Start of a journey

This will be a blog about my struggle to become a street photographer, for better or for worse.

Time and time again I’ve wanted to do street photography, made some half-hearted attempts at it in the last 30-odd years only to end up frustrated because it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. And now is the time to really make it work, or to totally fail. Klaus Hermann made a blogpost on How to become an outstanding photographer and that inspired me to go for it. Especially his point that achievement has little to do with talent: I always considered myself endowed with little talent when it comes to photographic vision. But there always was the desire to do some kind of street photography. Ultimately, what makes me tick is the desire to capture scenes that make me smile, or touch me, induce any kind of emotion really.

Enough of this self-reflection, starts to get boring and pretentious, isn’t it? First thing I have to learn is to just have the guts to point a camera at people. So let’s do it.

I actually passed along this guy and didn’t dare to take a picture. That’s not the way to make this work! So I went back. And took the picture. The guy was completely unaware of my presence. Mind you, I already took the time in the last few weeks to find the camera settings that allow me to act quickly, so this was just bringing the camera to my eye, frame and snap.

Does the picture work? Kind of, I think. You can’t really connect to the guy as he is totally absorbed with his phone. The trigger for this picture? Working is fine, but don’t we all need a break every now and then?

I’ve been on this a few weeks now and the way you behave and handle your camera has a big impact on how people react to you. I’m sure it also has a lot to do with how you come across as a person, which doesn’t work in my favor. I’m quite introvert and don’t come across as an open and friendly guy. Trying to sneakily take pictures? Wow, not good, people really take offense. Stand still and wait for something to happen? I get noticed and people apparently start to wonder what’s going on there. Doesn’t work. Up to now I had the most success with just walking around and taking a picture as soon as I saw something. Act quickly and people may notice you after you made the shot and walked on; almost always, they didn’t seem to care.

Not a really good shot. It’s clear what’s going on (I think) but there’s not a real visible connection between the girl and the guy at the right. Also, I wasn’t close enough so I had to crop this a lot; I didn’t really consider the composition.

A few minutes later I passed them again and she asked if I’d like a drink. I declined but said I wanted to take a picture. “Yeah”, she said, “Saw you doing that already”. And then they posed for me, which turned out better.

Some lessons learned today: get closer and anticipate on composition because you don’t have the time while framing and shooting. Also experimented with different autofocus settings, all with good results actually.

And there you have it, my first post of hopefully a long series with ever improving photography. Shouldn’t be too hard with the results so far now, should it?

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