Leica’s– and how amazing they were. I started to imagine myself–looking cool, Leica slung over my shoulder, casually strolling the streets of Paris– snapping away like the master himself.
The proliferation of Instagram-ready smartphones has been both a boon and a detriment to the artof street photography. On one hand, it has brought about a renewed interest in the innovators and pioneers of the genre—people like Eugène Atget, who is widely considered the godfather of the genre, or Henri Cartier-Bresson, who had a knack for catching people at the exact moment they did something interesting. On the other hand, it has convinced many wannabe shooters that anyone with a working cell phone and a decent filtering app has the ability to capture something beautiful. And maybe they’re right. But it doesn’t change the fact that there’s an art to this art, and that some folks are just more in tune with the rhythm of street photography than others.
Compiling any sort of “list” is always a challenging task, as the nature of being constrained by a number will inevitably mean that plenty of deserving talents will be left off (at least for this year). And when it comes to the 50 photographers featured here, we aimed to be as all-encompassing as possible; no restrictions were set in terms of geography, age, style, or experience. The only adamant criterion is that the artist is currently contributing to the craft.
I always find a plethora of YouTube channels available about any subject, no matter how crazy it is. So naturally I thought that if I searched for Street Photography channels I would get loads of hits in the search results. Well, I was wrong. It turns out that there aren’t many Street Photography YouTube channels out there after all. As a matter of fact I can count them on the fingers of my one hand!
I thought that even though there aren’t that many YouTube channels available it would still be useful to list them all in a blog post, because you never know when you will want to take a look at a Street Photography tutorial, or listen to a Street Photography idea / concept.
So, here it is, just for you, 5 Street Photography channels you should subscribe too, presented in a totally random order:
There’s something inspirational about watching a seasoned photographer work at his craft — whether it’s a studio photog who molds light to his will or a street photographer whose demeanor and results both scream professionalism.
Can you give a brief introduction of yourself ?
I’ve been practicing psychiatry and living in California with my wife for almost 45 years. We have two adult children and three grandchildren.
How did photography enter the picture? You worked as a psychiatrist your entire life. Did you pick it up as a hobby- or did you do anything more professionally with it?
I wasn’t interested in photography until this past few years. I only took snapshots when on vacation. A few years ago I bought a digital point and shoot- and basically got fascinated with the idea I could get immediate feedback – which I needed.
With film, when I got prints back, they looked like nothing I wanted. But I wasn’t organized enough to figure out what to do the next time. With the immediate feedback of digital it was easier for me to learn how to get the type of image I wanted. I didn’t know anything about cameras, aperture, and just started to learn and experiment. I started taking photos of everything around me.
Over time and with looking at what other people were doing with photography I realized that street photography was right up my alley- because I like walking urban environments, exploring, and I liked what the street photographers were finding. So I started to take photos away from the garden and vacations and into the street around 8 years ago.
One of the things I don’t talk much about is composition on my blog when it comes to street photography. To be quite honest, I am not as interested in composition of photographers when it comes to their philosophies when it comes to photography. However it is still something important to consider. Therefore I want to start a series inspired by Adam Marelli on how you can improve your compositions in street photography. Some of these lessons may be new, others familiar– and I will use the best examples in the history of street photography to illustrate the compositional techniques (while throwing in a few of my own).
Triangles are one of the best compositional techniques you can use in your street photography to fill your frame, add balance, and add movement in your images. (Thanks also to Patrick Bryan for the inspiration for doing this article).
All photos in this article copyrighted by their respective photographers.
by Eric Kim
I want to write about a photographer that most art and photography students know, but not that many street photographers know (or appreciate) online.
That photographer is Walker Evans, one of the most pivotal American photographer from the 20th century. He inspired a league of influential street photographers such as Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, and even Bruce Gilden. He is most famous for photographing the Great Depression with the FSA, his candid work of Subway riders in NYC, and his street photos and urban landscapes all around America (his most famous book being “American Photographs” which was the first photography exhibition to be held at the New York MOMA. He was also a non-dogmatic photographer who often proclaimed that the camera didn’t matter and experimented with the 35mm format of the Leica, the 2 1/4 format of the Rolleiflex, the cumbersome 8×10 large-format, and even using a Polaroid SX-90 more or less exclusively towards the end of his life.
There is a lot that I don’t know about Walker Evans, so I made it a point to learn more about him through doing research for this article. I hope that you find his work to be as inspirational as mine.
Before I start this article, I want to share this excerpt that Robert Frank said about Evans and his influence on his famous project, “The Americans“:
“When I first looked at Walker Evans’ photographs, I thought of something Malraux wrote: ‘To transform destiny into awareness.’ One is embarrassed to want so much for oneself. But, how else are you going to justify your failure and your effort?” – Robert Frank
1. Make a living with a day job.
Like many photographers and artists, Evans was always straddling the line between paying his bills and being dead broke. Not only that, but Evans resented and was very reluctant to take on commercial work. Starting off, Evans supplemented his photography by having a day job, which ultimately gave him the freedom to photograph on his own terms. He shares more in an interview:
L.K. How did you make a living?
Walker Evans: I had a night job on Wall Street in order to be free in the daytime. It paid for room and food. You didn’t have to sleep or eat much. In those days I was rather ascetic; I didn’t lead the bohemian life Crane led.
Takeaway point: Evans held a day job (or in this case, “night job”) in order to pay his bills which also gave him the freedom to photograph during the day as he’d like. I think in life freedom to do what you want is one of the most valuable things, more than material wealth or anything else. Many of us want more time to shoot on the streets, but we think that we need to work more to earn more money, which will give us more time to shoot on the streets. I used to believe this, but when I had my day job I actually found my job to suck way more physical and mental energy which could have been better used towards my photography.
Therefore realize that regardless of whatever your profession is, photography is your ultimate passion and whatever you do to pay the bills doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that you work as a photographer to pay the bills. Rather, I think it is a better strategy to hold a day job and work on your personal photography projects completely on your own terms (to prevent having professional photography gigs corrupt your personal photography work).
So remember at the end of the day, don’t spend so much time at work (this means not staying in the office after 6pm) that it robs time from your photography. Try to free up as much of your time to go out and shoot.
I want to reiterate the fact that I will never charge anything on the blog in terms of information. I will make sure that anything information-based (articles, videos, features, etc) will always be available openly and for free on the blog.…
I also wanted to announce that I have recently made all of my photos on Flickr available for free as full-resolution downloads. So if you have ever liked any of my photos and wanted a print, feel free to download any photo and print any sized photo you want. Use it as wallpapers, prints to hang on your wall, or whatever you want to use them for (non commercial). And no, you don’t need my permission.
By Eric Kim
Thought as we have our Street Photography Workshop next weekend, you might like to read about one Photographers 103 things he learnt about Street Photography Article.
Just remember they are Eric's thoughts on the subject not ours. A good read all the same.
2. 35mm as a focal length is generally ideal for most street photographers. 28mm is too wide (most people don’t get close enough) and 50mm is too tight.
3. My keeper ratio : one decent shot a month, one shot I am proud of in a year.
4. When in doubt, take a step closer.
5. You will become a better photographer by asking people what they don’t like about your shots (rather than what they like).
6. A harsh and constructive critique is better than a pat on the back.
7. A good photo critique needs (at least) 4 sentences online. Preferably 8 sentences or more.
8. It isn't the quantity of social media followers you have that matters, rather then quality of followed you have that matters.
Source (http://digital-photography-school.com) Via Rob V
By Eric Kim
Street Photography is a big passion for many of our WECC members, so when Digital Photography Review team up with Eric Kim for a blog entry, we couldn't resist the temptation to share.
Eric Kim is one of the most prolific street photographers around, but he's also a keen blogger. In this article, originally posted on his site back in spring, he offers some advice on how to buy a new camera for street photography. Rather than a simple buyers' guide, though, Kim delves into the psychology of purchase decisions, citing research by psychologist Barry Schwartz which divides us into two categories - 'maximizers' and 'satisficers'.
Source (http://www.dpreview.com) Via (http://erickimphotography.com/blog/)