Getting the Street Shots Part 2 of 3

My apologies, I had posted this last night, somehow due to my iPhone and computer having different versions of this post, it deleted. Derek

I have broken down several of my shots, what things were happening, what I wanted, how it happened and hopefully it will guide others into creating great photos. A lot of street shooters don’t realize how much control they have over their images. It took a lot of really bad photos and trial and error for me to find that comfort zone in knowing what I can and can’t pull off on the streets. I do find street and documentary captures very rewarding when that diamond shot shows up on the screen.

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1. This is an iPhone capture, I saw the front page of the Grid newspaper and knew I wanted a photo to have an additional element of a person walking into the frame. My first thought was hoping for someone smoking a cigarette but any person would have been ok. I waited for about 5 minutes when I saw the jogger in the distance and instantly knew he was a perfect addition to the capture. The word ‘Dedication’ compliments the joggers commitment to healthy lifestyle, the photo of the person smoking was the complete opposite to the jogger. Knowing I wanted a person was helpful in planning the photo. Patient observation paid off very well with noticing the jogger. Now all I had to do was time the positioning of the runner and be ready to capture him in line with the composition I chose.

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2. This was sort of a semi staged shot, I like to interact with some of my subjects, some just have an important message to say, others just have something outlandish and intriguing like this one. The girl in the photo was shy, I told her to get affectionate, she still remained shy, so this fine gentleman started tickling her into a frenzied laugh and voila we have the shot I hoped for.

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3 and 4. I chose this particular composition based on the typographic elements of the window. It added emphasis to the overall impact of the four young people sitting idly by on the street side. However, this is the shot I took after my meeting ‘Irish’ The funny part of this story, I had originally shot this image from across the street. ‘Irish’ on the far left, noticed me shooting, came over running, asking why I was shooting him. One conversation led to another, I offered him a cigarette and he offered me a portrait and when I explained the photo I wanted, I also got the family portrait as well.

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5. Occupy Toronto 2011 – I was covering the Occupy movement as it hit Toronto in October of 2011. There was no shortage on amazing image opportunities. This particular capture is one of the reason’s I say never over invest in equipment. Due to how quick this man hopped up on a wall, I figured a low vantage point would offer a great image. Given how fast the moment was taking place, I had to react fast and snag the shot. Had I hesitated in any way, I would have lost the moment. The man jumped down moments after I caught this shot. When I dropped to the ground, my second camera body hit ground pretty hard. I cracked the lens hood off of it. I can no longer mount the hood to it. I got the shot I wanted, very happy with the result and worth the loss of the lens hood. That lens has since been retired to my shelf. There are risks needed at times to get a portfolio keeper. This is one of my personal favourites.

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6. This is another iPhone capture. The scene took place in the middle of Toronto’s financial district at the Bay and Wellington St. area. I noticed the homeless person sleeping in the bus shelter, the shot on its own would have been impacting enough. I wanted a little more to tell the story. I waited for ten minutes as I wanted additional people to fill the frame on the right. I kept an eye on everyone in the area and noticed this couple walking, just before they got close to me, I crouched down with the iPhone waiting for them to pass. I was hoping that them seeing me would cause a reaction in their behaviour. It could have gone the other way in making them stall or wait. It didn’t. I could not have asked for a better capture than when the man turned to look into the shelter to see what I was shooting. It’s a strong story, I influenced this shot a little without directly asking for it by engaging their interest before they passed the shelter. There are ways to engage a story by anticipating people’s curiosity in what is going on. Try it some time.

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7. I noticed these young guys chilling out, smoking and just taking a load off at the Eaton Centre at Queen and Yonge St. The guys noticed me, they were curious as to what I was shooting, one looked directly at me, the other looked at the people passing. I deliberately dragged my shutter a little as I wanted the people walking to have a sense of motion. I waited until I had some people moving in from the right. Once I saw them, my camera was already composed, I started hitting the shutter when the two guys walking were in front of my subjects and let it go for 10 frames to ensure I got the shot I wanted. Motion and blurred subjects is a signature style for me. It’s an urban city, the best way to convey busy, motion and fast life is to show it even in a still photo.

Keep shooting, practice makes perfect!

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