This week’s oldie-but-goodie is a simple, straightforward and totally spontaneous photo taken on a walk to the grocery store. It’s also a perfect example of why I try to take my camera everywhere with me.
Street photography is an art form that I (and many others) romanticize. From Henri Cartier-Bresson (the father of photojournalism, according to Wikipedia) to the recently discovered of Vivian Maier (who I recommend every green, experienced or even jaded photographer study) to the modern hipster photographer, I have this romantic vision of a confident, passionate and skilled artist. They turn everyday life into images that I can stare into for hours.
Street photography is an art form that I try to succeed at but rarely do. I’ve tried to “shoot from the hip”, by setting the camera to a small aperture and wide field of view and causally holding it down chest level. Usually what I get are out of focus images of people’s shoulders or store fronts. I’ve tried standing way back with a long telephoto and taking sniper shots, often getting the ‘why is that guy with the massive lens taking my picture?’ look.
Generally, the best images have come from confidently and casually approaching an interesting scene. I make myself and the camera visible. I smile. I say thanks. Hiding the camera or hiding myself just doesn’t work as well. This method helped me get some of my favourite street shots during last year’s trip to China.
So… the photo. As I said, I was walking to the grocery store with the D300s and Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8 DX. This lens has a near-normal field of view and is small, light and unassuming. As I crossed the entrance to the alley the man rode past me on his bike. I turned, followed and took 3-5 shots. I didn’t have to edit the shot much, just a black and white conversion and some contrast.