“Street 2015 – 2021”
When you look at my early works you know instantly that my roots are on the street. I have been doing it for a very long time. That doesn’t make me an expert, or a teacher or even good. I am just obsessed with it. Obsessed with doing it, I am compelled to do it for no other reason and for no one but myself. It is a very private moment for the photographer. It is a feeling, an emotion more than an education or something obtained from studying or practice and you have to go with your gut not your head. It is a connection, for whatever reason, you have felt something in what you see that made you take the shot. Only after you have taken the photo and mulled it over and over and relived the moment tens of times do you make it a public experience.
The question today is what is street? What are the rules to street? Is it up close and in your face? Is it more expansive with just a hint of people? Is it color or b&w? Is it simple or is it a jumble of complexity held together within the frame?
I’ve read “the 7 rules of street photography”, “the 12 rules of street photography” and even “the 25 rules of street photography”. I’ve read the “Ultimate Guide to Street Photography”, “The Complete Guide to Street Photography” and they all make perfectly good sense, until I go to shoot on the street, then you never have that kind of time to compose your photographs, the way they tell you too. You never have the time to apply the 12 rules let alone the 25. It is an instant, a moment in time that is so quick it is immeasurable and the only proof that it happens, is your photograph. You have to rely solely on your instincts. When you feel the moment you just have to react and then the moment is over. This is the part of Street that will never change. There really are no rules, you just have to shoot with your heart in the manner that suits you best.
The way street photography has changed over the years is the equipment. When I was young, I would go out onto the streets with two or three rolls of film that had 36 to 40 exposures on to each role. That is because I bought my film on 100 foot rolls and I would have to go into a closet to load the film into empty canisters, film was expensive. So that is a minimum of 76 to 120 images per day, then you would come home and you would have to process the film and wait for it to dry, then you would head to the dark room and make your contact sheets, then you would study the tiny images with a loop, decide which prints to make and circle the possibilities with a red grease pencil. It could be days before you saw a finished result. Then you would have to go and print your images and send them to editors and bring your physical portfolio around to galleries. It was a very involved process.
Today it is a numbers game. I shoot with a Fuji XT-4 and it can take up to 18 shots per second. At the end of any afternoon I could have anywhere between 500 in 1500 shots, you’re bound to have something interesting in the mix. Then you come home and sit at your computer, you open up Photoshop and within hours you are posting to social media and sending photographs to publications and galleries.
The other change for me is the way that we view our photographs. Before you would only look at a photograph printed as a photograph, 8 x 10, 11 x 14 or 16 x 20 big beautiful prints. Today we look at photographs mostly with our cell phones and my question is, how can we see the minute details and nuances in a photograph on a cell phone?
What does all this mean? Almost everyone has a cell phone with a camera, and some of the cameras on the phones are superior in quality and this enables everything to be captured and viewed immediately. There are cameras on every street corner. You can’t walk down the street without being photographed 30 times. I guess it means that this is progress, “C’est la vie”!
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