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April 24, 2012

Street photography

Thumbnail image for 220px-Henri_Cartier-Bresson.jpgIf we want to talk about "street photography" we must talk about Henri Cartier-Bresson (left) and the old photograph taken in 1932 somewhere in France, with a man about to get his shoes quite wet on it first. Why? Because it is a mother of all streets photographs same as Henry Cartier-Bresson is basically a founder of this ever so popular photography style. 

All definitions of street photography, which could be possibly worded, are in that picture. Nothing and no one can describe what the street photography is about better, as this photo and two words: "decisive moment".
Thumbnail image for FP-HenriCartierBresson.jpg

So why is street photography so popular? It is basically an essence of photography. It is a headstone of photojournalism. Street photography capture the moment and tell the story in one picture with no words required. And Henri Cartier-Bresson was a master of this. He was a master of decisive moment, moment, where scene is set up and ready for action and in split second it is going to change. And that is when you should push the button. If you capture decisive moment, you know you've got great street photo and you'll be laughing all the way to the darkroom. Just google more Herni Cartier-Bresson pictures if you still have no idea what I'm talking about. They all tell the story. You look at the picture and you feel like you've been there and you know exactly how does everybody in the frame feel.

Basic rules of street photography say, it should be in black and white. This is and this is not a true. Martin Parr is a great example how street photography could be done in colour. He uses colour as an expression, as a third dimension of his photos. If you loose it form his pictures, they wouldn't be the same. His candid pictures of UK society on holiday in vivid colours are unforgettable.  

Right, now we all are fired up to grab camera bag full of equipment and go out, aren't we? Well, not that quick. You can leave your camera bag at home, you won't need it. This is beauty of street photography, which I like the most. You don't need loads of equipment. You don't need zoom lens. You don't even need a DSLR! Shocking, isn't it? Just imagine how would people feel, if you grab you brand new D4 with 70-300 lens and point it at their direction. Correct, they will run away. 35mm or 50mm prime lens is your best bet for the job. The smaller the lens and camera, the more invisible for the public you are. In fact, you can buy an instant film camera and you can walk away with great shots! Nobody will pay attention to you and that is exactly what you need. You must get really close, you must be in the scene. And if Robert Capa, the most famous war photographer of the 20th century said: "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough", there must be some true in it. Than he get too close to the mine that killed him in Indochina, but that is different story...

Street photography is actually great to explore new places, for example on holidays, or weekend city breaks. Your wife wouldn't be mad at you that you carry your tripod and massive camera all the time and you can take her to for nice latte and still get back to your hotel room with decent images. It's a win - win situation! You'd just sit there, drink your latte, watch the high street and from time to time take the picture. Of course after few minutes you'd predict what's going to happen, so you wouldn't need to have camera on your face all the time.

In street photography everybody is a journalist. You are on the mission to shoot cover picture for TIME magazine! How exciting is that? And assignment is your choice. You can be as creative as you like. To help you with understanding street photography and your street creativity, Nikonians Academy Europe has organised a London Street Photography Experience workshop. This great weekend in London (obviously) starts 9th of June 2012, so don't miss it out!

Posted by pkuzmin at April 24, 2012 2:12 PM