May 17th, photo of the day: Street Photography

I’ve recently been looking at a lot of street photography, both some by well-known photographers (William Klein, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Eric Kim), and not as well known – but should be (Vivian Maier, Flo Fox, and  Jeff Mermelstein, among others.).

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

– Elliott Erwitt

So when Isaac and I went up the Columbia City Farmer’s Market yesterday, it was the perfect opportunity to see what I could do with it. This particular Farmer’s Market has a good location, they block off one long street that connects to a little park. After people do their wanderings through the market stalls the park is a great spot to stop and have dinner or just listen to the band.

There were kids running around, and parents sitting on blankets, everybody enjoying the sunshine.

And so, with this quote: “It is better to beg for forgiveness then ask for permission.” in mind, I sat in the middle of the crowd taking sneaky shots.

I can see now, looking at all these, that I wasn’t close enough. I was feeling out of my comfort zone as it was, but I’ll just have to go further. And no one accosted me, though some of the kids noticed what I was doing. A few even put on little shows after noticing that I was photographing them. The girl in the pink dancing in front of the band was one of these.

I want to try more. I am on the lookout for other good opportunities for this kind of photography, and farmer’s markets look like a pretty good one, since there’s a farmer’s market nearly everyday around here.  I will also keep Robert Capa in mind in the future: “If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.”

Have you ever tried street photography? What’s your favorite place for it?


2 thoughts on “May 17th, photo of the day: Street Photography

  1. I am a photographer, and not surprisingly I also take photos in my spare time. Right now my baby son is my obsession, but I have done street photography and farmers markets ARE fabulous spots. You are absolutely right about getting closer! Think details: a hand resting on a beautiful fresh vegetable, a person sipping steaming coffee in the cool of the morning (face only!), price markers on items, veggies on a scale, a vendor’s welcoming smile. Children are always an easy target, but beware – while it is completely legal for you to photograph them in public spaces and post those on your blog, it could make parents wary. I carry business cards – I even have some for my personal blog too – and hand them out if I am taking photos. I tell parents to contact me if they’d like a copy if their child’s pic (no charge). Have fun! Street photography really trains you to spot details and make fast composition judgements.

    • Thanks for your good feedback, Kat. I do like to see the details, though I’m clearly more comfortable capturing them in situations where the person is already okay with me photographing them. I need to get over this if I’m going to continue trying street photography! And that’s a good tip about offering the parents who inquire a free print. I had my business cards at the ready, but no one approached me. That’s probably a good sign too that I didn’t get close enough!
      I have been doing a lot of macro and nature photography, and I am interested in learning more about photographing people. This seemed like a good place to start, since I don’t know too many people in the area yet. Again, thank you for your comments!

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