I can easily amuse myself on a crowded street by observing people as they pass. My fascination with strangers began in the 60’s watching a live local TV show in Pittsburgh. As the audience was exiting the host gave the patrons a chance to say something to the camera on the way out. The emcee called it the Parade of Stars. I will send a free DVD copy of my documentary Chasing The River to anyone that can name the show, the host and the call letters of the TV station that produced it.
Since I enjoy watching people it shouldn’t come as any revelation I also have a good time photographing people on the street. Until recently I didn’t know this was a genre with sub genres including street fashion and street portraits. I just enjoy capturing candid images…Allen Funt…of people that grab my eye.
Unlike humans of NY portraitshttp://www.humansofnewyork.com/ which is portraits with stories from the subjects…Studs Terkel… I have no knowledge of the people so I make up my own stories. This man on the streets of Zagreb was taken in 2010. It was only the last 20 years of his life he had not lived under Tito Communism. In the Winter of his life he witnessed significant change. The contrast between him and younger Eastern Europeans coming of age after the collapse of “The Wall” was dramatic. His face & the way he dressed reminded me of my Grandfather’s brothers. I think he would have fit in at those big Christmas Eve dinners at my Grand Aunt’s house.
I saw these eyes coming from 80 yards away! As I was watching the diversity of people promenade on the streets of Sarajevo these two women grabbed my attention. Even though I have no real credibility to comment on fashion, these two had very distinctive Hijabs. Their fur & make-up set off contrasting facial expressions & authority. I imagine the woman on the left is an older & wiser mentor to her younger naive companion. She is about to extol insight into something they both are observing & the young-ling is eager to learn.
Speaking of fashion 2 things. First, I did once win “Best Dressed” at the Phil Simms Bowling Tournament so I do have an iota of fashion sense. Secondly, if you are interested in Street Fashion Photography I can recommend Bill Cunningham New York A quirky individual that still shoots of film.
I have sub genres including people on phones aka “The World Around Me isn’t as Interesting as This Little Electronic Device”. With a few exceptions I deplore the way some in society use smart phones as hypnotizing web portals & communication pacifiers. VERY few snap images using phones with consideration for anything other than diary-esk sharing via social media. Instead of freeing themselves from the office they take work everywhere they go. Gaming & mindless web browsing distract from here & now to a place that placates short attention spans. I enjoy the world and most of the people around me more than any device. For me, retirement equals flip phone!!!
This photo was taken in Balboa Park SAN. As I am prone to do when taking photos of people I found a spot to stand & blend in. I observed a few different traffic areas with good bg & lighting where I could snap portraits as people passed by. One of the 1st details to catch my eye was the “ink” on this woman. I hoped she would walk in an area where I could get a good shot of her tattoos. Ink is another sub genre of mine. After 20 min or so I was ready to wander elsewhere & she hadn’t taken her eyes off of her phone. I have no idea if she was texting, playing Angry Birds, searching top rated things in SD or reading Pillars of the Earth. I do know she was ignoring an inspiring public park.
Another sub genre of mine is echo/feedback of the world I capture. With the flood of cameras people routinely have, “People Taking Pictures” is one of my go-to subjects. Everybody is now a street photographer. Why not…I know I enjoy doing it. However, I enjoy the old-school hands on feel of a DSLR with optical options. But most importantly for me is connecting the eye into the viewfinder where final/critical decisions are made about framing or snapping. And, I still use the editing process to separate the wheat from the chafe to better polish the visual story I want to tell. For some reason these 2 remind me of a quote I associate w/Annie Liebovitz that every experienced photographer knows…”Sometimes the best shot is behind you!”
I can recommend a good doc about an unknown street photographer. Her work can be a template for anyone who wants to improve their urban eye. Finding Vivian Maier