Inspirational Street Photographer #4

My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.” – Diane Arbus

For a series of articles on Street Photographers, I appear to be working hard to avoid anybody who would have described themselves using this term. However, what is Street Photography if not a tool to look at the world? Diane Arbus focused on those living on the edges of society; dwarfs, those with intellectual disabilities, the LGBT community, nudist and circus performers. Arbus suffered severe bouts of depression throughout her career. She ended her life in 1971, slashing her wrists after taking barbiturates.

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Curls, Photograph by Dianne Arbus

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Inspirational Street Photographer #3

Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”  – Marc Riboud

Marc Riboud

I am a little daunted writing this piece. I first came upon the work of Riboud at a small exhibition in Shanghai. The exhibition left me speechless, in particular, the photo below which was the headline of the show.  Riboud did not subscribe to the model of ‘Street Photographer’ and his Times obituary described him as a humanist. Studying his photographs, you can see strong connections with his subjects, whom he often revisited after their photographs were published. Riboud also had the Magnum ‘magic’, enabling him to blend in and create powerful candid images. He was a core member of Magnum and died aged 93. His work in China was groundbreaking, and he gained access to many locations previously out of bounds. A photo of a nude at a Chinese art school led to controversy, with the Chinese government claiming no such place existed.

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View from an antique dealer. My favourite Street Photo ever.

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Inspirational Street Photographers #2

Steve McCurry

“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is some of the great pictures happen along the journey and not necessarily at your destination.”

Steve McCurry

McCurry would probably not call himself as a street photographer and has described himself as a visual storyteller. He has also undertaken various journalistic projects, is a Magnum Photographer and has published numerous books. McCurry has worked extensively in India over the past 30 years, and published a book called; wait for it, ‘India’. This is a book I have recently purchased, treasure and dribble over.

 

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Photograph by Steve McCurry. Taken from his book, ‘India’.

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Shanghai Street Photography Locations

My favourite locations…

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The Bund

The Bund (Closest Metro East Nanjing Lu)

Possibly the most iconic City View in the world and one I never became tired of. The best times for photography are sunrise and sunset. However, it becomes very crowded in the evening, so an early morning start may be best. TIP – the photo below was taken from the bar at Hotel Indigo. Get there are the start of happy hour, buy a drink and set up your tripod.

Yangshupu Road (Line 4)

Exit with the river behind you and turn right, then explore the lanes and alleys that open up on your left. Be quick, this area is rapidly being demolished. As construction moves in to new areas a whole micro culture develops that caters for, and comprises of immigrant workers. TIP – there are lots of cool abandoned areas to explore, but they are pretty unstable. Take care and wear good shoes.

Hongzhen Lu (Closest Metro, Linpin Lu, Line 4)

There is only really one block of this area remaining. The area that was regurlary frequented for prostitution now demolished, but there is one thriving lively community left. Generally, if you are respectful, people do not mind photographers.

Linping Lu (Line 4)

If you have been to Hongzhen Lu then you can walk around the area behind this station. If you walk all the way to Yangshupu Lu, mentioned earlier, you will have covered a lot of Old Shanghai.

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Nanjing Road (East, Line 2)

Forget Nanjing East, instead head up towards Peoples Square, heading through the alleys on the left hand side. Be suspicious of anyone too friendly here.

Longchang Apartments

A former British police barrack. Photography is frowned upon here, but if you show respect and are very discreet then nobody really minds.

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Longchang Apartments

 

Fuxing Lu (Xiaonanmen, Line 9)

Not too far from the tourist trail of Yu Garden lies this little gem. The builders were here when I last visited, so it is either being improved or torn down. Wonderful lanes and alleys to explore. A personal favourite!

Moganshan Road (Nearest Subway  Jiangning Road, Line 13 or Zhongtan Road Line 3/4)

Head here for Street Art in one of the few places graffiti is tolerated. TIP, the Jade Buddha Temple near-bye is well worth a look.

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Moganshan Lu

Pudong 

Pudong is a vast area and considered not ‘the real Shanghai’. However, there are many great locations. For the Skyscrapers and a slice of high life, stop at Lujaizui. Wuzhuo Avenue (Line 6) is another area that is undergoing modernisation, and there are some great tumbled down streets and alleys that can be explored. Luoshan Road is another area, that if you explore, will reveal some older housing alongside the river, revealing a very different viewpoint from the tourist river towns.

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Keep Clicking, Chris

 

 

Zen and the art of the Pancake Lens…

For the second time in my Street Photography life I was hit by a passer-by. The photo below shows one situation where a pancake lens can be a lifesaver, and save you the pain of having a camera stuck from your face.

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Open Market, Bangalore

Pancake lenses are fantastic for low-profile photography. Yesterday I got my camera struck out of my hand by a passing guy on a motorbike. Fortunately, the camera was around my neck. However, my glasses went flying and ended up on the road. I would like to say I was cool calm and collected. I was not. The situation got a little heated and could have got a lot worse. A pancake lens plus a little bit of Zen may have avoided this situation.

A pancake lens is flat, not quite as flat as a pancake, but still sports a low profile. Pancake lenses are often of a fixed focal length, that means you can’t zoom. The laws of physics dictate these lenses have a wide-angle profile. If you read enough about photography and fixed focal length lenses you will soon hear that you, ‘zoom with your feet’. This is not entirely true, to get a close-up photo, you need to get close (duh), you cannot zoom in with a fixed lens. Here is the rub. A shot where you zoom in looks very different to a close-up taken with a wide-angle. A zoom compresses the aspects within the frame. The photo above was taken using a wide-angle lens, and this gives the characters enough space around them for the picture to work. Zooming in on this scene from further away would have made the photo a lot busier.

The above photo was taken using the very excellent Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 Pro. I love this lens, it creates sharp images and allows me to spend a little more time framing each picture. However, it is quite intrusive for tightly packed locations. The motorcyclist hit me when my eyes were pressed to the viewfinder with the lens extended, trying to capture photos of people passing on motorbikes. This created quite a target for anyone not wanting to have their picture taken. A pancake lens is much less obtrusive, and also a smaller target. Further to this, if I had been framing my photos using the screen, and not the viewfinder, I would have been much more aware of what was happening around me.

When returning to Bangalore’s markets, I will be packing my Olympus with the excellent Panasonic 46mm 1.7 pancake lens.  Alternatively, I will take the very low-profile Ricoh Grii. As always, this experience has taught me something. Sometimes locations require a low profile; a pancake lens should help achieve this. Secondly, I need to think how I respond to aggression when taking photos. When we are involved in a physical incident, our fight or flight mechanism kicks in. On this occasion, I lost my cool, flipped my lid and ‘let off a little steam,’ and this altercation could have got a lot worse. Time to meditate and bring a little ‘Zen’ into my photography….

 

Keep clicking, Chris

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