Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Streets

I've always been intrigued by street photography. I mean...who isn't?
It's random, untethered, frantic, unpredictable. A beautiful new friend of mine, Kim sent me a video of a photographer named Mel DiGiacomo. His seminar was about Street photography and how HE in particular goes about doing it. He likes to get up and close with a short lens. In the thick of it.
He went over his photos and explained how each happened, the lighting, the gear, the randomness.
Some people asked about how to go about engaging people you don't know and THEN try to convince them to have their picture taken by you.
His only answer was that each individual has to develop their own style or personality. Their own method.

Being from New york and living in the area, you tend to get jaded by the filth and congestion of the city. I always thought it was pointless to take photos in the city, because nothing is beautiful. There's no nature. Nothing to marvel at in its natural beauty. Too much congestion. Cars, lights, people, ads, air pollution, dog shit, the homeless, drug pushers, junkies, and tall tall buildings.
The day after watching the video I went out to the city(where I work) with my camera hung high on my chest, at the ready. For the first time I focused the lens on people. Changing what I look at. The distance between people. How they are dressed. Facial expressions. The shape of their body. The shape of the situation. I started to become hyper aware of my surroundings. Just as if I was walking through a beautiful forest. In tune with the air. Framing and cropping the flora and skies at a slow steady pace.
But here, the situation is changing constantly. People everywhere with their own agendas, coming and going. In the forest, you can find calm within yourself, making connecting to your surroundings easier. In the city, not even the buildings are still, being torn down and rebuilt constantly. Everything is always changing, keeping you on your toes.
I felt excited. It felt a bit dangerous, pointing the camera at people I don't know. What if they catch me? How will I explain myself? What if they want it deleted? What if they come at me(bro)?
Well...I thought..I'll deal with that when the time comes. To be honest, it's so much fun that I don't even care. I know how to defend myself and I also know how to smile and make friends. I'm much better at making friends, though.

Mel DiGiacomo said that all street photographers are thieves.
He's right. You're taking and framing moments that some may not want recorded. Often without consent. For our own selfish needs to capture an interesting moment.

With this new eye I discovered what is beautiful in the city. The people. It has always been the people. It's all subjective. The man from Bulgaria will find beauty in the congestion and impossibly bright lights of Time Square, as the native New Yorker will avoid it like the plague. The New Yorker will see a deer upstate and marvel at its beauty as the man from Bulgaria sees a pest that terrorizes his vegetable garden.

I've less than a handful of somewhat successful shots, out of many many photos.
Yet, totally worth it. The digital age makes it oh so much easier to just fire away.
Preview, Delete, Preview, Delete. Fire away.

I've already learned alot from just going out and doing it.
I urge you to do the same, if you've ever wanted to do it but lacked the courage.
You'll find that the most interesting light comes from people.

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About Me

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In search of myself, I flew across the country from New Jersey to Los Angeles. The universe brought me to the gates of an Ashram on top of a mountain. The mother center of Self Realization Fellowship in Mount Washington, CA. One week later I am employed as a tree pruner and gardener at the mother center. The path to finding oneself is a peculiar one. This is a record of my spiritual observations through nature and life while employed as an Ashram Gardener.