How Does Photography Help You

Does photography help you in your everyday life? Yes? No? Maybe so?

YES

Let’s say it does…but how? Gives you something to keep your mind off of. Keeps you busy. Gives yourself a challenge and allows you to think outside the box. Let’s your creative instincts take over when you are surrounded by creative constraints (work, school, life in general).

NO

Let’s say photography doesn’t help you in daily life. Perhaps, you are adding too much pressure on yourself with your photography. You get frustrated and impatient when you go out and shoot and come back with nothing for days sometimes weeks or even months! You feel discouraged. You compare to other photographers, those that win awards, have a big social media following, travel the world, and make money through photography and wonder why you can’t do the same or have half the same fortune.

MAYBE SO?

Maybe so? You are bi-polar. Some days you feel inspired. And some days not. You really don’t know what to make about your photography and overall goal. Maybe there isn’t a goal to attain. You have no direction other than you think you’re pretty good at taking photos and some what enjoy.

Conclusion

I believe the best practice with your photography is to not add any pressure and just go out and shoot. It is really up to the person. For me allocating a time and schedule to shoot is just too stressful because for one if I don’t follow my routine I end up feeling like shit. It’s like working out at the gym, you have a routine to work out before work at 6am and if you don’t you feel like your entire day went to waste. Some people like to work off of a schedule and be structured…for me it doesn’t work. I work off of feeling and sometimes that feeling is not feeling inspired to go out and shoot.

You can’t force something. It’ll either happen or it won’t. Of course you need to put yourself out there and work hard don’t get me wrong. But if it’s something that doesn’t feel right then follow your gut. My other advice is to have the right perspective. Your attitude is a big contingency on all future events. Your outlook on life and how you carry yourself. Having goals has both the positives and negatives sides to them but with photography I think it is best to not apply any goals because photography should be something you do out of passion and fun. Once you add goals especially more than one it becomes a job and sooner or later you’ll end up hating it. Imagine you got sponsored by a camera company and then they started to dictate on how you should be photographing and what you should be photographing. Although the money and attention is nice, you lose your creative freedom and opportunity to be an individual.

All in all, have fun with your photography and keep learning.

Interview with Photographer Suzanne Stein

I’ve been following Suzanne’s work on instagram for over a year. Although her style may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I myself appreciate her photographic style. I really like her work and wanted to learn more about her creative process and how she goes about with her photography. Check out the interview below!

Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?

I was a mm artist, played around with one of my dad’s film cameras briefly when I was seventeen, but I didn’t do much with it or  nor tried to learn. To me it was complex, and technical, and uninteresting.  I was an artist but was bored and very unhappy with drawing. In June of 2015, I went to Europe with my son and I started taking what I soon learned were street pictures.  I couldn’t wait to get a camera, and as soon as I returned from Europe in August of 2015 I got my first camera, a fujifilm Xt-1.

How did you end up photographing Skid Row?

Two months or so after I got my first camera I drove to downtown Los Angeles.  I had never been there before, I had only been to West Los Angeles and Hollywood.  I was unprepared for the kaleidoscope of sights and people. Just an intensely interesting and shockingly place!  I saw skid row for the first time that day and found it to be completely absorbing and was very determined to figure out a way to be able to walk through and make photographs.

At first were you afraid? If so, how did you get over the fear?

Yes, at first I was afraid.  I was very afraid!  Since then, I’ve been in worse places–Skid row is warm and inviting compared to other places in the world. But I met people because I made a tremendous effort to, and also forced myself to get out of my car and walk in.  It’s just a force of will, like anything else you desire.  You find a way.

How do you go about photographing the scenes and people of Skid Row? You talk to them first or do you just snap away?

You can’t walk into skid row and start snapping pictures!  You cannot….people need to feel familiar with you, and if you meet the “right” people there, then a certain measure of protection is conferred upon you.

Are you a familiar face in the area by now?

I was a familiar face to many, but I’ve been absent for the past 6 months due to traveling.

I find it absolutely insane that we have areas like Skid Row more or less all across the United States. We do have them here in Hawaii believe it or not…for a while I’ve been wanting to document these areas to show the other side of Honolulu and that it’s not all paradise…Do you have any advice?

Advice?  It’s hard to say without first observing your manner and style.  It’s really important to preserve one’s safety first.  Second, be honest.  Never never never sneak a shot.  Tell people what you’re doing and have a “show album ” in your phone and offer to show samples of your work.  Shake hands….yes, some homeless people aren’t squeaky clean but be ready to embrace, shake hands, touch people.  People have actually tested me to see if I’d shake their hand.  Don’t be one of those fake photographers who swoop in, steal images, and then flee.  Stay awhile.

Do you think being a female has helped you as a photographer specifically documenting Skid Row? Or not?

Yes and no.  I’m smaller and more easily ripped off than a male, and more likely to have situations with people who have an axe to grind and see me as an easily intimidated woman who they can hurl abuse at.  On the other hand, people will often admire my ability to walk in and respect and hang w others despite my clearly different background and appearance, and that goes a long way.

Your creative process, what stands out for you to make a photo on a particular subject or person?

I don’t know….some people just resonate and inspire me.  Sometimes they are vulnerable and hard and scary and poignant all at once and I want to capture that.  Some people are like rockstars in skid row really, and I love to shoot that and make a picture that is over the top, a little punch in the face because they are very cool and interesting people besides being in dire straits.  Sometimes it’s just injustice or inequality that I want to highlight or it’s just simple….they’re super interesting and I want to make great photos of them.

Through the interaction, photos, and stories you hear from these people. How are you able to cope and go about your day?

Just have to feel bad for a while, eat ice cream, and drive home.  Let it go, because it’s critical….but not always possible.

What’s your overall goal with this project? A book?

I would like to do a book….I don’t know how, nor do I have the time.  I had a promise for one which, in typical bullshit Los Angeles style, fell through!

When will you know that you’re done shooting Skid Row?

I’m done in Skid row….,it’s all over my Instagram, I’m in Paris and was in Istanbul where I did a series on homeless and otherwise exploited and forgotten children….That project is important to me and I’m NOT on skid row.  I hope to one day return and revisit for sure.

I’ve noticed most images of yours are in black and white but others in color. How do you determine what’s left in black and white and what’s left in color?

In skid row I decided color was the way to go, because color best represents the neighborhood.  In Downtown Los Angeles I’ll use bnw….but color is important as a method to convey emotion, especially as saturation levels and differing approaches and usage of these levels in post can dramatically affect the final image and impact.  In Paris it’s desaturated colors, in skid row much less desaturation.  So bnw is overused at times because the masses who think they appreciate street photography seem to prefer it. I think it’s an overused camouflage used  to “dress up” or render more artistic an otherwise dull photograph.  So… if color is an integral part of the picture, it’s in color.

In your opinion what makes a photograph work or interesting?

Everybody has a different opinion here and mine is going to be sounding bitchy to be frank!  But what makes a good photograph?? There’s a dearth of these in popular social media.  Technical aspects must be there (exposure, no tacky overuse of vignettes, compositional elements) but a few of these can be pushed aside for a great, fast snap. It’s all about narrative and story for me!  Much of what hobbyists and magazines devoted to photography prefer is technical, correctly executed stuff that’s good to look at but completely void of story, of emotions and content.  Conventional executions of technique leave me without passion.  This bothers me….I think that subtlety is lost on many, and that there’s no substitute for narrative.  It’s hard as hell to find an audience for good true narrative pictures though….it exists, but in places that are populated by people who don’t know photography.  They’re regular people who can appreciate a picture that’s got a story.

Do you have GAS (gear acquisition syndrome)?

Do I have GAS?  Hell no!  I wish….I’m in desperate need of a few basic lenses that I can’t afford right now.

What have you learned about yourself or society from shooting the streets?

I’ve learned some things that I wish I could unlearn….that there’s no happy ending for most, that the world is full of dire tragedies that go unnoticed.  That people don’t care about what they say they’re moved by, and that in practice we can help out on a daily basis and most don’t.  I’ve witnessed some truly good people who try and who remain completely unrecognized by others, toiling on skid row or helping animals.  I’ve learned that animals  get horrifically abused before being eaten in many places, and live lives of brutality that are a sin and a shame.  Life, I’ve learned, is one hundred percent unfair.  I’ve learned that people want a gimmick in a photo and that sometimes the gimmick is critical, and the truth is not very important.  I’ve learned that the world of photography is self serving, fatuous and full of benchmarks that are irrelevant.  I’ve learned that I’m both a better person than I thought and a callous shooter that takes pictures of moments that are private.  I’ve learned that perseverance is actually a skill, and more important in photography than most realize.

What do you have to say to those that may criticize your work or style?

What do I say to people who criticize my work?  I don’t care anymore….I used to, but I am too concerned with creating a body of work to give it much thought.  I think my style can be over the top at times so people who are less able to take risks tend to criticize those of us who take those creative risks.

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Follow Suzanne Stein’s work!

www.suzannesteinphoto.com/

Instagram @suzanne_stein

Interview with Street Photographer Daniel Huete

Check out this interview with Streetfoto mobile runner up Daniel Huete! It is quite insightful to say the least.

Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?

I was born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.It wasn’t until 8 years ago (when I moved to Bangkok, Thailand) that I decided to pick up a camera, from that moment on I knew what I wanted to do and kept doing it till today.

You’re currently residing in Los Angeles but only photograph when you make trips out to India? Could you talk about that.
For me it is quite difficult to photograph in Los Angeles. After photographing in India, everything here seems dull and you have to be really careful with what you are photographing. India for me its a very special place, its the place I will always come back to photograph.
You can always discover something you have never seen , something new, there is always life on the streets. Its just so dynamic.
When did you start photographing India and what about is it about India that inspires you?
The first time I went to India was back in 1994. I was 5 years old at the time. I went there for six months with my grandmother. I still actually have photos from that trip.
That was my first impression of India, I still have many fond memories of my time there.
I guess those travels made me want to come back and photograph India. It is a place where I can connect with my childhood, it holds a special place in my heart.
Has there been any major changes from the first time you’ve been in india compared to your last visit?
Yes, I can see how India is changing  and becoming more modern, but it still has the same essence.
What’s your favorite city of India?
Thats a very very hard question, there are too many beautiful cities in India.
It all depends on what you want to photograph or what you want to do.
These are some of my favorite places not in order and depending on the season.
Pushkar, Rishikesh, Haridwar , Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana , Mcleodganj, Delhi, Mumbai and of course Varanasi.
Your photos of India are in black and white for such a colorful country. could you walk us through that?

I love to photograph in color and black and white, currently I’m working on two projects that are separated by black and white and color. For certain situations I prefer black and white specially to create a difference in mood. You will definitely see more color photographs in the near future.

Describe your style and how you approach making photographs when wandering the streets.

When I started photography I took a lot of influence studying photos from National Geographic, Magnum photos and Documentary projects from different photographers.

I mainly I shot portraits and travel photography.
There was a  moment when my photography took a drastic change it was after an APF workshop I attended in Singapore, I really have to thank my street photography mentors Vineet Vohra, Rohit Vohra and Aik beng Chia for that workshop as well as all the tips and teaching they gave me till this day.
They helped me conquer the biggest fear I had while shooting , to get close to people.They do it like no other. I can feel peoples breathing these days thanks to that. Today I try to mix street and documentary photography.

 

Who are some of your favorite street photographers?

I would say some of my favorites are Fan Ho, Alex Webb, Josef Koudelka, Martin Parr and of course my three mentors V.V R.V and  ABC.

What’s your overall goal with your travels to India? A book?

I have two zines from India coming soon. One in color and one in black and white. The long term project I currently have will be two books on India.

What keeps you motivated?
The fact that I’m doing photography that its what I love to do, traveling the world and being surrounded by good friends and people I love.  I wouldn’t image my self doing something else.

 

Favorite Indian dish?

Since we are talking about India,

Non Veg
Nihari  at a restaurant called Karims(Near Jama masjid, Delhi)
Veg
I would go with Paneer tikka Masala
And of course Chai.

 

Can I tag along with you to visit India one of these days?

Why not? You can tag along on my next trip if you are up for it!

You live across the ocean from Hawaii. Any plans to visit Hawaii?

I have always wanted to visit Hawaii but I’ve never got the chance to come.

Hopefully sometime in the near future.

 

By the way, congrats on  winning the 2nd place mobile category at Streetfoto. How did you hear about it and what was your reaction?

Thanks, Tim. I heard about it when Vineet posted that he was going to do a workshop there, so I checked the site and submitted.

I didn’t expect it, there were some really really good photos.
Its always difficult to choose the winning photographs out of so many good photographs.
Any tips for travelers and photographers wanting to visit India?
One of my tips would be that you can’t discover India in one or two weeks., you can’t see it all in six months either. Take time, let your self go, get out of your comfort zone and you will discover.

 

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Follow Daniel Huete’s work below!

 

http://danielhuete.com/

 

Instagram @danielhuete 

 

 

5 Ways to Avoid Confrontation in Street Photography

  1. Avoid Eye Contact

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Make a photo of someone and pretend you are making a photo of something behind them or off to the side. Once you make eye contact you pretty much blew your cover. A can of worms may open up but in my experience nothing serious has ever evolved. Even if you don’t make a photo of someone out in public but you just happen to lock eyes with someone, doesn’t it feel awkward. So imagine if that person locked eyes with you and saw that you have a camera in your hand. If it’s the wrong person things may escalate.

  1. Keep Walking Along

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Let’s say you do lock eyes with someone, my advice is to walk along and blend in with the crowd. Don’t go off running that would just be weird. Just be as casual as possible. Remember you are not doing anything illegal by taking someone’s photo in public.

  1. Compliment the Person

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Okay, so you made eye contact, you don’t want to walk away but instead want to stay in the area, perhaps work the scene some more. Compliment the person. See what the person is wearing, a cool tie, colorful hat, their hairdo. More often than not in my experience, women tend to freak out if you point a camera in their direction and assume that you made a photo of them. To easily dissolve the frightening behavior, compliment the lady. Women love to hear how lovely they look, give them that extra fuel of confidence for the rest of their day. If complimenting the person is not an option, compliment the area or weather. If I’m in a situation like this I do whatever comes to my mind first.

  1. Fiddle with your Camera

Look at your LCD screen, pretend something is wrong with your camera. Check the front, back, side, act as if your camera is not working and walk along.

  1. If You Do Happen To Make Eye Contact…Smile and Walk Away

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Again, if you do happen to make eye contact…smile and walk away. I have been surprised what a smile can do. Even in the workplace, the more you smile, the more your boss and colleagues think “Hey this guy has an upbeat attitude and loves his job”….Sad to say, perception is everything. When a stranger sees you smile at them despite making a photo of them or within their radius, a smile can bring a calming effect and makes them easily forget what just happened.

 

BONUS Tip! (this only applies if you look like a foreigner)

Ignore and pretend you don’t speak english. It works for me especially in crowded touristy areas. People think because I’m Asian with a camera in Waikiki that I’m just another stupid tourist making photos of every little thing. So they don’t take me seriously. Finally my Asian genes has worked in my favor!

Conclusion

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If they don’t mind, you don’t matter (to them). Just keep shooting and working the scene until the subject leaves or the scene dissolves. If you are a walk and shoot type of person, just keep walking and shooting. Especially in a dense area you’ll blend in with the crowd and everything is moving so fast no one will notice you.

Interview with Street Photographer Jill Maguire

Jill! How are you? Thanks for doing this. Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?

I’ve always liked taking pictures but wasn’t serious about it until well into adulthood. In 2009, I bought a DSLR to take pictures of my dog. From there it was a lot of experimentation until I finally landed on street photography in 2014. When I made the switch, I never looked back.

What is it about Street photography that keeps interested?

I am happiest in urban areas and at events, so even if I don’t shoot well, I try to enjoy wherever I am and eat well in the process. I’m all about the experience. I like to try new places, and those I like, I revisit.

How would you describe your street style or photographs?

I would call it a work in progress. I like color and light, but there’s often a shortage of both in Seattle. I’m still looking for a good project to do in the dead of winter that gets me out of the house consistently.

How has your style or approach changed or evolved since you started shooting?

If anything, my bar is higher, and some days I feel like deleting everything I come home with. Maybe that’s ultimately a good thing, but it does make for a pretty slow Instagram feed. On the other hand, I’ve learned to cut myself some slack, knowing just how hard street photography is.

I know you’re an avid (Dog or animal) lover. Do you try to include animals in your photographs? something that easily catches your eye?

 I love animals–both real and unreal–in street photography. I have an ongoing zoo project, but it’s on hiatus for the summer. I’ll go back in the fall when the clouds return.

The animal theme is intentional or unintentional?

Intentional, for sure. Far from mastered, though. Lots of other photographers are better at it. My Flickr (whatjillsaw) favorites are filled with animals in street photography.

 I notice you shoot a lot at the seattle state fairs or the local Zoo. How does that compare to when you’re shooting out in the street?

At the zoo, I’m looking for similarity between people, animals, and the landscape, so in a way, I know exactly what to look for. My Washington State Fair work evolves each year. I’ve tossed several years of fair shots because as I’ve gotten more experienced, I don’t like my older work. I consider all “out on the street” shooting to be practice for the fair. Occasionally I’ll get a shot that fits into some of the other loose themes that I’ve created semi-formal projects for (like my shots from California), but the OK/random shots don’t tend to do it for me.

This is all complicated by the fact that I am loyal and sentimental about these locations. I’m not interested in traveling to other fairs or zoos. I tried that and it didn’t work for me.

What makes Seattle unique for street photography?

I have a love/hate relationship with Seattle. I’ve finally started to embrace some locations here, but I hate the rain, and traffic is terrible. On the plus side, the summer days are long and chock full of events. In addition, everyone is extremely polite. I’ve never had any problems shooting here.

Whose work do you admire?

I admire photographers who can make Anytown USA look interesting. Besides Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, I’m really into Don Hudson and Sixft Whiterabbit right now.

If you can have one street photographer shoot your wedding who would it be?

Martin Parr, no question. We got married in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and Parr would’ve been the perfect Vegas photographer.

If you could shoot a particular style of a street photographer who would it be?

My photographic fantasy is to take a summer road trip, Stephen Shore style. I want to stay in cheesy hotels and eat at greasy spoons. I can’t explain why this appeals to me, but it does, much more than traveling somewhere foreign or exotic.

My favorite photo of your is the lucha libre kid with the silver mask. I remember seeing it in our flicker group from our workshop with Jack Simon and was like “WOW”. Could you tell us the story behind that photo?

Why, thanks, Tim! This was shot last year during one of my favorite workshops–a Magnum workshop hosted by Constantine Manos in Los Angeles. I made two wonderful friends that week, and we spent an evening on Olvera street. I saw this boy running around in the mask and couldn’t resist following him. He finally sat still in a sunbeam, but only long enough for one shot. I think being a woman helped me here, since his dad was there and didn’t object.

In your opinion, what makes a photograph work or interesting?

Light, color, and something unexpected. Sometimes 2 out of 3 works.

What goals do you have with your street photography?

My ultimate goal is to have enough shots in a project to make a high-quality book. In the meantime, I have this dream of eventually finding a type of street photography that I’m really good at and that comes easily. I’m convinced this will happen any day now. I just have to keep shooting, and the projects will find me.

Whose workshop do you want to take next?

There are so many great workshops outside the US right now, but logistically the West coast is easiest for me. Coney Island is on my workshop bucket list. I also plan to host a one-person workshop (me) in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire next summer. This is another locale that appeals to me deeply, but my husband thinks I’m crazy.

What have you learned about yourself and/or society from shooting street photography?

Before street photography, I never realized how drawn I was to the hustle and bustle of crowds and urban areas. I’ve also learned how fun and exhilarating it can be to travel alone to workshops. Street photography gives me a way to indulge in both of these.

Currently, is there something you’re having difficulty with in your street photography?

I’m starting to feel like the keepers are like prime numbers–the more you shoot, the less keepers you find over time. This interview caught me at a crossroads. I’m thinking of trying something different (still in the street photography realm). I need to get off my butt and go do it.

I’ll list a few street photographers and describe them or their work in one sentence.

1. Alex Webb

Supernaturally good. Take his and his wife’s workshop if you can. You’ll learn a lot of about sequencing and bookmaking (bring your book collection and they’ll sign them). You’ll be on your own for shooting, though.

2. Martin Parr

My first exposure to flash. I like his sense of humor.

3. Bruce Gilden

Not my style. Too harsh.

 

4. Eric Kim

Nicest person you’ll ever meet. I know he’s polarizing but I’ve learned a lot from him and consider him a good friend. His workshops are as much about connecting with people as they are about photography.

5. Jack Simon

Tied with Eric Kim for nicest person you’ll ever meet. Love his quirky eye, and he’s a great instructor. Highly recommend his workshop in San Francisco. Jack is proof that the best workshops are hosted by locals.

6. Constantine Manos

I’m a huge fan of his color photography and keep a copy of American Color II at work. His workshop in Hollywood last year is one of my favorites. He’ll teach you a lot of rules that you may or may not agree with. I still refer back to my notes from him so he definitely made an impression on me. He’s VERY opinionated about what makes a good photograph. Only take his workshops if you have a similar style.

7. Jesse Marlow  and 8. Aaron Berger

I grouped Jesse and Aaron together because I took a workshop with them both this year and learned a lot from their vastly different shooting styles. They put a lot of effort into giving everyone equal time when shooting. Very approachable, supportive, down-to-earth guys.

9. Henri Cartier Bresson

Required reading, but not a daily inspiration for me. Untouchable.

10. Vivian Maier

Fascinating story. Didn’t we all go through a B&W phase after seeing her work?? She was extremely talented, but I’m also drawn to that era. No wonder it’s impossible to duplicate her style now.

Any personal tips or advice on street photography?

Travel to workshops and make new friends. This has been the best part about street photography for me, more so than any pictures I’ve come home with. Nothing beats going to a new workshop and running into familiar faces (like Tim!)

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Follow and Keep Up with Jill Maguire’s work!

Website: www.whatjillsaw.com

FlickR: www.flickr.com/photos/jillmaguire/

Instagram @whatjillsaw

Street Photography Olympics

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was such thing as the Street Photography Olympics. A friendly street photography competition among countries. This idea came to mind because I’ve noticed countries such as Thailand, Bangladesh, and India has really dominated the street photography scene. Through the street photography Olympics, you’ll represent more than just yourself but an entire country. Below are just the team captain’s or representatives for each country (contemporary photographers)…I’d like to revisit this post in the future and put together a team but for now I will keep it to one photographer per country. Magnum photographer’s excluded.Enjoy!

Australia

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Sam Ferris

Bangladesh

Bang Flag

Muhammad Iman Hasan

Belgium

Belgium Flag

Dani Oshi

Brazil

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Jose Roberto Bassul

Canada

Canada Flag

Michael Ernest Sweet

China

China Flag

Edas Wong

France

France Flag

Slyvain Biard

Germany

German flag

Siegfried Hansen

Greece

Greece Flag

DirtyHarry

India

India Flag

Vineet Vohra 

Israel

Israel Flag

Gabi Ben Avraham

Italy

Italy flag

David Albani

Japan

Japan Flag

Tatsuo Suzuki

Lebanon

Lebanon Flag

Fadi Boukaram

Mexico

Mexico Flag

Ricardo Garcia-Mainou

Philippines

philippine flag

Arsenio Nidoy

Poland

Poland Flag

Maciej Dakowicz

Russia

Russia flag

Alexander Petrosyan

 

Scotland


Scotland flag


Craig Buchan

South Korea

South Korea Flag

Argus Paul

Spain

Spain Flag

Pau Buscato

Sweden

sweden

Hamid Ghazi

Thailand

Thailand Flag

Tavepong Pratoomwong

Ukraine

ukraine flag

Taras Bychko

United Kingdom

UK Flag

Gareth & Gavin Bragdon

United States Of America

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Ken Walton

Vietnam

Vietnam Flag

Chu Viet Ha

Based on overall body of work, which country do you think would take Gold, Silver, or Bronze?

 

Click Less Yet Get More

Do you believe that the more times you snap your shutter, the more opportunity you will have a good photo? I used to think so but as of late my opinion has differ. The more you go out and photograph, it raises your odds of getting a photo, true to some extend I guess.

Clear Your Mind

I believe in going out, photographing the streets without any pressure, with a clear state of mind. You can go out 7 days a week for two to three hours each day but if you’re mind is cluttered and worried about “stuff” then you cannot focus and therefore your imagination is clouded. For me at least, my best approach is to go out with a clear and empty mind with no expectations and to let my instincts take over. Once I start thinking, looking at my phone, thinking of what chores I need to do, what the kids are going to eat for dinner, then I’m really just wasting my time roaming the streets. I’m not in-tuned with being in the moment and therefore I end up being less observant of my surroundings and in the end may miss a photographic moment.

By fully soaking in the moment of being on my photo-walk, I am present of the current time and location, and can fully give my all in photographing the streets. Therefore, make every shutter click matter and count. Instead of shooting rapid fire and hoping one stands out. I also feel by clicking the shutter less will in the end make you a better photographer because you are using your primary tool…your eyes first, to see, and then react and snap away. Instead of snapping away and then chimping at your LCD screen or viewfinder and seeing what you got. I feel this does come with time and experience. But my advice, clear your mind and let your imagination run wild.

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Don’t be a lazy photographer

Don’t be a lazy photographer by taking a thousand plus photos within an hour of your lunch break and relying on your blessings to the photo God’s to give you at least one good one…make every shutter you click count…I will add though, sometimes you don’t know if you have a good photo or not until you upload onto your computer and begin the editing process. For me, more often than not, I will know or better yet feel, that I got something special at the time I took the photo. How do you know if you got a good photo or not? Simple, it’s based on feeling, something that immediately strikes you in the gut….kind of like you meet a girl, you talk to her, and something inside you knows she’s the one. You guys make a connection. That’s a bad analogy but you get my point. Sometimes you feel it without knowing why and that’s okay.

Conclusion

I used to bring my camera everywhere with me but lately I’ve kept it at home. Because if my mind or mood is not in the photographic mindset then I’m wasting energy. If I do happen to come across a “A-HA_ moment, I have my Samsung S8 which takes great photos by the way…if I miss it, then so be it, I won’t lose sleep, in fact I’ll be appreciative of seeing the moment.

Interview with Hawaii Street Photographer Lance Agena

Can you start off by telling us a brief story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?

Back in 2001 when I was working as a graphic designer and communications guy for a local graduate school, part of my job was making a newsletter. And that meant doing everything from writing, to layout, and photography. That’s probably the first time I actually took it seriously. I guess because I had to. The graphic designer in me knew what images were crap so it was a matter of training myself take photos that met my own standards and seeing what it takes to actually make a good shot. It’s that inner art director that made me get better. After that, I moved on to another job where I met a local photographer named Philippe Gross who — I have to admit — really inspired me to push my photography even further. The guy is incredibly prolific and has a great eye. He always has his artwork being displayed somewhere. We’ve become good friends and I give him a lot of credit for where I am as an artist.

What is it about street photography that keeps you interested?

It’s about finding magic in the mundane. It sounds corny but you know, it really is about finding the novel amongst the mundane moments every day. And because it’s street, it’s genuine and real. I have nothing against other types of photography, there are a lot of incredible captures by artists shooting other things. It’s just that street to me is all the more magical because it depends on that chance encounter and framing it in the most perfect way. It could be that, you know, that moment you capture on your camera is a moment that anyone else could’ve seen themselves. It’s out there if anyone just looks. It’s beauty, it’s emotion, it’s splendor, and it’s shock. It’s the full range of humanity and the moments in between that can be lost if you’re not looking. So yes, to me that’s the magic of it.

How do you go about your photography? Do you shoot on your lunch break, weekends, bring your camera everywhere with you?

Yup, I have my camera with me all the time. It’s another limb and I’m lost without it. It almost guarantees something unreal will happen right in front of me if I don’t have my camera. So I don’t tempt fate and I always have it.

I shoot on my lunch breaks at work, after I get home, on weekends. Family is always first though. So I make sure things are done — any chores or errands. And I only head out if everyone’s got their own thing going on. I’m fortunate now because my kids are old enough to be doing their own things. So if I have time, I’ll head out.

In your opinion what makes Honolulu unique for street photography?

It’s unique in that it’s not unique. You can shoot the same type of shots other street photographers are shooting in almost any other part of the world. Here though, we have that veneer of Hawaii as conjuring up images of paradise in people’s mind. As a street photographer here we can show the flip side of paradise. Here we have real people with the same problems and triumphs as everyone else. I try to capture the range of the human experience, but admittedly there are more shots of urban life in paradise because that’s kind of the nature of it. Yes, it’s pretty here … but not everything is. That’s what a street photographer should be capturing — the full range of humanity.

Where in Honolulu do you enjoy shooting?

I’ve just realized recently that I always find myself at Waikiki Walls — or the Kapahulu Groin. I’m not sure if that makes it my “favorite,” but there’s always potential there for certain types of shots. And there’s definitely a lot of characters there. You see both sides of Hawaii there. You have the local kids coming to surf and dive and then you have the tourists who just want beautiful shots of the sunset. There’s water and sun, which makes for reflections and shadows, and there’s this great structure jutting out into the ocean. That’s a lot of potential at any given time there. But then again, I get bored of it on occasion and from there, there are a lot of other great locations within walking distance.

What do you think needs to happen for Hawaii to be seen as a street photography destination?

I haven’t thought about that. And actually, I’m not sure that’s something I’d want. It’d be a challenge. You would have to go up against those who are already making a name for themselves as surf photographers, “adventure” photographers, landscape, and whatever else you have out there. Do we want to make Hawaii known as street photography destination? I’m not sure. The visual noise is already pretty high. Pretty shots of giant waves and girls in bikinis will always get more attention than a shot on the street. Really, if it were to happen, it’d have to come from massive exposure from a mainstream media outlet highlighting a particular street photographer or something like that. But selling Hawaii as a destination or boosting it’s reputation for street is not a goal of mine.

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

Sorry, nothing original here. Henri Cartier-Bresson. Mostly because he seemed so passionate and was a true artist. I can’t help but think it would be incredibly inspiring to even meet him. I’d just sit and listen.

You can shoot with one street photographer for a day who would it be and why?

Assuming we’re still talking about someone living or dead … Vivian Maier. Because she seemed to love life in such an introverted way. I’d have liked to see how she maneuvered in the streets. Not necessarily to learn techniques to shoot better, but to watch how she carried herself and basically adventure through life while being invisible. I want to be one of the people who saw her on the street. And now that I mention it that way, that’s another reason I love street. It gives me the excuse to adventure through life. The perfect shot is that treasure to hunt for, that White Whale, or whatever you want to call it. It’s the hunt for magic in the mundane. It’s what Vivian Maier did through her photography. And guess what? When her photographs were discovered, they definitely were a treasure — for all of us.

How would you describe your street style or photographs?

Contextual. I usually enjoy the wider angles. I enjoy having the whole diorama in the frame. And what’s in the frame usually includes at least one character for the story to play out. It’s boring to have a beautiful setting with no one in frame to interact with it. That’s why my recent exhibition was called “Model Citizens.” I usually have a person in it to be my first person, second person, or third person character in that story within the frame.

I ask this with everyone. If you can have one street photographer shoot your wedding who would it be?

That’s hard. I follow several on social media that I couldn’t pick out by name, but I’m really enjoying Pau Buscato’s work. You can tell he has a lot of fun shooting. I’d love to shoot more like him. He has a great eye and perspective on the world. There’s a playfulness and excitement when he shoots. I’d love to be always in that sort of mindset when I shoot.

If you could shoot a particular style of a photographer who would it be?

Definitely, Maier. I find that I’m looking to replicate the same type of shots that she’s done. Again, sorry. I don’t study a lot of street photographers. I know what I like. I order the same thing over and over again at restaurants too.

What are your short term goals (1-3 years) and what are your long term goals (5-10 years) if you have any with photography? And what are you currently doing in trying to achieve those goals? If any, what struggles are you currently facing?

Street photography goals. That’s hard because I don’t think of goals when it comes to shooting street. It’s very much a journey. I’d like to somehow create my own projects for a living. Whether that’s shooting or writing or video, that’d be great. In one to three years, I think I’d like to get more of my shots seen. That means putting my work and myself more out there, building my own reputation. So that means I’m looking at doing more project-oriented photo series. Not necessarily getting paid work out of it, but covering more events through a street photographer’s point of view. Pretty much documentary, which is what we’ve all doing as street photographers anyway. In five to ten years, I imagine I’d have a larger body of work. So maybe publish a book then. I’d be traveling more too. So I’d like to shoot other streets in other parts of the world. It’s about the journey … and I guess building up a treasure trove if we’re sticking with that theme.

I noticed you like to shoot/document events around town (pow wow, protest, parade setup)…what is it about those events that draw you in?

 Event shooting is different from street shooting. When I’m at events I find myself switching between those two mindsets. Events like POW! WOW! Hawaii! or protests are unique to the times we live in. They should be documented because it’s part of the culture and history of Hawaii. While I’m doing that, I also shoot street because there will always be interesting people and sights at these types of events — participants and onlookers. To a lesser degree, there are other events that I enjoy attending like parades or what have you just to experience a new situation in a familiar location. It helps to change it up for myself so I don’t feel stagnant or grow bored with the same scenery.

Are you currently working on anything in particular?

I’m working on a YouTube channel. I’m not sure what it’ll look like, but search for “Agena Street Photography” and subscribe. I should have one short video up this month.

Any personal tips or advice on street photography?

I have plenty and that’s partly why I’m starting a YouTube channel despite my introversion. I would say shoot what you enjoy and if that means making yourself grow a little, stretch into your most uncomfortable parts of being, that’s what you should be doing. We’re all on a journey so don’t mind others who are ahead of you. Mind your own path and see where others are making mistakes and where others are going that you’d like to follow. Most of all, the most important thing is to get out there to shoot with purpose. unnamed (9)unnamed (8)unnamed (7)unnamed (6)unnamed (5)unnamed (4)unnamed (3)unnamed (2)unnamed (1)unnamed

To keep up with Lance Agena’s work, please see below!

lanceagena.com/

Instagram @lance_agena

Building the Perfect Street Photographer

I’ve always been curious, what would be the perfect street photographer. One that has the physical tools and intangibles to become a great photographer. Similar to what the NFL analysis on ESPN do, when they discuss building the perfect quarterback, I want to do my own of building the perfect street photographer! Let’s the fun begin!

Vision, Eyes

This one is tough, I can only pick one, heck all of the list moving forward is going to be tough…it’s a close race but I’m going to have to go with Mr. Alex Webb.

The ability to see light, color, and add layers within a frame…is hard to pull off…yet alone make interesting.

Street Smarts

According to google street-smart is…“the experience and knowledge necessary to deal with the potential difficulties or dangers of life in an urban environment”

The controversial Bruce Gilden wins this hands down. You will see his name a few more times below. Keep reading…

Heart, Passion, Desire

This is easy…Everyone…Everyone that photographs for themselves, that needs to shoot because it is their drug, their addiction. The camera is part of their limb, shooting, editing, admiring other photographer’s works are part of their daily routine. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons, the likes, the follows, the glory, awards, the money, the lap dances…oh wait the last one only refers to me…keep reading…

Fearlessness

I have to give it to Bruce Gilden. Getting close and flashing people up in their grill without any hesitation is something to admire to say the least. Gilden once said that he’s not afraid of confrontation because he doesn’t believe he’s doing anything wrong.

Confidence

You got to be confidence to get really close and flash people in the face! So that’s why…no no not Gilden…Mark Cohen takes this.

Humor

There are so many, especially in today’s street photography world. I would say within the last several years that a lot more humor have been instilled in a street photograph…but I must give this one to the originator of finding those humorous moments in the public setting…Ellioit Erwitt. 

Speed & Quickness

Speed and quickness is heavily undervalued…now i’m not talking about the speed NFL players use at a combine…I’m talking about clicking the shutter and moving along, like if nothing had ever happened. I’ve seen this man work with my own two eyes so for this attribute I choose Aaron Berger. The man is quick, shifty, and a smooth criminal. Aaron “Smooth Crimnal” Berger!

Strength

Strength as in physical strength sure…how about when you see a series of photos from a particular photographer and the photos just oozes strength, toughness and intensity.  I get this feeling when I see photos from Tatsuo Suzuki.

Innovator

Someone that reinvented the wheel, the genre, when at the time was critized for his work but could care less. William Eggleston to me is an innovator for the genre of street photography. He democratizes the genre, he shot in color when black and white was still predominately for street photography. He made us appreciate the mundane and taught us to aim for the high hanging fruit with our photography.

Street Photography IQ

IQ comes experience, I choose to have this particular photographer’s IQ because he was a pioneer for this art form. I truly believe you can insert this person in any era including in today’s world of street photography and he’ll still produce great photos if not better. The legend himself, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Smile

A good smile will go a long way when you’re photographing people in public. To avoid confrontation, don’t make eye contact…or smile say thank you and move on. Matt Stuart seems friendly, harmless, and has a calmness about him.

Imagination

There is a three way tie for this and will be the only tie moving forward. Three of the top street shooters today. Pau Buscato, Tavepong Pratoomwong, and Edas Wong…Sometimes I wonder how the heck did they get that shot! All three photographers make me look at their photos….then look again and again…enough said.

Calmness

To not add any pressure to your street photography and to go about your day. This photographer is cool, calm, and collected,  and it shows in his work. KEEP CALM and BE JESSE MARLOW.

Incognito

I’ve seen this first hand so it’s a little bias but I would say Paul Kessel. I’ve seen him get close, far, shoot from the hip, through the viewfinder, and no one ever notices him. He’s on privacy mode, incredible.

Stamina

Garry Winogrand wins this hands down. The man would shoot day and night. Today he still has many undeveloped film rolls, somewhere in the thousands that are currently being worked on by  Center for Creative Photography (CCP). Winogrand was relentless and shot many rolls each day…just to shoot, photography was a drug, a good one that is.

Awareness

Sorry another tie, it’s hard. So many good photographers. But these two seem to have great recognition in the street setting, right place at the right time would be another way to look at it. But it’s not just seeing a moment and making a photo out of it. It’s about seeing a moment grow or evolve into something even more spectacular. Joel Meyerowitz & Jack Simon take this. Meyerowitz images will go down as some of the best in history, in my opinion. As for Jack, I remember looking at his work, I knew nothing about him, never heard of him. He was teaching a workshop via Streetfoto and I was deciding to attend his workshop and three others. I said damn these are great photos, I want to make photos like Jack’s. And so I took Jack’s workshop based on his body of work.

Marketing

Every street photographer markets themselves believe it or not. Whether that’s simply uploading photos to instagram or facebook on a daily basis. Blogging on street photography, having your own website, flickr to showcase one’s photos…however, nobody has better market themselves than Eric Kim. I personally believe he comes off as polarizing via internet because that is the best marketing. He understands that you’re either going to have people that support you and another half of people that despise you. Good or bad, either way, people are talking about you. When someone comments positive or hateful messages on your facebook content, facebook see’s the engagement on the post and thinks its relevant to keep up top on the news-feed. Love him or hate him, Eric Kim is the advocate for street photography. Many wouldn’t be shooting if it weren’t for his abundance of free online resources. He also found a way to crack google’s algorithms, well sort of.

I do believe that you should let your photos do the talking but if you have useful information that could help others, by all means SHARE your knowledge.

Conclusion

Hope you guys enjoyed this. This was fun and difficult. I will revisit this in a year’s time, so many emerging and established photographers today but as always I need to respect many of our street photography fore founders.

If there are any other attributes or intangibles that I should add to make the perfect street photographer please let me know!

9 Things Every Street Photographer Must Do

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Travel

Seeing a new place with fresh set of eyes is a plus. Every time I travel I tend to trigger the shutter more. Perhaps its because I’m out all day compared to shooting at home where I only have an allocated timeframe to shoot. Don’t think that because you travel to some foreign exotic land that you’ll come back home with awesome photos.

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Take Workshops

Workshops do help in my opinion. Learn from the best, pick their mind, and meet other enthusiastic street photographers. Get your creative juices boiling! If you’re a beginner, a workshop is a MUST! Gain confidence with a camera out in public, learn the basics. If you’re an intermediate level street photographer then perhaps you can learn how to edit down your photos, understand what separates a good photo from a great photo. All in all, it’s great to get feedback and see the pros work their magic.

Consume as Much Photo-books as Possible

If there are no workshops in your area or if workshops may be too pricey then consuming as much photo books is a great substitute. You can buy them online or at your local Barnes & Nobel…or borrow from friends. Research what type of photos you enjoy or aspire producing. Look into the great street photographers and focus on their body of works. You can watch countless Youtube video interviews or short documentaries on how they go about shooting the streets. You can self teach yourself anything these days with the power of the internet…it all depends on your own determination. Below are some great youtube videos to check out.

Youtube Videos

  1. Eric Kim with Jack Simon
  2. Mark Cohen Shooting the Streets
  3. Garry Winogrand Shooting the Streets
  4. Joel Meyerowitz Shooting the Streets

Color Books

Michael Ernest Sweet Coney Island

Jesse Marlow Don’t Just Tell Them Show Them

William Eggleston Books

Alex Webb Suffering of Light

Harry Gruyeart

Challenge Yourself

Shoot out of your comfort zone. Photograph in a location out of your comfort zone. You should not be thinking but be more relaxed when you’re out shooting. Let your imagination flow and take over.

Build a Website…and other social media outlets

Create a website, I use wordpress, it is rather simple if you spend a good day learning about it. The power and resource of the internet and youtube should make the process less painful. Build your own platform, the more outlets you have (facebook, instagram, youtube, website, flickr) the more opportunity people will find you. Since creating my own website about two years ago, I’ve been reached out to exhibit my work in Paris and present my work at a local high school. You just never know who’s looking at your work. Social media is just another way to share information but I wouldn’t use them (except youtube, since youtube is owned by google, and videos are ranked higher than anything else, blogs, photos, etc) as my main source of driving traffic. Plus, Facebook’s algorithm is fucked up. Not everyone will see your post and if your post/photo doesn’t receive 10 likes within the first half hour, then your post gets buried.

Share Your Knowledge

This goes back to creating your own platform. I think it’s best to share what you know on a topic, give your (bias) opinion, and interview other inspiring photographers to have them share their knowledge and stories.

Bring a Camera Everyone….iphone/android cameras are more than welcomed.

It’s not hard to carry your camera everywhere with you. I’ve missed some potential cool shots because I was lazy in wrapping my camera around my wrist. There were times when I would just walk across the street to the local convenient store and missed a potential shot. Don’t be lazy, you’ll regret it .

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Appreciate the Process

Most people have goals with their hobby, their passion…some don’t. If you do have goals with your street photography be realistic about it. If your goal is to make one dynamic photo every time you go out and shoot, that’s very unrealistic ( I do appreciate the optimism though). Just appreciate the process and remember to not add any pressure on yourself. You are photographing the world around you as a way to get in touch with reality, disengage with the stresses, burn some calories, absorb the sun, be away from the computer, and just enjoy life. Making a great photo is the plus, really.

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Shoot in the rain, sun, and on an overcast day

Don’t just shoot when it’s sunny, overcast, or during sunset. Try them all. Shoot them all! Don’t limit yourself and narrow your point of view. Of course, if you’re working on a series then you may only want consistent lighting or time of day. Perhaps, you only have time during lunch hours, so harsh afternoon light is all that you can get. If possible try everything.