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.