Black (& White) Friday: Old Friends

I found myself following these two men for a couple of blocks. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but judging by the way they were casually dressed, the moderate pace they maintained, and the relaxed body language they shared with one another, I made up a story in my head that they were two old friends who were out for a lunchtime catch-up.

Isn’t it nice to have someone so close to you that they know what you’re thinking and feeling without you having to say a word? Are yo someone who has a lifelong friend? Tell me about that friendship – how you met in kindergarten and have remained besties to this day. Or, tell me what you value in a close relationship… without going into too many personal details :)

I have one such friend. We don’t talk regularly these days, but when we get together it’s like we were fourteen again, like time hasn’t passed. I can say anything to this friend without fear of passed judgement. It’s a nice feeling, and I feel lucky to have this person in my life.

 

bw friday - two guys walking

My Favorite Resources: Photograph A Colour Theme

At some point we all hit a wall, we struggle to find inspiration when we’re out with our cameras. One thing I do to combat a lack of motivation, or a dull day on the street is to pick a colour and shoot anything that has that colour. Actually, during the dog days of winter, when everyone wears their black or grey winter coats, I’ll look for any bright colour I can.

I spotted the girl in the orange jacket from a mile away and prayed she wouldn’t move until I got close to her.

orange jacket

I turned down a quiet side street in Kensington Market and found this bright yellow wall. If there was anywhere I’d want to use as a backdrop for some good street portraits, it’s this wall. Love the colour and texture of the bricks.

yellow wall

On what I hope was our final snow day of the season, I passed by these amazing red and green crates. It was so grey and damp out, and these crates saved my day.

coloured boxes

The amazing blue of this old payphone stopped me dead in my tracks recently, and I simply had to shoot it. This is also the same time that Kobi tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to take his portrait.

blue phone booth

Street Walking: Spadina Ave, Toronto

I have a couple of favorite streets that I can access quickly during my lunchtime shooting walks, one of those streets is Spadina Ave.

It’s one of the wider thoroughfares in the city that runs north and south in the west end of the downtown core. Spadina is one of the few streets in Toronto with a dedicated streetcar lane, making it a bit of a relief line for the greatly overcrowded subway system that can no longer properly service the city. Can you believe that we only have two subway lines? Anyway…

One of the major attractions on Spadina are several blocks that make up Chinatown. You can buy just about anything for a fraction of the price, dine like a King (or Queen) at several delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurants, or just enjoy the bustling atmosphere. However, if you have a fear of crowds I would recommend avoiding this area altogether.

The Chinese influence is everywhere, which is what make is particularly interesting to me. I love the store fronts, the signs, and the atmosphere of Spadina Ave. Here is a little tour…

chinatown 1chinatown 2chinatown 6chinatown 3chinatown 4chinatown 7chinatown 5

Street Photography: My Thoughts & Your Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about whether or not I should continue to pursue street photography, and that post ended up being Freshly Pressed. Due to the popularity of the piece, I thought I’d write a round up to include some of your comments and suggestions. This was actually suggested by my new friend Olive… so, thank you for the great idea Olive.
 
Red baloons 
My blogging world was turned upside down, and was forever changed… at least temporarily :) What was initially meant as a rhetorical question, a piece published to the world of my non-existent blogging community, has resulted in hundreds of new followers, thousands of views, and dozens of likes.
 
But most importantly, that post became a gathering place for hundreds of like-minded people to share their thoughts, apprehensions, and experiences with street photography.

I begin with this amazing poetic thought about street photography, shared by Elmer at malate.wordpress.com:

Street photography is actually a challenge. The challenge to test your confidence; the challenge to test your creativity; to capture especially people in their innate moments; to be part of the street (or public places for that matter) while at the same time keeping invisibility; the challenge to capture them face to face without vexing their private moments; the challenge to make something out of nothing. The challenge to APPRECIATE all the things we take for granted along the way.

From Elmer’s comment, I think he knows exactly what street photography is, and what it should be – art that has been created out of nothing, out of candid moments, documenting the things we normally take for granted. 
 
Those of us who choose to practice the art of street photography are documentarians by our very nature. Street photographers share a common curiosity about sociology, about society – how people interact with each other, and how they act on their own. We appreciate fleeting moments, see the minute details that pass most other people by. To make a story out of nothing is an art form, and I learned from many of your comments that the true beauty in street photography is made from candid moments, when an unsuspecting subject becomes the centrepiece of your scene. 
 
From Lynne

It’s those brief moments when people are unaware of the camera that you get the most interesting, comical, beautiful, etc shots..

china town ladies
 
I am a big fan of capturing candid moments, as I’ve written  before, but I also learned from readers of this blog that taking someone’s picture without their knowledge or consent may also not be ok… on a moral level. 
 worker on lunch
 
From Jessica

I very much value my privacy and want to be asked permission before my image is used anywhere. So I have a similar dilemma in regards to taking photos of people I don’t know and using them in my art.

From Leanne

It is a big thing, I think it is because I don’t like being photographed, so I don’t want to do it to other people.

street portrait guy
 
But then there’s a whole different type of street photography, street portraiture. This, I find, is the most difficult of all. On many occasions I have walked past someone who I wanted to stop and ask to take their portrait, but have always shied away from doing. It always angers me after the fact, because the worst that could happen is that they say “no”, and the best that could happen is that you walk away with something beautiful. There are many fantastic examples of this being done, most notably “Humans of New York“, but the key is finding your unique take on the challenge, and perhaps that’s just what’s holding me back at the moment.
 
From Jeremy

I have known street photographers who approach their subjects after they’ve taken the pictures to talk with them, explain what they do and even show them the images.

From Olive

Should you ask permission to take a picture of someone? Also, how do people feel if someone stops them in the street and asks to take a picture? It might start some interesting conversations, but some people might get weirded out.

After all is said and done, I have a renewed sense of purpose in my street photography. Though I haven’t directly asked to take a stranger’s portrait, I have been lucky enough to have been asked by a complete stranger, and the experience was invigorating. I WILL begin asking people, and I WILL share those images here. But I am also documenting my time and place in history. Never again will these moments you see on my blog happen again. The streets may stay the same year after year, but the people, the cars, and the businesses will continuously change. 
 Red dress
 
I can’t thank you enough for showing me what blogging is actually about… community. The friends I’ve made, and the conversations I’ve had as a result of this blog have been invaluable. I truly appreciate the work that each and every one of you do, and I am honoured that you’ve taken an interest in mine.
 
Again, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject, and I would like to know if your opinions of street photography have changed.