Posted on November 29, 2017
“What’s the point of getting killed if you’ve got the wrong exposure?”
Robert Capa founded Magnum Photography, and as such is included in this series. Calling Capa Street Photographer does not do him or his work justice. Capa was a journalistic war correspondent. I include him in this series as his photos capture human activity and life on the streets. As Street Photographers, we can learn a lot from him.
Posted on November 21, 2017
The whole point to me of 35 mm photography is to remain unobserved, working with available light, discovering pictures while a scene is in motion. – Ian Berry
Ian Berry is a Magnum photographer, I am guessing you are now getting the picture of where I look for inspiration! I discovered Ian Berry’s work in Shanghai, through an exhibition of his work that ran alongside that of Bruno Barbey. Ian Berry is a Journalistic photographer. However, if you look at his photography and read the quote at the top of this page, you will see that he treads on the ground of Street Photographers.
Posted on November 17, 2017
I learned a lot about photography while living in China and it is unsurprising that many of the photographers I have studied spent significant time in the country. Shanghai does not do things by half, there were many exhibitions there, showcasing work from some of the greatest artists that have lived. If you are in Shanghai, be sure to visit the Shanghai Center of Photography (SCoP), it often has small, but significant exhibitions. One such showcase featured the work of Bruno Barbey.
Posted on November 16, 2017
Martin Parr takes satirical photos of everyday life. On the surface, his work can be humorous, scratch a little deeper and you will start to discover messages relating to life and society. Parr is much more than a Street Photographer, yet his work will usually fall tightly within this category. Magnum Photography accepted Parr as a member in 1988, and he made it by just one vote. He is now the group’s director. He has published too many books to mention, and I don’t yet own any. I feel another Amazon shop coming on!
Posted on November 15, 2017
Yesterday’s article caused a lot of self-searching. The day ended with a shopping spree on Amazon, where I purchased a book by Nan Golding, a photographer who also took photos on the fringes of society. Today, I am playing it a little safe and telling the tale of Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Woman. It is a tale often told with a happy(ish) ending and stands as a lesson for Street and Journalistic photographers. Spoiler – by the time I finished the article I found out more than I wanted to.
Lange worked as a photojournalist for the American government’s Farm Security Administration. Her photos would help shape policy and create working documents; these documents soon stood as pieces of art. Lange gained her position with the FSA through her photography of the homeless and unemployed, visiting soup kitchens during the American Great Depression. As a child, Lange contracted polio and walked with a limp, citing the disease as something that, “instructed me, helped me and humiliated me.” Perhaps it was her non-threatening stance, caused by the disease, which led to the migrant worker dropping her defences and allowing her photo to be taken. Maybe the migrant women could read that Lange was there to help. Alternatively, the lady was just too tired as she had been feeding her family on frozen vegetables plucked from the soil, and wild birds caught by her hungry children.
Posted on November 14, 2017
“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.
Posted on November 13, 2017
“Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” – 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.
Posted on November 12, 2017
“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.”
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.
Posted on October 9, 2017
My favourite locations…
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.
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.
A former British police barrack. Photography is frowned upon here, but if you show respect and are very discreet then nobody really minds.
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.
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
Posted on October 2, 2017
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.
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