Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The importance of being Earnest

Street Photography isn’t new. It’s as old as the redoubtable Henri Cartier Bresson or even Jacques Henri Lartigue. With Vivien Maier as a standout (who probably never made a cent from her passion) through to the current New Yorkers Joe Wigfall, Jamel Shabazz, Major Deegan. These guys have the magic of establishing relationship pretty fast, almost Yeow-like and Robin-esque. They engage pleasantly and comfortably with their human subjects, producing street portraits that are both impromptu and attractive. Quite the opposite style to in-your-face Bruce Gilden and the young exponent Eric Kim.

Sifu Yeow at work

The most approachable security guard I’ve met

Call me “Porkman”, he said.

How do you maintain a deadpan look of enquiry?

Shots of behinds don’t often work. I rather like this one

For human subjects, it’s particularly important to apply the golfer’s analogy instead of the tennis analogy – one has oneself to beat, not the competition. You’ve got to be comfortable in your skin and with your gear.

Endless debates cover:

  • the size of your camera
  • the size of your lens
  • the focal length to shoot at
  • the distance to shoot at
  • the risk of equipment loss through theft and mugging
  • whether you’re sucking the soul of the sitter through your lens can then selling it to the devil.

Only you can rationalise and emotivise your feelings. Only you can decide what style of human interaction works for you.

While you’re pondering that, take a look at David William’s work

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