iN-PUBLIC – Turpin is Out…Now What?

News flash, founding member of iN-PUBLIC Nick Turpin and fellow member Nils Jorgensen have both abruptly left the street photography collective (You can read it here on phoblographer.com) over a photograph taken by another member (Blake Andrews), which was voted for photo of the month within the collective. First off, I applaud Turpin and anyone that takes a stand in something they believe in as this must have been a very difficult decision on Turpin’s part being one of the original founding members of the group. However I do feel he is overreacting. The perception I have of Turpin is that he’s a good photographer; very passionate, but at times acts like the chief of police for the genre street photography. For example, this can be seen from discussions I’ve read on social media regarding the World Street Photography Book 4 where he and Chris Suspect go back and forth on the book’s cover and whether or not it’s candid or even street.

Now I’m not saying Blake Andrews’s photo is going to transcend the street photography genre, but it did catch my eye when I saw it and had me curious. I asked myself, did he use flash? Did he slowed down the shutter? How did make this shitty photo?!!! I have never been more interested in how a shitty photo has come about! And that to me deserves a standing ovation (clap clap)! Look, I understand the argument here, digital tool(s) should not manipulate or enhance the narrative within the image.

According to the phoblographer

post, he left because he is“Unhappy with the inclusion of the image, Turpin felt it was not following the code of authenticity that is commonly associated with street photography.” This is where Turpin’s argument hits a dead end. His argument on the processing of the panoramic view on the iPhone and how it is not street photography…it’s an argument not worth having.

This should not have been the reason why Turpin went and packed his bags to go home. Turpin’s reason should have been because that piece of crap of a photo was selected for “photo of the month”.

You have 20 plus badass street photographers in the longest reigning and respected street photography collective and the photo of the month is this?….Really? Really? Eighteen years of hard work, energy, and effort to put together a respected and talented street photography collective and we have this for a photo. Blake Andrews should permanently delete the photo and swallow his pride. Such a shame! When you have a crap of a photo like that as the photo of the month for your collective, it represents everyone within the collective and not just the photographer who took it.

Which then brings up a bigger question….is street photography, or better yet photography in general…considered art? Anyone can go out and get lucky and take the best picture of a lifetime. When compared to other art forms like music, painting, or dance…it takes years and many hours of practice to perfect the art. Should street photography have rules. Should street photography have “Ethical and aesthetic” rules.

I believe the average person does not give a crap whether or not it’s a candid photo or how it was done. Now that does not mean I pose my own street pictures because I don’t. However, the average person only cares about what’s in the frame, aside from the street photography enthusiast. The regular person is only able to digest what was taken, not how it was taken. I’m also suspicious of many of the photographs I see floating online if they were manipulated in anyway. Did they remove a pole? Did they add this? Did they add that? With the digital tools we have today anything can be manipulated…but does the average viewer care?

Hawaii Street Photography Workshop

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Waikiki, Hawaii
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Dillingham, Hawaii


Hawaii Street Photography Workshop

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Street Portrait (No permission) – Tim Huynh

Interested in capturing real and raw moments of people on the streets of Honolulu? Join me for my 3-day workshop to gain my personal insights and hands on experience shooting on the streets. Workshop includes a photo walk throughout Honolulu, followed by a discussion and constructive critique of your photographs in a classroom setting.

Any level of photography experience is welcomed. Knowledge of your camera use and basic understanding of camera settings are required.
*Cameras will not be provided.

A laptop will be needed on the final day for downloading images from your camera to edit and critique.

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Waikiki – Tim Huynh
  • Workshop Overview

    • Learn the fundamentals of street photography
    • Learn how to become more confident and comfortable on the streets
    • Learn how to get close to your subjects without permission and avoid confrontation
    • Learn how to read and react to people
    • Learn to anticipate and visualize photographic opportunities
    • Meet other street photographers and enthusiasts!
Legs 2017 – Tim Huynh
  • Workshop Information

    • Date: 11/2/18 – 11/4/18 (Friday – Sunday), 6 students max
    • Time:
      • Friday 11/2 – 6PM – 9PM (Meet & greet/street photography introduction)
      • Saturday 11/3 – 10AM – 6PM (All day shooting in Waikiki)
      • Sunday 11/4 – 9AM – 4PM (Morning shoot in Honolulu followed by classroom critique)
    • Classroom location: TBD
    • Tuition: $600 USD $400 USD (EARLYBIRD price before October 19th)
    • Contact: timhuynhphotos@gmail.com
    • Newsletter sign up: TIM HUYNH NEWSLETTER

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW!

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Waikiki 2018 – Tim Huynh
  • Cancellations / Refund Policy

    • We reserve the right to cancel the workshop with less than 4 participants. Students will be given 2 weeks notice and a full refund.
    • For non-Hawaii students, we will not be responsible for reimbursement of travel expenses in the event the workshop is canceled. We recommend that you purchase refundable tickets and/or travel insurance.
    • If you would like to receive a refund before attending the workshop, we require at least 30 days advance notice.
    • By submitting your deposit you agree to these terms and conditions.

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW!

***100% Money-Back-Guarantee! I know this is a big investment but I am confident this workshop will help you get over your fear in shooting the streets. If I couldn’t provide enough value for you, I honestly don’t want your hard earned money.

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Punahou Carnival 2018 – Tim Huynh

Are You Feeling Uninspired With Your Photography

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Video Gear – Tim Huynh

Are you feeling uninspired with your photography? There are ways to work around that simply by trying new techniques in your photography (you can read here Photographer’s Block). I think every photographer would agree that there are times you get stuck and feel like you’re doing the same shit over and over again. But if it’s more than just a photographer’s block; you feel in a rut, unmotivated, the fun and excitement is no longer there, then you might want to consider shooting video. It’ll rattle you, in a good way of course, and change how you see things.

If you haven’t shot video before, it might feel similar to when you first started shooting street. You will be injected with excitement, curiosity and have no expectations other than having fun and learning something new. My experience is just the opposite. By trade I’m a videographer, I stumbled upon street photography when I was interning at a video production company in Chicago.  Street photography is great for me because I can just go out and shoot with no agenda and basically just get my creative juices flowing. I was in a rut with video because my interest was not in commercial or mainstream projects like advertisements or weddings. There is rarely any demand with producing documentary or photojournalism pieces. Also, I felt stressed trying to find an interesting subject and had a lot of pre-planning involved.

Looking back, I wish I wasn’t as narrow minded then. I could have filmed nice scenic lifestyle type of videos of everyday life. You don’t need to find a specific person as your subject to video. Just go out and film what catches your eye and have fun in the editing room. That’s where the magic really happens!

Here are my basic filmmaking and video maker tips:

  1. Hold your shot for 10 seconds either handheld or better yet on a tripod or monopod. Make sure you tuck your elbows in!
  2. It’s better to slightly overexpose than to under expose
  3. Shoot wide then move in to a medium shot. From there go closeup, then extreme closeup if you wish. By doing this you have cutaway options. For example, if you are shooting a pizza, shoot the pizza in its entirety. Then move in excluding the crust. Then move in closer for a tight shot where we only see the toppings. You’ll have more flexibility in post-production.
  4. When you’re starting off and without much knowledge always overshoot from all angles. High angles, low angles, panning shots, tilt, and tracking shots where you follow the subject.
  5. Video is not only a visual medium, but sound and music play a big role too! Look for potential sound or ambient noise in the area you are shooting in and see if you can incorporate that into your video. Music choice is icing on the cake! I personally can’t start working on my sequence until I find the right music because I tend to edit based off of the beat and rhythm.

There are so many great videographers online that you can watch and learn from. My favorite is Philip Bloom. Or you can simply go to Vimeo and scroll through their short documentary categories. There are many awesome videos available to view and get inspiration from!

Gear, however, is expensive but more accessible than before. You can really create good work with very minimal gear!

Video Gear on a Budget:

  1. Camera: I personally like the Sony A7 series, specifically the Sony A7Sii because it can shoot in low light and has SLOG for dynamic color correction. It can also record internal 4K. I’ve read the Sony A7iii is just as good as the A7Sii and much cheaper so you can look into that as well.
  2. Monitor: A small HD monitor has been the best purchases I’ve made. It’s very hard to see on the tiny LCD monitor for these DSLR cameras and there have been many occasions where I thought I was in focus but wasn’t. A 5-inch screen that’ll mount on top of your camera is essential.
  3. Audio: If you want to record audio for interviews buy a H4N audio device. It has two channels so you can plug in a wireless mic on one and a shotgun boom mic on another. I prefer a Sennheiser as a wireless option. I’ll also mount a rode mic as well. It’s better quality than capturing sound straight from the camera.
  4. Tripod: Here’s where you should spend the money! Do not go cheap on a tripod. Your tripod will be your best friend on shoots. A sturdy, good quality tripod can last forever. I recommend the Manfrotto carbon fiber or if you can spend a little more try this one here. Although a little pricier, make sure you choose a carbon fiber tripod. Unlike aluminum, carbon fiber won’t rust if you shoot on the beach or near water and it’s lighter, so you can be nimble when shooting.
  5. Don’t Get Caught Up: Don’t get caught up in the drones and gimbal stabilizers, for now at least. Keep it simple, hone your skills and then maybe look into those accessories. Don’t feel like you can’t tell a story with an aerial shot or a smooth tracking shot. That’s just foolish. Watch Philip Bloom videos, yes he uses drones for some work but overall his shots are on a tripod, static, some are long takes but regardless evokes an emotion from the viewer. Not everything has to look like MTV with lots of movement and fast cuts.
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice: Not happy with your footage. Keep practicing! Every time I shoot something for a client or a personal project I always learn something new. Like with your street photography the more you practice and the more you’re out on the streets the better you become and photographing people, the more fluid you get walking through crowds and anticipating a moment to happen.

The above videography tips are based on my personal experience as a shooter, editor, and producer. I hope these videography tips were helpful!

The Street Photography Bubble

Street photography has exploded within the last decade or so due to social media, Instagram to be specific. Every person is a photographer, you see the same styles and photographs done in different countries. Whether it’s your own idea or inspired by another photographer you admire, sooner or later the street photography bubble is going to pop. The popularity of street photography is at its peak but in my opinion, it will eventually trend down as the genre gets more saturated. Maybe we’ll discover that there are more people staging shots or photo-shopping their photos to get the perfect shot. Many people that start off in street photography end up getting burnt out and quit shooting after three years or so. If boosting your Instagram and other social media following is your main motive, you will soon lose interest. You must do it for the love of the art!

You might think you’ve shot an amazing photo or innovative style, then come to find you see someone online with a similar if not better shot. That’s the good and bad of social media. It’s great because we all have this community and we can see what other people are doing around the world, but at the same time nothing is new. Classic street photography has more of a documentary approach. But now days it seems a lot of photos surfacing are almost like fine art photography due to everyone wanting to be like Alex Webb.

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Coney Island 2018

I feel to be the best “modern day” street photographer you need to find that sweet spot that captures a documentary style, like Garry Winogrand, along with Alex Webb that’s more fine art street style. If you can find that middle ground your work will truly stand the test of time. Ultimately, I do believe the street photography bubble will soon burst. Just like how the housing market crashed in 2011, as supply increased, demand decreased. Although the popularity of street photography has increased, the demand for street photography is not there. It’s still a niche genre and many galleries don’t recognize it as an art-form like other genres of photography. After a while though I do believe street photography will emerge again and the classic documentary style will be the more popular way to go.

Thoughts?

Interview with Street Photographer Mike McCawley

Hi Mike thanks for doing this. Where do you live and how does this influence your photography?

No problem, thank you for reaching out. I currently live in Evanston, Illinois just outside of Chicago. I’d say it mostly influences my photography in that I’m located in an area that has a lot going on all the time. I would much rather shoot something interesting happening than random people on the street, so its nice living someplace with a lot of options for me.

When and how did you get into “street” photography?

I picked up my first real camera in 2013 with the idea of jumping into street photography. The genre had always interested me since I was younger, even if I didn’t know any of the big name photographers until much later. I imagine the Vivian Maier story had an impact around the time I got my camera as well.

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Tell us your creative process when you’re out on the street.

I don’t think about the creative process much but since I tend to enjoy shooting various events, the more oddball or “Americana” the better, I’ll think a lot about the kinds of shots I might want to take. Rarely do I end up with the photos I have in mind but it helps me get my head into what I want out of the work and that helps me see other scenes as I go. Tomorrow morning I’m heading to the Wisconsin State Fair so I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Which leads to your question on triggers.
When Alec Soth would drive on his trips to take photos – he kept a handwritten list on his steering wheel of various things he was looking for (attached). Some vague and some very specific. After hearing him discuss this at a talk of his I attended, I wrote up my own list that I keep in my wallet. It says things like “dinosaurs” and “covered things”. I don’t read the list very often but creating it is a great process to figure out what interests you.
Overall I do tend to draw more to quirky and humorous scenes. I would much rather make a viewer smile than feel anything too deep or moody.
I’ve also recently been working on a zine and that creative process has been very rewarding. Editing a body of work into a coherent project like this is a hard thing to learn but I’m inching forward with it. We’ll see how it turns out.

How much influence does social media have on your street photography?

Social media is fun and I enjoy looking at people’s work on various platforms like Flickr and Instagram, and I use them to try and promote my own work of course, but I wouldn’t say it influences me. One lesson I learned at some point along the way is to not pay too close attention to what shows up online. I found photo books a much better tool for learning and finding influence. Bodies of work where people spent a lot of time thinking about and editing their work before presenting it – rather than social media where people (myself included) pretty much just post never-ending streams of every passable photo they take.

If you had to explain your work to a child how would you describe it?

Interesting things are happening in everyday life all around us all of the time, if you just pay attention to the world. I try to use the camera to capture those happenings in an interesting way.

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What frustrates you about photography?

I don’t know if it’s a frustration but the idea that you’re never really satisfied and always trying to improve is something I didn’t really understand early on. That as I improved and reached various goals as I grew, my tastes would adjust upward as well. It’s what Ira Glass talks about in that piece about “The Gap.” The Gap is very real and if you don’t constantly feel and see a gap between your work and the work you aspire to, then you’ve stopped growing as a photographer. Like sharks and relationships, your photography should always be moving forward or else it will die.

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What are your thoughts on today’s street photography landscape?

I’m not sure I have any…. I feel like there was a big boom a few years ago when the Vivian doc came out, and I myself was probably a part of that. The surge of new photographers on social media seems to have waned in the last 2 to 3 years. Seems the thing nowadays is to get a certain level of recognition (re: social media following) and parlay that into selling workshops and whatnot. The growing festival scene is interesting also with new festivals popping up every year and the established fests continuing to grow in a robust way.

As far as the photos themselves, I don’t think much has changed. Street is a very big tent and there are so many various styles and philosophies on display. At the big contests, it seems that visual one-liners and trick-shots are still the style du jour but I think that’s waning a bit still. A lot of photos that are taken technically very well and look real “whiz bang” as far as how it all fits in a frame – but they lack any emotion. I take a lot of photos like that and I’m trying to do better and focus more on capturing feeling of some sort.

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What do you think of Vivian Maier? Was it her story or photographs that inspired you?

I think Maier is fascinating for all of the usual reasons people are fascinated by her story. I do think her story is inspiring but I would say that her work inspired me more than her story. I live in the same area where she lived and nannied and have met people that knew her. She just always had a camera with her, always taking photos. That seems to be what people remember about her. I wouldn’t say I think she took the most amazing photos – but I think I was maybe struck more by the way those photos aged. The way they act as a time machine to record what Vivian saw and what about that scene made her click that button.

What are you most proud of in terms of your work?

Any time a photographer I admire gives me positive feedback. Also getting to a point in my own photography where others seek out and value my opinion on what they’re doing. Those are both things that bring me a lot of pride but otherwise I just am trying to plug away at it and not get too self-satisfied with what I’m making.

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Which street photographer inspires you and why?

These days I have to say Alec Soth. Not sure he’d be labeled a “street” photographer though his photos certainly have that aesthetic. I saw him speak in Milwaukee a few months ago and everything he had to say really made sense to me.

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Name three contemporary photographers you really admire?

Alec Soth, Martin Parr, Don Hudson. For various reasons.

If you can have dinner with one street photographer past or present who would it be?

Garry Winogrand. Does anybody not answer Winogrand here?

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When you aren’t making pictures you are doing what?

Binge-watching something probably.

As street photographers, we all get that “got it” feeling when we get the shot we are after. What needs to be present in an image for you to get that feeling or know you nailed it?

I don’t know what needs to be present but it’s like that old saying “I’ll know it when I see it.” I did watch some YouTube video about street photography when I was first starting out that gave the advice to always try and get three interesting elements into each photo. If you can get three interesting elements, it’ll probably be a good photo. I’m not sure how true that is or how good I am at making photos like that but I think it’s good advice to think about.

Do you want to make money with your photography (commercial, weddings, or street, do workshops, sell prints)

I think if I had to make a living with photography I would very quickly start to hate photography. I sell prints here and there; have sold to a few magazines. I don’t’ think I’d ever be at a level where people will pay me for workshops but that’s something that could be fun in the future maybe.

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If you didn’t have to worry about earning a living, what type of work would you do?

I think I’d be a really good private detective.

Do you have other things that inspire you outside of photography (Philosophy, painting, film, etc)?

All sorts of stuff but mostly films and going to live music. I really love going to concerts and have started doing a bit of concert photography on the side just for fun. I’m also really into comedy and politics and searching for mid-century treasures at estate sales and thrift shops. I think all of those things have an influence on what type of photos I make.

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What is your dream assignment/project?

I’d love to spend an entire presidential election cycle covering it from all angles but with my street aesthetic. From the small state rallies and diner meet & greets all the way up to the conventions and inauguration.

To keep up with Mike McCawley’s work

  1. Website – http://www.mccawleyphotos.com/
  2. FlickR – www.flickr.com/people/mccawleystreet/
  3. Instagram – Follow @mikemccawley

Adding this donate button. Any donation will be greatly appreciated. Your monetary donation will be used for coffee and photobooks. Mahalo

Michael Ernest Sweet is Back!

Welcome back Michael. You took a hiatus? How long?

Well, I’m afraid there’s no simple answer to these questions. The “welcome back” may be somewhat premature, however. I did step away from photography for a while, if not taking photographs is what you mean, yes. I remained firmly in the photography world as a writer (I write for magazines like Photo Life), and I remained a judge at the World Street Photography Organization. I just didn’t feel the urge or the need to actually pick up a camera. I sold most of my equipment and for a whole year only took a handful of photos using an iPhone. It felt good. So, although the dates are blurry, I was away from the game of making photographs for a solid year.

 

What did you do during that time?

Well, as I’ve said, I wrote for magazines about photography and I also did some judging. I am a teacher by profession and I began in a new position, which required me to focus on getting settled into a new environment. I am also teaching a new course and needed to write some curricula etc. I traveled some during that time. I teach classical world, so I traveled back (after many years) to both Rome and Athens and didn’t make a single photograph in either place. It felt wonderful! I worked on a writing project with Martin Sheen. I also got into collecting expensive mechanical watches and learned all about that world.

 

Why were you away and what made you come back?

I’m not really sure why I felt I needed to step away. In a piece of writing, which you reference below, I talked about how street photography is overrun with bad photography and I think that was part of my decision. I was just seeing too much of the same. Everyone copying each other and producing so much of the same. It became very boring for me. You know, underexposed photographs of people lurking in shadows amidst splashes of color in the backdrop. How many of those photographs does the world really need? Or photographs of people passing in front of billboards and aligning with something in some way that apparently is ironic or interesting. Oh look, a woman with a pink shirt walked in front of a pink billboard. Snap.

 

Then you have the photographs of kids jumping in and out of water, young woman on cell phones, or people holding umbrellas. So much of the same. Do I sound bitter? I’m not really, truly, but I am tired of it all in some way. The unimaginative repetition is visually exhausting for me. I recently judged a competition with nearly 2000 images and it was truly disappointing how many were repetitive and familiar. Now, I want to be clear, I’m not saying that there is no good street photography out there, or no good street photographers. I’m just saying that they are becoming very hard to find amid all the noise. The fight to find good, creative, original work by sincere, kind, collegial photographers was draining.

 

I was tired. I was either seeing bad photography or running into ego-driven self-important photographers – often both in one package. I was also put off by the “workshop” explosion in street photography. Because no one can sell street photographs, everyone became involved in selling street photography workshops. It felt icky to me. It felt like a pyramid scheme. I didn’t want to be part of that hustle and so, without doing so, I drifted off the radar. At that point I felt as though it was a natural place to step away and do something else for a while. I’m happy I did.

Don’t you think in today’s world you need to promote yourself to get your work seen. To inch one step closer to your goal whether that’s publishing a book, or have a solo exhibit…isn’t self promotion inevitable even at times it may seem like “ME ME ME”. What do you recommend?

Absolutely. But I think it can be done with taste and moderation. I think it can be done with a respect and kindness toward others. In fact, I think you might gain more ground by supporting others than by merely promoting yourself. That’s been true for me at least. I think the community would benefit from more, well, community.

 

With the workshops, people see an Eric Kim whose making six figures and think this is an opportunistic time. You’re basically saying many shooters have the wrong motive. Am I correct?

Well, are you an artist or merely a business person? Yes, I do think you can be both, but it is a dance. I think some of the people selling workshops are primarily just business people, some very successful, but their art is suspect to me.

In fact, with some of these people I cannot even really find much of a body of work. Doesn’t that raise any flags for the people forking over their money? I think if I were just about business I’d chose something like real estate, not photography (laughing). Make those very average six figures into seven or eight figures! Art is about something greater and deeper than making money, at least it used to be.

Why does all of this bother you in that you see the same and people copying each other, etc?

I’ve never been a fan of copied art. I mean, paint by numbers, okay, if you need to relax. But painting by number and trying to get gallery representation? That’s a new phenomenon. And, to be clear, it doesn’t “bother me”, I just find it to be counterproductive to the evolution of the genre.

 

Clear the air for everybody. I saw the online backlash when you wrote that article about how street photography is running itself into the ground, therefore you decided to take a step back?

I’m not aware of any backlash to that article, particularly. Although I don’t read online forums, so maybe I missed something. I think most people took it to mean that I was, personally, burnt out and needed a break. Fair enough. My claims about the genre as a whole were, I think, largely dismissed. I don’t think there is a lot of appetite for genuine aesthetics-related conversation in street photography. I don’t see too many people writing about street photography from an informed place. I mean there are a lot of people writing (and YouTub-ing) about it, but few of these people have a background in art or art history etc. The conversations are not even skin deep most of the time. I just watched a video where a guy claimed that Edwin Land (founder of Polaroid) whom he mistakenly called Travis Land, invented the reflex camera. Wait, what? I mean come on. Then, when anyone does write genuine criticism (I mean that word in its true sense) there is backlash. No one wants to be told that their art sucks. I get it. As I always say, the lack of commercial gallery interest in what we call street photography today speaks volumes. Indeed, nothing more need be said, really.

So, yes, was I frustrated by a lack of reception by trying to initiate a deeper conversation about the genre, and the crisis I think it is in aesthetically, yes. Did I run away because no one appreciated what I was trying to do, no. I’ve been writing opinion and criticism for twenty years, my skin is much thicker than that. However, I really do wish that more people in the street photography world would try to understand what we are seeing in the genre and how (or how not) it fits in with the greater conversation of photography and the history of photography.

For example, my work in my book, The Human Fragment, is directly descendant of Mark Cohen’s early work. It not a copy, and anyone who knows our work would agree on that, but it is related. My work and his work share some DNA. Yet, no one, not one person, ever, has initiated a conversation with me about this obvious lineage – about how my work in “in conversation” with Mark’s work. I find that tremendously disappointing as an artist. I guess I long for a bygone era. I long for those days when artists bothered to know about those who came before them, in a genuine way, and worked to find an “opening” whereby they could join a larger conversation. Maybe in the days of the Chelsea Hotel when artists sat around (mostly stoned or worse) and worked to understand things intellectually, not just from an ego point of view. Today is seems to just be me, me, me. Look at my work, isn’t it great? My work is my own. It’s new. It’s original. It’s all mine.

Link to HUMAN FRAGMENT BOOK HERE 

 

So what exactly reignited the passion or was it just simply being away taking a breather.

I’m not sure the passion is reignited, Tim. I mean, yes, I am making photographs these days, at times. But, I am not really passionate about street photography any more. I think this comes from two places. One, everything I’ve said so far in this interview. Two, that I have made my contribution to that genre. I think my work in The Human Fragment is unique. Now, let’s be clear. I am not saying that it is good or iconic. No. Yet, I am saying that I made a body of work that is consistent, recognizable, and unique. It is in conversation with others, like Cohen, but it stands on its own. I will defend that claim indefinitely. I can be accused of many things, but no one who knows art history can claim that I just copied someone else or made photographs that were already recognizable. That said, that work came to an end. I just cannot make “that” work any more. It’s done. It is what it is. Good or bad, it is its own thing and it is finished and will now have to live out its own life. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a photographer or make photographs, however. I am, by nature, a photographer. I will always have that urge to capture time and make it my slave. That doesn’t go away. At least I don’t think it does, does it?

 

Talk about your new work. Were these created during your hiatus? Reminds me a bit of William Klein. What inspired this?

The camera I am using inspired this work. I am using a Harinezumi, which I have used for years. Most notably, I made my book, Michael Sweet’s Coney Island, using the Harinezumi. Although those images were in color. In fact, those images are all about color and its vibrancy etc. Ever since that project I have been curious about what the Harinezumi can do in monochrome. So much of the work we see from this camera is in color. I also like how the camera is so unpredictable. There are no settings. You cannot really subjugate the camera. The camera, in some way, make you its slave. I point and I shoot. I then wait and pray that the camera is on my side. I like that it adds distortion and blur and, sometimes, things that I cannot even explain. More than once I have looked at a photograph after arriving home and have not been able to even identify what is going on or where I made the image. These photographs take on a life of their own. As for William Klein, yes, I can see where you are coming from – about the blur etc. Yet, as a great admirer of Klein (and a fanatic about understanding photographic lineage) I would be cautious to make any comparisons myself. I think, perhaps, where we converge is in that no one appreciated his images when they were first made, especially in America. I think a lot of people also don’t get my work here. They don’t get the “blur” and the abstraction. This work is proving successful for me overseas, but here in North America it is seen as very sub-par in comparison to my work with a “serious camera”. And that’s fine. I am not looking for anything with this work. I am merely satisfying my own curiosity about the Harinezumi and black and white photography.

Link to Michael Sweet’s Coney Island

 

Sneak peek into any projects you are working on? New book?

I don’t think I have the energy for a new book just now. Publishers these days are very demanding about how much of the work you take on yourself. No one wants to invest in your book if you are not committed to going out and peddling that book everywhere! I just cannot do that right now. I have two book still under active contract with a publisher and I need to promote those books and that work, for now. As for new work in general, well, I am making a few photographs here and there. I am not taking anything too seriously at all. I’m just a guy with a toy camera. Someday, more down the road, I want to return to photography more seriously but not street photography. As I’ve said, I have made my contribution there. I think I want to tackle portraits next. I know nothing about making portraits and that seems exciting to me. I love to learn new things.

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Keep up with Michael Ernest Sweet’s work on Instagram – Follow @mesweetphotos

 

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Interview With Photographer Aristide Economopoulos

Currently you are a staff photographer at the Star-Ledger in New Jersey tell us your photographic journey.

I took a high school photography class my sophomore year and I became hooked. I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology on scholarship and while in school I interned at 4 different newspapers throughout the US. After graduation I returned home to the Washington DC area where I freelanced for the Washington Post for almost 2 years. I took my first staff job at the Dubois County Herald in Jasper, IN and was there for 2 years and then another 2 years at The State Journal Register in Springfield, IL. Since 2000 I have been on staff at The Star-Ledger and NJ Advance Media in New Jersey.

Is it more difficult making a living as a photographer than before?  Yes! I’m fortunate to still have a staff position but a number of publications have cut their staffs. Friends of mine who won a Pulitzer Prize were even let go by their papers. There is more competition with the popularity of digital photography and less work to go around with budgets being cut. You just can’t be a talented photographer now, having good business skills are essential for a successful career. Sadly as I finish writing this, the whole photo staff at the NY Daily was just fired.

Is photojournalism a degree and career still worth pursing? Yes because stories will still need to be told. We live in a more visual society than ever before. Yes, there is a lot of competition but the cream will still rise. Also, with the rise of web publications there is a bigger demand for quality photo editors. More and more students coming out of school are not becoming photographers but are going into editing and multimedia. Students need to be realistic with their skills but also be willing to put in a lot of work because someone else will.

Has social media changed things for better or for worse? There can be arguments for both! With the internet and social media we have become more visually aware than ever before. One could even argue that social media has also devalued what a photographer does. Everyone is a photographer and we judge pictures by likes but not if they communicate anything while giving content away for free.

What’s the difference between documentary and street photography?  There doesn’t have to be a difference but I would say that there is more of a trend in street photography for photos that rely on graphics or quirky compositions. These types of photos might be visually fun but they can start to look a lot like each other. I feel that documentary photography relies more on photos with intimacy and emotion although they can be graphic also. The strongest photos rely on strong visuals, a decisive moment and either emotion or intimacy that makes you feel something.

Are you more of one than the other?  Both! Earlier in my career my photos were more based on just graphic elements. I’m striving for more intimacy and emotion in my photos these days. There are too many street photography photos where you are just the observer and you don’t feel anything. I guess working for a newspaper has made me want more than just something that is pretty. I was lucky early in my career to be surrounded by some really talented photojournalists and great photo editors that pushed me for something more.

Here is some great insight from one of my mentors who was responsible for 4 Pulitzer Prizes where he use to work

The Language of Photography in the Newsroom 

By JOE ELBERT

 The Washington Post

TWP pictures fall into categories: informational, graphically appealing, emotionally appealing and intimate. The right combination of these categories in a single image becomes an award winner.

INFORMATIONAL — This is the lowest standard of photography. I often refer to these images as real estate pictures. Shortly after I joined TWP and edited with a photographer, I knew that something just wasn’t clicking. The photographer explained that he had been taught to see each assignment as shooting an overall of the battlefield, and getting a mug shot of the winning general. We still shoot informational pictures, but we know when they’re needed and do not see them as a standard. Pushing informational pictures is lowering the bar.

GRAPHICALLY APPEALING — Most newspaper photographers discovered this trick in the early ’70s. Hell, they even won awards. But these are not a case of fitting an art form. They resulted simply because wide-angle lenses were developed. A photographer with a limited sense of composition could create an image that suddenly had dimension and depth. These images are intellectually appealing but don’t have much emotional impact. Many newspaper photographers consider these stunning, and too often rely on composition alone to carry a situation.

EMOTIONALLY APPEALING — Photographers talk about capturing moments. Cartier Bresson, one of the five founding fathers of Magnum Photo Agency, titled his 1952 book “The Decisive Moment.” The challenge was to push the concept of decisive moments from the magazine world into newspapers. Patience, sensing the environment, and intuitively sensing when the moment will occur are the building blocks for capturing emotionally appealing images. The skill is very much like that of a wildlife photographer’s, but the subject is humanity. This involves a lot of sitting in a blind and waiting, unnoticed, for the picture.

INTIMATE — Working with truly gifted photographers helped me to realize that we could push the decisive moment and emotionally appealing images a bit further, and I chose to call this category “Intimate.” The description scared off the wannabes, and I came to know whom to work with. I can’t give you a description of an intimate picture; it’s something that can be felt.

Walk us through your creative process when you’re out photographing? First, my question to myself is what do I want to say? I use to go a hundred miles an hour and right into looking for a photo but realized that some of the best photos are right behind me. I now like to walk around the periphery of a scene. Looking at the light and shadows and how they playoff each other. Then I look at the people, their relationships and their body gestures asking myself what really is the story here. With this knowledge I try to predict where moments will happen. I like to by the fly on the wall when I’m photographing but not the fly you want to swat. There are two ways to take a photo. The first is where the photo is completely candid and the subject has no idea that it was taken. The other is when a photographer gains the trust of a subject and then they start to ignore the photographer. One way is not better than the other. A talented photographer can be very inconspicuous even if the subject knows they are there and especially when there is a lot of drama going on around them.

Do you capture your street photos simultaneous when you are working on assignments or do you shoot on your days off? Both! You have to have a balance with work and personal photography. Otherwise you spend all of your life documenting other people’s life and not living yourself. I incorporate street photography into my daily assignments and especially on photo essay projects for work. I also have a couple of personal long term street photography projects I’m working on too. The light mirrorless cameras have made it easier to carry a high quality camera more frequently. I currently have a couple of the Fuji models I use in addition to my Canon work gear.

What’s your favorite subject to photograph? Generally speaking people. I like the diversity of subjects I cover being a newspaper photographer. That being said I specialize in documentary essays.

In regards to your photography, what are you most proud of?  Producing high quality work on a consistent basis. Anyone can get lucky with one photo but working hard and producing quality work daily for my publication shows my value to being on their staff.

Is there something you’d like to improve on in your photography? Any challenges you take upon yourself?  Getting closer not just physically to my subjects but emotionally. I know I and others sometimes get in a formula on how we like to shoot it be either a certain lens, a distance to a subject, a time of day or style of light. It’s good to break away from this and change things up. Years ago a friend of mine was a photo editor a small paper and a rodeo was coming to town. The staff of 5 photographers went to shoot it as a team project. They were allowed only a limited number of rolls of film with one camera and their favorite lens. Then they were told to give their favorite lens to the photographer to the right of them. The photographer who liked to shoot all long lens sports with clean backgrounds now had a 24mm lens!!!! As a staff they were challenged to work differently but as a whole they produced some great work. Things like this are great to do and occasionally push yourself to see and not get to comfortable.

Was there a photo or photographer that had a lasting impact on you? A couple – from a pure traditional street photography aspect Magnum’s David Allan Harvey and Alex Webb have been influential. I was fortunate to work with former Washington Post Photographer Carol Guzy who has won 4 Pulitzer Prizes. Her photos are visually amazing with a lot to say on important issues. Lastly, legendary LIFE Magazine photographer Bill Eppridge was a friend and mentor.

“A journalist does not necessarily imply ‘artist’ but you are not going to make your point if you cannot make a picture that people will stop and explore…the ‘artist’ in one instant must establish a sense of time, a sense of place, a moment of importance, a moment of aesthetic beauty all in the same frame, one moment in history. In terms of importance, the fewer of these present, the less significant the photograph. Anybody can take pictures, but not anybody can become a photographer.” – Bill Eppridge

A favorite photo of from your own collection –   I call it “Endless Summer.” I was working at my first staff job in Jasper, IN, and it was the 4th of July on Beaver Lake. The kids felt comfortable around me and just ignored me as I took their photos. To me this photo is timeless.

Any advice to you’d give to photographers?  Work hard because if you don’t someone else will. There are less job opportunities than the past and more photographers looking for work. Be flexible and diverse in your skills but be able to specialize or show an editor why you are unique and should be the right photographer for the job. Use all the tools and tricks of the trade but make your own photos and don’t feel you have to copy a style. Your pictures should rely on a moment and emotion and not on how you light the scene. Otherwise you’re bringing yourself down to just technique. Also extremely important is to understand the business of photography. Making a living through street photography is not an option for most photographers.

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To keep up with Aristide Economopoulos’s work:

Instagram – Follow @aeconomopoulos

Website – www.aristidephoto.com

Adding this donate button. Any donation will be greatly appreciated. Your monetary donation will be used for coffee and photobooks. Mahalo

How We Can Appreciate Street Photographs

In today’s digital world with a flux of photographs swimming online it’s hard to appreciate any of them. We spend a good portion of our day scrolling through our Instagram feeds going on liking sprees, but it’s rare to find a photo that really resonates with us. Only when we do, do we actually take time to analyze the photo.

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Hawaii Street Photography 2018 – Tim Huynh

WHO CARES WHO MADE THE PHOTO

We should focus less on who took the photograph and more on the composition of the photo to really appreciate it for what it is. I think once we associate the photographer with the photo then we subconsciously create a bias opinion.

For example, Alex Webb, one of the gold standards in street photography, in my opinion isn’t producing as great of photographs as in the past.. I think however, if I were to view his current work without knowing he took the picture I probably would appreciate it more. By knowing upfront that a certain photograph was taken by him, I look at it with higher standards. And if it doesn’t compare to his past work, I already dismiss the picture as not being good.

PRINTS ARE BETTER THAN THE SCREEN

Looking at photos in printed form also helps us to appreciate the photography as an art. There’s something tangible there. There is something real when you have a physical print or a book in your hands. It feels real, the photos come to life, and in the end a better appreciation of the photos or the artist. Finding photographs that you like and resonate with you, and not basing your judgement off of what’s been getting a lot of recognition from competition or online. It’s hard to absorb all a photo has to offer by viewing it on your computer or iphone, the print has a special way of taking you on the photographic journey almost leaving you mesmerized. Just the other month, I walked into a local camera store and saw film prints on their wall. I loved it and when I took a closer look to who the photographer was I thought to myself these photos don’t look as good when I’m scrolling through my instagram feed. The prints were 8 by 10’s much larger than a phone screen but also the sequence of the photos had a fluidity to them that maybe the photographers instagram page wasn’t in. Perhaps it was just the air in the store. I don’t know.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS ALL B.S

There are so many good photographers with no following and average photographers with huge followings. Try not to focus on the number of followers! I recently read an article that most people will look at the amount of Instagram followers someone has before even scrolling through their work. I think the number of followers does influence the viewer in determining if the photographer is good or not. That’s what our society has become, everything is so superficial and most people can’t even digest a good photo. The average viewer likes one and done type photos or humor street photographs, which is the reason that theme of street photography has risen in popularity. 

BE IN THE MOMENT

I also feel that we need to be in the moment. With social media and having our hands and eyes glued to our phones each day we become less in touch with the present. That’s why I feel looking at old photos from the 50s and 60s even 70s makes us appreciate that current era because there’s that nostalgia feel…or some of us having not lived in those era’s are curious on what it was like. Whereas in the present we know what it is like.

CONCLUSION

So there you have it. Ways to better appreciate either your own photos or photos made by others. If you have any other ways you appreciate photos please leave a comment!

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How More Female Street Photographers Can Be Recognized

The lack of visibility and recognition of females in many professions still hold true today in 2018!!! I mean it hasn’t been 100 years yet that women in our country had the right to vote. Even in the world of street photography, women photographers tend to be underrepresented.

For example I’ve been looking at Melissa Breyer’s photographs and for a while I hadn’t known if the photographer was male or female. When I scroll through Instagram or websites of photo competitions, I just appreciate the photos and never bother looking at the names of the photographer. Before, I used to stereotype and think that women would only photograph children, make the photograph on a wider scale including more in the frame, and a photograph by a man would be up close and personal but that can’t be so accurate today with the amount of photographs online. But now there’s really nothing specific that can pinpoint whether a picture was taken by a man vs a woman.

Back to my main question, how can female street photographers get more recognition in the industry? Two things come to mind: the two affiliates with the most reach in the genre of street photography (Eric Kim and iN-Public). Both have significant reach and a strong influence in the genre. So much so that if they say a photograph or a photographer is good, most people will listen or at least check out their work.

To my knowledge, Eric Kim has never interviewed a female street photographer. What’s incredible about Eric Kim is that he has a solid following from the average street photographer nerd to anyone new or curious about the genre. He reaches more of the general consumer. I mean his stuff is all over google.

The same goes with iN-Public. They have the reach and influence to bring more attention to female street photographers. Besides Magnum, they are the longest reigning collective. For crying out loud, of their twenty five active members only two are females and one of them is Trent Parke’s wife. I don’t know what iN-Public’s criteria is in selecting and accepting new members, but seeing an unbalanced number of men to women under this list of photographers on their site has me scratching my head. Even Burn My Eye, out of 19 members only two are female.

I also think the legacy of street photography plays a role in keeping the women photographers in the dark. When we think of the gold standards in street photography or photographers that helped propel the genre forward, a few names that come to mind are Henri Cartier Bresson, Garry Winogrand, and Alex Webb. All of them men. I do think men take things a little too seriously, partly because men have more of an ego than women do, not saying there aren’t females that don’t have egos but generally speaking us men have bigger egos. Ken Walton of StreetFoto did a great thing by having a majority of female judges for his competitions, but that’s seasonal and clearly not enough.

The difficult part in seeking recognition, regardless of being male or female, is that “you’re only as good as your last photo”. And with many good and bad photographs floating online today it’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle. It can be very hard to stand out for longer than 24 hours. People who say they photograph for themselves, well yeah with street you do have to photograph for yourself, but they also want people to see their work. Street photography is a visual medium, it’s self expression and you should want people to see how YOU see the world.

I feel there are many women street photographers who produce great work and we need to do a better job at recognizing them. I’m glad to find that female street photographers have taken initiative to create online groups that are dedicated exclusively to female street photographers. To see more visit Women in Street and Double X Street.

Another good read here “Street Photography”s a Man Problem” 

Adding this donate button. Any donation will be greatly appreciated. Your monetary donation will be used for coffee and photobooks. Mahalo