Street photography : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

My first extensive experience with street photography is when I began a project documenting downtown Los Angeles, particularly a street called Broadway. It was a street where I had spent a lot of time in my youth. I have a strong affinity to the area and so it was sort of a perfect subject for me to capture with my camera. I was terrified when I first started going out there to shoot, but I forced myself to. I went practically every weekend to shoot for 2-4 hours. I did that for eight months. I shot everything on Kodachrome 64 and 200. I had several bricks left over from another project I had worked on. But it ended up being the perfect choice for this area. The colors that exists in that area are as much a characteristic of the area as the people that walk up and down the street.

I shot primarily with a 35mm lens on an F4 camera and occassionaly an F3. I used autofocus for the most part but I am now presetting focus more and more. )That millisecond delay can mean all the difference between getting the shot and not.) I rarely approached people to take their photographs. Often times, I would see a moment of synchronicity before, and I would try to capture it with the camera. After a while, I was sometimes was able to sense when something was about to occur. I would just wait for it to happen and then snap the picture. Some days produced wonderful results. Others left me wanting to bury my camera in a six-foot deep hole.

I love Winnogrands work among many others. I would love to hear more about your experiences with him. I saw some television program on photography which focused on him. I saw how he could quickly bring the camera to his face and snap the picture. He was fast. When I saw that, I finally understood how he created so many of his photographs without the seeming awareness of his subject. I was interested to hear that he approached many of subjects and spoke with them as he was taking his photographs.

I am really curious about this. I am very shy myself and I am very curious as what his approach was when it came to this. I would love to hear the details as well as you and any other street shooter.

If you know of any websites dedicated to this type of photography please e-mail me. I love to see other's work. It is alwasy a great source of inspiration.


-- Anonymous, April 08, 1997


Street Photography

I know this is a bit late for your trip to NYC, but for anyone into street shooting, here are some of my favorite spots to hang out and photograph the crowds:

34th St. & 7th Ave. 34th St. & 6th Ave. (southwest corner) 5th Ave. near Rockefeller Center Nassau Street Mall (Lower manhattan) Broadway & 57th St. (southeast corner) 59th St. & Lexington Ave. 6th Ave. & 47th St. (Southeast corner).

I like these areas especially during lunch hours or rush hour, because they are jammed and full of action.

If you prefer simpler images, try side streets, not the corners. :-)


-- Anonymous, July 24, 1997

I haven't tried my hand at street photography but I really love some of the results that I have seen. I don't know of any websites dedicated to it but I wanted to give a plug to two under-acknowledged masters that photographed in New York in the 40's onwards (I think). They are the African-American photographer Roy De Carava and Helen Levitt. De Carava is probably best known for his portraits of jazz musicians but some of his work from his mainly black neighbourhood is incredible. Helen Levitt was influenced by the likes of Walker Evans (as everyone was) and her subjects were primarily children in the poorer sections of New York. Despite the obvious poverty the children behave just as children do everywhere and she has captured the magic. She has that special gift of predicting the 'decisive moment'. If anyone finds a site with their work I would appreciate knowing it.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 1997

street photography

Has one collected a number of good 'street' sites that they would like to share? Lots of journalism and documentary out here but not alot of street. Any ideas on where to look? Contact me or post it here. Thanks in advance. Michael.

-- Anonymous, April 10, 1997

street photography

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Roy DeCarava a couple of months of ago when he was visiting Los Angeles. It was nothing short of inspiring. He is a wonderful photographer and a very generous human being. He loves talking about photography, but most importantly about the human experience behind and in front of the camera. That is of course what makes a photograph more than a photograph. You have to invest a part of yourself, your soul in what you are doing otherwise the image is empty. It can correctly exposed, tightly cropped, beautifully printed, but it won't mean that it is a good photograph. I find that when it comes to my work on the street, it's either their or not. Helen Levitt-I love. Gary Winnogrant. Roy DeCarava. Leonard Freed. Their are many photographers that serve as an inspiration.

When I am walking down the street, I never know what specifically I am looking for. I am often waiting for that feeling in my gut that tells that something that happens before me is something to be photographed. Sometimes, I become aware that something is "about to happen" . . . that's wonderful. Other times it happens, I have a millisecond to react. Sometimes, it works and many times it doesn't. But when it works it makes the whole process worthwhile. But you have to be out there shooting.

It's a very difficult decision sometime whether to photograph or not. Sometimes, I let fear get in the way. I am afraid of a person's reaction. Sometimes I shoot and if the person is aware of me I smile and nod my head in appreciation. Depending on how comfortable I am feeling with myself, I will approach someone and talk to them, particularly if I want to do a portrait of them. But I have to be in a good place in regards to how I am feeling about myself. If I am insecure and doubtful about myself, most of my pictures don't work. When I am, I am in the zone and it is happening.

When you take a picture of someone, you are taking something from them. There are no two ways about it. So where you are with yourself can make all the difference. You have to think about what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you feel about it?

I guess that goes with anything in life.

When I am in the streets and everything is right on, I feel alive and in sync with the world around me. I am in a place that I often don't experience elsewhere. It's a rush but peaceful at the same time. It's like a runner hits a certain point where he has reached where he is just cruising.

I could talk for days on this. I better shut up. But please e-mail me directly if you want to talk some more.


-- Anonymous, April 11, 1997

street photography

Ibarionex wrote: "When you take a picture of someone, you are taking something from them. There are no two ways about it. So where you are with yourself can make all the difference. You have to think about what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you feel about it? "

I think that is one of the most concise ways of expressing the experience of doing street photography. You need to be comfortable with what you're doing; if you're not, the pictures will show it and the sense of unease will be projected unto the people being photographed.

On the other hand, if you're in the "zone" that you mention in your post, moments, vision and comfort levels tend to converge, and great images can result!

I've experienced both the discomfort and the "zone". The Zone is better. :-)


-- Anonymous, April 11, 1997

street photography -- Remembering the moment

"When you take a picture of someone, you are taking something from them. There are no two ways about it."

What, are you nuts?

Suppose: You have the gift to remember a scene in its precise entirety, and paint that scene onto canvas with a minimum detail of 200 lines per millimeter.

You walk around downtown, and observe from a several angles a homeless man sitting before a fountain in an isolated park. His features are classic French, his bearing noble despite his status. He is relaxed, at peace.

You go home, and paint 36 portraits of this man from various angles, depths of field, etc.

Did you take something or create something?

Now, imagine this: You photograph the man, one roll of film, 36 exposures, various angles and depth of field.

Did you take something or create something?

The film is developed by a one-hour lab. Or the film is developed by a professional lab. Or you develop the film at home.

Did you take something or create something?

You pick up the prints from the lab. Or you make your own prints.

Did you take something or create something?

You paint a picture. You release the shutter on a camera.

Did you take something or create something?

I say it was CREATION!! An image was created. Whether by brush stroke, by hammer and chisel, or by light upon chemicals, you brought something new into the world. Nothing is gone, something new has come.

The Pharohs would have thanked you for photographing them. For the ancient Egyptians, true death is the loss of people remembering you. That photograph preserves memory, and so it preserves people. It preserves places. And in this day of disposable people, it preserves us.

-- Anonymous, June 17, 1998

Street Photography

I'm planning a NYC Photo Field Trip next month. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to good photo oportunities.

I'll will post my itinerary and results when we compleate it.


.. Rich

-- Anonymous, April 21, 1997

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