10 Street Photography Resolution Tips

Happy New Year All!!! May health, wealth and happiness be present to you in 2018! Now I am not a big believer in setting up goals especially when it comes to New Year’s resolution. In fact, I believe you are just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. I feel instead of making a big unrealistic goal for example cut off soda entirely from your diet…instead you should narrow the large goal even further down (just thinking about cutting out your favorite beverage seems overwhelming). So if your goal was initially to cut off soda by year’s end then maybe instead it’s to only allow yourself to drink soda twice (12oz can) a week during lunch. Now that doesn’t seem too difficult does it.

Below are ten street photography goals that you can apply to your new year’s resolution!

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Carry Your Camera Everywhere 

Carry your camera everywhere with you and a mobile phone does not count unless that is all you have. So anytime you go out of the house or office, bring your camera. Have it dangling from your wrist or neck. At the very least you won’t regret not making a photo of something you see it. Stop with the excuses of “Oh I forgot my camera”…”Damn I wish I had my camera”…this happened to me on several occasions last year, some may have been good photos but I ain’t losing any sleep for not taking it. I’ll do my best to bring my camera everywhere, you never know what you might see or come across. Read my blog post on “The Laws of Averages”

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If you can’t carry your camera everywhere then shoot at least an hour a day

If you are unwilling to carry your camera anytime you head out because you’re either lazy or don’t want to hold a 20oz camera then try to shoot at least an hour a day. Shoot during your lunch break, after work, wake up early and shoot before work. Walk home and shoot. Walk to work and shoot. Remember you’re killing two birds with one stone by being creative and burning them holiday calories.

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Be Creative Daily

Be creative daily to help you get thru the day. To help stimulate your mind and soul and to give you something to look forward to. Creativity benefits you in so many ways, your mood, your energy, your overall growth, helps resolve conflict, and create balance and order in your life. The key is to have continual learning, so whether you choose to be creative through photography, reading, drawing, painting, music, or writing, try something new,  find what sticks for you. Everybody is creative.

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Take a Workshop

Take a street photography workshop in your city. If not travel to the nearest city from you that’s offering one. If your budget allows, travel offshore to  take the workshop. I say it’s a must do at least once for every street photographer enthusiast.

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Travel to a Foreign Country

Travel somewhere you have never been before. Get out of your comfort zone and there’s nothing like seeing a new place with a fresh pair of eyes with a camera in your hands…and most importantly TIME. No need to worry about work, stress, or anything back home. Just shoot it up in a new place. Have fun!

Perhaps, travel to a country and meet up with a local street photographer there. Hit them up and make arrangements before hand. Most street photographers are nice people.

If you are unable to travel then travel to different parts of your own country, city, state….and shoot in different area for one month throughout the year…amounting to 12 new locations for the calendar year. This should help stimulate your creative juices!

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Attend a Street Photography Festival

Attend a street photography festival to meet other street photography enthusiast and network as well (I hate that word by the way). Attend panel discussions and learn new things about the art of street photography. If you’re on the west coast visit Streetfoto.org in San Francisco. If you’re on the east coast stop by in Miami to visit the Miami Street Photography Festival 

There are more street photo festivals booming in parts of Europe due to the popularity of the genre.

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Upload Only Your Best Photos on Social Media

Social media is full of crappy photos. Even if your photo is awesome, most likely it wouldn’t get recognize because the way people scroll through their feed is a correlation to the general populations attention span. So when your followers or friends do scroll and come across your photo…make it count…every single time.

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Make Prints

Make prints, small or larger, or both…Make postcard sizes which are perfect for Christmas gifts or birthdays. It’s a great touching point with your friends. And physical photos are so much cooler to look at and be appreciative of them than online. There’s a different aura with tangible prints and that’s why street photography photo books have been booming in recent years.

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Start On A Project

I did a project when I travelled to Cuba last year. It’s more of a documentary project than street (Rafael Trejos) and still have my on-going project Beach Please!

Projects help you give direction and narrow your focus in times where you may feel like your mind is all over the place and you’re unable to see anything out in the streets.

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Don’t Buy A New Camera…Unless

Stop lusting over new gear or lenses. NAB & CES is right around the corner but I would advise to spend less time researching and geeking out on gear and put in more time working on your craft. Hitting up the streets. Your camera is not your limitation. Only your mind is. Also remember your camera is just a tool.

Only buy a new camera if obviously you need one (broken, stolen, etc). I usually don’t upgrade camera’s unless my current one is broken…I am that type of person that wears the same pair of shoes until the sole completely comes off then I’ll buy a new pair.

In fact, your mobile phone is good enough if you are only going to post your work online. I have seen prints as big as 11 x 17 from a Iphone 7 and they look amazing. The average person wouldn’t tell the difference between that print and a print from a 42MP A7RII.

The main keys to making a good photograph, content, framing, and lighting….camera’s don’t produce that…you do.

10 Street Photography Tips

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No Zoom Lenses

Shoot with a prime lens. Either a 28mm, 35mm which I have been shooting with for the past 3 years, or a 50mm. I prefer the 35mm I feel its the perfect focal length or distance of what the naked eye see. 50mm is a little bit too close and 28mm a little bit too wide. Also factor in your shooting style. If you like getting close to your subjects or snap as you walk within inches of your subject then possibly 28mm is your lens. If you like being further back to capture your moments then 50mm might be your go to lens. Try it all and see which one fits you best. Once you shoot a good year with one, you will know the lens and the distance you will need to be from your subject at the snap of your fingers. My advice is to stick with one focal length for at least 2 years. Another food for thought everything happens so quickly on the streets that your instincts are probably your best friend and not your gear. Fiddling with a zoom lens on the street will only make you miss the shot and look like a creep.

Shoot P Mode

When your out shooting the main thing to have is no distractions. P Mode for me works the best because you can still control your iso ( I usually just set my iso anywhere from 400-1600) and let my camera dictate my shutter. You control your f stop, broad daylight just set your f stop between f8 – f13 and don’t touch it after that.

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Wear Comfortable Shoes

Again no distraction. If your feet is killing you after half an hour of walking then most likely you will be calling it a day. Wear comfortable shoes to avoid any setbacks and ultimately help you push through the day.

Have a Meal Before You Head Out

Fueling your body before hitting the streets is just as important as any of the tips I am going to give you. You do not want to think about food or where and what to eat after an hour of shooting. I have experienced this while on shooting on my lunch breaks and its proven to be ineffective shooting on an empty stomach that is. Because when you shoot on an empty stomach all you are thinking about is what to eat and where to eat and not focusing on being in the moment of shooting the streets.

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Be Inspired

If you don’t feel like shooting then don’t be forcing yourself to go out just to get a couple of shots in. All you will be doing is wasting your time and coming up empty handed. When I don’t feel like shooting or carrying my camera everywhere I go, I don’t. If I need to go run on errands or in a different state of mind other than observing and waiting for those photographic moments to happen, its usually best I go ahead and do just that. Worst case scenario if I do see something or come across an interesting moment I have my Samsung S8 with me.

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Leave the Stress Behind

Dont carry any baggage with you when you go out to shoot. Leave all your stresses about life and work at the door. Shoot with a clear mind and zone out. We shoot to get away from reality and to enter into our element.

Don’t Think. Just Shoot.

Dont overthink anything on the street. If your instinct takes over, make the photo. Dont worry about if the shot is going to be a good photo or not you can worry about that later.

Don’t Have Expectations

Dont set expectations because you will be easily disappointed. 9 times out of 10 when you go out to shoot, you will end up empty handed. No goals and no expectations will only lead you to a happier state of mind. Just do what you love and keep at it. If your work is good, it wont be denied. Talent always rises above everything. Put in the effort and your hard work will pay off.  Always look for ways to improve yourself.

Enjoy The Walk

Be in the moment and enjoy the fact that you are killing two birds with one stone. Photographing…and exercising. Burning calories while potentially create art. Doesn’t get better than that if you ask me. Another tip I would say from your walk is to take in and really observe things happening. I believe we are all immune to certain happenings or sightings out on the street such as homelessness, people leaving work miserable at the stop light, people in their cars stuck in traffic, etc. Observe those groups, look at their faces, situations, and remind yourself you’re lucky to be creating art solely for your soul.

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Have Fun

Just have fun and shoot. Don’t worry about having good photos or having bad photos. Or wanting to please others with your photo. There are no such thing as a bad photograph. Just opinions. Shoot to get away from reality. Shoot to help digest life.

Why Do My Photos Suck

Do you ever go out to shoot and come back empty handed….or go for weeks, more worse months and although you are recognizing scenes falling into place in front of your eyes, you click your camera’s shutter and your photos still come out shitty…Your photos suck, floating around social media without much likes, comments, or any engagement whatsoever compared to your fellow street photography friend who makes it look so effortless on a day to day basis. Here are some reasons why your photos make suck (I have lots of experience with this)…

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No emotion

There are times where you have to be on the lookout for emotions or things happening on the street. Perhaps its a hostile situation or a photograph of a happy group enjoying each others company. Other times you will need to inject yourself into the situation to create an emotion. Flash happens to do this because you get close to your subject and the strong flash will cause the subject to naturally react to your camera (putting their hand up to block face, shocked look or surprise expression, turning away from the camera). There is nothing cool about your photograph, nothing about your photograph interests your viewer…what makes a good photograph in my opinion…story, framing, lighting, & color.

Too Busy 

Your photo is too busy. Yes, you might have caught an awesome moment of your subject but things around them do not support the main focus or distract us from it. Having a clean background always helps draw people in and also helps keep your viewers attention a bit longer.

What’s Happening

What’s the story in your frame? What’s happening? Or did you just take a photo of someone walking. Come on you can do better than that.

Ok So What?

Ok so you took a photo of someone you walked past by. Nothing about the person’s gesture, facial expression, or even clothes keeps us interested….or better yet wantibg more…The background doesn’t applifiy the foreground….the foreground doesn’t applify the background…If you are restricting or better yet limiting your viewer’s to use their imagination, in which allows them to create their own story then its pointless. If that’s the case just look at photographs of the daily local paper. Bottom line is that it looks like any other photo swimming around the internet.

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Bad technique

You didn’t get close enough, it feels emotionless. And you cropped on a wide shot (I can easily tell). You didn’t stay wide enough to include other details within the scene that’d probably help convey your story. The framing is crooked and by the looks of it, it seems that you hesitated before snapping the shot. The crooked-ness doesn’t add to the photo.

You fucked up

Your shot is blurry. The subject matter is out of focus. Live and learn. Moving on.

You Didn’t Take Risk

Something inside you were afraid to make the photograph the way you wanted to or simply you just couldn’t conceptualize the shot right at that moment. You’re thinking too much in this case. Just shut up and shoot (overshoot).

 Stop Titling Your Photos

Stop with the titles. It will not make your bad photo any better. Let the viewer make up their own title on how they interpret your photo…isnt that whst photography is about….

5 Lessons Vince McMahon Can Teach You About Street Photography

If you don’t know by now you should know by now I love street photography as much as I do pro wrestling or what it’s called today aka Sports Entertainment. I have a deep respect and appreciation for WWE’s CEO Vince McMahon who is the mastermind in making wrestling what it is today on a global scale. The ole’ man is 70 years old and can outwork any millennial today and that is why Vince is where he is at STILL today. There are many things you can learn from Vince McMahon  that can help you become a better street photographer.

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Workaholic

You gotta outwork your opponents, your rivals, your colleagues if you want to be a step above. Vince rarely gets any sleep and is very hands on and ingrained in every process of the business from producing the Live events, to talent relations, to sales and overall branding of the company. The needle still moves at the helm of Vince’s approval. Even though WWE is a monopoly in the world of sports entertainment, Vince is still not satisfied and that I have a lot of respect for.

So in your street photography approach, don’t get complacent. Out work everyone by challenging yourself in your photography, push limits, and shoot all day when you can (the street photography gods will reward you).

Be A Creator

The world we live in today is about creating engaging content at an expedient rate.  Vince McMahon and the WWE was doing this for decades and all wrestling fans take it for granted (RAW is the longest running drama on TV). If there’s one thing I’ve personally took to heart from Vince is to be a creator. Create content, create stories that’ll move people and have them talking forever, create personalities that people wish they could be or act out in public.

In this day and age, you can’t just take photos and be satisfied with that. The internet and social media is flooded with street photographs and if you want to stand out you need to provide something above and beyond. If you want to let your photos do the talking that’s fine as well but it’ll probably only reach within the street photography community and nothing more than that. You can’t just be a good photographer anymore, you need to provide something on top of that, maybe it’s being a great photographer and educator through your workshops, or a great photographer with an interesting personality so perhaps vlogging is the way to go. Whatever the case may be…taking photos and posting them is not good enough. Just like being a great wrestling technician in today’s world is not good enough, you need to be able to connect with the audience and so do you as a street photographer. You are unique. Figure out what makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Do What’s Best For Business

Always do what’s best for business as Vince would say. If it makes money and if it’s what the people want then give it to them. Put your ego to the side and make something happen and everyone can walk away happy. Working with crazy personalities with the day to day grind on the athletes, Vince has had many falling outs (and lawsuits). However, at the end of the day if the deal is right regardless of what happened in the past, put it off to the side and make it work if it’s best for you and your company.

For you as a street photographer, always do what’s best for you. Now you may just be a casual shooter and not necessarily a business but do what’s going to propel you as a street photographer.  Take workshops. Buy photo books. Network. Travel. Be spontaneous. And at the end of the day leave your ego at the door.

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Innovate 

Back in the 1970’s wrestling felt “Real”, it looked “Real”. And no one really knew. Then came the 1980’s when Vince fully inherited WWE after the passing of his father. Vince had a vision and wanted to make wrestling more on a global scale, back in the 1970s it was just in small territories, down in the south, up in New York, in Japan, etc, so the exposure wasn’t all there. Vince had a different vision for wrestling and saw it more as entertainment, creating lively and colorful characters that resonated with kids ultimately changed the direction of wrestling forever.

Then came the 1990’s. Culture was different, Music was different. Many things have changed in society and wrestling had to evolve as well…which was the birth of the Attitude Era (the most popular era in wrestling). Then the mid-2000s was the Ruthless Aggression Era. Through these waves of changes Vince was able to sustain it all and adapt, innovate and reinvent the wheel.

In your street photography, if you’re used to shooting up close Bruce Gilden style then try go a bit wider and incorporate lines and geometry like Henri Cartier Bresson. Always experiment with different focal lengths, subjects, and how you post-process your photos.

Grab The Brass Ring

Vince is always preaching to his superstars to grab the brass ring. Take charge and be the leader that company can rely on. The Hulk Hogan’s, The Rock’s, The Stone Cold’s, The John Cena’s….Guys that can carry the company into a promising future.

Although street photography has spiked in popularity within the past several years..it’s still a fairly a new subject matter that most of the general public do not know about. There’s still a window of opportunity to influence the genre through your work and/or be the street photographer advocate similar to what Eric Kim has been for the genre.

Keep in mind everything has been done at least once before, however, if you can grab a piece from this photographer and a piece from that photographer and really mold it into your old by adding your final touch you will have something that will breathe for a long time.

Conclusion

If you need to empower yourself go subscribe to the WWE Network for only $9.99. Jokes aside, I hope this article can help you move your street photography forward.

How to Market Yourself as a Street Photographer

When I got back into street photography three years ago I could only find the same articles, the same interviews, on the same photographers (majority were famous). After meeting and networking with a few street photographers at this past year’s Streetfoto, I wanted to know more about who they were, how did they come away with awesome images, what’s their mindset when hitting the streets, and give them a outlet to share their experiences on my blog. I thought to myself, a lot of these photographers were taking great pictures and only were showcasing them on instagram (most did not have a personal website), and being accepted into competitions…which I would say is the best type of marketing because as a photographer you should let your photos do most of the talking. However, in this day and age I believe in self promoting, self marketing, it’s not gloating or showing off, it’s just a friendlier way of telling everyone what you’re up to! But most importantly to be recognized for your hard work, and distinctive and unique approach to street photography.

I believe it is a crime if you don’t share your work, your knowledge to others, as you may inspire others and show the beauty of life through your own eyes. I see a lot of great modern street photographers who could easily get more eyes and attention (good attention) if they just built a website. Especially those that already have a social media following.

My story, I am not the best modern street photographer, nor am I the most well known. I have not won any awards, yet alone placed in any competitions. However since building my website two and a half years ago (but being most active in 2017) I have come a long ways. I have been hired for a few commercial gigs because a client came across my website and my photo series Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym have also exhibited in Paris, France. Opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have had if I had not created my website and market myself. It may take a while to have the confidence and patience to build a website, write a blog, record and edit a vlog but you must think…no one is going to promote you. My advice, don’t wait for things to happen….instead make it happen!

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What Do You Want Out of Street Photography?

If you ultimately want to make money, I would say keep that as a long term goal. I myself have not been able to make a honest living, however this is not my goal with street photography. I believe it is very difficult to make a dime with street photography unless you teach workshops like everyone else or you use your street photos to pick up commercial gigs…that in itself is very difficult because street style is such a niche unless photographs are consistent and are consistently good that the client is blown away.

Selling prints and books would not be a way to make a living. I would say selling prints is a waste of time and ultimately devalues your art and photograph. Selling books are hard but may be a great way to market and promote oneself…”Brand Awareness”

For me, I just enjoy creating content and being creative everyday. With work and daily stresses it’s important to make some time for yourself whether that’s during lunch, before work, or after the kids go to bed. Being suffocated in the day to day grind is not a way to live your life. So for me I use street photography to express myself, be creative, and share my thoughts and experiences to help others by generating content.

Build Your Platform

If you’ve been shooting and have been persistent with street photography for a good two years with an instagram account at the very least I would say take your game up a notch and build a website starting with your first and last name and end it with “photography” or “photos”…or I have seen “fotos” a hip way of spelling photos. Show your best work on your website and on your social media accounts. Link your website to your social media accounts and keep your website clean and easy to navigate. Once someone stops on your page and they can’t find the tabs or if it’s too busy they’ll most likely exit out. So in other words make it look professional as possible.

Having a unique style helps but that’s easier said then done. Also personally I’m conflicted of “having a style”…why limit yourself in being known as the guy that takes amazing street portraits or the guy that great at finding humor on the streets.

Get on the Social Platforms

In this digital age, this is the best way to get your work out there at the snap of your fingers. I have an instagram account, my website, and youtube channel. I share my blogs photos on my personal facebook page. I don’t have a twitter account, nor a facebook fan page, nor do I utilize my flickr account…It’s just too much apps and time and I only keep what I really use and what’s most convenient. But basically the more social networks you have and you keep working, the more opportunities you’ll be recognized for your work.

If you have a pretty big Facebook or instagram following I would say take advantage of facebook live. The great thing about facebook live is that majority of your followers or friends will get notified once you go live. Even if many don’t watch your live or stick around the entire length of the video, the fact they received a notification about you going live is a good touch point and possibly a great reminder for your followers who may have forgotten they were even following you in the first place to go see what you’ve been up to.

Blog

I part-time blogged in 2016 and bumped it up in 2017. I share most of my blogs on my personal facebook account and have had some friends reshared my blogs. Facebook is only one part of the avenue to share your work or re-purpose your work. Writing blogs, interviewing other photographers have helped boost my stats and have led readers to find my other blogs or even get to know who I am as well. The idea is to generate content and the more you generate the better. It took me a while to blog more because I am not a very good or confident writer but the minute I was honest with myself I got over that hump. Try not to be someone that you’re not and just speak or in this case write with your heart.

Creating video content or vlogs through a youtube channel are great ways to be recognized. Google which owns youtube will rank videos higher than blogs on their algorithm. Whichever is easier for you! I just recently started my youtube channel after getting over my fear and insecurities of speaking into the camera. But I somehow got over it, and just go with the Nike mentality…”JUST DO IT”…enough of the excuses…if you keep worrying about something not being perfect or something is out of your control, then you will never move forward. Do the work, make mistakes, and learn from it.

Reach out to Local Papers

I reached out to Honolulu Civil Beat  last year to see if they would be interested in using my street photos for publication. I met with them and pitched them the idea and in the end they had me do four photo series regarding life in Honolulu. Reaching out to your local magazines, papers, affiliates, and presenting them your strongest body of work is a great way to market and network within your community.

Enter Contest

Again…let your photos do the talking! I’m not the biggest supporter of contest or photo festivals (only a few I support)…Most contest will suck your wallet dry and the chances of you getting in are slim…I always think of photo contest as the lottery…it’s a hit or miss, take your chances, roll the dice and see what happens. The exposure from them are very little unless you place first, second, or third.

Get Exhibit/Have a Show

Have your photos exhibited. Showcase your work. Rent a space. Have a showing and invite your friends. This is a great way to showcase your work and network with other people. I have exhibited in a local cafe a few years ago by simply asking the owner. Ask a restaurant, most places especially brand new ones will want some kind of art or space fillers to cover up their boring blank walls. Plus, no one will really know the prestiage of restaurant/cafe, the fact that your art is up on someone else’s property is already a big deal.

Conclusion

So these are just some ways to market yourself and to help get your work recognized. Of course you should ask yourself what it is that you want from street photography. And always let your photographs do the talking, look for ways to improve your work by looking at other people’s work that inspires you, take workshops, and study the greats. If possible try to be creative everyday (read, write, photograph, play music). Be hungry and proactive, don’t wait for someone to find you, just keep pushing and things will fall into place. Don’t quit your day job just yet and also try to find balance in life.

 

Interview with Vietnamese Street photographer Minh Pham

My street & documentary photography friend Minh Pham is doing an awesome job documenting and capturing the changes to his city Thanh Da, Vietnam. This is an ongoing project until the new city within Thanh Da is fully developed. Minh does a great job capturing moments that highlight globalization and the rapid changes that’s currently happening in Vietnam and how it’s effecting the everyday citizens.

Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?
I was born and raised up in Saigon, located in the South of Vietnam. Since I was a kid, I had always been curious of everything around me. I guess you can say that I like to observe people and my surroundings. In addition, my parents usually showed me their pictures when they were children & pictures they took of me growing up. I always appreciated looking at old family photos and how it moved me or taken me back into time.

In the summer of 2009, my parents and I were on a trip to the center of Vietnam, Da Nang to Hue. My dad gave me a Nokia 6500 Slide on my birthday about a week before the trip. I was so excited because the cell phone had a camera. I spent time to explore all the camera functions & captured every single moment during the trip.

In the tourist group, there was a guy who owned a DSLR saw me captures photos with high concentration. He approached me and we had a small conversation. Few minutes later, I had a chance to experience his DSLR. Having the DSLR in my hands for the first time was quite an experience that I still cannot explain till this day.

A year later, my very first camera was a Canon Rebel T2i. First photographs were focused on the local people who live and work around my residence, Thanh Da.

Tell us about Thanh Da? What was it like? What’s currently happening?

[There’s no place like home] Thanh Da, a place where I was born and raised up for 19 years. It can be compared to a banyan tree which contains most of my old but gold memories since I was kid.

It was a stable upbringing by both my parents, surrounded with good neighbors, and living environment. I would say I was very fortunate to have spent a bulk of my life in Thanh Da. No matter how hard or stressful life could be at that time, I knew everything would be alright because of Thanh Da.

In the summer 2014, news was announced that the city of Thanh Da would be demolished due to the blocks where I lived were bathetic. I thought to myself, It would take long time to get a confirm from the government. However that September, my family moved out from Thanh Da after 19 years living there.
Currently, those blocks were demolished and leave there a huge empty space full of dirt. It’s quite difficult to think about.

Obviously your from Thanh Da but what about that area that inspires you to make photographs of it?

I have been thinking for a long time whenever I come back to Thanh Da and shoot. Sometimes, I just don’t want to face the truth about moving on from Thanh Da.
I don’t want Thanh Da to become a faded memories of my childhood. I come back and shoot Thanh Da with my regret from deep inside my guts.

How do you feel about all these changes in Vietnam?

My family was compensated with two small apartments for the resettlement policy from the Vietnam government. The current circumstance in Vietnam, there are a lot bathetic apartments/residences; however, some places are not receiving full care of the government. Citizens who live in those residence/apartment are not receive high quality compensated resettlement. Some of them are just given a small amount of money as a compensation. Luckily, my family have a roof!

What exactly are you trying to show through your series through Thanh Da?

Thanh Da will be a long term project so I divide it into 3 phases:

+ Phase 1: The Remnant: To depict my regret, what left and slowly disappear in Thanh Da.

+ Phase 2: Transformation: To depict the changes in people life and/or living standard in Thanh Da.

+ Phase 3: Development: Eventually, Thanh Da is going to be a place where buildings and super-malls exist. This phase will show the fast pace of development in Thanh Da and how it effects the citizens of Vietnam. Old things go, new things come.

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

A private book also a good idea to collect all the process 🙂

 

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 my perspective, in street & documentary photography, shooting is to satisfy myself so I usually not intentionally edit the pictures to fit at that moment. I do it based on my feelings.

 

What keeps you motivated?

Simple, photography now is part of my life. I want to contemplate how it change to not have that feeling of regret again. That’s my main motivation.

 

Who are some of your favorite street photographers?

Noppadol Maitreechit (Thailand)

Liu Tao (China)

Werner Bischof (Switzerland)

Aleksey Myakishev (Russia)

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To Follow Minh’s work:

Instagram @phamvietanhminh

Interview with Street Photographer Aaron Berger

I took a workshop from Aaron Berger in LA this past June. Very nice guy that’s knowledgeable in shooting the streets. Check out the interview below.

What made you pursue photography? 

It seemed to come about very randomly. I bought a camera because I thought I wanted to make funny music videos and short films etc; and then somehow I ended up taking pictures with it and eventually felt like all I wanted to do was take pictures. I get obsessed with the things that interest me so it was natural to dedicate myself once I started.

 

If you could choose between making one iconic photo that lives on forever but never produce anymore photos that you’re satisfied with thereafter versus being discovered and rewriting the history books only after your passing.

I’ll take the latter because I’d like to end up with more than one good photo.

If you could have dinner with one street photographer (past or present) who would it be? What would you ask him/her?

Garry Winogrand. I’d ask him anything as long as it has nothing to do with photography.

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

Oh I don’t know – this isn’t the sort of thing I crave. I like meeting whoever is around but I wouldn’t have anyone in mind I’m dying to meet.

Explain what it’s like when you’re out in the streets with a camera (for me, its liberated a load of stress off my shoulders, etc)?

It is almost automatic at this point. Not an escape from anything, not a burden, just something I spend my time on. I go through every mood and state of mind during shooting that I might go through doing anything else. Just a daily practice.

In LA for your workshop, it was great to see you work the streets. You are the smoothest guy I have ever seen shoot the streets. Where did you learn that skill?

Thank you. I don’t know if that’s true, but whatever I’ve learned is just a result of doing it a lot and wanting to do it in a way that wouldn’t upset people.

Can I give you a street photography nickname? Aaron “Smooth Criminal” Berger?

I suppose nobody could stop you.

What is one goal you’d like to accomplish within the next 5 years with Street photography?

I’d like to stay dedicated and move towards being a total beginner again.

Which street photographer you would have wanted to shoot your wedding and why?

I wouldn’t want any photographer to shoot my wedding, because I wouldn’t want a dedicated photographer there. Guests can snap photos and send us the nice ones. I like things casual. Maybe some of the guests would be good photographers.

Whats your favorite food?

This is always changing but I think my ultimate satisfying meal of pure unhealthy indulgence is a good spaghetti carbonara. Not a mediocre one with that bullshit creamy white sauce, though. That is a lie. Lots of guanciale. I couldn’t eat it every day but it’s my favorite occasional treat.

You’re in a dark alley at night which street photographer would you take with you?

Dougie Wallace looks pretty tough.

Your on a beach which street photographer would you take with you?

Whoever is up for playing soccer in the sand, because I’d rather do that than shoot if I’m on the beach.

You’re walking through a rough neighborhood which street photographer would you take with you?

Whoever is familiar with the area.

One tip you can give to the readers on street photography?

Shoot way more hours than you currently are and stop thinking of it as a thing called street photography.

Last question, when are you coming to Hawaii man?

The very moment I win a free trip!

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You can check out Aaron’s other great work below.

http://www.aaron-berger.com/

Instagram @aaronbergerfoto

 

Clicking vs Seeing in Street Photography

There are two mindsets I have when I go out to photograph the streets. Having one or the other mindset really dictates how I go about my photography, how much fun I’ll be having and possibly the type of photos I’ll end up with. Both of these approaches are based on feeling and state of mind at that particular moment in time.

Clicking vs Seeing are two totally different approaches to photography. Both require different set of skills and mind set. I make the analogy that “Clicking” is like “Hunting” and “Seeing” is like “Fishing”. Here is why.

What is Clicking?

In my opinion, clicking means you’re just snapping away. Clicking the shutter without much pre-determine processing other than what your natural instinct tells you (following your gut). You see something and you go ahead and press your shutter. Basically the “Shut up and Shoot” mentality. You are not worried whether or not it’s worthy of making a photo. You saw something interesting and your instincts took over any analytical pre-judgement.

You shoot, shoot, shoot, over shoot, continue to shoot, until you finally hit something. You are on the move quickly on the streets. Referencing to the hunter mentality, you adapt to your environment. Your surroundings. You discreetly follow your subject waiting or finding that perfect candid moment. You’re in full attack mode!

That’s how I felt in my last vlog “Photographer’s Block”

By adding flash to my photo walk it actually helped me click away, I stopped worrying about what looks interesting or what doesn’t since flash helps enhance images. By clicking you let your initial instincts takeover and not do what I normally do and that’s overthink things. I tend to have the most fun on my photo walks when I have the “Clicking/Hunter” mentality, I guess the less I click the more frustrated I get. Now clicking more photos doesn’t mean you’ll get better photos…however, I do believe in getting into a groove, a rhythm, when you’re out in public. For me what helps is making ten photographs, getting comfortable bringing the camera to my eye, clicking the shutter in public, and maneuvering along the crowd.

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What is Seeing?

I think seeing has less to do with feeling and more with anticipation. How to see what’s to come or evolve in front of your eyes. It takes a different skill set to see, analyze, and make a photograph. The analogy and comparison to “Fishing” is that the number one quality of a fisherman is patience. By “Seeing”, you are also visualizing of the many possibilities. You see a backdrop or billboard and visualize someone or something to fall perfectly in place to complement or amplify both the foreground (the person/subject) and the background (the billboard advertisement or solid backdrop/wall). This not only requires quite an imagination but patience. How long are you able to wait for the right pieces to fall into place. This Fisherman Photographer will analyze, scope the location and situation. Perhaps, it may be better to revisit the spot during sunset if lighting is your main concern or lunch hour with more foot traffic.

With time in your favor, you’re able to take in the entire scenery, architecture, lines, geometry, lighting, shadows, and so in that case you’re able to sculpt the photograph a lot more. It just requires a lot more patience and perhaps technical skills.

Fishing is not for everyone. For me, my patience level are very short. The max I can stay in one particular area is about ten minutes then I move along. I especially take joy in walking and absorbing the moment.

Conclusion

So are you a hunter or fisherman on the streets ? If you are more aggressive (Bruce Gilden comes to mine) you are probably more of a hunter. You grab life by the throat and make life happen. You don’t believe in waiting as time is not favorable to you. However, if you are a hunter give it a try to fish every now and then to mix things up. Challenge yourself. Or are you a fisherman? Are you more analytical, do you do your homework before you head out and after visiting the same location? Do you enjoy seeing things, people, elements on the street fall into place creating that perfect image? When you know what type of photographer you are, try the other and see what kind of images you come out with. Always try new things and challenge yourself in your street photography endeavors.

President Donald Trump Street Photography Workshop

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I just recently took a one day street photography workshop from President Donald Trump. Here’s what I learned, let’s make street photography great again!

  1. Grab the ladies by the ass better yet by the p****! They’ll give off some type of reaction…snap away. USE FLASH ON ITS HIGHEST POWER. If you don’t get a reaction, grab harder!
  2. Stop photographing homeless people, poverty, all that crap…FAKE NEWS SHIT. Trump mentions they are not worth anyone’s time and make for bad photos. He wanted me to trust him, no one will be liking any homeless photos on facebook and/or instagram. A good start would be to Photograph Trump or images of those associated with Trump…it starts with the letter B…Billionaire(s).
  3. If any person questions you on what you’re doing, simply slap the son of a bitch!
  4. Your photos are not good enough not because you aren’t close enough…but rather it’s because your camera sucks, it’s cheap! Buy the most expensive camera on the market, hire someone (but in the end don’t pay them) to drive you around, have a second person to frame the shot for you, and all you need to do is press the shutter button. According to Trump, street photography is easy…
  5. You will never be as good of a street photographer as Trump. You can try…it will take a lot of time and energy. He reiterated this over and over during the workshop.
  6. Always overshoot. The more the better.
  7. Part of Donald Trump’s street photography success is that he’s very rich…so in that case some of us won’t ever experience what it means to be a successful street photographer.
  8. He often quoted “The harder you work, the luckier you get. When you have the momentum, play the momentum”
  9. Another saying he drilled into my mind is to “Always make your camera work for you. At all times!”
  10. He echoed this during the workshop…”People are tired of all these street photographers being all talk and no action….photograph the shit out of everyone (except homeless & mexicans).”
  11. As you can tell during the workshop, he talked a lot about himself. “Take more street photography workshops from Donald Trump. It doesn’t hurt to get more education”

 

I hope you can apply these lessons to your own street photography, it is the only way you can get to the next level.