Hire A Street Photographer For Your Wedding

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I recently photographed a friend’s wedding with a street photography approach and it was one of the most fun experiences I have had with a camera since my trip to Cuba last year. I was roaming freely and allowing my creative instincts take over to capture the moment which in short felt like a kid in a candy store.

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If you want a real feel (the emotions, the anxiety, the joy, the happiness, the stress, the chaos) of how your special day went then hire a street photographer to document your wedding. I have worked several commercial wedding gigs in the past (both video & photos), obviously in Hawaii it is a big industry with many tourist coming to the islands to get married or the very least spend their honeymoon. Comparing my experience shooting a commercial wedding to the one I just did with the street/documentary approach…all I can say it did not feel like work. It didn’t feel like another day at the office and therefore by not treating everything so robotic or as a science I was able to capture moments very organically.

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At the end of the day, a good photo is one that has a story, captures the moment. Whether it’s through a conventional wedding photographer or from a street photographer.

You can view my interview on Wayne La who is a wedding street photographer in London.

There are many key moments that takes place in a wedding event and with a good street photographer’s eye and approach the goal is to capture the moment before it fades. A good street photographer can read and react. Take the shot. Remain invisible. Find those intimate moments, candidly. And slitter their way through the crowd.

In my bias opinion, street photography is the hardest form of photography. It is also the purest form of photography. The most honest from of photography. However, I am not saying street photographer is a better option to document your wedding or event. There are many great wedding photographers that I know personally that approach it with a more traditional style and still walk away with amazing images.

Perhaps if your budget allows…hire two photographers..one for more traditional style and the other for more street style…that way you get the best of both worlds. You’ll have the regular wedding photographer for the traditional, posed, cheesy stuff…and the best memorable images that you’ll probably appreciate as time goes on with what the street photographer captures. What bugs me are the wedding photographer’s that don’t work, after the ceremony they take the group shots and done. A street photographer will work the event until its over, not missing a moment.

Yes I know, producing a wedding is crazy expensive (I just got married last year). You will be focusing and spending money on all those little details such as venue, the decor/flowers, the dress, the catering, lights and DJ….but truth is none of this will stay. A day after the wedding you will not remember most of it, it will feel like a complete blur. The only thing you get to keep from your wedding are the photos. The photos are what you will share with your friends and show your grandchildren for generations to come. The photos is what will breath for eternity.

By hiring a street photographer to cover your wedding, that person will know how to bring find those candid moments and make the ordinary, extraordinary. It is possibly the best investment you can make….This is where you should not be looking for the cheapest but for the best you can afford. Research the photographer and if you like their style contact them. So much energy is put to researching the venue and food and little on the coverage of the day. Even if the price range is out of your budget, it will be quickly forgotten once the wedding is over. Money will replenish. You only have one opportunity to document your special day.

Hear It From A Pro…

Street photographer Mason Resnick who was a student of Garry Winogrand in the 70’s had this to say;

“As a classically trained street photographer, I am always on the lookout and prepared for those unexpected moments—the casual conversations, the ebullient celebrations, and the emotionally tender interactions, that are equally treasured and perhaps even more so because this is our real life.

I have found that newlyweds love this kind of reflex-driven, high-reward form of photography at weddings since I trailblazed my unique technique in the early 1980s.

I call it Wedding Street Photography…

It was in the early 80s, while talking to another photographer friend who was about to get married, when it hit me: What if I applied Winogrand’s “attentive observer” approach to photographing weddings? I asked my friend if I could bring my camera and experiment at her Simcha, and she said yes.

After that, several more friends let me experiment as their ‘unofficial’ wedding photographer, working side-by-side with the pro. I experimented with a technique that combined an action-freezing flash with a long exposure, and the results were dynamic, energetic, and happily surprising.”

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Conclusion

If you despise cheesiness or anything done traditionally and rather love reality, humanity, and all in all heartfelt emotion to go with it, then consider hiring a street photographer to take your event and/or wedding to the next level.

You can view the wedding I just covered here – It’s A Nice Day For A White Wedding

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

Lessons “Shinsuke Nakamura” Can Teach Us About Photography

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Continuing of my wrestling and photography analogy blogs. This time it’s on WWE’s rock star Shinsuke Nakamura. Shinsuke recently got called up from NXT to the main roster of SmackDown Live. He’s one of my favorite wrestlings on the roster, he has a unique personality, he takes his craft seriously, he knows what his character is, and he’s somewhat of a underdog. I was worried that his success in NXT wouldn’t carry over onto the main roster but the fans both loyal fan base and those that are new to “The King of Strong Style’ have really embraced his arrival. WWE and the creative team has done a good job thus far, by being somewhat careful with the way they book and build Nakamura but also push his limits and ease him into the spotlight (doing promos on Live TV, his English is decent at best but he makes it work). Here are some lessons Shinsuke Nakamura can teach us about photography.

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Let your work do the talking

Nakamura’s is not known for his english for obvious reasons. He’s from Osaka, Japan, and have been wrestling in Japan for much of his career until WWE signed him early of last year. Generally in the US, if a wrestler doesn’t have mic skills or isn’t able to connect or interact with the audience their success rate is zero to none. Nakamura’s over the top personality and natural oozing charisma instantly connects with fans. He’s mastered the art of body language.

Gamble on Yourself

Shinsuke was at the top of New Japan Wrestling, making waves and headlines all around the world. However, he needed a new challenge and heading over to the US to NXT was a leap of faith. Traditionally, international wrestlers, especially ones that have an accent usually gets buried in WWE. By adding a stereotypical gimmick and end up on the consecutive losing ends each week. Despite all those pre-historic factors, the only way Shinsuke would know is if he took that chance. Showing that he has a lot of confidence and faith within himself to make it work in the WWE. Be bold!

Similar with your photography, take chances, try new techniques, travel somewhere you’ve never been before, somewhere that doesn’t speak your native tongue. Have faith in your own abilities.

Seek Inspiration

Seek inspiration outside of your profession. Shinsuke idolizes Michael Jackson, on how he’s a perfectionist and treats everything from the singing, to the moonwalk, to the wardrobe, as an artform. Shinsuke is the same, from the drawn out charismatic entrance, The vibrant red leather jacket and pants. The long hair with one side shaven off. To the facial expressions, the smile, the stare, all the way down to his in ring ability.

By seeking other artists or other inspiration outside of photography it may open doors for you the next time you go out and shoot. Perhaps it may inspire you to create a body of work that evokes the same emotion as a musician or painter. It is always good to learn about other crafts and philosophies. If Steve Jobs inspires you because he is an innovative creator then find out how you can be an innovative street photographer. If Peyton Manning inspires you because of his relentless preparation and efforts then apply that same relentlessness in your street photography. Shoot the streets from dusk to dawn, research on your lunch breaks, weekends, wake up an hour early, do whatever it takes.

Be Different

Don’t be the norm, don’t do the norm, don’t follow the herd of sheeps. Stay away, be different, you are unique! Regardless of what anyone says about you, you are special. People will always have an opinion of you and your photographs! If their feedback is not constructive then let their voices or words go through one ear and out the other. Be you and follow your heart. Lots of people love Nakamura’s personality, style, wardrobe, everything about him. He is very much different than anything we have seen in WWE…EVER! However, some people dislike him as well. They don’t understand him or why people are so enthused about him. They aren’t able to relate. He can’t speak English. He is annoying. He is predictable. So on and so forth.

Don’t worry about the facebook likes, amount of instagram followers, the stats, the competitions, or if Bruce Gilden said your photo is trash. If you like the photo, defend it, stand by it, don’t crumble due to others. If the photo speaks to your heart, your soul, and resonates with you, defend it.

Color vs Black and White Photography

 

When I first started shooting street photography I thought my images needed to be in black and white. I discovered street photography through Vivian Maier which a lot of her iconic images are in black and white and whenever I would google search the term “street photography” most of the time black and white images would appear (HCB, Robert Frank, Bruce Davidson, etc). Now that was in 2010. Street photography within the last decade or so has really been revolutionized, a big part of that is social media, it’s easier to share your work with the world. You don’t need to have photos exhibited at a physical location, plus having it online reaches more people (I still love the exhibit or festival component, more prestigious and it’s nice to see quality printed work displayed). Cameras are now accessible, you can get a pretty cheap point and shoot for $500 or so, or you can use your smartphone (Samsung S8 quality is awesome).

Going off topic, anyways, yeah so there’s black and white or color approach to making your photos. Now there’s no rules in photography but my own bias opinion is to stick with one or the other, try both and see which flavor resonates with you more, but ultimately try to stick with one for a particular project you are working on or body of work. I don’t think turning a photo black and white for the sake of the photo being black and white is a much of an argument. I rarely post process a photo to black and white unless I think it helps elevate the photo. Whether it adds to the story, elevates the image and the narrative then I will convert the photo to black and white (keep reading I’ll show an example soon).

I think if you want to challenge yourself, ask yourself “Why am I turning this photo black and white” or “why am I keeping this photo in color”. It’s not to put any barriers in your photography but more of a self reflection or to better understand your own photos or maybe to just better understand yourself. Why do you like color more than black and white or vice versa.

I think both color and black an white has it’s advantages. My opinion on black and white photos is that it has more soul, one less element (no-color) so there’s potentially less distraction and with that you can draw your viewer in closer to what you want them to focus on. If you’re starting off in street photography and your don’t have a lot of direction, I would suggest shooting in black and white or post processing in black and white. This way you have one less element to focus on or distract you from. Black and white photos tend to have more soul or nostalgic feel to it. Takes us back to a place and time. You are not worried about color combinations (Blue-Yellow, Red-Green, Red Yellow, etc), rather you are more concern about capturing raw emotion at a fraction of a section (facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, sad, happy, mad faces.

Black & White

I would say to make a very good black and white photo is hard, it’s its own art form. But to make a decent black and white photo is easy, the lighting, shadows, or primary subject can be “Okay” or nothing really has to align together and it may still work. The best black and white photographers “IMO” (Daido Maroyama, HCB, Bruce Gilden, Tatsyo Suzuki, Chris Suspect, Argus Paul-Estabrook) they either have a clean image all around the edges, it’s simple, or a lot of soul and emotion in there images, or all three.

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For instance, my photo above “Hair Extension” was shot in color and converted to black and white. I photographed this woman because of her unique Afro, (crazy hair catches my eye). There were no intentions or preconceived awareness of subtly aligning her hair with the tree in the background. It wasn’t until I uploaded the photo onto my computer then realized that it created a humorous moment for me. I recognized it in color but with the bushes of the tree being green I wouldn’t think the story in the image would fully portray itself. So in that instance, turning it to black and white in my opinion helped sor of elevate the narrative I wanted to get across.

Color

When I first learned about William Eggleston and his color work, it opened a new can of worms for me. It opened up my eyes that street photography doesn’t have to be in black and white, and doesn’t always need to be of people. Eggleston reinvented the wheel and reminded us that there are no rules in photography, just your own self-limitations. Then I discovered Martin Parr, Alex Webb, Jack Simon, Jesse Marlow, Harry Gruyaert, Constantine Manos, etc). There’s also photos I come across and think to myself “that would have been more effective in black and white” or “I wonder how this photo would look in color”.

For me I’ve found color to be more challenging (I like a challenge) and most importantly more fun to shoot. You got to consider all aspect of the environment you’re shooting in. The light, shadows, color, patterns, complimentary color patterns and how these elements effect your overall frame. There’s a sense of more excitement with color and you can play around with depth a lot more (check out Alex Webb’s work or Harry Gruyaert). You can use color to evoke a different expression or feeling, color takes into account of not just people but again…the environment. The little details in a color photo can help elevate the image too.

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My photo above is obviously vibrant with slight subject to the left with contrasting blue. It’s simple, no faces, there’s not a lot or if any “SOUL” but there is a mystery to it. And with mystery that alone can make us feel a certain way. In this case, had I converted this photo into black and white, it just wouldn’t work in my opinion. The vibrant and strong color of red is the obvious attention grabber but the blue hand and umbrella on the left is not only the perfect color to counteract the red, there’s perfect portion of blue in the frame. The colors is what makes this photo, it adds to the narrative in my opinion. There’s also not a lot of other distracting colors competing with the red and blue. It just so happens to be a red wall, a person walking by with a red umbrella, and a slight arm with a blue sleeve and blue umbrella. You can call it lucky or letting experience and instincts kick in…or all three to get the shot.

Conclusion

I notice color helps with humorous or more playful situation whereas black and white is more serious situations….and yes color can trigger an emotional sensory and can definitely enhance a mood if the main subject is the prominent hue in my opinion…color can also be distracting and take away focus if the colors aren’t prominent enough.

Experimenting with black and white, forms and shapes seem to work more effective that I’ve seen and create a timeless photo…playing with shapes and form with color is achievable but a lot hard to come by from my experience.

I don’t think one is better than the other, it’s just a different aesthetic. Personally, I currently enjoy shooting and post processing in color. I like the challenge and the extra element of color. One of my fall backs when I’m out on the street and not really coming across anything is being able to recognize vibrant colors which catches my attention immediately. Shoot what resonates with you and what you like. Who cares if color is popular thing to shoot or if black and white is more hip, just do what you appreciate and defend your work and purpose.