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.

How to Find Your Style in Photography

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Many street photographer’s are trying to find their our own style…their our own unique voice. Personally, I am not sure if I would want my “own style” even though it’ll be nice to claim one. Please keep in mind that everything has been done before…it’s not a matter of copying but rather finding a style you like or admire and adding your own twist to it to make it your own. It’s like in wrestling, every move has been done before but a slight jerk to the hip or doing your move at a higher elevation will separate you from your predecessors.

If your personal friends or social media following often comment that your work reminds them of Alex Webb or Martin Parr, that’s a great compliment and you are obviously on the right track to something great. Eventually you’ll want to break away from that and claim your own style even if that takes for you to defend your own work and how your style or set of photos may look similar to other street photographers on the surface…but if you look closely and dig deeper beneath the surface it speaks more of you and your unique eye and voice.

What is a photography style?

I think a style emphasizes on consistency of look and feel. Same with photos, a good start in working towards a style is to keep things simple and consistent. Keep your photos either in black and white or color. Get close up to the face, the hands. Shooting in the same location also helps with aesthetics. Shooting during the same time of day for consistent lighting. Edit your photos all the same, don’t use a kodak filter on one photo and then use another type of filter on another. Ultimately, you can shoot and post process your photos however you want, there are no rules, this is just to give you ideas on how to create a style. And from my experience, if your photos don’t have much consistency most people especially in photo competitions will bypass your entries.

Working on a particular project helps with establishing consistency. Let’s say you want to do a project on “Lunch Break”…Basically a series of photos that you have shot during your lunch break, five days a week from 12pm to 1pm in and around your work area with your one and only camera. As you can see, there are so many consistencies already. Time of day, location, and type of camera being used. Now it’s just a matter of what you are able to photograph and what you happen to find on your lunch break. Now when you are out shooting, having a project you are working towards can help you focus or narrow in on what to look for…but for me personally, I just like to go out with an open mind and have the project that I’m working on in the back of my mind. Sort of like a fall back.

Is a photographic style for me?

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It really is up to you. Do you like to just make photos of anything that catches your eye or do you like to make photos of something specific (street portraits,  headless subject, vibrant colors, close-up of hands, etc).

I am not working on anything in particular but there are a few things that I would say is my fallback when I’m out in the streets. An interesting face for my portraits series, interesting scenes or bodies at the beach for my Beach Please series, and vibrant colors tend to hold my attention more than anything else.

I also shoot with the same camera an Olympus M5-ii with my 17mm 1.8 lens. I shoot when I have time, during lunch breaks, after work, on weekends. My time is never consistent because I have a full load…but I do try to bring my camera with me wherever I go.

Conclusion

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My advice is to always experiment and see what work for you. For me just going out with a camera, an open mind, leaves me with little to no constraints. This is the best approach for me. I don’t like to clutter my mind or make things anymore complicated than it already is. I’ve also noticed when I add pressure on myself by setting goals of getting a decent to good photo a week that it only leaves me more disappointed and ultimately discouraged with my photography. Only recently, I’ve learned that capturing a “good enough photo” or a photo I’m satisfied with is the bonus when out and about shooting the streets. That actually what I truly enjoy is just getting out of the office or house, clearing my mind, and enjoying my walks.

As long as your photos are authentic and are not posed (I’m okay with posing your subject for street portraits). Photograph what inspires you and what your natural instinct reacts off of. Always remember to have fun with your street photography. That you are doing this to challenge yourself and you are using this art form as a creative outlet but to also burn calories and enjoy the being out and about.

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!