Too Many Street Photography Collectives?

What’s with all these street photography collectives!? I’m losing count. There’s iN-PUBLIC, the longest street photography group, there’s Burn My Eye, Observe, APF Collective, Full Frontal Flash, The Street Collective, Berlin 1020, EyeGosBananas, Superluna (just learned about this one), New York City Street Photography Collective Italian Street Eyes…Okay I’m getting exhausted. I’m curious to know what their purpose is, besides being all passionate photographers that formed a group and shares a similar vision on street photography? Other than the members admiring your photographs, are there any other qualifications you must pass? Are you required to take an “initiation beating”? I’m joking.

I attended StreetFoto in 2017 and there was a panel discussion from members of in-PUBLIC. There were 4 to 5 of them, I don’t remember exactly, but someone in the audience asked a question something along the lines of “what benefits are there being in a collective?” The answer went something like “well we have a group chat from time to time and we send over our contact sheets and photos to one another for feedback and that basically helps our editing process…” Really that’s it? I do want to mention as well that many collectives are born with the idea to sell a workshop(s), which is sad.

Anyway, all these street collectives really need to stop promoting themselves and figure out a way to “Make Street Photography Great Again”. Many of the collectives have a number of big name photographers in their groups and have a lot of weight and reach, but I don’t think many, if not all, of these collectives really know what the purpose of having a collective is. What is the mission? If you can’t answer that then you should reconsider putting any time and effort into your collectives. I feel like some of these collectives especially the ones that have been around for much longer can do much more damage by combining all of their talents (not just street photography talents) to do something with impact. Something memorable. Perhaps give value back to the street photography community.

Street Collectives

I propose that there should be some kind of organize street photography Olympics. One representative from each group all gather and discuss in trying to put something competitive together. Figure out a way collectively to give back to the street photography community (oh wait did I say that) instead of each group taking turns highlighting the same individual…it would be a win, win for everyone.

I also feel that some of these collectives are bringing in new blood into their group at a very high rate, especially within the last year or so. There’s no doubt that the male and females that have joined are phenomenal photographers, but I do think it makes the group less special. Maybe limit it by only accepting one person per year. I understand it’s a marketing strategy by bringing a high profile photographer into the group and I’m sure reviewing not only their body of work is part of the process, but how many Instagram followers that person has will eventually determine the fate of whether or not that particular person gets included.

From my observation, I look at some of these photographers associated with these groups and I don’t think they need to be a part of the collective. They’re good enough, with a large enough following, to be independent. If a group were to ask me to join, I’d negotiate hard and really try to maximize my opportunities and see where we could both benefit each other. It’s gotten to the point where street photography collectives are so saturated. The one benefit I see in being a part of a collective is to be recognized by my peers, but then what happens after.

All in all, is it worth being a part of a collective? I mean it doesn’t hurt to have a group of photographers that support you and possibly free marketing doesn’t hurt either. But if this is the case, I would be selective and wait for the right group to reach out to you.

*** Berlin 1020 is a unique collective like NYC SPC because all the photographers are located in the same area…

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Things to Stop In Street Photography

Stop shooting from the hip

Shooting from the hip becomes a guessing game that you will fail 9.5 out of 10. You also look like a creep walking around aiming your camera from the hip, looks like you’re trying to shoot up a ladies skirt. I recommend everyone to try everything once just to experiment so you can judge for yourself first hand.

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Havana Cuba 2017

Stop judging the quality of a photo based on “likes”

Social media is very superficial and the quality of a photo is very subjective. However, don’t let the number of likes influence you whether or not the photo is good. You will know when a photo is good to you not by the lighting, framing, post processing of the photo…the photo resonates with you…it evokes an emotion and perhaps plays with multiple emotions within you….the photo has more questions than they do answers…the photo is open ended, keeping the narrative on going unlike many one and done humor photos we see today.

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Hawaiian Wedding 2018

Stop trying to be like Bruce Gilden

Are you ultra aggressive on the streets with your flash gun  due to an imbalance of testosterone levels or are trying to shoot like Bruce Gilden….Just stop, there is only one Bruce Gilden. Plus if you shoot the way he does, your photos will only remind people of well Bruce Gilden….Find your own style and voice in street photography and create your own legacy…just shoot to get away from the daily stresses and to be more in touch with your surroundings.

Stop thinking about how you’re going to monetize your street photography

Stop thinking too far out on how you’re going to sell prints and make money off your street photography. Stop lusting over the awards and recognition. Remember why you’re shooting street and let me remind you there is no money in being a street photographer. As I mentioned in the paragraph above, shoot street because it temporarily removes you from the daily grind. Shoot street to appreciate the current moment. Shoot street because you enjoy the challenge in creating something out of nothing. Shoot street because you enjoy walking and love the feeling of having all your senses working together…reminding yourself you’re currently here…alive. Shoot street to leave a legacy not for an easy dollar. The moment you try to monetize your passion, you’ll go back to your old miserable self. Don’t fall into this trap.

 

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

Interview with Street Photographer Askar Khamdamov

I’m happy to share this interview with you all on a talented photographer from New York but currently resides and shoots in San Francisco. By the look of his body of work, it’s almost as if Askar went back in time to the 60s or 70s and made these photographs. The perfect combination of subject matter, environment, and usage of film is well executed. Enjoy the interview below but better yet the photos.

 

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

Hi Tim, thanks for the opportunity.

A few years ago I moved to San Francisco Bay Area from New York. The landscapes at both places are very different, and the new environment has been a really great inspiration. When you see beautiful San Francisco streets with Victorian houses, unusual plants, and classic cars, this mix is a great influence.

Also, the move itself was a big push towards exploring this beautiful and diverse area. Even today I still have yet so much to see and photograph.

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

With my film photos, I preserve the moments that surrounded them, when they were young.

 

What frustrated you about photography?

Not many people appreciate the process and the idea. Even though I try not to invade anyone’s privacy, I was attacked more than once while holding the camera.

Oh, and prices for the gear of course.

 

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

It’s very cool when people feel that my photos take them back in time.

 

What are you trying to say with your photographs?

Time goes on, things change. Appreciate what surrounds us. In a few years from now, we will be emotionally looking back at our “Instagram” shots of today.

 

What motivated you to do this series (if it is a series what’s the title)?

My “San Francisco treasures” motivated by emotions I have when I spot something extraordinary on the streets. It’s really easy to fall in love with San Francisco. At this point, I guess some New Yorkers may get irritated. Nonetheless, then you also add a classic car, and there you have a beautiful image, which can be easily mistaken for the moment from the 60s or 70s. Isn’t that great?

 

Did this series/body of work evolved organically or was this project always in the back of your mind. Could you tell us how it happened?

As a kid, I was a Hollywood movie junkie. I was nuts about American cars in the movies; they were rare in Central Asia back then. It happens that when I spot some classic now, it makes me stop, take a look and sometimes makes me wish I had a key.

When I realized that I could take a film photo of the car and that photo can bring back memories of mine and other people’s childhood, I decided to make this series. And people seem to like it.

 

 

How do you know you got something worthy of a photo? Walk us through that creative process? Is it a type of car? Neighborhood? Does it need both for you to make a photograph?

Usually, a car catches my attention first, but if the environment isn’t right, I often pass. I find it more natural when a car blends into surroundings. In most cases, it’s also crucial that I exclude other vehicles unless they add value.

Later on, looking at the photos, you start noticing houses, electrical poles, trees, fences, trash, and other details of a city. All of it has to be in some sort of balance so that you want to capture it in a first place.

In some cases, I spot a nice car and wait until the environment changes. Or light, or some other detail that makes a difference. Often the vehicle disappears while I wait, then I lie to myself that it would be a waste of film anyway. But sometimes I get lucky, take a photo and then get a fifty or so of new Instagram followers.

 

Why film? Talk about that?

No “Instagram” has come up with a nice enough filter 🙂

I have a few digital cameras and use them for family photos. But no matter how much I pay for cameras, glass and soft, they just can’t replicate what I get from some $15 thrift store find with, let’s say Superia 200. All the imperfections, waiting while being processed and unpredictable results create a special kind of excitement. People get nuts when they see film cameras and photos. And personally I just can’t get enough.

It’s probably the same reason why some people drive classic cars, read paper books, or stay in the marriage for years – love.

 

Does nostalgia have anything to do with it?

For sure.

 

Because you shoot film are you more conservative clicking the shutter button?

Oh yes! With virtually every shot I hear my wife counting the cost of it. If I want to keep shooting film and staying married, I got to do it smart.

 

What’s your dream car and did you happen to come across it on the streets and make a photograph?

I would say Datsun 240Z. I do come across it almost every day, as a lady drives one in my neighborhood. I posted photos of it earlier.

 

What is your dream assignment/project?

I have this weird need of going to Australian Outback. There I would love to photograph the life in remote areas and aboriginal people. Go figure.

 

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

Help small businesses with their online presence. I run a boutique web design studio for a few years now.

Away from work, I like exploring California with my family.

 

Convince us digital shooters why we should shoot film.

That’s a tough one. You should not. I noticed a strong drive in film camera prices on eBay recently. Kendall Jenner mentioned that she uses Contax T2 camera and I guess this drove a lot of digital shooters towards a film.

Seriously speaking, this is just a different kind of experience. Plain better, more exciting, more authentic and rewarding, photos look better, it makes you slow down and think. Some say the film has a soul, or even film is being a real kind of photography.

But, you’ll never know unless you try, right?

 

When did you feel like you’ve arrived in photography? Like hey I’m pretty good at this.

I haven’t. Usually, when I become good at something I feel a need of doing something else. I guess once this happens with photography, I will probably buy a yacht and go sailing.

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Links:

Instagram: @jpgjournal

Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/kaskar/

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

20 Female Street Photographers to Follow in 2018

The women’s revolution for street photography is here! Below are 20 female street photographers to follow and be inspired from in 2018. These are current shooters and not of the past, so you won’t be seeing names like Vivian Maier or Mary Ellen Mark. The order is also not from worst to best or best to worst.

Also I am aware that there are a lot more female street photographer’s to follow but this is my list and I just so happen to not know every female shooter on earth. So please if you have a good recommendation please share with me. Another thing to mention, I am excluding female street photographers that are part of any renowned collectives (for example…Magnum, inPublic, Burn My Eye). In any event, enjoy!

Michelle Groskopf

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Julia Gillard

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Melissa O’Shaughnessy

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Michelle Rick

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Lauren Welles

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Alison Adcock

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Michelle Chan

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Poupay Jutharat

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Suzanne Stein

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Cat Byrnes

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Suan Lin

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Tatum Wulff

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Agnes Lanteri

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Julia Coddington

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Elizabeth Char

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Maria Moldes

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Simone De Peak

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Rebecca Wiltshire

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Jill Maguire

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Julie Hrudova

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

Are Street Photography Workshops Worth Paying For?

Are street photography workshops worth it? Well yeah of course…Wait a minute I spoke to soon, it’s not worth….Actually it’s really up to you. I have taken a few street photography workshops myself, which I found to be overall positive experiences.

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Me with Jack Simon – San Francisco 2016

Research The Photographer

The photographer teaching the workshop should have a good body of work. Most importantly, you must appreciate their photos to even consider taking their workshops. For example, my first street photography workshop I attended was with Burn My Eye member Jack Simon. In fact, I did not know too many contemporary photographers, I only studied or looked at the works of Magnum elites.

Streetfoto had a few workshops available and out of all the photographers, Jack’s work stood out and resonated with me the most. Jack has a keen eye and seems to be at the right places at the right time. His humor shows through his photos as well, which were immediate attention grabbers. Viewing his photos made me want to learn how he captured some of his iconic images and find out more about his approaches to photographing the streets. Best of all Jack is a very nice person!

Now let me remind you, the best photographers aren’t always the best teachers. For example, many would say Michael Jordan is the best basketball player of all time! But I think those same people would also agree and say that he is probably the worst general manager and owner of an NBA team….of all time! Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990’s and Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000’s, was an average player. Phil came off the bench as an energy type of guy, rebounded, and hustled hard. Not much offense though. Phil fouled a lot. He wasn’t THE guy but was just A guy. Nothing too spectacular. However, his coaching resume is very much different. And yes I know his teams were stacked. Anyway I hope you get my point, back to our main topic.

The more you research the photographer the better. Look to see if there are any testimonials on the photographer’s workshop. Similar to making a big investment on anything really…you’ll want to do your due diligence in researching the product, reading reviews, see if it’s within your budget, and make your purchase or find something else. Same strategy applies to choosing your street photography workshop.

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inPublic member Aaron Berger working with student Kevin Hooks – 2017 Los Angeles, CA

Benefits From a Workshop

From my experience the benefit of attending a workshop is gaining the knowledge from your instructor. My favorite part is the hands on approach and honest feedback during the photo review process. You get to experience how your instructor goes about shooting the streets and ask any questions you may have. Not only that, but I benefited by making new friends with Paul Kessel and Jill Maguire, along with many others. The last workshop I took was with Jesse Marlow and Aaron Berger, two photographers with totally different styles and approaches. Aaron is very much relentless and slick when shooting the streets, while Jesse is much more laid back, which is more of my personality and style. I wandered the streets of Los Angeles with Jesse and got to pick his brain. Overall we just had genuine conversations throughout the day and I had the opportunity to hang out afterwards for dinner. Those will be the memories I cherish over the technical skills gained through these workshops. Anytime you meet someone who shares the same passion as you honestly there’s nothing quite like it. And if you can connect with them on a deeper level, even better!

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Yogurt Mania at Foodland Ala Moana – Honolulu, HI

My Two Cents…

Ultimately, you get what you put in. Like almost everything in life, there are some people who work in a half-assed way or try hard but have minimum ability. But if you find that rare workshop, it would be extremely worthwhile. Ask yourself, why are you in the workshop? Are you working on a book and need a better understanding on how to sequence your photos? Does that instructor have the knowledge of working in series? Are you a beginner and want to have confidence having a camera around photographing the streets? Simultaneously, you the student need to be open and try to apply what may be new ways of shooting. Be flexible. From my observation, there are too many street photography workshops today….many are taught by less than qualified people or qualified people wanting to make a quick buck.

For example, when I make an investment or big purchase (Sadly for me I consider anything over $100 a big purchase) I ask myself…is it worth it? How else could I use this money? I could use that for utilities, a good night out, or invest in stocks. Don’t just spend to hoard. Economics 101…the things you purchase need to work for you. Your clothes need to have some kind of Return On Investment for you. Maybe it’s how you present yourself and people at your workplace take that into consideration. Perception is everything. If you buy a new camera and your initial plans are to just roam and shoot casually, that’s fine. But for me because I’m broke as hell, I need to find multi-purposes in everything I buy. Can you make a few dollars with that camera? Can you pick up a gig or two? Hell if you break even, that’s already a win. WILL THE MONEY SPENT MAKE ME MONEY OR GIVE ME AN EXPERIENCE THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET….or am I just blowing my money away.

What I’m saying is if I had to choose between a new camera or a workshop that I’ve taken the time to research, I’d choose the workshop. Reason being is there’s no price tag on a potential experience of a lifetime or the knowledge you’d walk away with…of course that is all dependent on the quality of your workshop instructor and on YOU. Your mindset and what you want to be able to walk away with from the workshop is key.

Last note, I hate when someone says workshops are a waste of money, especially if they have never attended one. That’s like saying Hawaii only has beaches and I don’t like the ocean so I’m never going to visit there. Of course Hawaii has much more than beaches, but it’s up to you to do the research beforehand that will help determine how your vacation pans out. If you have a negative mindset about something or someone, yet know very little about the situation or person, then that’s all on you.

To sum things up, “are street photography workshops worth it?” Yes, it is. But it depends on YOU and what you want out of it, as well as the quality of your instructor, which is also dependent on you! Do your research and keep an open mind, you’ll find workshops can be a great learning experience and a lot of fun!

For workshops visit below:

http://streetfoto.org/workshops/

http://www.brucegilden.com/workshops/

https://www.magnumphotos.com/events/event/alex-webb-workshop-oslo/

https://www.maciejdakowicz.com/photography-workshops/

http://erickimphotography.com/blog/workshops/

http://italianstreetphotofestival.com/workshops-street-photography-festival/

https://www.miamistreetphotographyfestival.org/

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