Street Photography

Being scared of street photography - What to do?

Street photography. It’s scary. Let’s all be honest. Sticking a camera in stranger’s faces is scary. This post isn’t going to tell you how it won't be scary because I at least still find it scary, and probably always will, yet these might stop you from having the feeling that you are going to get punched.

 

Shot from the hip

Shoot from the hip/chest

When doing this, yes; especially from the chest people still notice the camera, but normally they aren’t gonna shout at you; cause as such there isn’t any evidence that you were photographing them.
You miss shots, obviously yet one does learn. One gets a feel for when to press the shutter and how to aim.
Yet, be aware you’ll always miss shots doing this. I do too.

Stand Still

If you stand still, when you see an interesting person heading your way you can point the camera down the street until he/she walks through the lens.
Thereby he/she won’t automatically feel captured.

 

Small Camera, Small lense.

I used to shoot with my Nikon D4s with a 24-70mm. Now while I am typing it, it sounds so dumb. But, I didn’t know better, nor did I own any other camera.
It is crucial to limit yourself to a small body and lens, it is nowhere near as conspicuous making yourself more invisible.


The small lens is to limit yourself. To force you to get up close and personal, and not stand from a distance; sometimes shooting at 24mm and sometimes at 70mm if they are too far away. Get up to them, and take the shot.
Now I use my Leica X (Typ 113) with the 35mm.

 

Times Square, 2016

Brandenburg Gate, London Eye, Times Square

Start here. Start in your city, in the location with the largest number of people and cameras. Normally these are tourist landmarks. Here, you’ll blend in, being just another tourist with a handheld camera. People won’t feel offended, nor will they probably notice the fact that it’s them your photographing. It gives you ample amount of time to practice and train your eye.

 

Walk, just walk

Just walk, keep walking through your streets. Whether that be the 1km2 where you live, or whether it be the tourist location closest to you. Just walk, and do this as often as possible. I attempt to walk through the streets, busy ones, at least twice a week. Not to have a stroll, but to take street photography. It really challenges you, because it isn’t an inspirational place (as you know it); one has the pressure to go out and capture.

My Camera: The Leica X (Typ 113)

The Leica X (Typ 113) is a new camera which got marketed as a point and shoot. Thereby it got ragingly bad reviews, because it truly isn’t a point and shoot. It’s a Leica. Yes, it has AF, and auto settings for both aperture and shutter speed, however, it isn’t great when using these. After all, it doesn’t have to be; it’s a Leica. The great image depth doesn’t only exist with the Leica M; the Leica X has it. It also feels just as beautiful and humbling as an M, but it doesn’t cost 6995€ it costs a mere (it’s all relative) 1850€.

Am I saying that it’s the same quality as a Leica M? No, obviously not. I wouldn’t dare to, but it still truly does have astounding image quality. The only large criticism, the only one which does sometimes get annoying is the ISO; above 800 it really can’t be used without large negatives.

The general stats are as followed:

·       16.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor

·       Leica Summilux 23mm f/1.7 (35mm Equivalent)

·       3.0” 920k-Dot TFT LCD, Manual Focus Ring

·       Full HD Video at 30 fps, ISO 12500

·       Up to 5 fps Shooting, DNG File Recording

·       Magnesium & Aluminium Body with Leather Trim

·       Handmade in Germany

16.2MP isn’t incredible but many cameras have this amount, without any large losses. It is plenty large enough for any standardized print. Yet the nice numbers and statistics aren’t what a Leica is about. Leicas are handmade pieces of art, created to take the rawest of photography. The rawest form of photography doesn’t however include AF or any other technological features. It’s about the basics, and the basics are where this camera excels. It isn’t a camera with many gadgets, nor any fancy features however the photo as such it does with a brilliance that I haven’t seen in any other cameras that I have used.

There is however one feature which I continuously use, just because of its jaw dropping beauty. Film Mode: Black and White High Contrast. When this mode is selected, the camera saves a JPG and a DNG file, the DNG is in the standard color setting, while the JPG is in the high contrast black and white. Not only does this setting change the JPG but also the screen, i.e when looking for the shot you see the world in B/W rather than the standardised colour.

When using my Nikon D4s, I never managed to blend in, nor did I manage to not draw attention to myself. This is truly the area that every Leica excels in. At first glance it’s a small unprofessional looking camera, with a small body. Yet the power it holds within is what truly makes it incredible. For street and documentary photography even the Leica X is something so small yet so powerful.

The only thing which hinders me, in my pursuit of unedited and non-staged photography is the missing viewfinder. This is however an add-on which can be purchased, however for a staggering Leicaesque price of 425€ yet I am of the opinion that I will be buying it as soon as possible to make this camera as great as I had ever wanted.

 

This camera isn’t a Leica M, nor does it pretend to be. No, it doesn’t have every gadget under the sun like my Nikon D4s, but it is this Leica X camera which gives me the opportunity to try and hopefully achieve my goals. I love this camera and I am ever so proud of it.

48 Hours on New York City's Streets

My best friend is Veronica Davies (#shoutout @veronicahope03). She lives in Boston and as a Christmas tradition I visit her over the festive season. She mentioned that she had a surprise in store for me, however I wasn’t quite aware of to what extent of a surprise this would actually be. New York City. 48 hours in New York City. The city that I had always dreamed of as a boy, the place where I always wanted to live. I got to go.

Driving into the city I was directly amazed by the height and size of everything. I have spent my entire life in Europe. In Europe we don’t get ridiculously sized 100 storey buildings. Whereas in NYC one is surrounded by them, 100 storey buildings, 100 feet billboards, 100 million LEDs which light the city up like daylight and 100 inspirations shooting through my head.

It was street photography cocaine to me. Well I presume something like that, maybe more like Speed or MDMA (I’m not quite sure). I starting genuinely running around Times Square, chasing after interesting personalities, getting every possible chance to capture them. Poor Veronica was chasing after me, like I was chasing after them.

We spent a total of 4 hours at Times Square, going on lap after lap of one of the biggest tourist attractions worldwide. It had lost it’s initial impact, the exhilaration and amazement which I felt the first time when staring up at continuous walls of billboard. Yet, I couldn’t stop, people were taking selfies, smiling, laughing, shouting, getting annoyed in this hotspot of emotion, bewonderment and cultural clash; and I wanted to be there as long as possible to capture every moment of it.

IMG_3020.JPG

 

Once I had come back down from street photography heaven we headed to our Airbnb. Located centrally in Chinatown, it boasted my exact aesthetic liking with minimalist black and white interior; a tree and small details. The location was great, truly interesting with 2 Starbucks within 1 mile fuelling my caffeine addiction beautifully.

 

 

Park Av by Columbus Circle, an elderly woman; clearly wealthy in a wheelchair was being pushed by another woman. They start heading to a food truck, and I see the owner’s eyes sparkle as he comes running out of the truck. They hug each other, smile and the woman frantically gets bombarded with questions. “When were you released? Are you OK? Why were you in there?” The elderly woman simply said, “You’ll still have me around for a while, don’t you worry.”

It was a scene of true, genuine affection for one another. A relationship probably built over years; surpassing prejudice, wealth or status and reduced to genuine liking of each other.

I am writing this at 23:30 sitting in the bus, driving back to Boston, editing photos, writing up a blog post in which I attempt to explain and understand my thoughts about this place; while simultaneously brainstorming places to intern or assist at to get my very own shot at New York City.