It’s not something I’m used to doing. But every now and then, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone.
Most of my photography so far has been rooted in travel. I’ve taken quite a few pictures in the DMV, but the majority of them have been urban landscapes near tourist spots. I took my new Fuji out with my 5D recently to the Lincoln Memorial. Both performed splendidly, but there was something special about the look of my Fuji photos, even the ones that weren’t necessarily the best of the shoot.
I can’t wait to take my new camera with me on a trip overseas. Although the X-Pro1 is not pocket size, it’s a lot easier to carry around than a dSLR. Even after I buy new lenses, I can still carry the whole kit around in a small bag. It also makes me want to take pictures of the most mundane things in my neighborhood that I hadn’t bothered to look twice at before.
I’ve started to look around more. I’m not a street photographer by nature, but I can see myself moving further in that direction. It’s different. Usually I like to take my time composing shots and exerting as much control as possible. On the streets you have to react quickly and you have very little control over anything.
It’s not just about shooting in the streets though…especially not walls and windows. It’s about shooting anywhere in public, anywhere that gives a sense of what life might be like in that time and place. One of the best places for that is any city’s public transport system. But for those used to framing photos without people in them, this can all be quite a challenge sometimes.
Getting good shots of people is tougher than you might think. First and foremost, you need to know your camera – using it should be second nature, as if it was a part of your body. Luckily, the X-Pro1 helps with that. It’s only big draw back is the clumsy focal point selection system. Framing shots and getting them in focus can be difficult when you need to move fast.
I need to work on my stealth, so I can do my thing without coming off as a weirdo. I don’t know whether to smile more, or focus on discretion. The key to taking pictures of people publicly is doing so smoothly. Whether your shooting faces or silhouettes, you need to be like a shadow in the corner. Ideally, you don’t want your subject to notice until it’s too late.
But stealth isn’t the only challenge. Movement can also stand between the shooter and the shot he seeks.You can be walking down the street and notice the perfect shot in your peripheral; by the time you get your camera up and fram your shot, it’s either too later or you’ve blown your cover. Other times, your subject is moving in a way that makes it difficult to get the shot. Every now and then you have no control over your motion, like when you’re in a moving vehicle. Timing becomes crucial.
One of the funnest things about shooting in the streets is the unexpected result. Any shot that conveys the feeling of the moment is usually a keeper (at least in the eyes of the photographer). Not all memorable shots are perfectly framed or well focused. A close up candid of an old wrinkly face is nice, but sometimes a more abstract shot can be just as powerful, especially when it tells a story… no matter how vague.
Shooting in the elements adds a whole new dimension to your images. When everything is wet, you have all sorts of new reflections to play with. When it snows, the white powder can do wonders for the image, especially in black and white. When things are falling out of the sky, the cloud patterns can be really neat. The only problem with precipitation is it can mess your gear up if you aren’t prepared.
Ultimately, it’s all about having fun. I know these pictures might not be my best, but I enjoyed taking them. More often than not, I find myself disappointed by the end result, but sometimes things work out nicely. I haven’t really done much to any of my street images in post* but I will be getting into that more at a later point. Some pictures that may not seem great at first can often be given a new breath of life in post-production.
Still, my biggest challenge remains getting good shots of people. I’m trying, but I have a very long way to go. I look forward to realizing my potential in that reagard. I know I can’t just jump into it and expect to be like Gordon Parks, but I will work to develop my own style. Hopefully I can get away with it in the meantime.
It’s gonna take time, but soon enough I can see myself getting the hang of this. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but I’ll be persistent. Of course, I’ll continue to shoot landscapes and other touristy type stuff. And while I’m sure I’ll find myself taking my newest camera with me on a few trips in the near future, I know there’s so much waiting just around the corner. I just need to go find it.
* I’ve processed these photos minimally in Lightroom. Some of the B&W images were originally saturated with color. I cropped the two square photos taken in the bus and put them in a small frame.