I am a big supporter of the “get to know your gear” opinion. I strongly believe that the more you use something, the better you learn to take full advantage of the strengths of that particular piece of equipment, and the better you learn to manage its shortcomings without even thinking about it. To a point where they just disappear, in fact, and make the statement that gear does not matter as truthful as it is. Gear does not matter (to an extent), but knowing it and liking it does. This, I think, it the crucial link between equipment and photography itself.
I believe it was Cartier-Bresson who said that your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. For many hobbyist photographers, myself included, it may be much more than that, as improving our craft means constantly shooting, experimenting, reassessing, and continually culling our very best from our best.
See more photos from the series here.
Many photographers will subscribe to online challenges of capturing a particular subject each week or month, and yet they largely fall into a trap of capturing a subject simply because it is there and then uploading it to the benefit of the site that set the challenge. Rather than improve their own skills, they have merely added to the inventory of someone else’s site. It has been said that a good photographer captures, while a great photographer reveals. However, it is only a few that truly reveal something original or creative.
Big thanks to our readers in London that came to participate in our London Photo Walk on Wednesday, May 14. Although many could not make it due to work, conflicts and the fact that we did it during the week, we had 24 people join us for the photo walk! It was an amazing experience for me personally to get a chance to meet our readers and photograph the beautiful and the historic city of London. Although I ended up only taking a single picture at the end of the day (yes, the group did get a good laugh at that!), I absolutely loved getting to know each and every person from the group. Here is a group photo of us right before we started the photo walk:
Big thanks to everyone who expressed interest in meeting up for a photo walk in London. After going through all the requests and emails, the best day seems to be next Wednesday, May 14 2014. We will be meeting right next to Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square (click for Google Street View), facing south towards the street at 6 PM. Please arrive promptly. Bring your fully charged camera and a tripod. The plan is to walk around some prime spots, do some street / architecture photography and spend some great time together! If you need some help with critique / portfolio review, I would suggest to upload your photos to your phone or a tablet and we will go through it all during dinner. After dinner, we can do some night photography, which is why bringing a tripod would be a good idea!
If you have any suggestions for the Photo Walk, please post them below. Looking forward to meeting you guys soon!
Being at the right place at the right time is usually associated with happiness and success. But what happens when we are at the right place at the wrong time? Do we even know that this is the right place? And what if it turns out that it is the wrong place after all? But the right time!
Whoever loses his orientation over this thought will get a feeling for Robert Rutöd’s latest pictures. The Vienna-born photographer wandered for five years through Europe and has proven to be a keen observer with an often tragicomic view: The blind man who finds orientation by putting his stick in a tram track, the helpless swan that finds itself frozen to the vast stretch of ice, or the amputee operator of a shooting range set up in a ruined building. It gets macabre with the portraits of the Pope, Hitler and Mussolini decorating the labels of wine bottles.
Even just a few hours ago, I was once again asked by a reader what lenses do I use most for my wedding photography. The answer is and always has been the same for my wedding, family or general photography needs – a classic fifty. I am sure hardly anyone will find this at all surprising, because fast 50mm fixed focal length lenses have become a legend of sorts. Ask any photographer and he will tell you – that is one of the two most versatile fixed focal length lenses you can buy (the other being a 35mm lens). It is time we back up that claim with actual photographs, and plenty of them. Is there a single reason for it being so versatile? No. Rather, it is a combination of various characteristics and generally pleasing manner of “drawing” the photograph that, even today with all the amazing zoom lenses, makes it such a sought-after lens.
Naturally, the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G is not the only lens I own and use, but I really do feel this particular focal length deserves a separate article just to show how truly special it is. I adore it. More than that, my warm feelings towards such a lens are not dictated by raw technical characteristics, rather how much it resonates with the way I previsualize my work. And that is why, instead of boring you to death with technicalities, I will gladly let photographs do most of the talking for a change.
In my opinion, street photography is a significant craft, geared towards preserving human history and history of any given society. It helps us preserve once-in-a-lifetime moments and capture truly authentic imagery. As many of us start getting weary and tired by the polished, glossy magazine looks we encounter daily, random portraits photographed in streets preserve that originality a lot of us crave, once again reminding us of real subjects and objects around us. Street portraiture is a big chunk of street photography and documentary. Today, I want to concentrate on giving you some tips on street portraiture. I should also warn you that the pointers I give today may work better for female photographers, rather than for boys with cameras :)
1) Brush up on your people skills
Photographing people close-up is a little different than photographing street architecture or doing documentary style street photography. While the main reasoning behind street photography itself is to get away from posed, artificial and repetitive, photographing random people provides a great opportunity to work with the raw beauty. But it is a challenging task for many of us – those people on the streets are not your paying clients, they do not know who you are and most of them do not wish to be photographed at all!
It is a very natural urge for photographers to document the swirling life around them. We often find ourselves drawn into, as observers, a number of situations and noticing interesting details about other people on the streets. Photographically capturing these moments is a very different thing, however. While landscape photographers will usually find themselves alone and sports photographers are expected to point huge lenses at people, it is a much more self-conscious process to photograph random people in public places. I am sure many of us have regretted leaving our cameras in the bag in the face of interesting everyday situations. In this article, I will provide several street photography tips for beginners. Hopefully, it will help you start using your gear more freely without fear of being confronted by your subjects.
1) What is Street Photography?
In essence, street photography is a type of candid photography done in a public place, be it a street, a restaurant or even public transport. It is similar in approach to photojournalism and mostly involves people (and/or animals) in a populated environment (which provides the context of a story told), such as a city. However, street photographers often focus on everyday lives of strangers rather than some kind of important event photojournalists are more interested in. Usually, street photographers try as much as possible to stay unnoticed when photographing. The goal of street photography is to capture scenes unaffected by the author of the work so as to show a natural story and subject. Story and subject are possibly the most important aspects of a good street shot. Henri Cartier-Bresson, arguably the best street photographer of all times, “the father of photojournalism”, had once said: “Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.”
It doesn’t happen often, this. Water was everywhere, dripping, flowing, consuming anyone who dared take even the smallest step under that pitch-black sky. Not many did, too. Stores were crowded not with mothers holding their vegetables and sweets for unsuspecting children. Not with children and their ice cream, chips or, sadly, energy drinks. No, they were crowded with those who weren’t ready for the rain. And you should always be ready for rain in Lithuania in Autumn. I guess we’re not as pessimistic a nation as we think we are.
And then, surprisingly, there was silence. For a moment, the rain stopped, and with it everyone else did. A brief moment that was. Now, mothers were running, children were running, and everything came back to chaotic life. It was more peaceful with the rain.
It doesn’t happen often, this. Clouds split and, before they could cover all the blue again, sun shone through. It was both dark and immensely bright all at the same time. I could barely see where I was going, could barely hear people rushing by urgently, hands covering their eyes. Everyone was rushing, no one saw where. Natural order of things, I thought, and looked for a camera I didn’t have with me. Or didn’t I?
At one point or another, we all stall. Whether it is because we are drowned by our daily routine or because we simply lose interest in doing what we love. We stall and it’s not quite that simple to get back on track. On the contrary, we dig ourselves deeper. We sit cozily in front of our computers, read about gear and people we admire. Why do we admire them? It’s because they keep on doing while we stall, while we stay put and touch nothing unless absolutely necessary. It’s because they do everything we don’t.
So how about you stop doing nothing? It’s time to start admiring yourself, because you can be just as creative and successful as anyone else!
1) Go (to) Places
Matthew Jordan Smith, one of the best known Beauty, Fashion and Celebrity photographers in the USA, once said you should never, ever stop yourself from going somewhere. It doesn’t really matter if it’s an exhibition you don’t want to visit, or a free concert that you would rather avoid even if the band paid you to come. The reason is simple – we get ideas by experiencing. As long as you keep an open mind, you never know just what can throw some crazy, amazing idea at you – it could be the hairstyle of the lead singer, or a piece of art you don’t understand in the exhibition. Maybe, on your way out, you will bump into a ballet dancer and hurt her ankle, which will obviously make her very angry, as she had a rehearsal planned in an hour, which will push you into photographing angry performers. Or flying dogs. Maybe she will swear at you so violently, you will make a series of photographs about two-faced people. You never know just what will make that awesome idea pop up in your head. It could be something completely irrelevant, but if you’re not out there, one thing is sure – nothing will happen.