Perception

5  Life Lessons  I've learned through Street Photography

Photographing people in the streets is exhilarating, entertaining,exhausting, and educational. These lessons I mention are simple lessons that I often take for granted. Shooting with the street photography genre in mind is something that I enjoy doing and have been practicing for a few years now. So I’ll throw out this disclaimer: I am a student of photography with aspirations to be a journalist. I don’t get paid for any of this and I just want to share my experiences of shooting in the streets with other photographers in hopes of providing some insight as to what works and doesn’t work for me personally.

I don’t want to come off as a know-it-all street photographer trying to push whatever it is that I think defines street photography on you. The number one rule that I always fall back on in photography is: There are no rules. Photograph what you love…

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5 Life Lessons I’ve learned through Street Photography

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phone chained to the wrist
see the singularity
begin to take shape

It doesn’t necessarily bother me that Google’s adoption of the moniker Android for its devices and wearable tech is one of the most blatant signs of the singularity that Ray Kurzweil has predicted. It’s the fact that most of us embrace it so easily that scares me.

This little phone charm is more of a fashion statement than a sign of humanness and technology intermingling, but it is a clunky foreshadowing of what is to come and what is already happening. The interweaving of technology in everything we do.

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Denver Street Photography

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something romantic
monochromatic moments
sweet melancholy

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Denver Street Photography

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A couple of young guys were smoking cigarettes as we disembarked from the F-Line at Arapahoe Station. I hesitated before getting on the elevator with him, but decided I would rather enhale the second hand smoke then take the stairs right then. My legs and hips are usually pretty sore by the end of a day of walking.

I turned my back on him and took some shots of the I-25 highway through the elevators transparent walls. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed he was frantically trying to unstrap his backpack from his chest. When he finally got everything unlatched he motioned to me. I cocked my headphones up off my ear and he says:

“Take my picture, I got a new shirt. Colorado!”

I fired off a few frames and thanked him. It’s a rare occasion that someone asks you to take their picture on the street. I’m perplexed by the expression on his face, I’m not sure what he is feeling at this moment.

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A Strange Encounter

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Being a Flanuer at Denver Pride Fest

The popular term these days is “Street Photographer”, but really I consider myself more of a flâneur. It isn’t as popular of a term, nor does it garner as much attention as the term Street Photographer. The term seems to create some confusion as to what it is that constitutes Street Photography.  Is it photos of actual streets? Do the images have to  be black & white or color? Should we only take super close shots, or stay further away?  Should we use film or go digital? There are many opinions and ideas about what makes an image fall into the category of Street Photography.

I like what Susan Sontag writes in her book On Photography:

“The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world “picturesque.” —Susan Sontag, On Photography, pg. 55

This quote accurately describes how I pass the time most days. I walk for hours and hours, hang around on public transit lines, and go the long way on purpose. I try to get lost in the city, to get sucked into the center of it all, alone in a crowd. That is why photographing in the streets appeals to me. I’m color blind, cross-eyed, painfully awkward and shy, but not when I’m holding a camera. When I have my camera, which is always, I make about a thousand times more eye contact then I would if I didn’t have it. It makes me super aware of my surroundings, almost to the point that it makes me a little paranoid, like everyone is watching me.

The camera is my best friend. I like to wander the streets and breathe in life, observing everyone and everything. So I guess that makes me a flâneur, and I like that term, so I’m just going to own it. As for what Street Photography is I have always considered that to be in the eye of the beholder. Street Photography is the result of passionate photographers carrying on a tradition of photographing candid images of people in the streets, if the frame doesn’t include a human being it falls into the category of Urban Landscape. That’s just my opinion, and if you have been a photographer for very long you know that fellow photographers can be super critical, to the point of being cruel. Photographers like that might be more strict on what they consider falls into the genre. I’m not like that.

I hate labels for photography almost as much as I hate how we always seem to have to come up with a snazzy name for every subtle difference in music. Electronic music has something like 12 different sub-genres. It’s confusing, I could never tell someone if I was listening to breakbeat, dubstep, garage, Hi-NRG, Eurodance,Techno, or trance. I’m just like hey check out this cool song with this awesome beat. Music is music, and photography is photography. Why get hung up in all the ridiculousness. Always remember the K.I.S.S. method: Keep it simple, stupid.

I think that photography in general should be open source and we should all try and educate those who aren’t yet privy to the wonders of the craft. Photography trolls who rail on and on about how everything is so cliche and spend most of their time bitching about how much they hate everyone’s photography so much should just shut their mouths and take some more pictures. Show the world what good photography is by showing us a good photograph, not by pointing out how everyone else’s work sucks so much.

Somewhere along the line, I got lost in this post. I will end it like this: If you are kind of a loner and maybe a little bit quirky in the eyes of others, grab a camera, any camera, go walk around your neighborhood and just observe the world. You can learn a lot that way, and it’s a great excuse to get up off the couch and experience life.

 

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Being a Flanuer at Denver Pride Fest

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Barefoot in Public

Barefoot in public
socially acceptable?
does it bother you?

Is there really anything wrong with going barefoot in public? Personally, I would not go barefoot anywhere, and my knee-jerk reaction upon encountering this scene was a feeling of disgust. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if that feeling of disgust was really justified. Is it rude to sprawl out on the light rail like this and kick up your feet? Yes, but is there really anything wrong with making the personal choice to not wear shoes? Who am I to say what this man does with his feet? One thing is for certain, he can live free of the guilt of wearing overpriced footwear that may or may not have not been made under slave labor conditions in some far-away country. While I respect his freedom of choice regarding his footwear, I think I’ll pack some Lysol the next time I hit the rails.

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Barefoot in Public

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Where the Sidewalk Ends

Santa Monica
the end of route 66
if you’re going west

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Where the Sidewalk Ends

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