From first effort at street.

Started May 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
CharlesB58 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,859
Re: From first effort at street.

Kelpie wrote:

This is my favourite from my first attempt at street photography. I did not feel comfortable taking pictures of people I don't know but have always wanted to try this genre. I hope that the couple in the picture would see the humor in it that I do.

Ok I'll keep in mind you are just getting started in a genre that has lots of supposed, self-proclaimed experts, but few it seems who really understand the genre. Some think just taking a photo of people in public can fall under the heading of "street photography". No, that falls under the heading of "snapshots". Street photography, as has been mentioned here, must be engaging in some way. 2 main goals are at the heart of good street photography. One is to capture "ordinary", subjects scenes or activities in an out of the ordinary way (something Henri Cartier-Bresson excelled at). The other is to capture out of the ordinary, subjects scenes or activities that are taking place (think Diane Arbus or Eliot Erwitt).

To meet either (or ideally both) of these primary goals takes a lot of practice, observation skills and patience. (I remember reading of one photographer who waited for 2 hours for a woman wearing just the right dress to walk in front of a window display. What this means is that for anyone who just wants to walk around with a camera hoping for the best, the success rate is going to be quite low, and even then the results may be mediocre at best.

To develop any skill at street photography, it's important to start off by asking yourself the question "What is my goal?" The answer will determine your working process and style of image. Gary Winogrand said he takes photos because he is simply interested in how things look as photographs. Diane Arbus wanted to capture the freaks, and absurd or bizarre things in life. Eliot Erwitt looks for the humorous side in much of his best work. Others want to capture a "decisive moment". Some seek to show juxtapositions between the human subjects and their environment, sometimes in vary graphical or even abstract ways.Those who prefer getting close to subjects want to capture the subject as part of the interaction with the photographer.

Unfortunately, many people think that taking decently composed shots of people out on the street makes for successful street photography (i cringe every time I see an image of the backs of people posted as though watching people walking away from the viewer is of interest to anyone other than the photographer).

All that said, think about your example and ask yourself some questions. What was your purpose in capturing this specific couple at this specific time and place? What do you want to convey to the viewer about this couple, the scene, your vision as a photographer? Is this image really of interest to anyone other than yourself? Is so, what makes it of interest? What elements in this photograph support or distract from your goal?

As it stands, it's nothing more than a "practice shot" that simply displays that you kept to some rules regarding composition, and that's about it. But use it, and the crtique on this thread, as a starting point.

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Some people operate cameras. Others use them to create images. There is a difference.

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