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Street Color How do you set up? Ambush, Interrupt or Long Lens?

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
In a famous case that a sparked pious religious Chasid’s outrage, a camera was setup focussed and triggered by the subjects “arrival” at the ambush framing location.

Fahim tells me he often engages with the stranger and that gives him his travel pictures.

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So what do you do to take street pictures and any advice on technique you might share?



Thanks in advance!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Jerome,

But do you limit camera “obviousness”, with a modest size, no long lens and limited “aiming” movement?

Or they are self-absorbed, that whatever you do, (short of brandishing a gun), is irrelevant!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
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The “attentiveness” of the “third person” in the conversation makes this picture so successful!

Asher
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Out of my favourite 10 Black & White images from 2018, only with one did I engage the subject before taking the picture. Can you tell which one?


I use whatever is required to get my shots of people. Long lens, wide angle lens, close up, far away, interaction before I take the shot, interaction or thanks after I take the shot, and no interaction. My efforts though are not to make people uncomfortable, respect them if they ask me not to take a picture - and not show them in a compromising or unflattering manner.



One thing I will add, is that I have found I have to use different techniques with different people, communities, cultures. Example in Nicaragua, people on the street were very receptive to having their pictures taken and I got some great natural street pics there. Not so in other countries, where I have to resort more to sneaking the shot by my non-chalonce or longer lenses from a distance.

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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
The odd time that I do ask to take a pic, or am asked to take one when someone notices my camera —— the result is a very different image to what I am after (as can be seen in this shot which I took while walking the streets but would barely call a street photograph. The method works well when I approach an artisan or craftsman and ask them to carry on with the work they are doing while I take pictures. Shown in second pic.


 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Well, with my Gobus 4x5 then, no one would even call it a camera!

But small does seem better. I can’t imagine how one uses a long lens unless from across the street!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
The case that sparked much debate involved an extraordinarily conservative religious fellow who felt that his photography taken without his knowledge or permission constituted a “graven image” forbidden in the Bible. He lost his lawsuit on the technicality that he had not complained in the year that it occurred!

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When one takes a street picture and is noticed, then the subject has at least a chance of asking, “Please delete that!” When acpicture is taken by a hidden camera, then tgwtcis not possible. In New York law, as long a the pictures are for art sold to collectors or a museum, that’s serious “ART”, (whatever that means), it’s quite legal. Using it on cans of baked bins, sold in the supermarket,would not pass such a test!

Still, I feel morally free to photograph in the street and surreptitiously if I want to capture some interesting scene, (perhaps a pose, expression, personal or group interaction), that would instantly vanish, if I asked first! For children, I try my best to ask first. If not I let the parents know and delete the pictures if they are upset. From a distance however, where they cannot know and the figures are smaller I don’t try to catch up with them to give them such a choice.

Asher
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
When considering street photography, maybe we should make a difference between what is legally possible, what is polite practice and what risks there are.

When an amateur asks what he or she is allowed to do with portraits, the question actually means: "what can I do without risking to be sued?". The answer is quite simply: "nothing". Going to court is a right and anyone is allowed to sue you for whatever reason they see fit. They may lose, the judge may even dismiss the complain prima facie as frivolous, but the bottom line is that anyone can sue because you simply have a camera.

The next question is then "what are the risk of losing a lawsuit?". That is a quite different question and the answer depends on what countries are involved, jurisprudence, particulars of the situation and who the photographer is. Moreover, the jurisprudence evolves everyday. For example: views of crowds used to be relatively safe. With increase in pixel counts and availability of mass face recognition software, I am not so sure that they will be in a few years.
As to what increases the probability of losing a lawsuit, I would say that the main reasons probably are:
  • publishing the picture (for unpublished pictures no damages can be claimed)
  • making profit (as damages can be better estimated)
  • being an amateur photographer (as there are better protection for journalists and artists, and: no, you cannot convince a court that you are an artist if it is not your source of income)
  • that the photographer could acertain that the model did not want an image to be taken or hid his/her intentions (i.e. the absence of informed consent)
  • motives being linked to sexual desire (that part is interesting, because it is not actually in the law, but courts tend to follow the general public opinion and it has become more restrictive in that respect than in the 70s, for example)
  • that the image is detrimental to the model, mocking the model for example.
The third question was about "polite practice", for the lack of a better term. That is also a different question. Some people, for example the homeless, people in third world countries, victims of major disasters, are unlikely to sue because they simply lack the ressources. Does the absence of legal risk mean they are free game? I think not. Yet social networks thrive on such images.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Jerome,

An excellent overview and womith jusidictional caveats a good source for photographers.

For sure, I wouldn’t be as free in taking pictures of strangers in Saudi Arabia as in New York. I remember Frank Dorhoof, from Amsterdam was stunned how freely one could Photography anyonevinbtge streets of Los Angeles.

But on the ethical level, New rules have evolved. Some you have implied. But I will list my own concepts of where we are today, especially in in the USA.

1. No matter legal rights, never audaciously photograph children by their parents as this creates intense fear and hurt, as folk fear all sort of risk. We cannot terrify people thus.


2. Do not photograph inside any private domain, where folk assume they have privacy.


3. Not the vulnerable


4. Avoid the poor and dispossessed.


Asher
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
The days of Atiget and HCB et all, belong to another period.
Western people, in majority of instances, practice their craft of ‘Street ‘ photography in ‘ third world ‘ countries. As Jerome pointed out, maybe coz they don’t have the resources to sue and aliens consider them fair game.

Law or no law, it is my arguable opinion that street photography as practiced in the west by the famous practitioners entails too many issues and is dead or dying.

Sneak ‘ street ‘ photography is not my thing. I try to engage, and let them get on with their job. After a time, my presence is not noticed. Although they know I might be there.

To each their own.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
The days of Atiget and HCB et al, belong to another period.
Of course you are correct, there’s no point trying to merely repeat their work.

and anyway,

What folk put up with then might not work today! Notwithstanding that obvious caveat, there is no need to turn our back on the possibilities of street photography for both art and a social tool.

It benefits those in power to curb the street photographer.

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
This following statement is really important:

Western people, in majority of instances, practice their craft of ‘Street ‘ photography in ‘ third world ‘ countries. As Jerome pointed out, maybe coz they don’t have the resources to sue and aliens consider them fair game.
This, Fahim, as you both point out, is unacceptable.

Sneak ‘ street ‘ photography is not my thing.

I try to engage, and let them get on with their job. After a time, my presence is not noticed. Although they know I might be there.
That’s gracious, respectful and exemplary.
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
IMPORTANCE OF FOCAL LENGTH FOR STREET PHOTOGRAPHY?

I feel no need to be restrained by one common focal length because some well known photographer used a specific lens that has become an identified style - even moreso based on expressions of someone’s personal feelings (ethics) related to “sneaking” or “asking permissions” or “legal basis”. The decisions of what gear should be used, how to use it, and when it should be used are noone’s business but mine or yours. I actually find the sentiments expressed here, about taking advantage of people in third world countries to be based on a lack of insight and experience.

If just for curiosity sake —— How can a long lens be used? Here are examples of 300mm f5.6, 90mm f1.8 and 22mm f2.8. All result in compelling stories from the streets.



321



322



323
 
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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Robert,

The focal lengths are so well chosen one has no idea of, (or interest), in technique!

All are immediately engaging and none are anything but documentary of a great & healthy horizontal society.

In your pictures, one gets no sense of anything but “sharing a pulse of vibrant love of life and one’s neighbor”.

We walk with you, taking in the river of humanity. We pass without perturbing anyone.

Although not the direct involvement here in these particular 3 images as in Fahim’s description of his pattern of work), I see absolutely no difference in the level of respect for the people photographed. These are different styles honed by years of experience. Both work and are admirable.

My own tact and manners likely take a distant 3rd place as I am impulsive

Asher
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Robert,

All are immediately engaging and none are anything but documentary of a great horizontal society.

Asher
These are the images I love to take and to look at. They would be impossible to create if I were engaging the subject.

A little factoid - more people in these “third world countries” are connected to the world by phone, WhatsApp, Social Media than you could every imagine. All kinds of my Instagram and Facebook followers are people from the countries I have lived in or Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Costa Rican’s living in the USA or other places in the world, who have come across my pics online of people or places they know —- and sometimes the subjects in my pics are even sent to my Social Media pages by others who have recognized them. I could never hide or get away with anything down here, anymore than any place else in the world.

A few weeks ago I posted pics of a guy in his boat on the ocean, landing at the shore. I was shooting with a long lens and never even made eye contact with him. Next day there was a reply on my Instagram feed from a young girl saying in Spanish “My papa. Can you please send me the pictures”. Which of course I gladly did.

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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Robert & Fahim,

Let’s term “3rd World subjects to cover folk at/below the lower rungs of society hierarchy.

I saw Africans snoozing in their lunch time break during the tense time of Ian Smith’s Rhodesian “Unilateral Declaration of Independance”. Then a photograph spread through Reuter’s et al showing these folk asleep on the median of the high street with the caption: Ian Smith’s white government doesn’t even bother to collect the bodies of Africans shot by police.

I haven’t seen regular photographers do such things with their pictures!

Asher
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
Sometime back, I initiated a thread ' https://openphotographyforums.com/forums/threads/what-is-‘-street-‘.22227/ ' re: street photography. And what it means. I posited then and I still am of the opinion that ' street ' photography cannot be defined as such if it has a street in it!
Nor is it photographing people on the street, road or whatever.

It has to be something engaging, candid, unposed and capturing an interesting moment on the street, road or whatever.

Nobody, except Asher, bothered to contribute to that thread...


This is what I mean by ' street ' photography. I don't have many pictures of ' street ' as I take it to mean. Because it is a very difficult genre in which to wade..and even more tiresome to get something worthwhile...



 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
For the most part I tend to agree with the definition that Britannica provides:



Because I like photographing everything that is in front of me (or around me) - I tag myself a People, Street and Travel Photographer. I feel my daily street pics cross over all those genres, including art, architecture and many others. Except for my professional paid work that is photographed mostly in private environments, the public Street environment allows me to capture whatever interests me almost without restriction.

———-
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
For me, street photography involves capturing candid images for the most part - but composition and timing of capture are primary to me. So interesting things may be taking place in front of me, and immediately I am thinking about the surrounding, others areas or people of interest that will enhance the story, and then starting moving to places that will compose that content best.

These three images that I took, show that well. All were taken with longer lenses, but after noticing each situation, I first anticipated that a specific thing might happen and then was physically moving to create best composition for when I would take the shot. In the case of the black and white shot, I noticed the couples sitting talking and the woman with the load on her head, at the end of the block heading their way. I started zigzagging through the park, moving closer to the final place I wanted to be for composition - then waited the few seconds it took the woman to be in the right spot and then fired. The part I had no control over, was the interactions that the people at the two tables would be having with each other. One could have left before the decisive moment, they could have been bent over or turned away. As it ended up, the image provided almost perfect symmetry.

These are totally candid, and even the guy that appears to be looking at me, was entrenched in the animated conversation with the other guy.

15200A51-3D28-426F-AC71-B21CB68BB8CD.jpeg


047CD40A-66E9-45CB-B492-633D66F29233.jpeg


9A040C34-F041-46A1-B749-4E846E6D612F.jpeg
 
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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I like your explanation, especially how you predicted the path of the woman with the basket for whom you matched a strategy to capture.

537


Perfect timing and capture!

This is what the dragon fly has done for millions of years. It maps the direction and speed of its prey far ahead. Then it plots a course, so as it flies a mm over over the intersection of their paths, and grabs the hapless prey with its hind legs, and, (as it resets is course towards the next unsuspecting insect), it’s legs are ripping off parts of the trapped prey and passing them forward to the voracious mouth!

So your technique has precedent .....and we get to see a fine picture and you don't put on weight in the process, LOL

Kudos!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I would categorize the following as ' street ':


And a very good example of the genre. If I say so myself.
...and Fahim,

The picture is confidant enough to not be cropped around the monk, (as others might do), or framed to include the entire motorbike and tree. The 3/4 bike and tree provide sufficient information to complete the middle of the story.

We now can start imagining what happened before and after this rest on his journey!

I really like this picture that captures as small flake of his life.

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
But, Fahim,

In many of your pictures you are welcomed with smiles and that too is a valid option in “Street Photography”.

The Bresson “Leap over a puddle!” tells nothing about the subjects character, rather it’s “street Razzmatazz”!

Asher
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
Bresson was in effect a photojournalist. Robert Cappa also said that. The jump over the puddle image was timing and the framing. Bresson was a master of framing. And he waited, at times for the decisive moment. But he was a master of perspective and framing.

People generally, imho, confuse ' street ' photography with ' photography on the street '. It might be a difficult concept to grasp for some.

Here are two images, which portray the difference...







There is a difference. Both are on a street.
Remember, timing don't make an image ' street ' but does add significantly to its impact.

' Street ' photography might or might or might not have social implications. But to deny that it is devoid of social meaning is an example why I do not refer to that pretentious ' Britannica ' book.

I shall post an image of timing and framing, but not what I would consider ' Street ', later.

 
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fahim mohammed

Active member
Maybe the second image has the ' human spirit ' as you call it it.
But it ain't no ' Street '. Just a snap on the street to be posted on social media..' see what I saw ' or ' I am here '.

The second image also has the ' human spirit ' that many possess!

But again, my friend, to each their own.

The second, whatever you call it, has the human spirit I associate with your travels.

The first reminds me of a “Clockwork Orange”!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Yes, Fahim, this, for sure, is far more instructive and truthful.


541


Life is not all smiles and candy coated!

This image shows more of the truth of the matter. One has to offer one’s services and have stamina and hope and pray that someone who wants your offerings has the money and will to actually. Are a purchase and not continue walking!

They are not there for those smiles. For them, it’s all existential and your picture engraves that in our minds!

Perhaps I will be somewhat less inclined to be superficial!

Asher
 
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