A friend and fellow photographer, Steve Dembo, recently made a presentation of his street photography to the Baltimore Camera Club. It was one of those extremely inspirational presentations – not just great photographs, but a tremendous philosophy too.
I have always loved street photography, but have never felt at ease shooting people. Whenever I try it I feel that I spend too much time worrying that I might be getting in their way. I admire the work of the greats, Cartier Bresson, Andre Kertesz and Brassai and am always in awe at not only how they managed to get such great shots but how they were seemingly able to have some kind of a relationship with their subjects, no matter how brief it might be.
Every once in a while I give it a go. Recently I took a trip to New York City and decided to use that opportunity to do some street photography. But this time, rather than worrying about photographing strangers and getting in their way I tried to keep in mind a few of the things that Steve Dembo suggested in his presentation. In particular, his philosophy of becoming invisible, of not allowing your subject the opportunity to realize that he or she is being photographed thereby allowing them to act naturally. I realized that this approach:
- Allowed me more time to think about the subject rather than worrying about my equipment and settings
- Gave me time to figure out ways to isolate the subject and remove distracting elements.
- Gave me time to see something of the personality of the people I was photographing, even if only a small part.
I plan to work on the photographs that I took during that trip and hopefully use this particular experience to help me build confidence for future street photography opportunities. This shot is one from the trip.