Jump to content

Recommended Posts

The photography forum "Dear Susan" recently published a short article I wrote for them about street photography and street portraiture in South East Asia.  It contains a number of my photographs from a few years ago taken with my X100 and X Pro-1, as well as with other cameras.

"Dear Susan", named after Susan Sontag, is a forum which focuses on travel photography and art, and tends to write more about photography than equipment, although they do also write particularly about lenses, often Zeiss.  It is manufacturer agnostic, although several of the forum's contributors use Fuji or Sony equipment.

If you haven't read their forum previously, it may be worth a few minutes of your time to take a look and read a few of their articles.  They are often informative, and occasionally provocative, but always interesting, and there is often great comments and discourse on some topics ("The Adobe Tithe" being a recent example).

Travel Portraits in Asia

 

 

V Fuji X-Pro 1 + X35mm f1.4 1-52s f4 ISO400.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, your observations and comments about how you go about your work were informative and encouraging. You answered some of my questions about using facial recognition and the protocols of photographing people: Do I ask first, or not? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Often, when I look at street photographs these have often been so heavily post processed so they jump to the eyes. Your photographs on the other hand was soft and very inviting. Very good, nice!
About the question. . . shoot first,  ask then :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Dismason said:

Often, when I look at street photographs these have often been so heavily post processed so they jump to the eyes. Your photographs on the other hand was soft and very inviting. Very good, nice!
About the question. . . shoot first,  ask then :-)

To get the engagement with the subject, and get them looking into the lens, and therefore making eye contact with the viewer of the photo, it is almost essential to ask first.  My interest is not so much taking "random snaps" of people, but capturing something about them that drew my eye and interested me when I saw them.. The pictures have become about the private moment the subjects choose to share with me, which I think gives them a quite different atmosphere to the "whizz bang" drive by shooting of much modern street photography,  Just my opinion - other people will have theirs.  Thank you for your kind comments anyway, I appreciate it - I always try to make post processing look natural and atmospheric rather than excessive and distracting. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, robthebruce said:

Thanks, your observations and comments about how you go about your work were informative and encouraging. You answered some of my questions about using facial recognition and the protocols of photographing people: Do I ask first, or not? 

Thank you - I'm glad that you found my article useful and informative.  I should note that what works for me may not be what works for you.  I feel you have to bring your own approach and style to the process otherwise there is a danger of doing something that isn't comfortable for you, which I think will be reflected in your demeanour and how you interact with people.  There is also the issue of finding your own style and voice - a process that I still feel I am going through.  However, I feel it is important to reflect on and understand why you like taking the photos that you do, as those insights may give you the opportunity to grow, adapt and develop.  Knowing what you like to photograph, and understanding why and being honest with yourself about your motivations should encourage a process of personal growth and development.  I also think any photograph needs a "photographic process", an approach you can use as a template and adapt as required to achieve a good quality result.  For example, when taking physique sports portraits, I have learnt lighting set-ups and techniques that broadly achieve what I want, but I have to adapt them for every photo based on the situation and conditions.  Taking a portrait on the street is no different - you need a broach approach to solve the "problem", both technical and artistic, so that you are able to identify and understand what may work (or not work), and have tactics and techniques to resolve the different issues that come up within the broad "pattern" of what you are doing.  Taking things that don't work and understanding why is important for me, as both good and bad results help me to keep evolving what I am trying to do.  With my cameras, face detection works quite well even in low light as long as there is some contrast on the face, as it avoids the need to keep moving the AF point around the frame, which takes time.  I don't like focus and re-compose for large aperture work for the reasons I discussed in the article.  Face detection doesn't always work, so the other approach is to pre-visualise where you may want their face in the frame, and move the AF point to that broad location before I even ask if I can take a picture of bring the camera to my eye for candids.  That way. it speeds up the picture taking process whether face detection works or not.  I must confess that sometimes I put the AF point in a location that isn't ideal before the shot, and then end up with framing that I don't particularly like because I prioritise taking the picture quickly over a protracted delay as I fiddle with the camera and the subject becomes nervous or bored.  Fortunately, if the framing isn't ideal, it can often be saved by cropping post capture.  With my camera, as long as one exposure parameter is under the control of the camera (e.g. Auto ISO), the camera will bias the exposure for the face.  If this isn't what I like, exposure compensation will over-ride the program exposure for faces, or post processing will resolve issues as the sensor I use for many of the pictures has enormous exposure latitude.  The last time I used a Fuji camera with face detection (X-M1), I don't believe it adjusted exposure for faces, it just focused, but that may have changed so do check how your specific camera works.  I really hope this hasn't sounded like a sermon, but I'm trying to offer you practical personal advice and experience (which in fairness would have been good in the article).  The most important thing is to know what you want to photograph (and why), and then find the right approach and equipment that allows you to do that.  For me, low light performance and focusing were very important, so I chose a camera that excelled at that (but not other things).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting article with enjoyable pictures. I don't think I could be as forward as you to ask to take someone's picture. I did recently of a Rastafarian guy but I've never met a Rasta I didn't get on with. I mostly find myself shooting with either 14mm (blind from the hip) or with 90mm at a distance. The first method includes the environment and enables me to shoot candidly (but not sneakily) without the subject reacting to the camera. The latter although more obvious, allows some space and separates the subject from its surroundings depending on aperture - sometimes it's important to show a hint of the location.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, veejaycee said:

An interesting article with enjoyable pictures. I don't think I could be as forward as you to ask to take someone's picture. I did recently of a Rastafarian guy but I've never met a Rasta I didn't get on with. I mostly find myself shooting with either 14mm (blind from the hip) or with 90mm at a distance. The first method includes the environment and enables me to shoot candidly (but not sneakily) without the subject reacting to the camera. The latter although more obvious, allows some space and separates the subject from its surroundings depending on aperture - sometimes it's important to show a hint of the location.

The pictures chosen for my article tried to demonstrate the development of my interest and style from candid street scenes to quite deliberate portraits.  "Street photography" comes with so much baggage as a term, and as I mentioned in my opening paragraph, many modern examples do nothing for me and feel like "random snapping" - the "drive by shooting" approach that seems to have become so popular with some, which seems to turn the process almost entirely in chance and happenstance.  I would consider some of my candid photos more as reportage or social documentary rather than the "street". 

I have come to find that the process of having the courage to ask as a generally enjoyable experience.  The worst that can happen is that someone refuses - if you ask politely, you are extremely unlikely to get a more robust or threatening response.  As I mentioned, I have the benefit of being an "outsider" and therefore some of the local social norms may not apply to me.  I also benefit from photographing in places where people and culture may be more accepting of having photographs taken.  I often find it a very positive experience as I may end up in conversation, be invited to sit and chat, or offered a drink with the subject.  As a result, it has become a strange but quite charming way of meeting new people. albeit only in passing - but somehow the transient nature of the encounter gives it greater significance.  In some cases, I have had long term contact with subjects, and am sometimes recognised by the people in the photos if I pass by months or years later, which again is quite charming and special.  As I tried to explain, I think the most important thing is the attitude you bring to the process, which I think is reflected in the response that you get.  I have met a large number of people who have become long term friends in south east Asia from chance encounters, so I never underestimate the value of any opportunity to meet people.  To a large extent, this is a reflection of the society and culture in which other people live, and my status as an outsider.

Of course, your approach will depend on the type of picture you want.  Asking someone disturbs a moment, but allows me to photograph something direct and more intimate.  Shooting candidly captures something more natural, but lacks the connection between the subject and the viewer.  I'm not suggesting my approach is "better", but it is what I have realised I want to explore because of the connection I make with the subject.  For you, or others, the right approach will be the one that creates the photograph and the narrative that you want.

I sincerely hope my discourse in this thread isn't seen as arrogant as I don't regard myself as an expert in this by any means, but the article provided an opportunity to talk about the development of my own interests and style, and as such I am more than happy to share the process of learning and growing as I have found it to be a positive experience that has benefited my photography.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recommended Discussions



×
×
  • Create New...