How We Can Appreciate Street Photographs

In today’s digital world with a flux of photographs swimming online it’s hard to appreciate any of them. We spend a good portion of our day scrolling through our Instagram feeds going on liking sprees, but it’s rare to find a photo that really resonates with us. Only when we do, do we actually take time to analyze the photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hawaii Street Photography 2018 – Tim Huynh

WHO CARES WHO MADE THE PHOTO

We should focus less on who took the photograph and more on the composition of the photo to really appreciate it for what it is. I think once we associate the photographer with the photo then we subconsciously create a bias opinion.

For example, Alex Webb, one of the gold standards in street photography, in my opinion isn’t producing as great of photographs as in the past.. I think however, if I were to view his current work without knowing he took the picture I probably would appreciate it more. By knowing upfront that a certain photograph was taken by him, I look at it with higher standards. And if it doesn’t compare to his past work, I already dismiss the picture as not being good.

PRINTS ARE BETTER THAN THE SCREEN

Looking at photos in printed form also helps us to appreciate the photography as an art. There’s something tangible there. There is something real when you have a physical print or a book in your hands. It feels real, the photos come to life, and in the end a better appreciation of the photos or the artist. Finding photographs that you like and resonate with you, and not basing your judgement off of what’s been getting a lot of recognition from competition or online. It’s hard to absorb all a photo has to offer by viewing it on your computer or iphone, the print has a special way of taking you on the photographic journey almost leaving you mesmerized. Just the other month, I walked into a local camera store and saw film prints on their wall. I loved it and when I took a closer look to who the photographer was I thought to myself these photos don’t look as good when I’m scrolling through my instagram feed. The prints were 8 by 10’s much larger than a phone screen but also the sequence of the photos had a fluidity to them that maybe the photographers instagram page wasn’t in. Perhaps it was just the air in the store. I don’t know.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS ALL B.S

There are so many good photographers with no following and average photographers with huge followings. Try not to focus on the number of followers! I recently read an article that most people will look at the amount of Instagram followers someone has before even scrolling through their work. I think the number of followers does influence the viewer in determining if the photographer is good or not. That’s what our society has become, everything is so superficial and most people can’t even digest a good photo. The average viewer likes one and done type photos or humor street photographs, which is the reason that theme of street photography has risen in popularity. 

BE IN THE MOMENT

I also feel that we need to be in the moment. With social media and having our hands and eyes glued to our phones each day we become less in touch with the present. That’s why I feel looking at old photos from the 50s and 60s even 70s makes us appreciate that current era because there’s that nostalgia feel…or some of us having not lived in those era’s are curious on what it was like. Whereas in the present we know what it is like.

CONCLUSION

So there you have it. Ways to better appreciate either your own photos or photos made by others. If you have any other ways you appreciate photos please leave a comment!

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

Interview With Hawaii Street Photographer Anthony Consillio

Hi Anthony thanks for doing this. where do you live and how does this influence your photography?

A. Hello! Thank you for having me! My name is Anthony Consillio and I live in Mililani on the island of Oahu just about 20 miles from Honolulu. Living in Hawaii has been great for me as a photographer. We have good weather year round so I can get out there more often and such a diverse landscape that you don’t really find in many places. Surf, sunsets and city settings…a little something for everyone. For me living out in Mililani (considered out in the country over here) I gravitate towards the city streets and where masses gather. Brick buildings, long shadows and busy people are what I look for.



When and how did you get into photography (and then street photography)?
A.  I picked up a camera back in 2005 when my son was born and other than taking photos of him and a year and a half  later his sister I was taking a lot of landscape and seascape photos…very Hawaiiana. Around that time I had a few friends who were all getting married so I was asked to shoot their weddings and after a few of those I found out that I had a knack for it and started my photography business. I  had been doing wedding and events for about 6 years when I was asked to take a staff position at a local paper here in Honolulu called MidWeek and I’ve been here ever since. After getting more active on social media posting my work images on Facebook and Instagram I started stumbling across street photography sites and images which I found very interesting. I decided to start wandering the streets around my office to give it a shot and found that I really enjoyed it. I liked capturing the moments rather than staging the shots as I did at work. I used street photography as a way to hone my skills and get a little exercise.



If you had to explain your work to a senior citizen how would you describe it ?

A.  I love colors and dark shadows, a lot of contrast. I don’t stage any shots but will wait a while if I see a strip of light I like and just wait for someone to walk through it. I like gritty, grungy streets and just try and capture things as they happen. If I had to describe it to someone the simple answer would be I shoot people and chase lights and shadows.



What frustrates you about photography?

A. One of my biggest frustrations happens everyday. I have a really hard time figuring out which lens to take. I try to do the “one lens and one body” thing so I will spend about 10 minutes going back and forth between my 23, 35 and 50mm lenses before I actually head out the door. Other frustrations I have are that I see so many great crosswalk shots but I just can’t seem to get one.


What’s your thoughts on today’s street photography landscape?

A. More people are shooting street, some more relevant than other but hey they are still getting out there. There are so many interpretations of what street photography is and so many great images coming from it. I think it’s great!


What is one street photo you never get tired of?

A. I like so many photos from so many different photographers but to pick just one I would probably go with Saul Leiter’s ‘Harlem or even “Man with the straw hat” I used to look at those two images a lot when I was younger. I can’t even remember where I first saw them but they stuck with me.


What are you most proud of in terms of your work?

A. My growth as a street photographer. Over time I got better and more confident in bringing my camera up and getting the shot. There were times when I was gun shy and missed shots because they caught me taking their photo. Another area I feel I grew is that I got better in identifying potential shots and I always have an eye out for light and shadows. I’m able to capture better photos now than I was just a year ago and I think I’ve found a particular style that I’m currently happy with.
Do you foresee Hawaii being a major location for street photography?

A. I would love to see Hawaii have a bigger role as a street photography destination and I feel we have all the pieces to be a major player. We have a very diverse population and cultures, great weather, a good mix of old & new and magnificent views and landscapes all in a relatively small package. Photographers already flock to Hawaii for the landscapes and seascapes I don’t know why more don’t come here for street photography.

Which street photographer inspires you and why?
A. I really like the work of Saul Leiter and his use of colors and shadows. I also like the fact that he used longer focal lengths than most other street photographers who were shooting with 24, 28 and 35mm lenses.
Name three contemporary photographers you really admire?
A. I really like the works of Craig Whitehead, David Sark and Brandon Wong. I love their use of color and shadows. I always look forward to seeing their new posts on Instagram.
If you can have dinner with one street photographer past or present who would it be? 

A. I think I’d like to have dinner with Bruce Gilden. Not my particular style of street photography but still he has made a major impact in the genre. I have at times tried to just walk up and snap a shot of someone but never had the same results but was fun trying. Besides I think it would either be a very funny conversation or he would just piss me off.


When you aren’t making pictures you are doing what?

A. I’m usually spending time with my family and friends. I like hiking so You can find me at times on trails, ridges and pillboxes around the island but I normally have a camera with me then too so I’m always shooting.

 

When or what was the most fun you had photographing?


A. It’s not street related but I had the opportunity to cover a story on a helicopter tour company and they offered to take us on a round the island flight so I was able to spend an hour and a half to 2 hours flying around snapping away. Crossed something off my bucket list as well as got a few good shots.
I ask everyone this question. If you could have one street photographer shoot your wedding who would it be?  

A. Great question! I would probably have wanted Weegee (Arthur Fellig) to shoot my wedding if it was possible. I would like to see how someone who shot violence, crime and freaky subcultures would do shooting a wedding. My wife may not like what she got back but I’m sure it would have been very interesting.

 

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

A. Always have your camera with you and just get out there and shoot. I believe the more you shoot the more you will learn.
FUJI 23MM-062317-STREET PHOTOGRAPHY-WAIKIKI-AC-11fuji 23mm-121317-street photography-chinatown-ac-111fuji 23mm-122617-street photography-chinatown-ac-14fuji 35mm-011218-street photography-chinatown-ac-16fuji 50mm-120617-street photography-chinatown-ac-07fuji 50mm-121817-street photography-chinatown-ac-07fuji 35mm-111317-street photography-chinatown-ac-10FUJI-23MM-071417-STREET PHOTOGRAPHY-ALA MOANA-AC-11IMG_1520(1)
Keep up with Anthony Consillio’s work below!

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

Hire A Street Photographer For Your Wedding

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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)

M0030159-2_MG_1389_MG_1259_MG_1191_MG_1161M0090163M0090673-2

M0050112M0050205M0040042-2M0030119IMG_0068IMG_0054-2_MG_9875_MG_1414M0060091M3018925M0050295M0050251M0030159-2M0030105-2

 M3015443M0050297M0050262-2M0030126M0030114

M0100319

To Follow Minh’s work:

Instagram @phamvietanhminh

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

wp-image-10370018

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.