It's important to have multiple outlets for your creativity. Expressing yourself in one medium is great, and will lead to good work. But if you want to push your creative limits, you've got to try something new every once in a while.
Chrome Industries had a photo clinic last saturday. #StreetsOfChrome was a project calling for anyone willing to do some street photography. Brushing the dust of my camera, swapping the lens for one I've never used before, I headed down to the Seattle Chrome hub.
Logan did a great job hosting us street shooters. Giving us some tips and tricks, as well as showing his work and eye for street photography. The shots he showed were dreamy- surreal, yet so close to what real actual life is. Most of the photos we encounter are staged, set up, done a hundred times, and photoshopped in post. Shooting on the fly, with one chance to get your shot, and no post process, really opens your eye to what life is on a day to day existence.
We paired off and ran the streets of Seattle. A group of 4 of us, who hardly use a camera this way, running around trying to take pictures of strangers. It was a sight to see. We scared a few people off, got confronted by a few people too. But all told, most either didn't notice or didn't mind. Seattle is passive like that.
One of the first things I was getting wrong was my composition. I didn't want to hold the camera to my face, but rather I was shooting form the hip in an effort to be more discrete (plus I'm pretty sure I've heard thats a photography secret right?). Well without your eye on the camera, ligning up the shot was tough. Often I'd get a great shot but just completely off-kilter.
Once I got the confidence to bring the camera to my eye, I was able to compose my shots much better. Pro tip: Get the composition right, before you get your subject. If you frame your shot right, you can just wait until someone presents themselves in front of your camera.
Staging your photo like this is great if you have an interesting backdrop. But the great thing about street photography is that it captures real life in real time. Waiting for something to present itself directly in front of your camera often at times doesn't cut it. While walking around Pike's Place Market, an elevator full of girls all with matching jackets came out and starting taking selfies everywhere. Quickly and instinctively ,we all grabbed our cameras knowing that their photo-op, was out photo-op too.
Somehow, the lighting, focus, composition, foreground and background all came together to make this one of my favorite shots from the day. The geometric diagonal beam breaks up the image and gives it something interesting. The 3 girls are all in different poses, yet they all feel like 3 variations of the same person. Even the girl on the right, whom you can't see what she's doing, you can almost feel the phone in her hand on the other side of her.
During the course of this shoot, I couldn't help but feel like I was being super observant. Over analyzing every person's facial expression, looking for the next slice of life that I could capture. But sometimes opportunity and irony present themselves to you so blatantly that you might over look it. I snapped a shot of this guy crossing the street with a huge sign about Jesus, not realizing the name of the store that he was standing in front of.
It was only after I shot this did I realize the All Saint's sign directly behind him. Once you open yourself up to seeing the hidden connection between people and places, you'll start to see things like this all over the place.
After the shoot, we all came back to the Chrome hub for some much needed beer. We threw our shots up on the big screen and had a quick chat and critique about the experience. Everyone was super thrilled about going out and shooting, we all got some great shots. I got to see how other people think and work in the field of street photography.
After trying something radically different from what I'm used to, I felt like my eyes were strained. Like working out from a long day at the gym. But also, I'm seeing things differently. Light and shadow seem different - colors and composition seem to be making themselves more pronounced - people in places suddenly all seem like they have a full life waiting to be explored.
That night I grabbed some beer with some friends. Upon leaving, I threw my camera back for a quick goodbye snap. I think I'll be shooting a lot more often.