“I remember my good picture with pride, but I am also often haunted by the great one missed ”
I missed more picture than what I actually captured. Street photography basically is all about capturing the truth showing everyday life with its honesty and our personal arrangement. The authenticity of a photograph for me is a major issue. When I missed one particular moment, I just walk away instead of creating something to replay that moment.
However, I am not judging any street photograph that has been staged in its process of capturing it. Because in first place, how do we know a street-photo had been staged?….unless otherwise we saw the process with our own eyes. I also understand that some truths can only be told as a fiction. In short, my approach is not the best approach. It might work for me, it might not work for others.
By the end of the day, a good picture remains as a good picture, and the final result always justifies how we achieve it. The true viewers, who can appreciate our picture as it is, never asked about how we achieve it, what camera we used, what film, what lens. Those who asked are people who want to find something to justify your doing great (or worse) and we should take it as compliment.
The general definition of every good photograph lies in serving its purpose as a picture viewed by many different people with various perceptive thinking.
As I mentioned on my previous article, street photography (in my opinion) is merely creating a question, not providing answer. I remember in one interview, Bruce Gilden said “…..the most important thing in a picture is a mystery. Once your viewer can make up a story about your picture, then it is not a strong picture”. So much for overrated story-telling image.
The juxtaposition of reality, the out of context arrangement, the beautifully improper composition of two (or more) simultaneous moments, they all seem too good to be just a mere incident captured, but they were captured anyhow. We would not be able whatsoever to create the same photograph, because that moment had long gone. It’s all our own show….ours only.
Sometimes I have strong disagreement with people around me about calling my work as street photography, I am a little reluctant referring my pictures as street photography because some of them taken out of street. If I got to choose my own genre, I would like to call it unstaged life pictures.
The followings are my approaches. I never regard myself giving advice or suggestion, because I believe I do not have the capacity of doing so. I just want to share my personal experience of doing something that I really love to do. ( my greatest gratitude to those who send me email )
1. I always include people (or at least person) on my arrangement. Simply because they move, and moving thing can generate multiple angle thus creating multiple opportunity to arrange.
2. I always look for two different (or similar) moments to capture, it is not easy and sometime can be really hard…but two different (or similar) moments MOST OF THE TIME form a good composition. If I were lucky enough I would find a different subject/moment to include….hence creating juxtaposed pictures or two indifferent simultaneous moments to put in one image, and it is a real luxury to be able to find it.
3. I always look for foreground but not always capture it. Once I see an interesting subject to capture, I always look for a supportive element. Negative space is double edge sword and I’d rather avoid it.
4. I never interfere with my scene. People can call me an idealist, but I never put myself in the middle of the scene and manipulating the moment I want to capture. Put it in simple word, I never ask permission to photograph. It is just interesting how people on the street create their own personal space among others/society…..that is exactly what I want to capture.
5. I do not have any particular projection about what I want to shoot. It just happened on the street and it remains as it is on the street, an everchanging of everything. But I do previsualise before I take a shot. I am neither a photojournalist nor a reporter…I just look for a simple thing with big “question mark”.
6. I always try to avoid to shoot people from the back, unless it has stronger meaning being put that way.
7. I do not shoot homeless people, or anyone being in distressful state. If I had to shoot them, I will not publish it. I have one photograph, showing a homeless scratching rubbish bin for food, next to him is a dog doing the same thing. Strong picture….but I will not show it to public unless I have a really great noble cause of doing so.
8. I do not take much risk. Confronted by someone being aggressive is our risk as a street photographer. When I bumped with particular individual who was uncomfortable about my shooting them and made a clear statement about it…….I just complied, and said sorry. I do have right to resist and I dont have to apologize but I prefer not pushing my envelope. It’s the fun that I am looking, trouble ruins it.
These are my few approaches of street photography, I am sure it is more than what I can write. Please understand that nothing is absolute, particularly if we are out there in the street, things change so we adapt. Once again, do not regard these as me giving advice or suggestion, it is all about sharing what I love to do and how I do it. Do not let others tell us what is possible and what is impossible ( again, no suggestion, just a remark) Thank you for visiting my blog, I really appreciate your visit and I am glad if you enjoy it.