Hawaii Street Photography Workshop

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Street Portrait (No permission) – Tim Huynh

Interested in capturing real and raw moments of people on the streets of Honolulu? Join me for my 3-day workshop to gain my personal insights and hands on experience shooting on the streets. Workshop includes a photo walk throughout Honolulu, followed by a discussion and constructive critique of your photographs in a classroom setting.

Any level of photography experience is welcomed. Knowledge of your camera use and basic understanding of camera settings are required.
*Cameras will not be provided.

A laptop will be needed on the final day for downloading images from your camera to edit and critique.

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Waikiki – Tim Huynh
  • Workshop Overview

    • Learn the fundamentals of street photography
    • Learn how to become more confident and comfortable on the streets
    • Learn how to get close to your subjects without permission and avoid confrontation
    • Learn how to read and react to people
    • Learn to anticipate and visualize photographic opportunities
    • Meet other street photographers and enthusiasts!
Legs 2017 – Tim Huynh
  • Workshop Information

    • Date: 11/2/18 – 11/4/18 (Friday – Sunday), 8 students max
    • Time:
      • Friday 11/2 – 6PM – 9PM (Meet & greet/street photography introduction)
      • Saturday 11/3 – 10AM – 6PM (All day shooting in Waikiki)
      • Sunday 11/4 – 9AM – 4PM (Morning shoot in Honolulu followed by classroom critique)
    • Classroom location: TBD
    • Tuition: $550 USD $325 USD (EARLYBIRD price before October 19th)
    • Contact: timhuynhphotos@gmail.com
    • Newsletter sign up: TIM HUYNH NEWSLETTER

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW!

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Waikiki 2018 – Tim Huynh
  • Cancellations / Refund Policy

    • We reserve the right to cancel the workshop with less than 4 participants. Students will be given 2 weeks notice and a full refund.
    • For non-Hawaii students, we will not be responsible for reimbursement of travel expenses in the event the workshop is canceled. We recommend that you purchase refundable tickets and/or travel insurance.
    • If you would like to receive a refund before attending the workshop, we require at least 30 days advance notice.
    • By submitting your deposit you agree to these terms and conditions.

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW!

***100% Money-Back-Guarantee! I know this is a big investment but I am confident this workshop will help you get over your fear in shooting the streets. If I couldn’t provide enough value for you, I honestly don’t want your hard earned money.

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Punahou Carnival 2018 – Tim Huynh

10 Reasons Why I love Shooting Street Photography

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1. Street Photography is a Challenge

Street photography is always a challenge. It requires skills such as timing, reaction, awareness, being able to anticipate, visualizing a scene, being brave, being sly, a little luck, and so many more to make a photo.

I always make the analogy that street photography is like fishing…some days you’ll catch a fish…but rarely you’ll catch the fish you want. Fishing requires a lot of patience and time too, just like with street photography, it takes time and patience to come across a scene on the streets and being at the right place at the right time. But once you finally see a scene you like and make a photo of it, it makes you appreciate everything that goes into street photography. The walking (sort of like a hunter on the streets), going on days, weeks, or even months without anything self satisfying.

If I were to make a good photo every time I went out, I would lose interest real quickly. I need to be challenged in everything that I do or else I get…bored.

2. Street Photography is my Creative Outlet

I was always a creative person. I just felt like I was another being from another planet. I always saw things in a real weird or strange way. Most of the time I would interpret things in a more comical sense because humor and laughter makes me feel good. So I try to find those moments when I’m out shooting.

My background is in Film/Video, I earned my Bachelor’s in Film at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I’ve always been intrigued with what art could do and in sharing stories through the lens. I don’t pursue any narration avenues anymore through film/video, it’s too stressful, you end up being more of a manager/baby sitter, especially when you have a low budget to produce films or when you’re working with a client (usually small local businesses) with little to no budget. It’s fun and a challenge to an extent but not as much as street photography.

Street photography is only up to you. How much you want to put in. It’s sort of like training at the gym to improve your health and physical physique. You can hire a trainer and have a training partner but ultimately your success and failure are based on you and you alone. In film/video there can be a lot of finger pointing, well the editor didn’t do a good job cutting this scene, the lighting was bad, the actors sucked…In street photography, nothing is staged, it’s happening in real time and in public setting. You can only blame yourself for not taking the picture, not having your camera settings correct, not being close or far enough, not editing properly, not studying other photographers, not improving one self, all of these is dependent on you.

3. Street Photography helps me Zone Out

Street photography helps me get my mind off the daily stresses….what is my family going to eat for dinner, when will i receive my rightfully deserved raise, work stuff, family stuff, the future, the past, friendships, the what if’s…our current state of our country, etc.

When I shoot, all those worries exit the door. If for some reason it doesn’t I can’t really focus on being in the moment and enjoy my photo walk and ends up being a waste of time.

4. I Enjoy Walking

I’ve always enjoyed walking as I’ve used the time to relax and meditate away from my stresses. I started walking at a young age 10 months old, my parents couldn’t afford a stroller so they made me walk everywhere. I used to walk a mile or two home all through grade school, so walking was never an issue for me. Plus it kept the body fat in check.

Nowadays, I take a walk when I can, I’ll walk on my hour lunch break with my camera. On the weekends, after work. This helps me get away from sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours a day or staring at my phone. If I don’t take a walk sometime within the day I get irritated and my body specifically my shoulders get real tight.

Making photos out on my walk is the bonus.

5. Street Photography helps me Appreciate the Moment

Being out and about allows me to appreciate my community, my environment, but also be aware and conscious of issues in my area (homelessness, traffic, people looking miserable because of their jobs, people glued to their phones, etc). Through my observation it helps me better understand people in their current state and also allows me to reflect on the past with the rapid changes in comparison to my own childhood.

6. I love Creating My Own Images

I love taking/making photos out in the public setting. I have something where I can call my own! I don’t work for anyone, have anyone to tell me get this or get that. I click the shutter when my eyes, heart, and soul feel something out in the streets. Once it’s capture, it can never be duplicated, it is unique to my own eyes and personal touch.

It’s very similar to remodeling your own home. From buying of the materials, getting your hands dirty all with a vision in mind. The simplicity of visualizing something that’s personal to you and making it become a reality is a great feeling. For photos, when you see that A-HA moment out in the streets and make an image out it, it’s sort of like an orgasimic feeling.

 

7. I Like to People Watch

I love to observe and see what other people do out in the public. How they act or react in certain situations. Observing how we’re all so similar but yet so far disconnected from one another. Observing how people interact in groups versus solo.

8. Street Photography is Fun

I wouldn’t continue doing street photography if it wasn’t fun. The day that I have no fun in it, is the day I’ll completely stop. I need to often remind myself that I shoot for myself and not to take this so seriously. Street photography is my medicine for stress (better than cigarettes).

9. Everyday is a New Opportunity

Everyday is a new day to conquer an opportunity in which is awaiting before us. Same applies in street photography, everyday is a new day. You can go to the same spot at the same exact time of day and you’ll always discover something new. It’ll always be different and therefore you’re money shot of an opportunity might just rain on you from the photo God’s. I shoot at the same spots time after time, I have yet to be bored or become lazy.

You don’t need to travel to a new place every year to make good photos. You can do it in your back yard or anywhere rather. That’s what makes street photography as unique as it is.

10. Keeps Me Inspired

Street photography keeps me inspired knowing that I’m documenting my surroundings, my community for the greater good of mankind. It helps me get through the day at work, it makes me have something to look forward to. I don’t shoot street to make money, I do it because it feels right, in my gut it feels good to go out and make photos.

Looking at other street photographer’s photos online and through books keep me moving. A lot of times I’m just amazed at what other people see and are able to capture, it blows me away. Creating nothing into something is very uplifting too, as we all try to do that in our everyday life through work, school, trying to make a $1 out of .15 cents.

 

I hope my 10 reasons on why I love to shoot street photography resonated with you. Ask yourself why you enjoy shooting street photography and this may lead to a bigger purpose with a more refined goal down the line.

Thanks for reading, keep shooting.

Tim

10 Skills (not gear) You Need To Make Good Photographs

Stop lusting over which camera you should get next (or simply G.A.S…gear acquisition syndrome). Your camera is just a tool to do the work, it probably only makes up 10% of the finished product. You can shoot the streets candidly with any camera, a Leica, a Sony, a Canon, an iPhone, a Olympus, a Nikon, any camera really. What you really need to know is how to work your camera and ergonomically if it feels right in hand. Is it too heavy, too small, too big, are there too many buttons, is it cheap/expensive. Those are my main factors in considering the perfect camera. I don’t care about megapixels (I don’t print my image for billboards..how many of us do, most of us just upload our images to the web), or all these cool art filters (I rather edit the RAW on my desktop afterwards or if I’m lazy just wifi the jpeg onto my phone and edit through SnapSeed, awesome app).

I want to share with you all about the physical and also mental tools you need to make a good photograph.

Recognizing/Awareness

One of the cool things about street photography is recognizing a moment or scene that is catered towards eyes, your heart, and soul. Not everyone will recognize or see the same shot and if they do I’m pretty sure everyone that’s taking the photo of the same subject will walk away with different pictures (partly due to focal length, when the photographer clicks the shutter, distance from the subject, etc). Recognizing and realizing something interesting is happening, it could be a humorous scene, something mysterious, or surreal moment. Lot of times this happens based on your instincts, it hits you in the gut “Hey that’s interesting” or “I wonder what’s happening here”, it keeps you curious and guessing of what’s taking place.

The photo above I obviously made at the beach. I was walking along Waikiki Beach on my lunch break. It was humid and I wasn’t seeing much happening nor was I clicking much from my shutter. From about 40-50 feet, off to the side, I see these two older ladies lying on top of their men. I thought it’d make a interesting and comical photo so I quickly walked over praying that they stay in the exact position without adjusting themselves.

I took several shots without being disruptive and walked along. I was very happy to have made this photo regardless if it hangs in anyone’s living room or exhibits anywhere…I personally like the photo and happy to have caught the moment. It wasn’t until I brought the photo into post that I realize the two men look identical…and possibly even the two ladies. There some mystery to the image as well. The more questions your image asks…the better. I hate Street photos with titles or gives me all the answers. I like formulating my own stories. I also dislike movies that gives me a concrete ending, unlike Christopher Nolan, his films always have an open ending (let’s you decide what happened). This technique makes you feel a part of the artist’s work, it allows you to contribute and have discussions with friends and adds the element of “What If” in it.

 

Anticipate The Moment

Any type of photography or live action event you’ll need to anticipate what’s either going to happen or about to happen. If you shoot sports you must be aware of how the game is flowing, who’s leading and who’s down, is the team coming off a time out? How much time is left on the clock? What quarter is it? This all leads to you getting that next shot, following the action and what’s to come. If you shoot weddings, there’s usually a program involved. If it’s time for the newlyweds to cut the cake, you can anticipate one of the spouses to get some cake on their nose/face. Or when the bride is ready to throw her bouquet, you can anticipate one of her bridesmaid snatching it up in the air filled with excitement.

The same applies to street photography. You must anticipate what’s to come. How do you anticipate for the scene to evolve. For example, I shot the photo above in Cuba (image is a Finalist for StreetFoto 2017). I RECOGNIZED the a person (I don’t know if it was a man or woman, I never saw what the person looked like. Not does it matter, anyways) was walking towards me with a bright red umbrella shielding him/her. Within that split second I again recognized the vibrant wall he was walking past by, I sped up and took the photo. I only had one opportunity to click my shutter and I did, only once. I chimped (which means you look at your photo once you made the photograph, it’s highly frowned down upon street photographers) and thought it was an alright photo. I looked up and I see the individual with the red umbrella slowly fading away into the distance. Seconds later, I felt somewhat of a regret and wished I had another opportunity (it was raining in Cuba and was already in a discouraged mood). Deep down, I knew something was there but felt I didn’t capture the moment….

When I returned home and uploaded my photo into Photoshop, the image stood out and really got me guessing and kept me curious about the image. This photo had to be the toughest image I have ever edited (crop, tones).

Imagination

Now let’s make an example of the same photo (Red Umbrella). Let’s say I had arrive to the red wall a few minutes earlier. When there’s a strong and vibrant background/wall with no design or graffiti or art work, just a plain color backdrop, my imagination runs wild. So let’s say I’m in front of that red wall and I visualize for something to walk by and matches up with the red wall. Perhaps, a clown dressed in all red. Or a clown dressed in all white with a red nose. Possibly a butcher who just finished work and has blood all over his apron. I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud. With your imagination, hope, little bit of luck, and patience, you just may have the perfect subject or scenario align itself.

Patience

“Patience is a virtue”

Recognizing a potential photographic moment can take patience, some more than others. I don’t have this skill with my photography and perhaps in anything that does require patience. I hate waiting, I’d rather keep walking and hope to come across something as I move forward. I applaud those that can wait or give the illusion through their photos that they have waited for hours or days for the photo to develop. One photographer that comes to mind is one of my personal favorites…Pau Buscato, check his work out if you haven’t already you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Patience in photography can be applied to anything in life. Being patience with your spouse, co-worker, waiting in long lines, being stuck in traffic, waiting for that promotion. Patience is a quality skill to have in all walks of life. If you feel in your gut that something can blossom into a perfect image then wait…it’ll be worth the wait. Because all it takes is one photo to immortalize your work.

Be Fearless

Stop with the excuses. Just shut up and shoot. Worry later.

Read and React

See something interesting. Click the shutter. If you’re able to work the scene and shoot at various angles, do it. See something comical. Click the shutter. See something that makes you happy. Click the shutter. See something that has you curious. Click the shutter. Keep clicking the shutter and repeat. Don’t second guess yourself or contemplate whether the photo will be award winning or not. Just click the damn shutter!

Social Skills

Some photographers like to interact with their subjects and some don’t. For me, it depends on my mood. If I’m doing a street portrait I usually do have small talk with my subjects. Most are flattered to have their photo taken partly because I build their confidence before making a photo of them by complementing their good looks or hat, or whatever else they’re wearing. Your social skills may come into play when you face confrontation and someone you just photographed is pissed off at you. Knowing how to be in that heated situation and how to showcase your “Customer Service” skills may bail you out (I have yet been in a heated situation because of street photography).

Be Mentally Strong

You may go day/weeks/months without any photos you’re happy with. This can be discouraging. However, what helped me get over this hump was not too long ago. When I came back from Cuba earlier this year, something hit me that street photography for me (everyone has their own reasons) is not about making good photographs. Rather, it’s about going out, taking a walk, getting away from your cubicle, away from social media, and being in touch with your reality, your surroundings and absorbing all that in with appreciation. When I go on my photo walks I either completely zone out and not think about anything or I reflect on my day or the previous days. Both in a very zen approach.

Be Physically Strong

When I travel I shoot from sunrise to sunset, actually its more like from 9am first thing in the morning till 6-7pm or until my body can no longer hold up. After the first day of walking and shooting for 10 hours you’re body really feels the pain. I power through for the rest of my entire trip. I tell myself that I’m not going to see this place or I’m only here for 3 more days so just power through. Street photography can take a toll on you, so be prepared to go at your own pace, take short breaks in between your photo walks. Have meals to refuel you so you can continue shooting. But listen to your body, if you can power through awesome, if you feel like your body is slowing down and you can focus on your shooting then head back home.

Be Emotionally Strong

Set reasonable goals for yourself. For example, everyone’s new years resolution is to quit smoking and lose weight. Well, if you do put any action behind it and if you expect to lose weight within 2 weeks, I can guarantee you’ll most likely won’t obtain your goal. You gotta follow through your goals. If you made plans to go shoot Monday, Wednesday, Friday during your lunch break, follow through them. Don’t get lazy. With street photography, if I don’t shoot for more than 2 weeks I feel really rusty. Almost like a rookie back on the streets, I think of it as a confidence bar, the more consistently you shoot, your confidence bar remains untouchable but each day you don’t shoot it slowly drops. Imagine if you don’t shoot for one year straight and you don’t look at photobooks or study the masters or read anything on street photography…and then the following year you go back out into the public setting with a camera in your hand…I can only imagine you’ll feel like you don’t belong. That cloud of fear would hover over you as when you first started off shooting street photography. ‘

Make yourself strong against negativity. There will be people on on social media or even your own friends that’ll say negative things about your photos and ask you why do you take random photos of people. You gotta bypass this and not let it bother you. Street photography is not wrong, its not bad, you aren’t doing anything illegal or hurting anybody. That’s what helps me feel so comfortable when I’m out shooting…It’s because I ain’t doing no wrong when I’m out there.

If you enter in photo competitions and contests expect to fail 9 times out of 10. It takes a really good photo and luck (plus its all subjective and imagine the jurors looking at thousands of entries…yours really need to stand out to leave a mark).

Have a positive outlook. Even if you don’t get a decent photo while on your walk or wasn’t able to capture the decisive moment. Be appreciative of life, your family, your health, having the right to photograph publicly and openly. Remind yourself that you’re on this photo walk to get away from the stresses not to add more stress. Street photography is our creative outlet.

Conclusion

Enjoy the process, study your favorite photographers, take workshops, and appreciate life. Again, these tips are from my own personal experience and opinion, I hope you were able to find this read helpful and that you can apply some on your next photo walk.

Thanks for reading, keep shooting.

Tim

 

Hawaii Street Photography

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Aloha,

When most people think of street photography they think you must shoot in areas where there’s chaos of people, rich in history, or plentiful of colors. Some countries/cities that are on the top of most street photographers list to shoot in are India, Japan, London, New York, Coney Island, LA, San Francisco,  and Cuba. Hawaii is not even a consideration or on the radar. Hawaii is home to a lot of great photographers or genres of photography, surf photography (Clark Little, John Hook), landscape photography (Aaron Feinberg), seascape photography, sunrise/sunset photography, nature photography, I can go on.

When I first started off I thought I wasn’t able to produce quality images or find those eye catching moments because I was in Honolulu, everything seemed so boring. Everything looked the same (born and raised in Honolulu my whole life).

Shooting for over a few years now, I can say some of my best images were made here in Honolulu, right in my backyard, my childhood playground of Waikiki. Traveling to different cities or countries have made me appreciate home. You don’t need to be in a big city to produce good images, the truth o f the matter is the more you go and shoot the more the opportunity will present itself. No matter the location.

Why I think Honolulu is a prime location for street photography…

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Personally, I think Honolulu is a great place for street photography (I have yet adventured to the neighbor islands to shoot, will explore one day). Honolulu offers a lot in the form of diverse cultures, if you take a scroll to Waikiki (touristy spot), you’ll find locals, tourist, of all shape, sizes, color, background. The island is located between international Asia and the US mainland. We have the option to shoot on the beach (my personal favorite) and catch surreal, comical, and interesting moments.

Weather is great year round with spectacular lighting for sunset or sunrise. A good portion of Honolulu is under redevelopment. Kaka’ako is an area that’s going through major changes (the government wants that to be the hip area aka San Francisco of Hawaii). There’s a lot of construction, graffiti art (the famous POW WOW Hawaii), on weekends they have events. It’s not a dense area like Waikiki but it’s a good spot to find something different and be away from a chaotic area like Waikiki.

There’s other areas within Honolulu that I would consider good spots to roam and shoot. I would consider Kalihi as an area with potential, it’s not overcrowded with people but there’s a lot of old homes, shops, some nice colors. It’s not a touristy spot, so if you’re looking to get away from the tourist attractions, I would consider Kalihi. Many surrounding areas within Kalihi are low income housing, homelessness, different ethnic backgrounds, many schools within a short radius.

There’s many areas that I have yet hit up myself and would like to (Waipahu, Haleiwa, Kaimuki). You can check out Japanese street photographer Shin Noguchi, who recently visited Honolulu and captured many great moments (he’s currently seeking a publisher to publish his book “Hawaii”).

I think there are people who are interested in learning what street photography is and how to go about it here in Hawaii. There are a few people on the islands that I know already shoots this genre. And with the reach of social media, I do foresee Hawaii being more active and one of the top destinations for not just seascape or sunrise/sunset photography…(oh how did I forget to mention “WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY”,) but for street photography too. You can make great photos anywhere and anytime. Keep shooting!

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” – Bobby Unser

Street Photography Tips (before heading out onto the streets)

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Hello aspiring street photographer. I’ve noticed there are so many blogs with tips on street photography while you’re already out shooting. Instead, let me share my experiences, (bias) opinion, and advice before you even hit up the streets.

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  1. Do your research

Research the location you’ll be shooting in. What’s the environment like? Is it a residential area? Low income, high income population? Tourist, locals, or both? Does the area have a reputation for being a rough part of town. These are questions you’ll need to ask yourself before heading to out. You’ll need to prepare yourself mentally if you know you’re going into an area where your chances of getting mugged or stink eye. Your social skills and how you communicate with others may play a higher factor in these areas. Being able to blend in with the community takes a certain person and specific skills.

Research the forecast of the day. Is it going to be sunny. Overcast, rainy, or all of the above. Mother nature can be unpredictable at times, so you may need to pack an umbrella or a sweater. The weather will affect your shooting for the day and how long you intend on staying out.

Research if there’s restaurants or bathrooms. If you’re out shooting for an entire day, I can assure you that you’ll need to use the restroom a few times, and you’ll want to take a break and grab a bite to re-energize.

If you’re going to shoot in a touristy area, there will probably be a lot of restaurants, hotels, and public parks with available restrooms. Now if you were shooting in a more residential area, public restrooms will probably be scarce and restaurants may be miles apart. ***You can always knock on someone’s door and ask if you can use their restroom and have a quick bite.

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2. Make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes

Whether you’ll only be out shooting for 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, or 10 hours, it helps to have a nice pair of shoes. You don’t want your feet to slow you down or stress you out while you’re shooting. And you definitely don’t want soreness after your adventure.

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3. Eat

Similar to having comfortable shoes, you’ll have to have a meal before you head out. Sometimes the only available times I have to shoot within the week is during my lunch break. A lot of times I go hungry  (saving money, cut back on calories) before shooting which I highly don’t recommend. I’ve learned my lesson on many unsuccessful photowalks during my lunchbreak. HAVE A MEAL! Eat SOMETHING!

It’s like going to the gym on an empty stomach…you need food as a source of energy to carry you through the workout process or in this case photowalk. Also, you want to keep any stresses to a minimal when you’re out shooting.

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4. Forget about your daily duties and stresses

You don’t want to think about your chores, bills, debt, or what you need to finish up at work while on your photo-walk. Put those thoughts on  the side and just zone out. Be in the moment in your photo-walk location and absorb all that’s around you. Look up, look down, look down 20-30 feet and anticipate what’s to come. Street photography is my therapy or meditative tool to get away from my reality and create my own illusion through images.

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5. Last but not least…pack as lightly as possible

Stop bringing more than one camera (unless you’re traveling abroad). Do not bring more than one lens! Keep it simple. All the extra gear will weigh on you, having more options such as a wide lens, a tele-photo lens on hand doesn’t give you more options. It gives you more stress. You shoot street photography to be stress free right?

Again, these tips are from my own experience and my own opinion. I hope you found these tips insightful. Keep shooting.

Mahalo,
Tim

What I learned traveling and photographing in Havana

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It Takes Time to Feel Comfortable

Prior to landing in Havana, Cuba, I heavily did my research on the city. Is it safe? Is there internet? Are the people nice? Tourist reviews? Crime rate? Things to do? Where to go? Asked friends who’ve traveled to Havana about their experiences.

For the most part, friends and online reviews had nothing but positive things to say about their time in Havana. In fact, it was rather encouraging, friends would mention that there’s “so much to shoot in Havana, you’ll have a field day, the locals are so photogenic”. I was really excited on this personal photographic journey.

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With those insights, I thought I would be able to capture many special moments…and do it with ease. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I had envision. It took me a few days to feel comfortable with my surrounding and get a feel of my sense of place. For one there is no internet, two I traveled on this journey alone, and three being in a new place with info that I had only read on the internet and gather from a few friends can only do so much. From this experience I’ve learned that you really don’t know until you put yourself out there.

Shoot Like It’s Your Job

My first two days, I would say I photographed like a tourist. In awe with the cars from the 50’s and colonial colors and architecture. I definitely got the cliche shots for memories. I had a photographer’s block my first two days (very short trip 4 1/2 days). I wanted to create and capture something innovative. Nothing stood out to me. I walked a total of 40,000 steps each day. From Old Havana to Central Havana, to Vedado, all along Malecon, and would come up unsatisfied with my photos.  I would be honest with myself and say I was not as assertive because I was feeling my way around town.

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It wasn’t until my last 2 days where I was more assertive and aggressive with my shooting. I was being more proactive, clicking the shutter regardless if I thought the moment was interesting or not. I would shoot as if I was shooting at an event, shoot, move, repeat. Your limits are all within your mind. If you want to go out and accomplish something, only you can slow yourself down. Shoot as if your on assignment, either will be paid or you don’t come back with any usable photo and be fired from your job.

Shoot Through The Window

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Shoot while in the car, Lee Friedlander style. Photographing while in the taxi was one of my highlights. Being in the car you know you’ll cover so much ground and you’re not seeing the same mundane neighborhood or work district as back home. Some of the images I’m happy with were through the car. Just snap away and enjoy the ride. Photographing through the car offers a unique perspective, a different taste. This Point of View really captures the POV of the photographer.

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I think if I had a few extra days it would have been perfect. I would have ventured out to other areas in Cuba. To summarize, I’m thankful for this Cuban experience and to have had this once in a lifetime opportunity, to communicate with people in a country where both our governments have had decades of tension. This experience will continue to help me understand this complicated world we all live in. And this was done through verbal discussions and visual documentation.

Why I Enjoy Shooting Street Photography

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You’re in Control…

Mid-way through the first month of the new year, I reflected back on my street photography. The true joy of shooting the streets is being able to recognize a moment whether, surreal, comical, interesting, strange and to anticipate the moment and act upon. There’s a feeling of ownership when you’re able to photograph a moment or a scene and call it your own.

We have the fullest control over our lives but realistically it doesn’t always feel that way. Yes, we can choose where we want to work or what career we’d like to go into…but once we’re slaving ourselves to someone’s company we don’t have full creative freedom of how we’d like to direct the company towards. We give our time, energy, and resources making someone else’s vision to life or someone’s company prosperous.

With my street photography, it’s simply by choice. I don’t work for anyone, I don’t sell prints or books (hopefully some day), I do it because there’s an excitement and liberating feeling when I’m out and about. I don’t have to shoot a certain way or capture a special moment to please a client or anyone for that matter…Other than myself.

Da Human Connection…

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Occasionally, I’ll interact with my subjects if I’m making a street-portrait. It’s always nice to talk to people out of your comfort level….such as people at work, friends from school, childhood friends, people you meet in non-profit clubs, etc. I find joy by having real conversations with a strangers that I don’t know. Instead of talking to co-workers and hearing their frustrations about their bosses, or with old friends who only like to reminisce on old times, or sport friends only talking about…well sports!

I think that’s one of the most important skills to have as a street photographer…being sociable…being comfortable around others and having the confidence to talk to strangers on a personal level. Especially in this day and age where we all are focused in on our phones…it’s nice to look up, create small talk, smile at someone, and see what else is going around within your surrounding.

I’ve always made the analogy that street photography is like fishing…you go out for hours, waiting to find that special moment or person or thing and once you recognize it, you just want to quickly make a photo of it. Like in fishing you go out, put your bait on your fishing rods and you see what you can get. Once you get a bite and a big one that is, you want to reel it in and not let it go. It can take hours to reel something that you’d actually like but that’s what makes all that waiting much more satisfying.

In this fast pace crazy world we all live in…street photography allows us to take a step back, observe our surroundings with the intent to make it a better place.

3 Lessons I learned from C.T. Fletcher

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I was lucky enough to watch a documentary on Netflix a few weeks ago (the kids hog the Netflix) on C.T. Fletcher,“My Magnificent Obsession”. Prior to this, I have never heard of C.T. Fletcher, I was just Netflix surfing and the main image and synopsis caught my attention. I really enjoyed an old documentary on weightlifting…”Pumping Iron” and thought of giving this film a try. The topic was on weightlifting, something I’m somewhat familiar in my old life (I hope to resurrect that old passion in 2017).

The film is a biography on C.T’s life, his recovery from open heart surgery, and his life long goal in opening his own gym “Iron Addicts Gym”. C.T. is known for becoming the strongest “Mutha Fucka” as he would always say without ever using steroids. He once benched 700 lbs and is a 3X world arm curl champion…curling 225 lbs! What can C.T. teach us?  Below is what I’ve learned from him.

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Become an addict to your passion

In the 1980’s, C.T. discovered weightlifting which was a turning point in his life. He became addicted to weightlifting, working out 7 days a week! The transformation of his physique made him even more obsessed with weightlifting. His initial goal was to be a cut up, drug free, body builder. Remember…in the 80’s, weightlifting was at it’s peak (Schwarzenegger, professional wrestling, Stallone) and a lot of bodybuilders were roided up. By the mid 80’s his attention shifted to becoming “the biggest, strongest, baddest, drug-free Mutha Fucka to ever walk this planet”. He was able to do this because he was passionate in what he was doing. He put in the time, the blood, the sweat, and the tears and made it a part of his lifestyle.  To become great at something I believe you must be somewhat obsessed…which means you eat, breath, sleep, shit, repeat it.

If street photography is your passion, study the greats, analyze some of your favorites on social media, take risk, experiment, ask for critiques, sign up for workshops. Just rule o thumb though,  be obsessed but don’t neglect other things in your life.

Count your blessings

Make the most of each day. After surviving open heart surgery in 2005, C.T. lost all his gains, his confidence, and even self pity himself. Years later, he realized that he was given a second chance. He did not give up on the gift of life and continued to proceed with bodybuilding.

Everyday is not guaranteed, if there’s something that you want to do, go do it, pursue it with all your heart and mind. If you’ve always wanted to shoot street photography but was always fearful of how someone might yell at you for taking there photo, don’t worry. Live today like it’s your last and you’ll get the most out of each day. Be thankful you have the opportunity to even wander the streets to make photos.

No matter how shitty your life is or how unhappy you are, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. One good day will always outshine seven bad days. Just like one photo your satisfied with will outshine a thousand crappy photos. As long as you’re above ground, breathing, moving, consider yourself blessed.

Use your passion to help others

Now at 57 years old, C.T. inspires people all over the world whether it’s through a meet and greet, speaking to an audience, or if you’re working out at his gym. Through his body of work, surviving a fatal heart condition, and his life experiences, C.T. inspires others through his healthy lifestyle philosophy. He not only used his passion to better himself but to better others.

Besides from trying to capture that decisive moment….which I haven’t yet. I’d like to do some good with my street photography. Maybe it’s to hold a workshop in a third world country for an orphanage home. Or to be able to put together a photo book and donate a portion to a specific cause…We are our most happiest as human beings when we are able to give back and help without seeking any reward.

Conclusion

If you need inspiration, I recommend you to watch “My Magnificent Obsession” on Netflix. My biggest takeaway from C.T. is that you have full control of your destiny and in reaching your goals. You will always encounter obstacles but it is up to YOU if you want to accomplish any task or condition. Obstacles is an illusion set to divide the weak from the strong.

 

***Read my other blogs on people that I find inspiring. 

5 Lessons Vince McMahon Can Teach You About Street Photography

Lessons Stone Cold Steve Austin Can Teach You About Photography

Lessons “Shinsuke Nakamura” Can Teach Us About Photography

Lessons Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Can Teach You About Photography

What I learned shooting on Halloween

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For the first time, I spent the spookiest night of the year not dressed up in a costume but instead shooting others dressed for Halloween in Waikiki. I didn’t really know what to expect. I was just hoping to capture some surreal moments, nothing in particular. Something special to add to my collection. While I wasn’t able to capture anything spectacular, I walked away with more knowledge for next time. Here’s what I learned from shooting on Halloween night.

Mask have no Emotion

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My first 15 minutes in Waikiki I was noticing a lot of people wearing mask and not so much costumes. I realized although some mask are unique, they lack emotion. Maybe because it covers the eyes and there’s not much of a emotional attachment, I don’t know, mask’s feels stiff to me. I was afraid I wasn’t going to see anyone in customized costumes or anyone unique. I started to doubt myself with a feeling of regret for having drove into town so late at night. I continued walking down the strip, it was busy as ever, everyone squeezing through tight spaces. Even though I realized that photos of people wearing masks make for boring photos, I couldn’t resist to not take them. After all, Halloween is once a year.

Note: IMO photos of people wearing Mask works best if juxtaposed. See photo below.

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Flash is a Must!

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Flash is a must! Especially on my micro 4/3 camera (olympus M5II). One rule in street photography is to be stealth and go unnoticed. Unfortunately, when using a flash you can’t help but to be noticed. Most people were aware that I was photographing them, most loved the attention, some thought I was photographing something behind them (as usual), and a few said the “F” word. But that was it. If you shoot without a flash at night, regardless how high your iso can go up to, your photos will suffer more often than not (unless you’re going for a grain effect similar to Daido Moriyama; he’s the master of that). My recommendation…Use a flash! No one cares or don’t even knows that you’re photographing them!

 

Experiment…Motion Blur

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I’m a fan of motion blur and slightly out of focus photos if used properly (again…Daido Moriyama). If used correctly, I think these effects can add more emotion and drama to your photo. Referencing my photo above, I saw this couple kind of tired and swaying back and forth (drunk and in love? maybe).

Their intimate bond caught my eye and without wasting time by checking my shutter speed I made clicked my shutter. My observation of the photo is that regardless of how much craziness, booze and weed in the air, or obnoxious groups around them, it doesn’t really matter because they have each other and want no part of their environment. In short, “Life’s a Blur”.

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Stay in One Spot

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For most of the night, everyone was pacing back and forth, lots of movement, and I wasn’t really feeling nor seeing anything. I was capturing a lot of the same type of photos of people walking right past me and not much was happening. I decided to settle in one spot and let the action come to me. Finally, a person in a Trump costume came around the corner and caught a lot of people’s attention both positive (wanting a photo selfie) and negative (people saying insulting remarks).

A group of teenagers approached the person dressed as Trump and said some negative things all in good fun. Apparently, the person as Trump decided to stay in character (Trump’s hand gesture) and not back down from the harassment, causing the scene to be more hostile. Initially, I was focused on the two teenagers and Trump but then realized that around them were some older folks who seem to be laughing it off or having a good time with it. The US flag behind the kid with the mask adds a nice layer that reminds us all that this is how divided we are in the United States of America. It’s quite spooky knowing who our options are for 2016 Presidency.

Lesson from that night is to be patient, let the action come to you. Good things come to those that are patient. Try new things, be open to experimenting. Street photography should be fun and therefore you should try new things and push your limits/boundaries. Don’t add any pressure to your photography…to remind myself to have fun and enjoy the moment. And last, shoot more flash! Flash is fun!