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. .

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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!

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How More Female Street Photographers Can Be Recognized

The lack of visibility and recognition of females in many professions still hold true today in 2018!!! I mean it hasn’t been 100 years yet that women in our country had the right to vote. Even in the world of street photography, women photographers tend to be underrepresented.

For example I’ve been looking at Melissa Breyer’s photographs and for a while I hadn’t known if the photographer was male or female. When I scroll through Instagram or websites of photo competitions, I just appreciate the photos and never bother looking at the names of the photographer. Before, I used to stereotype and think that women would only photograph children, make the photograph on a wider scale including more in the frame, and a photograph by a man would be up close and personal but that can’t be so accurate today with the amount of photographs online. But now there’s really nothing specific that can pinpoint whether a picture was taken by a man vs a woman.

Back to my main question, how can female street photographers get more recognition in the industry? Two things come to mind: the two affiliates with the most reach in the genre of street photography (Eric Kim and iN-Public). Both have significant reach and a strong influence in the genre. So much so that if they say a photograph or a photographer is good, most people will listen or at least check out their work.

To my knowledge, Eric Kim has never interviewed a female street photographer. What’s incredible about Eric Kim is that he has a solid following from the average street photographer nerd to anyone new or curious about the genre. He reaches more of the general consumer. I mean his stuff is all over google.

The same goes with iN-Public. They have the reach and influence to bring more attention to female street photographers. Besides Magnum, they are the longest reigning collective. For crying out loud, of their twenty five active members only two are females and one of them is Trent Parke’s wife. I don’t know what iN-Public’s criteria is in selecting and accepting new members, but seeing an unbalanced number of men to women under this list of photographers on their site has me scratching my head. Even Burn My Eye, out of 19 members only two are female.

I also think the legacy of street photography plays a role in keeping the women photographers in the dark. When we think of the gold standards in street photography or photographers that helped propel the genre forward, a few names that come to mind are Henri Cartier Bresson, Garry Winogrand, and Alex Webb. All of them men. I do think men take things a little too seriously, partly because men have more of an ego than women do, not saying there aren’t females that don’t have egos but generally speaking us men have bigger egos. Ken Walton of StreetFoto did a great thing by having a majority of female judges for his competitions, but that’s seasonal and clearly not enough.

The difficult part in seeking recognition, regardless of being male or female, is that “you’re only as good as your last photo”. And with many good and bad photographs floating online today it’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle. It can be very hard to stand out for longer than 24 hours. People who say they photograph for themselves, well yeah with street you do have to photograph for yourself, but they also want people to see their work. Street photography is a visual medium, it’s self expression and you should want people to see how YOU see the world.

I feel there are many women street photographers who produce great work and we need to do a better job at recognizing them. I’m glad to find that female street photographers have taken initiative to create online groups that are dedicated exclusively to female street photographers. To see more visit Women in Street and Double X Street.

Another good read here “Street Photography”s a Man Problem” 

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Too Many Street Photography Collectives?

What’s with all these street photography collectives!? I’m losing count. There’s iN-PUBLIC, the longest street photography group, there’s Burn My Eye, Observe, APF Collective, Full Frontal Flash, The Street Collective, Berlin 1020, EyeGosBananas, Superluna (just learned about this one), New York City Street Photography Collective Italian Street Eyes…Okay I’m getting exhausted. I’m curious to know what their purpose is, besides being all passionate photographers that formed a group and shares a similar vision on street photography? Other than the members admiring your photographs, are there any other qualifications you must pass? Are you required to take an “initiation beating”? I’m joking.

I attended StreetFoto in 2017 and there was a panel discussion from members of in-PUBLIC. There were 4 to 5 of them, I don’t remember exactly, but someone in the audience asked a question something along the lines of “what benefits are there being in a collective?” The answer went something like “well we have a group chat from time to time and we send over our contact sheets and photos to one another for feedback and that basically helps our editing process…” Really that’s it? I do want to mention as well that many collectives are born with the idea to sell a workshop(s), which is sad.

Anyway, all these street collectives really need to stop promoting themselves and figure out a way to “Make Street Photography Great Again”. Many of the collectives have a number of big name photographers in their groups and have a lot of weight and reach, but I don’t think many, if not all, of these collectives really know what the purpose of having a collective is. What is the mission? If you can’t answer that then you should reconsider putting any time and effort into your collectives. I feel like some of these collectives especially the ones that have been around for much longer can do much more by combining all of their talents (not just street photography talents) to do something with impact. Something memorable. Perhaps give value back to the street photography community.

Street Collectives

I propose that there should be some kind of organize street photography Olympics. One representative from each group all gather and discuss in trying to put something competitive together. Figure out a way collectively to give back to the street photography community (oh wait did I say that) instead of each group taking turns highlighting the same individual…it would be a win, win for everyone.

I also feel that some of these collectives are bringing in new blood into their group at a very high rate, especially within the last year or so. There’s no doubt that the male and females that have joined are phenomenal photographers, but I do think it makes the group less special. Maybe limit it by only accepting one person per year. I understand it’s a marketing strategy by bringing a high profile photographer into the group and I’m sure reviewing not only their body of work is part of the process, but how many Instagram followers that person has will eventually determine the fate of whether or not that particular person gets included.

From my observation, I look at some of these photographers associated with these groups and I don’t think they need to be a part of the collective. They’re good enough, with a large enough following, to be independent. If a group were to ask me to join, I’d negotiate hard and really try to maximize my opportunities and see where we could both benefit each other. It’s gotten to the point where street photography collectives are so saturated. The one benefit I see in being a part of a collective is to be recognized by my peers, but then what happens after.

All in all, is it worth being a part of a collective? I mean it doesn’t hurt to have a group of photographers that support you and possibly free marketing doesn’t hurt either. But if this is the case, I would be selective and wait for the right group to reach out to you.

*** Berlin 1020 is a unique collective like NYC SPC because all the photographers are located in the same area…

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Things to Stop In Street Photography

Stop shooting from the hip

Shooting from the hip becomes a guessing game that you will fail 9.5 out of 10. You also look like a creep walking around aiming your camera from the hip, looks like you’re trying to shoot up a ladies skirt. I recommend everyone to try everything once just to experiment so you can judge for yourself first hand.

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Havana Cuba 2017

Stop judging the quality of a photo based on “likes”

Social media is very superficial and the quality of a photo is very subjective. However, don’t let the number of likes influence you whether or not the photo is good. You will know when a photo is good to you not by the lighting, framing, post processing of the photo…the photo resonates with you…it evokes an emotion and perhaps plays with multiple emotions within you….the photo has more questions than they do answers…the photo is open ended, keeping the narrative on going unlike many one and done humor photos we see today.

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Hawaiian Wedding 2018

Stop trying to be like Bruce Gilden

Are you ultra aggressive on the streets with your flash gun  due to an imbalance of testosterone levels or are trying to shoot like Bruce Gilden….Just stop, there is only one Bruce Gilden. Plus if you shoot the way he does, your photos will only remind people of well Bruce Gilden….Find your own style and voice in street photography and create your own legacy…just shoot to get away from the daily stresses and to be more in touch with your surroundings.

Stop thinking about how you’re going to monetize your street photography

Stop thinking too far out on how you’re going to sell prints and make money off your street photography. Stop lusting over the awards and recognition. Remember why you’re shooting street and let me remind you there is no money in being a street photographer. As I mentioned in the paragraph above, shoot street because it temporarily removes you from the daily grind. Shoot street to appreciate the current moment. Shoot street because you enjoy the challenge in creating something out of nothing. Shoot street because you enjoy walking and love the feeling of having all your senses working together…reminding yourself you’re currently here…alive. Shoot street to leave a legacy not for an easy dollar. The moment you try to monetize your passion, you’ll go back to your old miserable self. Don’t fall into this trap.

 

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Interview with Street Photographer Askar Khamdamov

I’m happy to share this interview with you all on a talented photographer from New York but currently resides and shoots in San Francisco. By the look of his body of work, it’s almost as if Askar went back in time to the 60s or 70s and made these photographs. The perfect combination of subject matter, environment, and usage of film is well executed. Enjoy the interview below but better yet the photos.

 

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

Hi Tim, thanks for the opportunity.

A few years ago I moved to San Francisco Bay Area from New York. The landscapes at both places are very different, and the new environment has been a really great inspiration. When you see beautiful San Francisco streets with Victorian houses, unusual plants, and classic cars, this mix is a great influence.

Also, the move itself was a big push towards exploring this beautiful and diverse area. Even today I still have yet so much to see and photograph.

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

With my film photos, I preserve the moments that surrounded them, when they were young.

 

What frustrated you about photography?

Not many people appreciate the process and the idea. Even though I try not to invade anyone’s privacy, I was attacked more than once while holding the camera.

Oh, and prices for the gear of course.

 

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

It’s very cool when people feel that my photos take them back in time.

 

What are you trying to say with your photographs?

Time goes on, things change. Appreciate what surrounds us. In a few years from now, we will be emotionally looking back at our “Instagram” shots of today.

 

What motivated you to do this series (if it is a series what’s the title)?

My “San Francisco treasures” motivated by emotions I have when I spot something extraordinary on the streets. It’s really easy to fall in love with San Francisco. At this point, I guess some New Yorkers may get irritated. Nonetheless, then you also add a classic car, and there you have a beautiful image, which can be easily mistaken for the moment from the 60s or 70s. Isn’t that great?

 

Did this series/body of work evolved organically or was this project always in the back of your mind. Could you tell us how it happened?

As a kid, I was a Hollywood movie junkie. I was nuts about American cars in the movies; they were rare in Central Asia back then. It happens that when I spot some classic now, it makes me stop, take a look and sometimes makes me wish I had a key.

When I realized that I could take a film photo of the car and that photo can bring back memories of mine and other people’s childhood, I decided to make this series. And people seem to like it.

 

 

How do you know you got something worthy of a photo? Walk us through that creative process? Is it a type of car? Neighborhood? Does it need both for you to make a photograph?

Usually, a car catches my attention first, but if the environment isn’t right, I often pass. I find it more natural when a car blends into surroundings. In most cases, it’s also crucial that I exclude other vehicles unless they add value.

Later on, looking at the photos, you start noticing houses, electrical poles, trees, fences, trash, and other details of a city. All of it has to be in some sort of balance so that you want to capture it in a first place.

In some cases, I spot a nice car and wait until the environment changes. Or light, or some other detail that makes a difference. Often the vehicle disappears while I wait, then I lie to myself that it would be a waste of film anyway. But sometimes I get lucky, take a photo and then get a fifty or so of new Instagram followers.

 

Why film? Talk about that?

No “Instagram” has come up with a nice enough filter 🙂

I have a few digital cameras and use them for family photos. But no matter how much I pay for cameras, glass and soft, they just can’t replicate what I get from some $15 thrift store find with, let’s say Superia 200. All the imperfections, waiting while being processed and unpredictable results create a special kind of excitement. People get nuts when they see film cameras and photos. And personally I just can’t get enough.

It’s probably the same reason why some people drive classic cars, read paper books, or stay in the marriage for years – love.

 

Does nostalgia have anything to do with it?

For sure.

 

Because you shoot film are you more conservative clicking the shutter button?

Oh yes! With virtually every shot I hear my wife counting the cost of it. If I want to keep shooting film and staying married, I got to do it smart.

 

What’s your dream car and did you happen to come across it on the streets and make a photograph?

I would say Datsun 240Z. I do come across it almost every day, as a lady drives one in my neighborhood. I posted photos of it earlier.

 

What is your dream assignment/project?

I have this weird need of going to Australian Outback. There I would love to photograph the life in remote areas and aboriginal people. Go figure.

 

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

Help small businesses with their online presence. I run a boutique web design studio for a few years now.

Away from work, I like exploring California with my family.

 

Convince us digital shooters why we should shoot film.

That’s a tough one. You should not. I noticed a strong drive in film camera prices on eBay recently. Kendall Jenner mentioned that she uses Contax T2 camera and I guess this drove a lot of digital shooters towards a film.

Seriously speaking, this is just a different kind of experience. Plain better, more exciting, more authentic and rewarding, photos look better, it makes you slow down and think. Some say the film has a soul, or even film is being a real kind of photography.

But, you’ll never know unless you try, right?

 

When did you feel like you’ve arrived in photography? Like hey I’m pretty good at this.

I haven’t. Usually, when I become good at something I feel a need of doing something else. I guess once this happens with photography, I will probably buy a yacht and go sailing.

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Links:

Instagram: @jpgjournal

Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/kaskar/

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

20 Female Street Photographers to Follow in 2018

The women’s revolution for street photography is here! Below are 20 female street photographers to follow and be inspired from in 2018. These are current shooters and not of the past, so you won’t be seeing names like Vivian Maier or Mary Ellen Mark. The order is also not from worst to best or best to worst.

Also I am aware that there are a lot more female street photographer’s to follow but this is my list and I just so happen to not know every female shooter on earth. So please if you have a good recommendation please share with me. Another thing to mention, I am excluding female street photographers that are part of any renowned collectives (for example…Magnum, inPublic, Burn My Eye). In any event, enjoy!

Michelle Groskopf

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Julia Gillard

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Melissa O’Shaughnessy

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Michelle Rick

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Lauren Welles

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Alison Adcock

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Michelle Chan

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Poupay Jutharat

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Suzanne Stein

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Cat Byrnes

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Suan Lin

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Tatum Wulff

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Agnes Lanteri

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Julia Coddington

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Elizabeth Char

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Maria Moldes

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Simone De Peak

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Rebecca Wiltshire

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Jill Maguire

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Julie Hrudova

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