Street Photography on the Beach

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What time of day are you going

The time of day to photograph people on the beach is very important just like when you go out to photograph the streets. Are you going early morning? Sunrise? Where the light is fairly faint and their aren’t a lot of beach goers…depending on your location you may see a lot of early morning runners and surfers.

Are you going at noon? Where the sun is may be a bit harsh and it’ll be hot as heck! At this hour, I find that the beaches are most crowded. It can be difficult to last a few hours due to the heat, walking in sand, and carrying a bag full of items. I suggest dressing comfortably, wearing slippers or sandals, and carry a point and shoot or keep your dslr/mirrorless camera as light as possible.

Also at this time of the day, there should be a variety of people at the beach. Families. Seniors. Tanners. Surfers. Homeless. Tourist. Locals. Go before lunch and shoot for a couple hours, maybe from 11am to 1pm.

If you’re worried about the sun causing you any stress then go before sunset. The late afternoon 3pm-4pm and shoot until the sun sets. You’ll find the best lighting at this hour, a very soft and subtle light just arraying the shores. The key here though is to find where that light is exactly hitting. Of course the area where the light is hitting will change as the sun sets but once you find it, don’t lose it. Follow the light and let your subjects walk into it. There may be opportunities to create dark shadows or silhouettes as well. Also at this hour, the beach isn’t as overly crowded (which can be overwhelming at times just like shooting a busy intersection). Most people are getting ready for dinner or just waiting to enjoy the sunset but majority are doing that away from the sands.

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Blend In

If you look the part, you’ll get the part. Same applies when you’re photographing on the beach. If you look like a tourist like everyone else on the beach with beach shorts, often taking selfie shots of yourself, others around may not even notice you or seem to care. But if you’re on the beach with jeans , a pair of shoes, and a long telephoto lens then obviously you’ll be standing out from the crowd…and for the wrong reasons.

Now I’m not saying to go shopping for an entirely new attire just for the beach setting. Dress comfortably. Have respect of what you photograph and who you photograph. Same principles applies as when you’re roaming the sidewalks.

My other advice when blending in is to take your time. Scan the beach. I love shooting the beach because there are many activities happening, lot of different people of all size, shapes, and background in a more contain environment. And also everything is slowed down, unlike the streets where it can be very busy and overwhelming at times.

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Have the Fisherman mentality

Take your time. Be patience. Scan those in the water. Observe those lying in the sand absorbing the sun. Eventually you will come across something that just instinctively connects with you. Maybe it’s an overly tanned person. Over sized man in speedos. A juxtaposition of a swimmer and their inflatable’s.

People are exposed on the beach. Their guards are down. For crying out loud, they’re barely clothed. So worse case scenario a photograph of themselves should be the least of their concerns. I believe if you were to shoot at the beach from sunrise to sunset, be patient with the situation, you would walk away with more amazing photos shooting the beach than if you were to spend an entire day on the streets. That’s just my opinion.

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What to Look For

Well what do you look for when you’re shooting the streets? Gesture? Color? Wardrobe? Interesting face? Patterns? Juxtaposition? Humor? Same can be applied when photographing the beach. However, I feel it’s even more out there and you don’t have to really look or even stress overthinking or even trying. Just take a nice walk down shore, take your time, enjoy the ocean and view, and I guarantee you will come across something you’d like to make a photograph of. Comparing to shooting the streets, it’s easy to get caught up with the fast pace environment and just to blaze your way through street after street. Your photo walk just ends up being more of an exercise than a creative experiment. The beach has a calming effect, I think that mostly has to do with the people on the beach having that calm and relaxation feeling and it rubs off on you. If you go and blaze through the people in the water or on the sand and be very aggressive with your approach you will only be calling negative attention to yourself from other beach goers.

There’s a lot to see on the beach. Different activities happening, perhaps a volleyball game, kids building a sand castle or burying their siblings alive into the sand. People running in and out of the water. Lying down getting fried by the sun. Or perhaps the possibilities of creating interesting juxtaposition with those reading a book on the beach.

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Narrow Your Focus

Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of people? Not seeing anything that sticks out to you? When I feel in this rut, I usually go to my fallback. I think we all have fallbacks in what we look for or what stands out interesting whether we’re conscious of it or not. For me if nothing stands out then I narrow my focus on gesture or bright colors.

Same can be applied photographing the beach, perhaps you narrow your focus to body shapes that you find interesting. Or overly tanned aka burnt people at the beach. Simple things like that, that may not make great photos but at least it’ll make you start clicking that shutter button.

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Respect Your Subjects

Have some ethics and respect when shooting the beach just like when you photograph the streets. It’s one thing to have balls and courage but it’s another thing to be disrespectful of another person’s space. If your gut tells you it’s not a good idea to photograph that situation or person then move on. The very least you can perhaps ask for permission but that ruins the candid shot and I personally think it’s a bad habit to do…to seek permission in order to make a photograph. if you’re new to street photography then you get a pass but for those that are more seasoned it’s frowned down upon. Also consider asking yourself, is this photograph really worth taking… is it that good of a shot? Sometimes you really don’t know until you are post processing the image but most of the times for myself, I know in my gut that I got a good photo at that very moment.

You can catch me photographing the beach on my youtube channel here

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

Interview with Street Photographer Daniel Huete

Check out this interview with Streetfoto mobile runner up Daniel Huete! It is quite insightful to say the least.

Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?

I was born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.It wasn’t until 8 years ago (when I moved to Bangkok, Thailand) that I decided to pick up a camera, from that moment on I knew what I wanted to do and kept doing it till today.

You’re currently residing in Los Angeles but only photograph when you make trips out to India? Could you talk about that.
For me it is quite difficult to photograph in Los Angeles. After photographing in India, everything here seems dull and you have to be really careful with what you are photographing. India for me its a very special place, its the place I will always come back to photograph.
You can always discover something you have never seen , something new, there is always life on the streets. Its just so dynamic.
When did you start photographing India and what about is it about India that inspires you?
The first time I went to India was back in 1994. I was 5 years old at the time. I went there for six months with my grandmother. I still actually have photos from that trip.
That was my first impression of India, I still have many fond memories of my time there.
I guess those travels made me want to come back and photograph India. It is a place where I can connect with my childhood, it holds a special place in my heart.
Has there been any major changes from the first time you’ve been in india compared to your last visit?
Yes, I can see how India is changing  and becoming more modern, but it still has the same essence.
What’s your favorite city of India?
Thats a very very hard question, there are too many beautiful cities in India.
It all depends on what you want to photograph or what you want to do.
These are some of my favorite places not in order and depending on the season.
Pushkar, Rishikesh, Haridwar , Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana , Mcleodganj, Delhi, Mumbai and of course Varanasi.
Your photos of India are in black and white for such a colorful country. could you walk us through that?

I love to photograph in color and black and white, currently I’m working on two projects that are separated by black and white and color. For certain situations I prefer black and white specially to create a difference in mood. You will definitely see more color photographs in the near future.

Describe your style and how you approach making photographs when wandering the streets.

When I started photography I took a lot of influence studying photos from National Geographic, Magnum photos and Documentary projects from different photographers.

I mainly I shot portraits and travel photography.
There was a  moment when my photography took a drastic change it was after an APF workshop I attended in Singapore, I really have to thank my street photography mentors Vineet Vohra, Rohit Vohra and Aik beng Chia for that workshop as well as all the tips and teaching they gave me till this day.
They helped me conquer the biggest fear I had while shooting , to get close to people.They do it like no other. I can feel peoples breathing these days thanks to that. Today I try to mix street and documentary photography.

 

Who are some of your favorite street photographers?

I would say some of my favorites are Fan Ho, Alex Webb, Josef Koudelka, Martin Parr and of course my three mentors V.V R.V and  ABC.

What’s your overall goal with your travels to India? A book?

I have two zines from India coming soon. One in color and one in black and white. The long term project I currently have will be two books on India.

What keeps you motivated?
The fact that I’m doing photography that its what I love to do, traveling the world and being surrounded by good friends and people I love.  I wouldn’t image my self doing something else.

 

Favorite Indian dish?

Since we are talking about India,

Non Veg
Nihari  at a restaurant called Karims(Near Jama masjid, Delhi)
Veg
I would go with Paneer tikka Masala
And of course Chai.

 

Can I tag along with you to visit India one of these days?

Why not? You can tag along on my next trip if you are up for it!

You live across the ocean from Hawaii. Any plans to visit Hawaii?

I have always wanted to visit Hawaii but I’ve never got the chance to come.

Hopefully sometime in the near future.

 

By the way, congrats on  winning the 2nd place mobile category at Streetfoto. How did you hear about it and what was your reaction?

Thanks, Tim. I heard about it when Vineet posted that he was going to do a workshop there, so I checked the site and submitted.

I didn’t expect it, there were some really really good photos.
Its always difficult to choose the winning photographs out of so many good photographs.
Any tips for travelers and photographers wanting to visit India?
One of my tips would be that you can’t discover India in one or two weeks., you can’t see it all in six months either. Take time, let your self go, get out of your comfort zone and you will discover.

 

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Follow Daniel Huete’s work below!

 

http://danielhuete.com/

 

Instagram @danielhuete 

 

 

9 Things Every Street Photographer Must Do

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Travel

Seeing a new place with fresh set of eyes is a plus. Every time I travel I tend to trigger the shutter more. Perhaps its because I’m out all day compared to shooting at home where I only have an allocated timeframe to shoot. Don’t think that because you travel to some foreign exotic land that you’ll come back home with awesome photos.

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Take Workshops

Workshops do help in my opinion. Learn from the best, pick their mind, and meet other enthusiastic street photographers. Get your creative juices boiling! If you’re a beginner, a workshop is a MUST! Gain confidence with a camera out in public, learn the basics. If you’re an intermediate level street photographer then perhaps you can learn how to edit down your photos, understand what separates a good photo from a great photo. All in all, it’s great to get feedback and see the pros work their magic.

Consume as Much Photo-books as Possible

If there are no workshops in your area or if workshops may be too pricey then consuming as much photo books is a great substitute. You can buy them online or at your local Barnes & Nobel…or borrow from friends. Research what type of photos you enjoy or aspire producing. Look into the great street photographers and focus on their body of works. You can watch countless Youtube video interviews or short documentaries on how they go about shooting the streets. You can self teach yourself anything these days with the power of the internet…it all depends on your own determination. Below are some great youtube videos to check out.

Youtube Videos

  1. Eric Kim with Jack Simon
  2. Mark Cohen Shooting the Streets
  3. Garry Winogrand Shooting the Streets
  4. Joel Meyerowitz Shooting the Streets

Color Books

Michael Ernest Sweet Coney Island

Jesse Marlow Don’t Just Tell Them Show Them

William Eggleston Books

Alex Webb Suffering of Light

Harry Gruyeart

Challenge Yourself

Shoot out of your comfort zone. Photograph in a location out of your comfort zone. You should not be thinking but be more relaxed when you’re out shooting. Let your imagination flow and take over.

Build a Website…and other social media outlets

Create a website, I use wordpress, it is rather simple if you spend a good day learning about it. The power and resource of the internet and youtube should make the process less painful. Build your own platform, the more outlets you have (facebook, instagram, youtube, website, flickr) the more opportunity people will find you. Since creating my own website about two years ago, I’ve been reached out to exhibit my work in Paris and present my work at a local high school. You just never know who’s looking at your work. Social media is just another way to share information but I wouldn’t use them (except youtube, since youtube is owned by google, and videos are ranked higher than anything else, blogs, photos, etc) as my main source of driving traffic. Plus, Facebook’s algorithm is fucked up. Not everyone will see your post and if your post/photo doesn’t receive 10 likes within the first half hour, then your post gets buried.

Share Your Knowledge

This goes back to creating your own platform. I think it’s best to share what you know on a topic, give your (bias) opinion, and interview other inspiring photographers to have them share their knowledge and stories.

Bring a Camera Everyone….iphone/android cameras are more than welcomed.

It’s not hard to carry your camera everywhere with you. I’ve missed some potential cool shots because I was lazy in wrapping my camera around my wrist. There were times when I would just walk across the street to the local convenient store and missed a potential shot. Don’t be lazy, you’ll regret it .

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Appreciate the Process

Most people have goals with their hobby, their passion…some don’t. If you do have goals with your street photography be realistic about it. If your goal is to make one dynamic photo every time you go out and shoot, that’s very unrealistic ( I do appreciate the optimism though). Just appreciate the process and remember to not add any pressure on yourself. You are photographing the world around you as a way to get in touch with reality, disengage with the stresses, burn some calories, absorb the sun, be away from the computer, and just enjoy life. Making a great photo is the plus, really.

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Shoot in the rain, sun, and on an overcast day

Don’t just shoot when it’s sunny, overcast, or during sunset. Try them all. Shoot them all! Don’t limit yourself and narrow your point of view. Of course, if you’re working on a series then you may only want consistent lighting or time of day. Perhaps, you only have time during lunch hours, so harsh afternoon light is all that you can get. If possible try everything.

What I learned from the Jesse Marlow & Aaron Berger Leica Workshop

This past week I was fortunate to spend 3 days in LA for the Jesse Marlow & Aaron Berger Leica workshop.

Two very different styles and approaches to street photography, Jesse’s work in color, shapes, visualization, and leading lines, while Aaron’s work with “people happening”, character driven, action in the streets approach was great to watch and learn as well. They also reiterated that there are no rules in street photography, which I thought was great to echoe because a lot of the students were new to this and it’s also great for me to hear because often times I put these barriers up that a photo should be this or look like that or have such and such…

Aaron Berger

Aaron is the slickest photographer I’ve ever seen work…he slitters like a snake, through and in-between people and no one ever does notice that he’s making a picture of them. He has it down like clockwork, it’s quite awesome to witness in person. We were out in the LA area for close to 10 hours of shooting. Aaron has a lot of energy and is relentless, his approach to shooting the streets is hitting it up everyday for hours and be on full offensive attack. I admire that of Aaron.

He also anticipates the shot coming from 30 feet away. While walking through a crowd down Hollywood Blvd, he’s not scanning through the crowd that’s five or ten feet from him, he’s looking at twenty five, thirty feet away and visualizing if there’s an opportunity to pair up couples or notice if there’s potentially anything interesting may come about. Learning about dead space and how heads sticking out of other people’s heads in a photo can make or break your images.

I think we all can learn from Aaron by pushing ourselves daily. Go out and make those opportunities happen. Don’t just sit around and expect things to come at you, go out and grab life by the throat. Find what works for you, what visually intrigues you, and get it.

Jesse Marlow

Jesse Marlow is great at recognizing a scene and shooting the scene until it dissolves or until he no longer cannot. I shot with Jesse for most of the day and learned a lot from him, about challenging yourself, finding your unique style and sticking with it, and not giving a shit what others think…if you like the photo, defend it, fight for it.

Jesse has more of a calculated approach I would say. Recognize a scene that’s simple and shoot many times of it, go low, go high, get close, take a step back…be patient, as some of the best photos just unfold itself right in front of you. Drop the f-stop to darken a particular area in the frame to isolate your subject. Look for vibrant color, shadows, leading lines and geometry and be creative with it. Avoid the cliche’s and instead think outside the box. Ultimately don’t worry about awards and prizes, remind yourself to shoot for yourself and because you enjoy doing it. Things will fall into place.

Even if your photo does have a story or drama within the frame, something within the image that doesn’t support the photo can turn it into a bad photo. If a shadow or a giant tree is in the frame and doesn’t add to the narrative then it really loses it soul. It’ll draws people attention away from the main focus.

Bring your camera everywhere. Jesse is the opposite of Aaron, he doesn’t allocate time each day and go out and shoot. Rather Jesse just brings his camera wherever with him. This allows more free time with his family and also doesn’t add any pressure or disappointments to photography. If he see’s something while he’s driving or on his way to the grocery, he’ll have his camera ready and loaded. But if he didn’t capture anything while on the road or on errands then no big deal. There’s no expectations and I think we all can learn from Jesse’s approach.

Conclusion

I highly recommend beginners or advance street photographers to learn from both Jesse and Aaron. Even if your style or what you’d like to be your style is opposite from either one of them, it’s great to learn and absorb new techniques and knowledge. Watch and hear what makes a photograph work out on the field and in the classroom.

I want to thank the class, Aaron, Jesse, Tom Smith of Leica Akadmie North America, my family for allowing me to go on this adventure, and the staff at Leica LA for an awesome experience.

Hawaii Street Photography – The Future of Street Photography in Hawaii

“There’s only one way to go and that’s up” – Unknown

That’s how I feel about street photography in Hawaii. Because there aren’t many street shooters here or to the general consensus much knowledge of the topic, I believe sky’s the limit for street photography in Hawaii (Hawaii in general seems to be a few steps behind in everything compared to the rest of the world anyways).

Every major city in the world or at least mainland USA has a Leica store imprint (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami)..why not Honolulu? Honolulu is one of the major tourist destinations in the United States (yes Hawaii is part of the United States).

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Let’s dig deeper, where did a lot of the well known street photographers originally come from or make a name for themselves? A lot of them were based out of New York (of course, because if it doesn’t come out of New York it isn’t legit..I’m kidding). With the growing popularity of street/candid photography and more accessible, cheaper cameras…any city, country, in the world can be a destination for street photography…but how? Usually, there needs to be a representative of the area…someone that can put the city, state, country, on the map as a serious location to visit to shoot street. Maybe that’ll be me for Hawaii, maybe it’s someone else….it doesn’t matter, we need someone to step up and represent Hawaii.

What I’m trying to say is…there’s opportunity here for street photography, to bring it onto a grand stage and showcase to the world!!! Hawaii is much more than awesome weather, surfing, snorkeling, poke bowls and loco mocos!

How to Handle Criticism on your Street photography

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots – Frank Clark

Criticism is negative feedback and I’ve had a very small handful of them on my photography through peers and folks on social media. I’m human, sometimes it gets to me but I try my best not to let it. Criticism is negative feedback without any guidance or suggestive improvements. For example, if someone saw your photo and said “It’s crap” and not explain why the photo is crap then it’s all deaf ears to me.

However, saying that the photo is crap but yet explaining why, is constructive feedback. There’s opportunity to learn and grow knowing why your photo just doesn’t work.  I had one person say (and I won’t give any clues) that one of my photo essays was pretty good but that’s because they edited the photos down and cropped some of the images. Or said (same person) it sucks without further explanation.

I’m open for constructive feedback and I think I take it pretty well, I’m all ears and open to a discussion. I also believe in defending your work if you truly love the image and regardless what others think, if you like the photo stand by it. I actually appreciate when someone gives me their constructive feedback, to take time to either type a message or waste their breath on me, I feel appreciative to an extent. I have always believed if the person didn’t care then they wouldn’t waste their time saying anything.

Also remember to keep in mind, everyone has the right to their own opinion. That’s the beauty of this country, the freedom of speech. So that we can have dialogue and come to an mutual or better yet…a better understanding of both perspectives.

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To take the advice or not

The way I see constructive feedback is 1. What would make the image work better instead or 2. From the perspective of the viewer, how it’d be a better image. There is no right or wrong in street photography but there is good, better, and just not there. I think most people don’t know how to give good constructive feedback, for photography good constructive feedback is saying this doesn’t work but I’d be curious to see if a particular subject passed back or if you got lower it’d add more emotion or mystery to it.

For me even if I receive good constructive feedback I won’t always adjust to their liking’s or to use less words…agree. But I am appreciative of their feedback and thoughts (never know you may learn something new). You got to remember even if Bruce Gilden gave you feedback on a photo you truly liked and he chewed it up to pieces (like he did to mines in San Francisco) and he pointed out why it’s a weak photo, etc, and with over five decades of experience, a Magnum photographer, the list goes on…Even he has a particular style he likes or prefers (plus I don’t think Bruce Gilden ever complimented anyone’s photos besides his very own).

Imagine if someone asked you to review and critique their photo and there’s parts of the image that you do or don’t like about it. You’re giving your opinion  based on your own experience, personal fondness of what type of photos you cater towards. If photographed a scene that included vibrant colors and had a very minimalist aesthetic to it and you ask a fellow photographer that loves black and white photos, that tends to incorporate layers and lots of people in their frame…they probably won’t appreciate your photo compared if another photographer presented photos that shared the same ideas and have similar taste in style.

That’s why I believe in not having a style. Lots of photographers talk about having a style to call your own, to separate from the pack, or to use less words…branding. For me I just shoot what I like, what catches my attention and keeps me curious. I don’t want to be pigeon hold to one style or one way of shooting…I’d get bored too quickly.

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Conclusion

Be open to other opinions. Take what you can learn and filter the rest. People giving criticism online and social media are likely to be more harsh with their feedback because they can hide behind a screen. They’re not dealing with an actual person right in front of them. Think of customer service, when someone calls and make a complaint versus making a complaint in person at the store. Nobody wants to cause a scene at the store and go viral on Facebook. Even if it’s someone you know, their critique online will be much different in person.

ultimately, my advice is to always follow your gut, be true to yourself, you can’t please everyone the only person you should be pleasing is yourself. Life is about taking the bumps and bruises and just picking yourself back up and keep on keeping on.

Defend your work, stand up for it if it’s something you like. Don’t let the opinion of others demoralize you. And don’t change because society tells you to or the feeling of pressure from your peers. Change when you’re ready to change, when you’re ready to take that leap of faith whether that’s in your photography by changing up your approach and style…or if that’s in life where you need to subtract old friends that are nothing but toxic or if you need to move to another country for a change in scenery. Do it by your own terms, create your own destiny, write your own narrative.

Tim Huynh Contact Sheet Volume 1: Legs!

Aloha Everyone,

I wanted to create a contact sheet to share with you folks on how I capture and process my images. This one titled “Legs” is one of three photos that will be published in this year’s World Street Photography 4 book (you can purchase book here).

I saw this giant advertising board at the new Waikiki International Market Place and it caught my attention because of how simple it was, a giant sexy leg of a woman (I assume) and the fact that it was in black and white. I knew I could create something out of this with a lot of mixed reactions of people walking by. This is when visualization and the use of imagination comes in handy when you are able to juxtapose or visualize what may come about. I usually don’t hang out in a particular area for more than 10 minutes, I don’t have the patience. Below are the contact sheets.

Contact sheet Legs 1

Contact sheet Legs 2

Contact sheet Legs 3

I didn’t get the overly dramatic moment that I had wanted to get. I was using flash so it helped draw attention to me as people were walking by and were curious as to what I was photographing. No person or animal was harmed in this event, there was no altercation, people kept on walking and didn’t say a word.

I chose photo #10 because that was the best reaction I got out of the 23 attempts. The couple did not make eye contact with me as I clicked the shutter which was good but also they seem more effected by the giant leg. It almost looks like the man is sort of closing his eyes or not trying to look at the giant leg that’s flashing the couple. The framing of attempt number 10 is the best too. I tried many variations as far as framing, shoot it with no foot, shoot it off to the side, eye level, play around with the actual heel hitting or aligning with someone’s head like in photo number 2. I tried as much as I could within my ten minute patient bar. I also think converting the photo into black and white helped elevate the images it almost looks like the couple blends in and are a part of the advertising display.

Well, if you guys think another attempt was a better shot or if I should have tried a different way to work the scene, please let me know.

Thanks for reading and keep shooting!

What I learned from the Jesse Marlow & Aaron Berger Leica Workshop

This past week I fortunate to spend 3 days in LA for the Jesse Marlow & Aaron Berger Leica workshop.

Two very different styles and approaches to street photography, Jesse’s work in color, shapes, visualization, and leading lines, while Aaron’s work with “people happening”, character driven, action in the streets approach was great to watch and learn as well. They also reiterated that there are no rules in street photography, which I thought was great to echoe because a lot of the students were new to this and it’s also great for me to hear because often times I put these barriers up that a photo should be this or look like that or have such and such…

Aaron Berger

Aaron is the slickest photographer I’ve ever seen work…he slitters like a snack, through and in-between people and no one ever does notice that he’s making a picture of them. He has it down like clockwork, it’s quite awesome to witness in person. We were out in the LA area for close to 10 hours of shooting. Aaron has a lot of energy and is relentless, his approach to shooting the streets is hitting it up everyday for hours and be on full offensive attack. I admire that of Aaron.

He also anticipates the shot coming from 30 feet away. While walking through a crowd down Hollywood Blvd, he’s not scanning through the crowd that’s five or ten feet from him, he’s looking at twenty five, thirty feet away and visualizing if there’s an opportunity to pair up couples or notice if there’s potentially anything interesting may come about. Learning about dead space and how heads sticking out of other people’s heads in a photo can make or break your images.

I think we all can learn from Aaron by pushing ourselves daily. Go out and make those opportunities happen. Don’t just sit around and expect things to come at you, go out and grab life by the throat. Find what works for you, what visually intrigues you, and get it.

Jesse Marlow

Jesse Marlow is great at recognizing a scene and shooting the scene until it dissolves or until he no longer cannot. I shot with Jesse for most of the day and learned a lot from him, about challenging yourself, finding your unique style and sticking with it, and not giving a shit what others think…if you like the photo, defend it, fight for it.

Jesse has more of a calculated approach I would say. Recognize a scene that’s simple and shoot many times of it, go low, go high, get close, take a step back…be patient, as some of the best photos just unfold itself right in front of you. Drop the f-stop to darken a particular area in the frame to isolate your subject. Look for vibrant color, shadows, leading lines and geometry and be creative with it. Avoid the cliche’s and instead think outside the box. Ultimately don’t worry about awards and prizes, remind yourself to shoot for yourself and because you enjoy doing it. Things will fall into place.

Even the photo does have a story or drama within the frame, something within the image that doesn’t support the photo can turn it into a bad photo. If a shadow or a giant tree is in the frame and doesn’t add to the narrative then it really loses it soul. It’ll draws people attention away from the main focus.

Bring your camera everywhere. Jesse is the opposite of Aaron, he doesn’t allocate time each day and go out and shoot. Rather Jesse just brings his camera wherever with him. This allows more free time with his family and also doesn’t add any pressure or disappointments to photography. If he see’s something while he’s driving or on his way to the grocery, he’ll have his camera ready and loaded. But if he didn’t capture anything while on the road or on errands then no big deal. There’s no expectations and I think we all can learn from Jesse’s approach.

Conclusion

I highly recommend beginners or advance street photographers to learn from both Jesse and Aaron. Even if your style or what you’d like to be your style is opposite from either one of them, it’s great to learn and absorb new techniques and knowledge on street photography. Listen and see what makes a photograph work out on the field and in the classroom.

I want to thank the class, Aaron, Jesse, Tom Smith of Leica Akadmie North America, my family for allowing me to go on this adventure, and the staff at Leica LA for an awesome experience.

*** I also took a street photography workshop from Jack Simon in 2016, visit my succinct  review here What I learned during Jack Simon’s workshop.

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