Street Photography Workshop Pt. 2

This week in class we critiqued each others homework. The homework assignment was to find one spot and photograph it for an hour, and bring 6-10 images from that shoot. Essentially working the scene. 

Here's what I shot: 

Nothing really special here, but it was certainly the most time I've ever spent in one specific spot to photograph. I literally stood there for an hour making images. Here's some of the general critique I received along with my classmates from the assignment: 

  • Watch for distractions 
  • Experiment with crops if needed (really wasn't feeling this, crop is still a bad word for me). 
  • Pay attention to cutting off body parts 
  • Move around, work the scene 
  • Photo story versus photo essay 
  • Try to give your photograph a sense of place 
  • Look for the moment of gesture 
  • Balance and counter balance 
  • Seek pattern and repetition

This was the first formal critique of my work that I've ever received, and I found it beneficial. Let's be honest the Instagram comment of "dope photo" <insert thumbs up emoji> doesn't really benefit one, if you're actually trying to improve. With that said, what I'm really enjoying about the class so far is the time we spend actually looking, studying and analyzing the work of great street photographers. Keeping an eye toward layering, and space, looking for gesture etc. I've already found myself elevating my comments on social media commenting about layering, composition and juxtaposition. Way better than "dope photo" <insert thumbs up emoji>. 

 In this class we also selected a street photographer to present at the end of month, I chose Jamel Shabbaz. I'm a big fan of his work with his mix of street photography and portraiture and this also blends my love of hip-hop and photography. Win. Win. Looking forward to learning more about Mr. Shabbaz and sharing it with my class. 

The remainder of class we studied work from some of the street photography masters throughout history: 

  •  Paul Martin
  • John Thompson
  • Eugene Atget
  • Paul Strand
  • Alex and Rebecca Webb
  • Bruce Davidson
  • William Eggleston
  • Stephen Shore
  • Ernst Hass
  • Fred Herzog
  • Jay Maisel 

We were reminded that we're looking at the very best work from these photographers, and not to be discouraged. Think of all of Garry Winogrand's contact sheets and the photos no one ever saw. 

One key point, I learned and will try to keep in mind way forward is, when street photography is done right, it's simple. 

Book recommendations: 

If you've read this far, thanks for keeping up with the ramble. These notes are more for me to reflect and digest on the previous class. For the next class, we'll me meeting at Pike Place Market (tourist trap) for some actual shooting. 

Until next time. Peace. 

Back to the streets?

I've been in a creative rut for a while. Yes, I've been shooting, and my camera comes with me every where I go. I'm currently working on a long term project around family, we'll see where that goes. But just when I thought I'd given up on street photography, the streets called me back. 

To help jump start my creativity and provide some structure to my photography this summer I decided to go back to school. Well, taking a street photography class to be exact. I enrolled in a seven week course at the Photographic Center Northwest. The course is titled "Street Photography History, Concept and Techniques" and is described as: 

This  introduction  and  survey-level  course  is  intended  to  provide  students  a  foundation  in  which  to  develop  their  appreciation  of  street  photography  and  their  experience  as  a  street  photographer.  This  is  not  intended  to  be  an  advanced  or  project-type  course.  We  will  examine  the  history,  influences  and  theory  of  street  photography  as  it  relates  to  the  broader  photographic  world.  The  course  will  consist  of  lecture  and  field  work  intended  to  help  students  focus  on  their  own  interests  and  experience  on  the  street.    Through lectures  and  demonstrations  students  will  be  exposed  to  a  variety  of  street  photographers,  styles  and  social/political  agendas  that  are  inherent  to  this  type  of  photography.    We  will  be  looking  for  concepts  that  are  consistent  across  photographers  as  well  as  aspects  that  set  each  individual  apart.
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My first day of class was earlier this week, the students seem engaged. We'll see, this could be fun. I'll be blogging about the class and sharing notes and thoughts here. 

Class Overview 

  • Field work 
  • Critique 
  • Create body of work  

Shooting on location 

  • 7/10 Waterfront / Market 
  • 7/24 Ballard (meet in front of Majestic Theatre)

Street photography is

  • social and political 
  • documentary in its approach 
  • about us as a collective culture and society 
  • longs for a desire to stay connected 
  • is the democratization of the work 
  • allows us to help better understand relationships 

 Significant versus Non-Significant 

  • Looking for a moment 
  • Street photography often compared to jazz 
  • Powers of observation 
  • Object 
  • Sense of time 
  • Often about place 
  • Moment of Gesture 

Sense of connection between actors, stage, gesture 

What Makes Street Photography Interesting 

  • Light 
  • Gesture 
  • Color tone 
  • Relationships of objects 
  • Lines, texture, space 
  • Feeling and emotion 
  • People (duh) 
  • Place (needs to be more than just a picture of a place, what’s the relationship?) 
  • Scout a location / select background: WAIT FOR SOME SHIT TO HAPPEN 

Photographers to research

  • Jay Maisel 
  • André Kertész 

Spend time with your photographs (good and bad)
Must practice and work on atunement 

Why am I interested in street photography? 

Handling confrontation 

  • Be nice 
  • How you respond is important 
  • “Photography is already predatory in nature” Susanne Sontage 
  • Learn to frame a little off center 


ASSIGNMENT #1

  • Find a single location on the street and don’t move from that spot for at least an hour and photograph. 
  • Bring 6-10 images of the new work for review from single location project 

Life rewards patience 

- Find location
- Build composition
- Make photo 

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Forty One

Today is my birthday. I'm 41.

Gosh, just typing that number is crazy. While I haven't reached official OG status, I'm enjoying this time in my life. I've got a beautiful family, we welcomed a son this year,  a gorgeous wife both inside and out that supports me no matter what. I've got no complaints. I won't use this post, to espouse any life lessons I've learned during my 41 years on this earth. I'm still trying to figure all this out.  

I will, however, take pen to paper and reflect on the photographic moments most important to me this year and what I'd like to do moving forward...creatively speaking. I've maintained this blog since 2012...that's like 20 years in dog years. It's time to change things up a little bit. The focus of this space has been street photography. I've enjoyed documenting random street scenes. But over the past year I can recall three instances that involved family and photography that impacted me deeply. 

While in Ann Arbor, Michigan last year, one of my dearest friends mother gave me a small purse filled with negatives. The purse had to be over 50 years old easy, and the negatives inside much older. She told me that the living family has never seen what's on those negatives, so I offered to take them home and scan them. Just being able to bring those images to life for this generation and next generation was truly special. 

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Just this past week I got a text message from my brother-in-law who's mother passed away in December of last year after battling cancer. Just a year prior he said his mother would like to get some photos of the family. Not realizing the gravity of the situation, as I didn't really know the diagnosis, I met them at a local park and took some family photos. My brother texted me saying "Almost every week I look at every picture you took this day. This my mom in the happiest days of her life..." she passed away a few days before her grandson was born. This was my brother in laws first Christmas without his mother, but he had those photographs to cling too. 

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In another instance, my brother met his nephew for the first time this October in NYC. I snapped a few photos of their meeting and framed one for his Christmas gift, his first photo of him and his nephew, his first photo as an uncle. He posted to Instagram, "I damn near cried opening this..."  

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Today on my 41st birthday, with my son on my lap my wife gave me my present. The label read "To: Daddy, From: Theo." It was a framed photo of me and my son, overcome with emotion I cried. This is the first printed photo of my son and I. 

I share all this because, you will start to see the images on this blog change a bit.  While one of my favorite things to do is to get out there and walk the streets, camera in hand making images, I don't love it like I used too. As I grow older, I feel a pull to turn the camera on my friends and family, focusing on the people close to me. My most fulfilling creative and photographic moments this year all involved people who I love dearly. That is something a street photograph will never duplicate. 

I lied, I will espouse a life lesson for all you photographers. PHOTOGRAPH and PRINT what you love.  

I know I will.