Becoming a street photographer

When people ask me what kind of photography I like, I say everything. I love light, and I love the way it falls on things. Most of all, I love how cameras capture it, which more often than not, is different from how we do.

So, I love all forms of photography. But if I look back ten or so years ago, my images of London was a ghost town, with no one in them. I’ve always been a shy street shooter and never wanted to impose or upset anyone. But with time I feel more that people are part and parcel of the environments I’m shooting. That, for my expression of place to be true, I need to capture all its attributes and the balance of all those things; including the people.

The hollow streets and empty bridges of my shots started to look empty. Like food without seasoning. It all began to feel samey, and flavorless. I guess looking back now, without civilians, a city would be. Landscapes are landscapes, but its the people that make a city.

I found myself framing shots but not clicking. Waiting. What was the point? What was it of? So I started waiting till someone walked into the frame (an easy thing to do whatever the rangefinders say). And then it clicked.I would find my pictures, and then wait. I wouldn’t be imposing if someone walked into them.

And waiting isn’t such a ball-ache. People come along, and it’s surprising how lucky I’ve been in terms of the people who have.

Vogue'ing - looking like the poster

Vogue’ing

This photo was taken in Burlington Mews. A rather fancy, expensive shopping mall between Regent street and Piccadilly. I saw the poster and would put money on someone fancy and “Vogue’ish” coming along. So when I saw the attendant coming along I couldn’t believe my luck.

Man stepping in front of someone taking a photo

Oh look a pink shirt!

In the pink shirt shot, I had seen an opportunity of capturing the woman photographing the Indian street performers, but then I noticed a man was about to walk right in front of her; which I thought to be “interestingly rude”. Again I was quite lucky. But as they say, luck favours the prepared; and there I was with my camera.

Im reminded of the photo of the “Sidelong glance” by the amazing Robert Doisneu. He found a location, and opportunity, and waited. And he didn’t just take the one photo. The shot of the distracted couple was accompanied by a host of other captures; The policeman, the old lady and so on. Just do a google image search for “Robert Doisneau sidelong glance“. This is of course heartily encouraging, that when the opportunity is right, it will keep on giving.

I no longer feel I am imposing on people’s private lives. We are on the street after-all. I’m not shooting the kind of photography that is “that” particular person in any personal or exploitative way… I’m not capturing the person, just the people and that makes me feel a little more comfortable.

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