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

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.

Wedding Photography & Dyptichs

In a couple weeks, my wife and I will be heading to the sunny Bahamas for my cousin’s wedding, and man are we excited. It’ll be our first trip without kids in about five years. Since I’ve never been to a small island before, I’m looking forward to experiencing a whole new culture and way of living (since we’re currently going through a deep freeze here in Canada), and I hope to have a bunch of new photos to share on the blog when I get back.

On the topic of wedding photography, I often find myself in awe of some of the amazing wedding photos I come across on the web. I almost can’t understand how photographers get the shots they do, and I could only imagine how nervous I’d be if I were in their position. Having said that, I was probably a little too in the way of my other cousin’s wedding photographer, but at least I was able to come away with a couple images that I’ve put in the dyptychs below.

And I really liked this image of the first dance, so I decided to include it too. I thought the dress was absolutely beautiful…

Though I don’t have any aspirations of getting myself into wedding photography, it was fun snapping away. However, If I ever had the opportunity to second-shoot someday, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump at the chance.

What are your experiences with wedding, party, or event photography? I’d love to hear your stories.

Head Shot Experiment #1

Head shots, how hard can they be? I mean, you just get someone to stand in front of your camera, act natural, smile, and presto bango you’ve got a gorgeous head shot.

Well… not even close.

As my love of photography grows, so too does my interest in trying new photographic challenges. And, as I wrote in a post yesterday, I have come to realize that I love photographing people more than anything else.

So, before settling down to work this morning I had a little fun with a co-worker and pleaded with him to be my first head shot guinea pig. I had a camera, a flash, and a dark corner of our office to work with. Simple! Well, that was until he stood there and said, “so, what do I do?” Gulp, I says.

Luckily we are good friends and we’re not shy to say or do anything around each other so this first test was pretty fun. I’ve learned sooooo much from Robert Harrington and David Hobby, and I figured it was finally time to put all that theory into practice.

My setup was simple – a single flash set at half power with a shoot-through umbrella, ISO 200, f/5.6, and two pieces of white paper taped together to act as a small bounce reflector.

I’ve gotten my starting point and figured I’d tweak from there. So, “let’s take a test shot, just stand there and act natural.” Ka-pow…

ME: “Perfect! But what the hell are you doing?”

HIM: “I want you to get a shot of my watch.”

ME: “Oh, well stop it and lets take another.”

After all, I want to see how the light falls on his face. Ka-pow goes the shutter again…

We’re now both cracking up and doing a bunch of ridiculous poses. But, I think that little exercise was able to relax both of us. Because the next one we got was money… at least that’s what I think… for my first effort. This is almost straight out of camera, it just has a smidgen of  a touch-up in Lightroom.

What do you guys think? I’d love to get some constructive criticism and learn from any of your experiences. I can’t quite decide if it’s a tad hot on his left side or not. He’s definitely not blown out, but your comments are most welcome.

Candid Moments

Feeding Llama

I’ve always been drawn to candid moments captured in photos, and I think they tell a better story. I have always loved thumbing through Life Magazine and National Geographic, and analyzing the action and the mood in concert photos.

Since taking photography more seriously over the past year I’ve noticed that I have naturally taken on that style of shooting more than anything else. I have also realized that I love shooting people in their natural and organic state. I’m not much for capturing images of strangers on the street… unless I ask to take their photograph… but I haven’t worked up the nerve for that yet, so most of my images are of friends and family.

Cottage Play

I also think I’m developing a bit of a knack for photographing kids… which is handy since I have two of my own. I am naturally drawn to capturing them during a busy moment. I almost never have them look into the camera, tell them to smile, and say cheese… it kind of drives me crazy when people do that.

One thing I might criticize myself for, is that there are not many photos of my boys looking straight into the camera, but I think that’s ok. I think the moments I capture tell a better story about their childhood. Like thumbing through a magazine.

Years from now, we’ll all look back at the image with the llama above and instantly know that my older son had a love of animals and was very kind and loving by nature. And to the image on the left, and remember how obsessed my younger son was with playing in the sand whether on a beach or in a sandbox.

It’s the candid, unobtrusive moments that I’m drawn to and I think I’m ok with that. So, I’ll continue to be the fly on the wall, and continue try to see the world through other people’s eyes.