What I learned from the Jesse Marlow & Aaron Berger Leica Workshop

This past week I was fortunate to spend 3 days in LA for the Jesse Marlow & Aaron Berger Leica workshop.

Two very different styles and approaches to street photography, Jesse’s work in color, shapes, visualization, and leading lines, while Aaron’s work with “people happening”, character driven, action in the streets approach was great to watch and learn as well. They also reiterated that there are no rules in street photography, which I thought was great to echoe because a lot of the students were new to this and it’s also great for me to hear because often times I put these barriers up that a photo should be this or look like that or have such and such…

Aaron Berger

Aaron is the slickest photographer I’ve ever seen work…he slitters like a snake, through and in-between people and no one ever does notice that he’s making a picture of them. He has it down like clockwork, it’s quite awesome to witness in person. We were out in the LA area for close to 10 hours of shooting. Aaron has a lot of energy and is relentless, his approach to shooting the streets is hitting it up everyday for hours and be on full offensive attack. I admire that of Aaron.

He also anticipates the shot coming from 30 feet away. While walking through a crowd down Hollywood Blvd, he’s not scanning through the crowd that’s five or ten feet from him, he’s looking at twenty five, thirty feet away and visualizing if there’s an opportunity to pair up couples or notice if there’s potentially anything interesting may come about. Learning about dead space and how heads sticking out of other people’s heads in a photo can make or break your images.

I think we all can learn from Aaron by pushing ourselves daily. Go out and make those opportunities happen. Don’t just sit around and expect things to come at you, go out and grab life by the throat. Find what works for you, what visually intrigues you, and get it.

Jesse Marlow

Jesse Marlow is great at recognizing a scene and shooting the scene until it dissolves or until he no longer cannot. I shot with Jesse for most of the day and learned a lot from him, about challenging yourself, finding your unique style and sticking with it, and not giving a shit what others think…if you like the photo, defend it, fight for it.

Jesse has more of a calculated approach I would say. Recognize a scene that’s simple and shoot many times of it, go low, go high, get close, take a step back…be patient, as some of the best photos just unfold itself right in front of you. Drop the f-stop to darken a particular area in the frame to isolate your subject. Look for vibrant color, shadows, leading lines and geometry and be creative with it. Avoid the cliche’s and instead think outside the box. Ultimately don’t worry about awards and prizes, remind yourself to shoot for yourself and because you enjoy doing it. Things will fall into place.

Even if your photo does have a story or drama within the frame, something within the image that doesn’t support the photo can turn it into a bad photo. If a shadow or a giant tree is in the frame and doesn’t add to the narrative then it really loses it soul. It’ll draws people attention away from the main focus.

Bring your camera everywhere. Jesse is the opposite of Aaron, he doesn’t allocate time each day and go out and shoot. Rather Jesse just brings his camera wherever with him. This allows more free time with his family and also doesn’t add any pressure or disappointments to photography. If he see’s something while he’s driving or on his way to the grocery, he’ll have his camera ready and loaded. But if he didn’t capture anything while on the road or on errands then no big deal. There’s no expectations and I think we all can learn from Jesse’s approach.

Conclusion

I highly recommend beginners or advance street photographers to learn from both Jesse and Aaron. Even if your style or what you’d like to be your style is opposite from either one of them, it’s great to learn and absorb new techniques and knowledge. Watch and hear what makes a photograph work out on the field and in the classroom.

I want to thank the class, Aaron, Jesse, Tom Smith of Leica Akadmie North America, my family for allowing me to go on this adventure, and the staff at Leica LA for an awesome experience.

Why I don’t title my photos

To title or not to title…that is the question. I believe titling a photo works in more of a documentary approach in your photography. Usually when photographing an event or a protest, that culminates a series or body of work.

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Titling fits best when you want your viewers to understand your weird sense of humor. Or when you want to get your point across. For example, the photo above I titled “Hair Extension” because that’s what I wanted my viewers to see and feel.

But think of it this way, once you give your photo a title, then that is how you are inviting your viewers to interpret it as well. Leaving little to no room for the viewer in creating their own narrative. By leaving a photo untitled, you are allowing your viewer to be a part of your photo, as personal your photos may be to you, your audience are just as important. Engage your viewers, allow them to interpret your photo on how they see it and ultimately creating their own narrative. For instance, when I see a photo and it has title or lengthy description, I cannot help but to see the photo as how it was titled or described. I cannot reverse my mind into thinking that this particular photo is something else.

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When you look at a photo that may have multiple stories within the frame or multiple emotions, it will seem a lot more dramatic than they probably are with your own two eyes looking at the situation in reality. Therefore, allow the viewer to create their own story and make use of one’s imagination and ultimately for their own enjoyment.

Let’s make an example out of the photo above. Well before I do, let me mention I am not a copywriter and am horrible with titles that’s why I’m a photographer. Okay, so let’s say I titled the photo, “Aftermath of Trump” or “Angst” or “Make America Great Again”….these titles are focused on the main attention grabber…Zombie Trump on the man’s shirt and/or the man with anxiety wearing the zombie Trump shirt. Okay, so I’m only focusing one part of the entire frame, what about Mini Mouse in the back, I think she adds a nice touch to the photo although she may not be the primary focus.
Again, what I’m trying to say is that there is only so much a title or headline can cover within an image. Having the photo untitled leaves it open and allows viewers to see and analyze the photo from all four corners.

You would be surprise by the response or how your viewers may interpret your photos…better yet you may learn something new.

Conclusion

Again, there is no right or wrong… but in my bias opinion a good photo left untitled is much more better than a photo with titles and descriptions. Let your photo do the talking, it does not need any words to help elevate the photo. Remember the saying, a photo is worth a thousand words.

Hawaii Street Photography – The Future of Street Photography in Hawaii

“There’s only one way to go and that’s up” – Unknown

That’s how I feel about street photography in Hawaii. Because there aren’t many street shooters here or to the general consensus much knowledge of the topic, I believe sky’s the limit for street photography in Hawaii (Hawaii in general seems to be a few steps behind in everything compared to the rest of the world anyways).

Every major city in the world or at least mainland USA has a Leica store imprint (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami)..why not Honolulu? Honolulu is one of the major tourist destinations in the United States (yes Hawaii is part of the United States).

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Let’s dig deeper, where did a lot of the well known street photographers originally come from or make a name for themselves? A lot of them were based out of New York (of course, because if it doesn’t come out of New York it isn’t legit..I’m kidding). With the growing popularity of street/candid photography and more accessible, cheaper cameras…any city, country, in the world can be a destination for street photography…but how? Usually, there needs to be a representative of the area…someone that can put the city, state, country, on the map as a serious location to visit to shoot street. Maybe that’ll be me for Hawaii, maybe it’s someone else….it doesn’t matter, we need someone to step up and represent Hawaii.

What I’m trying to say is…there’s opportunity here for street photography, to bring it onto a grand stage and showcase to the world!!! Hawaii is much more than awesome weather, surfing, snorkeling, poke bowls and loco mocos!

Interview with New York Street Photographer Paul Kessel

Hi Paul 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 grew up in New York City and have lived here most of my life.  My father took pictures of me as a baby and up to my teenage years so I was always aware of photography. I was given a camera while my age was barely in double digits and perhaps even earlier. I have saved a few photos I took while I was age nine. I can recall at that age using flash bulbs. They got extremely hot and couldn’t be touched after igniting. However, I definitely was no  Jacques Henri Lartigue (The French photographer prodigy beginning at age seven.)

All of my life thereafter, I owned a camera and I would use it in spurts, often not taking a picture for many years. I never learned anything technical except to set the camera to F 8 if shady and F11 if sunny.  Somehow I managed to take indoor photos with a flash. In the 1960’s I dabbled in street photography for a few months. I did not think of it as street photography but as I look at old photos, I realize that is what I was doing. The intermittent photography continued until I pursued it seriously starting in 2007, one month shy of my 70th birthday.

I had a career in clinical psychology, and university teaching and in addition I was a serious competitive amateur golfer from age 17-71. I mention golf because I treat street photography as a sport and often compare it to golf.

How has being a clinical psychologist helped in any way with your photography?

I am not sure if being a clinical psychologist has had a significant impact on my photography. I believe that I am more suited for photography then psychology and regret not beginning photography earlier and instead of psychology. (I find myself often confusing the two words, which have phonetic similarities). Almost all of my photography teachers have assumed that my psychology background informs my photography. I am interested in photographing people. That may be as far as it goes.

Since you’re retired, how often do you hit up the streets of NY? Or do you just bring your camera everywhere with you?

After I retired and stopped playing golf as well; I have been immersed in photography. I have had classes every semester at The International Center of Photography for ten years. Most of the classes were of ten-week duration.  Altogether, I have had over fifty classes plus numerous workshops and consultations with a number of photographers.  I began focusing on street photography about seven years ago and I rarely go out without a camera. Most days I have the intention to spend a good part of the day shooting. Other times, I carry the camera with me so as to be sure not to miss anything that may turn up. It has reached the point where if I don’t have a camera with me, I have a distinct feeling that something important is missing.

How do you have so much energy? Where can we get the fountain of youth potion?

Tim, you asked how I have so much energy.  I don’t. I have to overcome lethargy every day and I am afraid that I am slowing down as age eighty is around the corner.  However, I feel distinct unease if I go through a day without taking pictures.

Do you have a ritual before you head out?

I have no ritual or routine that I do before heading out. I use only a prime 35mm full frame lens so I have no equipment decisions to make. Maybe I do have a ritual each time. It occurs to me that I almost always consider bring a 28mm lens with me but then decide against it. It is strictly a weight issue. I try to travel as light as possible.

You’ve been shooting for 10 years and counting, what is it about street photography that keeps you wanting more?

As I said, I consider street photography a sport and not so much art. I am constantly longing for the big catch, the home run, the great round of golf. I know it is out there. Every day I want to get it. I almost never do but that desire keeps me going.

Looking back, what’s one subject or event would you document from the 60s-90s that really resonated with you and why?

I was there when the Woman’s movement began.  I have a picture of Gloria Steinem in the first major Woman’s march on Fifth Avenue.  I only shot on one day and have two photos. This was a major movement. I was at the right place at the right time and I only pressed the shutter twice (before I photographed the woman’s marches in response to Donald Trump’s election and policies.) That movement resonates with me and I missed my chance to be part of it and photograph it. However, photography was not really part of my life at that time. 

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Your photos that have exhibited and won in numerous festivals, were they captured off of instinct? Or did you just happen to point and shoot, and then realize afterwards you potentially have something when you were post processing them? 

When I am shooting; it feels good to be working on a project. The project could be as simple as a place (e.g.: Coney Island or Williamsburg Brooklyn) or an event such as Fashion Week. I have had several such projects and they all culminate in a self-published book (I have about fifteen such books). When I have a project it feels like I have a job and a mission. My motivation and desire goes up. However, in recent years, more often then not, I am striving for random decent photographs. That is adequate for me but it doesn’t pump me up nearly as much as a more cohesive project.

When I achieve what for me is a good photograph, it comes about in various ways. Sometimes I see something out of the corner of my eye and without composing at all, or even clearly seeing what I am shooting, I luckily end up with something I like. In such instances, the picture finds me and I am alert enough to see it. In other instances, I may find a good spot with light that is favorable and a background that is pleasing. I hang around and look at the stage in front of me and wait until enough interesting elements enter the set. I am very aware of composition and the edges of the frame. These pictures are more made then taken.  I know immediately if I have something decent and I can visualize the print. (I print all photos that have the potential to be good.). Perhaps my very best photos more often then not, are derived from a third approach. I may see an interesting person or an interesting scene. Then I may follow or wait until I am at a good vantage point. I then work the scene as much as possible by taking numerous shots from slightly different angles or distances. I keep shooting as long as possible and later in post processing and editing, I look for the best version of it.

Usually none of these three approaches or variations of them work. I have come to realize that really good pictures are rare and that it is within the nature of street photography to usually fail. I believe that a good street photographer may achieve five to ten exceptional photos a year if he or she is lucky. Unlike most other photography, factors beyond one’s control are operating that makes street photography particularly difficult. With experience and technical skill it becomes easy to go out and get loads of OK pictures. However, the really exceptional worthwhile photos are far and few between.

How would you describe your style within your photographs?

I have come to realize that my style may be a bit different then that of most street photographers. I see that the majority of street photographers working today are after a decisive moment that looks quirky or humorous. Further, most work is shown online.  I am after a good-looking photograph that can be printed and hung. I too, admire an odd moment but I am equally or perhaps more interested in light and composition. This is both strength and a flaw as far as I can tell. Too often, my photos have good lighting, decent composition, but lack compelling content. A photographer friend has described some of my photos as all context and no content. I am as interested in context as much as content: perhaps too much so.

I looked at Alex Webb’s work for the first time about six years ago. I admire its complexity. I keep striving for pictures like his with multiple layers, disparate and compelling activities going on in the foreground, middle ground, and background. This is Ernest Hemingway’s Great White Marlin that I am after. I have never achieved it but I keep trying. If I fall short but still have a layered photograph, I am pleased. All to often, I have to settle for a candid portrait within good context and light. I am beginning to think that Alex Webb himself can rarely make “Alex Webb-like” photographs. The pictures with multiple activities and different activities within multiple layers probably are relatively rare for him too.

Almost all of my work is in color. I don’t view color as a distraction. The world is in color so why not show it?  Yes, most of the history of photography and its great photographs are in black and white. However, technology has changed and color is now a more viable option.

Whose work do you admire?

I admire so many photographers.  I would put, Alex Webb, Garry Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz, and Robert Frank at or near the top of the list. These are some of the established “stars” There are so many good street photographers including a lot of younger people working today.

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

I have no plans to marry so I cannot personalize the answer to this question. Immediately,  Larry Fink pops to mind.  His event flash photography is candid and he makes little attempt to glamorize anyone. I would prefer real expressions to posed and he would be good at that. I don’t seem to like too many posed pictures or “happy” smiling pictures.

Be a member of Magnum today or go back in time and document the 60s all the way until 2007 when you started shooting street. 

The “right” answer to this question is to document the 60’s all the way until I started shooting street.   However, if Magnum would want me, my need for prestige would overpower me and I would take that.

What’s one goal on your bucket list in relation to street photography?

One goal on my bucket list in relation to street photography would be something that is probably beyond my reach. I would love to have a published book of my best street photos.

Any personal street photography tips or advice you have to those out there?

I don’t have any advice that others more experienced and accomplished then myself have not already offered.

I do have a blog in my website about photography slumps. The gist of it is that it is in the nature of street photography to be in an almost a perpetual slump because truly good pictures are rare. In other words, a slump is not a slump. It is street photography. This applies to experienced street photographers. Too many inexperienced street photographers have little idea of what is a good photograph and they settle for too many mediocre pictures and show too many of them. Editing out all but the best is necessary. Show only your very best work. I need to take heed of that myself.

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Check out Paul Kessel’s work below!

www.paulkessel.com

a. Blurb Books can be found in the “Books” section of my website.

b. To see all Blurb Books one can go to www.blurbbooks.com and search for Paul Kessel

Flickr: Paul Kessel

Instagram @streetskessel

 

5 street photography myths we need to stop believing

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Travelling won’t make you a better photographer

Just because you travel to a new country/city doesn’t mean you’ll walk away with awesome innovative photos! I believe that’s the perception for a lot of people (especially beginners) or giving yourself an excuse…”oh where I live isn’t interesting as New York or India, so I’ll just wait to shoot when I travel”

Some of the master’s of photography created their work right in their own back yard. Mark Cohen patrolled and photographed the streets of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

What I’ve learned from travelling is more about people, their way of life, and culture. Ultimately, we may look different on the outside but on the inside we all want the same things in life (health, wealth, relationships, having a purpose in life, etc). I’ve realized that there are more good people than there are bad in this world…I know hard to believe right.

 

It’s all about the camera…NOT!

There’s no perfect street photography camera. Try them all (rent, borrow from friends) and see what’s best for you. Personally, I don’t care about megapixels, autofocus (because I zone-focus) and all those other specs that most people waste their time on. I just want something that fits perfectly in my hand and a camera that is not bulky. The Olympus M5-ii does just that for me.

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3. It’s all about Luck

Wouldn’t you agree that you create your own luck? You can say that luck is with everything in life. I believe in street photography there’s so much more other factors that contributes to you capturing a decisive moment than luck. Sure a little luck may have happened but first you would have needed to recognize the scene or moment, you would have needed to time the shot perfectly, have the courage to take the shot, possibly you would have had to anticipate and visualize different components or subjects coming together to form the photo.

I would say luck is more in relations with winning or being a finalist in festivals and competitions. Those are like lotteries, so many submissions and so many factors involved to being placed in a exhibit that is out of your control. I think most photographers who say it was lucky to capture the image are really just being humble.

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You’ll get beat up if you take a photo of someone

I have never gotten beat up or been involved in any hostile situation because I was photographing people (knock on wood). There are ways to get around it or prevent yourself from being in that situation. Continue walking and don’t make eye contact with the person. If you happen to make eye contact, smile and compliment the person and walk away. If that doesn’t work, just delete the photo and show it to them.

Or If you know you can run much faster than the person…then sprint..I’m joking.

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Your photograph needs people in them

Street Photography has no rules. Many past photographers have proved that one you don’t need an actual physical human being in a photo for it to be considered a street photograph. Elements of a human form such as shadow of a person, poster with a person on it, human belongings (shoes, accessories) are acceptable by most people in 2017. Personally, a street photography is just photography, look at William Eggleston’s work. I think his photos where there’s no actual person in them are his best. Photos of hotel rooms, outside of a southern mom and pop shop, hotel bathroom, inside of a car, etc.

I like photos that give me more questions than answers and in which allows me to use my own imagination to create a story of my own likings.

Anyways, I hope you had fun reading this. Until next time, keep shooting!

 

 

Interview with London Street Photographer Sam Rodgers

Aloha Everyone,

I am excited to share with you all my first street photography guest blog interviewee, Sam Rodgers! I met Sam at this past year’s StreetFoto San Francisco  through mutual photography friends and got a chance to roam the streets and shoot together. Sam was a finalist at StreetFoto, I am amazed at his body of work despite only been shooting street photography for a little over a year. On top of it all, Sam is a super cool guy. Below is the interview!

Hey Sam 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?

Hi Tim and thanks for inviting me. I first got into photography as an 18 year old when I took a year out to travel to India before entering the university. I took along a 35mm fixed lens camera which belonged to my Grandmother. This was in 1991 and we were travelling on a very tight budget so I was careful not to waste film.

Six months in India amounted to twelve rolls in total, although there were a lot more keepers because I would deliberate over each shot. When I got back I saved up and bought myself a secondhand Canon T70, they’d replaced the shutter speed dial with push buttons which made it feel high tech and minimal for all of five minutes, until I realized how much easier it is to twist a physical dial. I spent a couple of years taking pictures of London’s architecture with the occasional person shot, then my camera was swiped in a house burglary.

I was in med school at the time so life was fairly busy and didn’t get around to replacing it. Somehow twenty years went by, between training as a family doctor, meeting my wife and having kids I managed to forget how much I enjoy photography. I was working crazy hours in a difficult job last year when I had two epiphanies,  that my life didn’t have to revolve around work, and that I had forgotten how to have fun. My response to the first was to resign and find a job that didn’t consume every waking hour. I resisted the urge to respond to the second by buying a sports car and behaving like a 20 year old, and bought myself a Fuji XPro2 instead. I read a couple of books on street photography after seeing the work of some London based street photographers and haven’t stopped pounding the pavements since.

What is it about Street photography that keeps you interested?

First up I like the absence of rules, if I want to focus on people I can, but I can also find abstract compositions, still life, whatever I feel like doing. Having had such long break from photography I still feel like a kid in a sweet shop, I enjoy experimenting with different styles and techniques.

Street photography is so portable too, you don’t need to lug around bags of lenses and tripods to get good results, a simple camera and an open mind goes a long way.

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

I tend to carry my camera everywhere now as I can’t bear seeing something that would make a good shot only to realise I don’t have my camera. It was living in my bag but has now graduated to being slung over my shoulder after I missed a shot of an adult man entangled with a child’s scooter. That lets me take an ad hoc approach, on lunch breaks, or when I’m going out to pick up the kids. I also spend a half day every week solidly shooting street. I try to do this on the weekend as my hit-rate tends to be higher.

Is there anything you are looking in particular when you are out shooting, or are you more “Read and React”?

Its a mixture of both. I start by wandering and seeing what stands out to me, but if I’m struggling to see things will shift over to set myself specific goals.

What makes London unique to shoot?

There is a reservedness about Londoners which plays out well for street photographers. In the year since I started I have been challenged three times, when I started I thought there would be more confrontation.

The flip side of this is that people are polite about not wanting to spoil your photo, I often take my eye away from my camera to find a line of apologizing Londoners either side of where I was shooting. The light is pretty challenging, it can change quickly, we get a lot of overcast days which means I tend to rely more on composition or humor than on beautiful lighting.

Whose work do you admire?

It was seeing Matt Stuart’s work that piqued my interest in street photography and opened my eyes to the potential of our grey city. I also love Jack Simon’s work, theres a subtle surreal thread that runs through his work, and I like how he uses the whole frame to tell a story. The World Street Photography project has introduced me to some wonderful photographers – Jeff Chayne-Mouye, Gerry Orkin, Susana Freitas, Saman Ali, Jeffrey De Keyser, Antonio Ojeda, Vasco Trancoso and some guy called Tim Huynh all spring to mind but there are many more I could list.

How would you describe your street style or photographs?

Humour plays a part, its a trigger for me. I’m trying to rely on it less as there’s a danger that the whole picture ends up focused on the gag, and composition and story telling end up poor seconds. I love good light (because we get so little of it here). But I’m not sure I have my own style yet, being relatively new to street means I’m still enjoying trying out a range of styles.

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

After living in sin for 17 years we had a low key wedding because our accountant told us to! Our actual photographers were four feet tall – we gave cameras to our kids and told them to snap away. I loved looking back over the shots, seeing the whole thing from a child’s point of view was fascinating, they focused in on details that missed me completely. And because of their yoda like stature most adults weren’t aware they were being photographed so there were some great natural shots.

If we were going to do things properly then I would have to choose Kevin Mullins, he brings the candid style of street to wedding photography and is brilliant at capturing the interactions and emotions of people in a very natural style.

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

If I’m allowed to travel back in time to a particular era that the photographer was active in then I would have to say Joel Meyerowitz in 60s/70s NYC. Amazing photographer, city and era!

Any personal tips or advice on street photography?

Relax, enjoy and try stuff out, its advice to myself as well as I still feel inhibited at times and will avoid taking a shot. The one thing I wish someone had told me when I was starting is that its normal to get a very low number of keepers, don’t get frustrated or disappointed.

You can be up to date with Sam Rodger’s work at;

https://www.flickr.com/photos/samrodgers/

https://www.instagram.com/sam_shot_that/

Tim Huynh Contact Sheet Volume II: Red

Aloha Everyone,

One of my favorite photo’s from my own collection is RED. This series of photographs were taken in Tenderloin last year (2016) during  Jack Simon‘s workshop in San Francisco. Tenderloin is not a particular area you would typically roam around for street photos but surprisingly there was a block party so we went ahead and joined in.

As I was roaming around the area waiting for those interesting moments to happen, I for one did not notice the red wall. Probably at the time I was not as aware or experienced at seeing vibrant colors on the street as I am now. It wasn’t until I noticed how Jack and the other students were photographing the man in the red sweater that I went ahead and joined in. (You can watch here how I photographed RED at 5:45)

First, I love the vibrant red and how his sweater blended in with the red wall. The man’s hat, white sunglasses and the white graffiti on the wall pointing to the right makes it more interesting. I probably should have worked the scene until a lot more but at the time I didn’t know any better.

I feel photo eight is the best photo on the entire contact sheet. I like the simplicity of it with just him against the wall. The special moment in my opinion is when he opened his pizza box and bit into his pepperoni pizza…MORE RED COLORS!

Do you think I selected the right image? What would you have liked to see happen in the frame? How would you have shot it differently?

 

 

How to Handle Criticism on your Street photography

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots – Frank Clark

Criticism is negative feedback and I’ve had a very small handful of them on my photography through peers and folks on social media. I’m human, sometimes it gets to me but I try my best not to let it. Criticism is negative feedback without any guidance or suggestive improvements. For example, if someone saw your photo and said “It’s crap” and not explain why the photo is crap then it’s all deaf ears to me.

However, saying that the photo is crap but yet explaining why, is constructive feedback. There’s opportunity to learn and grow knowing why your photo just doesn’t work.  I had one person say (and I won’t give any clues) that one of my photo essays was pretty good but that’s because they edited the photos down and cropped some of the images. Or said (same person) it sucks without further explanation.

I’m open for constructive feedback and I think I take it pretty well, I’m all ears and open to a discussion. I also believe in defending your work if you truly love the image and regardless what others think, if you like the photo stand by it. I actually appreciate when someone gives me their constructive feedback, to take time to either type a message or waste their breath on me, I feel appreciative to an extent. I have always believed if the person didn’t care then they wouldn’t waste their time saying anything.

Also remember to keep in mind, everyone has the right to their own opinion. That’s the beauty of this country, the freedom of speech. So that we can have dialogue and come to an mutual or better yet…a better understanding of both perspectives.

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To take the advice or not

The way I see constructive feedback is 1. What would make the image work better instead or 2. From the perspective of the viewer, how it’d be a better image. There is no right or wrong in street photography but there is good, better, and just not there. I think most people don’t know how to give good constructive feedback, for photography good constructive feedback is saying this doesn’t work but I’d be curious to see if a particular subject passed back or if you got lower it’d add more emotion or mystery to it.

For me even if I receive good constructive feedback I won’t always adjust to their liking’s or to use less words…agree. But I am appreciative of their feedback and thoughts (never know you may learn something new). You got to remember even if Bruce Gilden gave you feedback on a photo you truly liked and he chewed it up to pieces (like he did to mines in San Francisco) and he pointed out why it’s a weak photo, etc, and with over five decades of experience, a Magnum photographer, the list goes on…Even he has a particular style he likes or prefers (plus I don’t think Bruce Gilden ever complimented anyone’s photos besides his very own).

Imagine if someone asked you to review and critique their photo and there’s parts of the image that you do or don’t like about it. You’re giving your opinion  based on your own experience, personal fondness of what type of photos you cater towards. If photographed a scene that included vibrant colors and had a very minimalist aesthetic to it and you ask a fellow photographer that loves black and white photos, that tends to incorporate layers and lots of people in their frame…they probably won’t appreciate your photo compared if another photographer presented photos that shared the same ideas and have similar taste in style.

That’s why I believe in not having a style. Lots of photographers talk about having a style to call your own, to separate from the pack, or to use less words…branding. For me I just shoot what I like, what catches my attention and keeps me curious. I don’t want to be pigeon hold to one style or one way of shooting…I’d get bored too quickly.

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Conclusion

Be open to other opinions. Take what you can learn and filter the rest. People giving criticism online and social media are likely to be more harsh with their feedback because they can hide behind a screen. They’re not dealing with an actual person right in front of them. Think of customer service, when someone calls and make a complaint versus making a complaint in person at the store. Nobody wants to cause a scene at the store and go viral on Facebook. Even if it’s someone you know, their critique online will be much different in person.

ultimately, my advice is to always follow your gut, be true to yourself, you can’t please everyone the only person you should be pleasing is yourself. Life is about taking the bumps and bruises and just picking yourself back up and keep on keeping on.

Defend your work, stand up for it if it’s something you like. Don’t let the opinion of others demoralize you. And don’t change because society tells you to or the feeling of pressure from your peers. Change when you’re ready to change, when you’re ready to take that leap of faith whether that’s in your photography by changing up your approach and style…or if that’s in life where you need to subtract old friends that are nothing but toxic or if you need to move to another country for a change in scenery. Do it by your own terms, create your own destiny, write your own narrative.

Tim Huynh Contact Sheet Volume 1: Legs!

Aloha Everyone,

I wanted to create a contact sheet to share with you folks on how I capture and process my images. This one titled “Legs” is one of three photos that will be published in this year’s World Street Photography 4 book (you can purchase book here).

I saw this giant advertising board at the new Waikiki International Market Place and it caught my attention because of how simple it was, a giant sexy leg of a woman (I assume) and the fact that it was in black and white. I knew I could create something out of this with a lot of mixed reactions of people walking by. This is when visualization and the use of imagination comes in handy when you are able to juxtapose or visualize what may come about. I usually don’t hang out in a particular area for more than 10 minutes, I don’t have the patience. Below are the contact sheets.

Contact sheet Legs 1

Contact sheet Legs 2

Contact sheet Legs 3

I didn’t get the overly dramatic moment that I had wanted to get. I was using flash so it helped draw attention to me as people were walking by and were curious as to what I was photographing. No person or animal was harmed in this event, there was no altercation, people kept on walking and didn’t say a word.

I chose photo #10 because that was the best reaction I got out of the 23 attempts. The couple did not make eye contact with me as I clicked the shutter which was good but also they seem more effected by the giant leg. It almost looks like the man is sort of closing his eyes or not trying to look at the giant leg that’s flashing the couple. The framing of attempt number 10 is the best too. I tried many variations as far as framing, shoot it with no foot, shoot it off to the side, eye level, play around with the actual heel hitting or aligning with someone’s head like in photo number 2. I tried as much as I could within my ten minute patient bar. I also think converting the photo into black and white helped elevate the images it almost looks like the couple blends in and are a part of the advertising display.

Well, if you guys think another attempt was a better shot or if I should have tried a different way to work the scene, please let me know.

Thanks for reading and keep shooting!