Nervousness...yes, that's what I felt when I first hit the street to shoot strangers. That was a very awkward moment in my life, mind you. My heart was like a drum being pounded profusely and my blood as if was not circulating around my body then. Nevertheless, after some prodding to myself... hehehe...I was able to take some pictures still but that was after doing it from the waistline. Guess what?...what I got after checking them, if not out-of-focus, they were headless...nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. Aha!...I had another option--- camp out. Needless to say, I ended up in a coffee shop, and there I seated near the windows where I can get a good vantage point of the people passing by outside. Again, I didn't get decent shots either. "What are you doing here, you're just waiting your thousand dollar worth gear?", I told to myself. "Be brave, man. Shooting from the waistline and camping out are cheating, if not stealing."
The next day with my firm resolve to become a truly serious street photographer, I returned to the same place. This time, I tried to become a little bit braver. And so that was the start of my adventures and misadventures in the land called...street photography...dadadan!
My being a street photographer didn't happen overnight. I had to learn this step-by- step, day-by- day. Until today, I'm still learning. Gaining confidence is not an easy task. You have to conquer your fear, first and foremost. This can be done by understanding that what you are doing is alright...smile and say "hi" to people...feel comfortable with your craft...and work closer to your subject. Working closely to people, however, does not mean to be in close distance with them, like as if invading their personal space, but rather expressing yourself well when you are out in the street. And most importantly, practice, practice, practice.
What brought me to street photography is not an accident by any means. I chose this path to my photographic journey because I love to take images of people at a decisive or poignant moment. I like to capture human emotions, how they behave and interact in the public in their day- to- day life candidly. That's what I enjoy most!
In passing, I would like to raise some issues related to street photography which my mind can not comprehend. Perhaps, my fellow street photographers or there are some out there who would want to pitch in.
1) Posting the same images in different and several street photography websites is like peddling cheap goods. Some say that this is akin to prostituting street photography.
2) Putting captions or labels on street photographs is a no-no. The beauty of street photographs is it let people imagine and make their own stories.
3) Shooting impoverished people in their unguarded moment is "poorism" or "poverty porn". This is exploitation because poor people are being treated like animals in the zoo, photographers take their photos, and so they invade their privacy, and dignity, as well, and peddled this photos around the world.
4) Purists say that asking strangers for permission to be photographed is not street photography. The moment a subject collaborates, he or she is posing.
5) Posting images on street photography group website is free but not running a website. Is it ethical to solicit donations to street photographers? Who really benefits from these websites--- the website owners or the photographers?
Ottawa, June 2015 - by Alexander MERC ©