Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chalk Art - Street Photography

Street Photography is both challenging and interesting.  I'm not talking about the type of street photography where one is hidden behind a tree and sneaks candids with a telephoto lens.  And, I'm not saying that one can't get some interesting photos and capture great moments when the subjects are unaware that they are being photographed.  But I'm talking about a different kind of street photography that can be very intimidating and uncomfortable for the photographer, especially a beginning photographer.  It can also be intimidating for the subject who has just had a stranger walk up to her/him and wants to start taking photos.  There is a skill involved in not only convincing a stranger that you are not a stalker, but within only a few minutes making that person feel comfortable enough to allow you to photograph them.  Not only that, but to come away with an interesting, natural pose and expression to boot!

I remember my first experience with this kind of street photography was during a fabulous experience my sister-in-law and I had of attending a week long photography workshop taught by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore some years ago.  One of our assignments I called "Stranger at 20 feet".  He set the group loose in old town Santa Fe, New Mexico with the assignment to engage in conversations with strangers, obtain their permission to photograph them, and then come back and show our best shots to the group.  We only had one evening to work up our courage, figure out an approach, not forget how to use our camera in our nervousness, and return with something worth showing the group for critique.  This was one of the hardest things I had to do at that workshop, but also one of the assignments where I grew the most in my confidence and abilities.  (I'll post my 'keepers' from that assignment in a day or two.)  I still have a few butterflies walking up to total strangers with a camera, but I can tell you that some of my favorite 'people' pictures over the past years are ones of interesting strangers I've met during my travels.

All of the artists and other interesting people at this show knew I was taking their photo. Even the ones who are not looking at the camera or appear to be candid, I previously spoke with them for a few minutes, asked permission, then told them to go back to what they were doing.












10 comments:

Sandra said...

the chalk art is amazing, such a shame it is on a side walk to be worn off, they are truly talented. my favorite of your stranger photos is the 3 men and the dog.. wow.. they look like they have no clue you were there. i have only had the courage once to ask someone for permission, a man with a little boy at Jungle gardens. i gave him a card and said send me your email and i will send you the pics, he did and I did. i have zero confidence, but that stems from my skills with the camera are not like yours.

S. Etole said...

Very enjoyable photos. They all look so natural.

diane b said...

That is a challenging type of street photography but a very rewarding one. Your shots are colourful and expressive. Well done. Thanks for the tips. Keep them coming.

Scott said...

These are wonderful, Karen. I started a "100 Strangers" project few years back and I think I got up to 10 or 12. I guess I still owe myself almost 90. You are so right about the jitters you get, but once you get into it you find most people are willing. Can't wait to see some more and hopefully they will do even more to inspire me on for the other 90. Thanks for sharing!

Robin Lamb said...

Karen, wonderful images! I was never one for taking people shots, but I find the street shooting to be fun and challenging!

Montanagirl said...

Hi Karen - Just love these images. The artwork and photos both, are fabulous! I really like the candid shot of the three men at the table. the guy on the left reminds me of Anthony Quinn!! lol.

Hilary said...

Beautiful, colourful shots, Karen. I love the portrait of the lady in lime green and magenta.. and the three men at the table best of all.

janc@mac.com said...

I love to see photos like these. Photographing people is challenging but you have captured their personalities in their pictures. Great job!

Kay Lynn Larsen said...

Hey Karen,
Did you take these in Santa Fe?? I don't remember chalk art pictures at all when we were there. I must have been several streets away taking pictures. I'm feeling bad I missed them now….they are way cool. I enjoyed looking at all your summer adventure pictures. The world is truly a beautiful place with so many things to see if we just open our eyes:)

Alex said...

Love the photo of the men chatting round a table with the dog included.
Kay Lynn Larsen ...your last comment is spot on
Alexa blogging from Sydney, Australia