Thursday, 12 April 2012


On the face of it Street Photography seems like a pretty straightforward activity to engage in.

Simply grab a camera, lens (or lenses) and storage medium (film or card) and hit the streets.

Most people reading this will think they've got an eye for a picture and I certainly do. Why else would we want to take anything other than record shots of family members and places visited? We all think that we can do as well as the acknowledged leaders in the field. We've watched videos of them on YouTube and it looks easy.

Now, unless you're one of life's uninhibited, ultra-gregarious, rhinoceros hide types the streets become very scary places. And I most certainly don't fall into the described category.

On my first trip out I picked a day when the fun-fair and the market were in town. Guaranteed crowds, plenty of hustle and bustle and noise and bountiful subject matter; not to mention cover for me to disappear into.

My equipment of choice was the DSLR (no choice really - it was that or the mobile 'phone) and the 17-40 lens. I thought it would be discreet. Maybe it was. I had the strap wrapped around my wrist and my hands folded behind my back but the weight of it let me know it was there and boy did I feel conspicuous.

There wasn't as much cover in the sparse crowds as I'd expected and when I raised the camera to my eye I felt like I was being watched and probably judged.

My perception was more than likely wrong. If I saw a kindred spirit out on the streets with their camera it would be noted, unconsciously remarked upon and almost instantly forgotten about.

Needless to say, my first foray into the unknown produced only a half-full CF card and very few keepers.

I love to watch videos of Joel Meyerowitz at work. He describes how he moves through crowds and makes himself invisible. From the perspective of the static viewer he appears anything but invisible as he darts around like a firefly. Maybe he is and maybe he isn't but it seems to me that the most important things he does are to avoid eye contact and be constantly on the move, always looking for the next shot and this is something I will most definitely be working on. Getting out there, concentrating on what I'm there for and being oblivious to what anyone else might think.

I will go ahead and "Eat That Frog" and develop a way of working that makes me feel comfortable and gets me results.

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