Today I was trying to grab a few shots between giving friends a lift home, working and dinner. Such is the life of a middle aged hobbyist. I look back on my wasted youth with envy. Why didn’t I buy a Leica in my 20s when I could have afforded one (maybe). Why didn’t I take street up phototgraphy when I actually still visited some of the world’s vibrant cities. Not that I’d change anything in the present, I’m glad with where I’ve ended up.
Anyway, I was messing around with Lightroom Presets. I used one that Eric Kim gave away years ago – it mimics fuji velvia 400. Now, I’d normally never crank up the contrast or reduce some of the saturation like this, but I was delighted with the results. This is pretty much the image in my head when I took the photo; the raw file looked nothing like it.
Hats off to Eric Kim for the preset and for giving it away for free. I suppose this shows one of the challenges and opportunies with digital. The raw sensor data gives pretty flat images, so you can shape it in thousands of ways. But you are limited by your imagination and willingness to spend time experimenting. With analogue much more was decided at the start by your film choice.
In an earlier post I was ruminating about whether street photography could serve a greater purpose or cause.
I still don’t know the answer but Eric Kim recently shared an article about the powerful images of Sebastiao Salgado. I have greatly admired Salgado’s photographs for a while but I’d never heard much about the man himself.
The article includes Salgado’s advice to become educated so that you can better understand the contexts you are photographing. The author reveals how this has played out in Salgado’s own work.
Perhaps this helps to argue for more meaningful street photography?
You can read the article about Sebastiao Salgado here.
Or see Eric Kim Photography Facebook.
Today I was tired and grumpy shooting, which is a poor combination. I find it hard to be inspired when I’d be better catching up on sleep.
Despite being in Edinburgh during the Festival I found it hard to see good images. And then to top it off, someone moaned at me for taking their picture. It wasn’t an aggressive response or even anxiety about the camera, it was simply a “it would be nice to be asked”.
At this point I should have remembered Erik Kim’s advice to smile (harness-fear-become-confident-street-photographer/) and say thank you. Or in retrospect I could have explained that to ask for a posed shot would have changed the whole genre of the image and some street photography purist Flickr groups would reject it.
But instead I replied that I didn’t think I needed to ask permission, I was sorry for any offence and I’d happily delete the image; which I did. I explained why I was taking the shot, because I thought he and his colleague looked interesting. Perhaps he’d had a bad day too because he ended up saying it was fine.
I continued down the street and took some more shots. Like this one.
And then something weird but cool happened. I stopped to listen to a brilliant guitarist. There was a large crowd and eventually I turned to see that the guy next to me was someone I’d taken a picture of the day before 40 miles away in Perth. Considering Edinburgh swells to over a million people during the Festival, it seemed a pretty incredible coincidence.
I decided to introduce myself and found that there was a language barrier. But he was pretty amused when I showed him the shot on Flickr.
So all in all a good day!
Is it still street photography when it’s rural?
Apparently it’s difficult to define street photography and the internet is full of arguments about the genre (see Eric Kim here).
It strikes me that a wide definition of street photography encapsulates everything that involves people going about their lives. While a studio shot of a model may not be street, what about an image of a photographer taking a studio shot of a model?
So what’s the difference between documentary photography and street photography? And are photographers like Steve McCurry street photographers? I’m not sure.
But probably it’s more important to make photographs than to worry about the definitions. Again see Eric Kim here (I do read others things!).