Childhood… the best time of our life, which passes away before we even know it. When we are small, we are all so eager to grow up… but when we do grow up, we realize what we had. It’s that amazing time of our life when our biggest worries were class tests, biggest fear was a bully at school, and biggest joy was daddy taking us to McDonald’s (well maybe not McDonald’s specifically, but you get my point). Some great person has said that nothing stays forever. Well, childhood is surely one of those things which would top the list. Play all day out on the fields with friends, return home like a swine, mommy is always there to wash you up, studying, video-games, television and sleep. Wish the world would be that simple forever. No tension, no worries. But the fact is that, childhood is just your orientation into a new world, and sadly, orientation doesn’t last forever. But nevertheless, being adults, what we can do to cherish those moments of childhood is to see them and re-live them in some other child of today.
“When you finally go back to your old home,
you find it wasn’t the old home you missed
but your childhood.”
~ Sam Ewing
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.
But for children play is serious learning.
Play is really the work of childhood.”
~ Fred Rogers
“The world is full of people who have never, since childhood,
met an open doorway with an open mind.”
~ E. B. White
“One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is,
I think, to have a happy childhood.”
~ Agatha Christie
“Childhood has its secrets and its mysteries;
but who can tell or who can explain them!”
~ Max Muller
“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights,
before the dark hour of reason grows.”
~ John Betjeman
“Blessed be childhood, which brings down something of heaven
into the midst of our rough earthliness.”
~ Henri Frederic Amiel
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”
~ Berkeley Breathed
“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.”
~ Dr. Seuss
A few months back, there was a one-day Media Festival held at my college (St. Anthony’s College, Shillong, India). For this event I was asked to make a small slideshow with a couple of pictures of mine and a few of my classmates. This is the final product that came out.
The theme of the presentation was “Unseen” – which basically involves life, things and nature that is always around us, but we mostly overlook the beauty of it.
Hope you enjoy it!
Street Photography is one of those kind where you will find more hobbyists rather than professionals. The prime reason behind this is because it is so much fun. Most street photographers are there only because they want to be there. They want to do it. It is a different kind of experience all together. As Thomas Leuthard says, “Street photography is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
But this awesome fun-filled kind of photography has it’s own obstacles too. And you get to know more about them as you keep shooting. But once you master these obstacles, nobody can beat you. Below I have listed down a few such points that I have learned from my personal experience and can recall at this moment. Hope they are of some help to you, the next time you go out on the streets.
#1… Do not think twice!
If you see a frame in front of you that can build up into a nice story, don’t think whether you should shoot it or not. Coz even if you waste a second to think, the moment may just go away for ever. Shoot first and think later.
#2…Do not stop for too long!
Always try and notice your subjects from a distance and also plan your composition. By the time you reach him, you should be totally ready to just lift your camera and release the shutter. The problem with standing in the middle of the street is that firstly you’ll get pushed by people (if it’s a busy street) and everyone will get irritated. Secondly, your subject will also become aware of your presence and you’ll never get that awesome candid shot. So if you don’t make it at first go, just move on. Remember, there is a huge world waiting for you. One gone is none gone.
#3… Do not make eye contact!
Never ever make eye contact with your subjects. Not before the shot, nor after. Look at every possible thing around him, but never at him. Looking eye to eye with a person will only either freak him out or freak you out. In either case you are not gonna get your shot.
#4… Do not look back!
Once you shoot your subject and you are walking away from him, do not look back to check if he noticed you or if he is calling you or anything. Your looking back might just lead you to having to delete one of your best pics of the day.
#5… Do not exclaim!
By that I mean do not bring the widest grim on your face showing how over-whelmed you are at capturing the awesome scene. Carry a very stoic look on your face throughout your shoot. That will keep you off unnecessary conversations. Of course you can rejoice when you are done shooting or back home.
#6… Do not keep looking at your LCD!
Very very important point to keep in mind for all Digital shooters. Never keep looking at your LCD screen. Doing that will firstly make people suspicious of you, secondly you will miss the awesome moments that happen when you are busy engrossed in your screen, and thirdly you will fall into a garbage dump or maybe bump onto a pole, or worse, bump onto another person.
#7… Do not use a big camera or lens!
Although this point is not absolutely necessary to follow, but your common sense will tell you that the bigger gear you carry, obviously the more attention you catch, and that of course is the last thing a street photographer would want.
#8… Do not shoot Manual!
This is another point which is very subjective. Manual mode shooting is something an amateur fashion photographer can afford to experiment with, but not a street photographer on the street. Infact there are a number of professional street photographers who don’t shoot Manual. The best choices available are Aperture-Priority mode (Av), Shutter-Priority mode (Tv), or Program mode (P). For these shooting modes you only decide the depth-of-field, or the shutter-speed, or the ISO value respectively, and the camera gets the other settings in place to give the perfect exposure. Fiddling with Manual mode will only get you to lose those precious moments which otherwise could have been excellent shots. And remember, at the end of the day, what matters is your shots, not which mode you shot in.
#9… Do not be scared!
This is something that I mentioned in one of my earlier post too. And I mention it once more here because this is of prime importance. You need to have self-confidence and build up your courage if you plan on doing street photography. Remember, it’s only a notion that people have in their mind that any person they shoot will come and beat them up. That happens only once in a million times. Atleast I personally never experienced it, and nor have I heard of someone I know to have experienced it. Get you guts and go and shoot. And by the way, at times you might just be lucky enough to be greeted with a smile too. People are not all that bad after all.
#10… Do not get into arguments!
In continuation to the previous point, if incase you happen to be really unlucky and somebody stops you and asks you to delete the pic, just do it. Do not get into any kind of argument. Delete it and get moving. No pic is more worthy than your life. And I’m not aware as to where you live in and what kind of people are there. And anyways, if you are intact, then there will be a million more opportunities for you to get much better pics. Don’t sob, and move on in search of your next frame.
I’m not an expert, and thoughts may vary from person to person. But these are some of the things that I learned from my experience, and thought that sharing it with you people may benefit you in some way. If you liked and enjoyed the post, then please do share it in your circle. And as always, I’m completely open to feed-backs irrespective of whether you have something to say for or against this post. So feel free to comment.
Silence speaks louder than words… Silence is golden… Silence can be life… Words of silence are not to be heard, but to be felt. They are little and large emotions which lie in the heart of a young girl. A girl who still has a child within her somewhere and yet is grown up to be called an adult. Father’s little angel, mother’s best friend, she speaks in silence.
Sitting in my room one gloomy afternoon a thought happened to strike me out of the blue. Why are the children always crazy about going out to the market with their parents? They don’t know anybody there, then what is that which interests them so much. I know I was the same, and I have seen my brother grow up with the same enthusiasm. I started to list down in my mind the things that could interest a child out in the crowd. And soon my imagination bought me to Toyman, the superhero of every child. Now you must be wondering who Toyman is. Well, Toyman is that man who probably was not as fortunate as you or I, and today he earns his living only by selling cheap toys to the children, standing at various corners of the streets. We can say about him being not so fortunate because his parents probably could never afford a toy for him, nor gain him proper education. Or else, he sure would have chosen a different profession. But as far his fortune took him, this was the best job he could do. But that is my thought as a grown up man. To the innocent eyes of a child, he is nothing less than any superhero. He has every toy that a child could dream of. He shows them off at the streets, and gives to any child who asks. He is like the owner of a magic lamp, who can put his hand inside his bag and take out the speaking duck or the hustling train, the different shaped balloons or the crazy bouncing balls, the colorful Rubik’s cube or even the warrior Beyblade. He is Toyman, a fortunate child’s not so fortunate superhero!
Life is a journey! It is one long journey that we all have to go through to reach the end and see what lies there for us. And the path we choose along this journey, decides what our end looks like. But within this vast journey, we all make several other small journeys… to a different city, to a different street, to space, or maybe just a journey back home. For some, these journeys can be to make a living, for some it could be a social convention, while some could be just vagabonds on the hunt for a reason to their living. Journeys are an inevitable part of human life, all these small journeys compiled together make up our life’s journey.
“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”
~ Walt Whitman
Street photography is the most out-of-convention genre of photography. It is defined by every individual in his own way. Every street photographer has a different way portraying life that happens before him, some shoot color, some prefer mono; some go for close-up textures, some believe in story telling area; some shoot with 35mm, some won’t let go of their 85mm. Its the most unique subject that can be treated in a unique way by every street photographer, but here I put forward a few points which I think should be common for every street photographer. And if you find any of these in you, its very simple, forget street photography!
If you think that a beautiful person is always an elegant or sexy person, then forget street photograph, go for fashion. The thumb rule to be followed in here is that beauty has nothing to do with being sexy; but its all about the textures, the color, the emotions, the expression which lie on the face of the person. If you think that its highly wrong for you to see a man as being beautiful just because you are a man too and obviously you are straight, then you are already on the wrong lane my friend. See the beauty that is there in every person in the world. No one is devoid of the beauty, if you have the eyes to see it. If you don’t, then curse yourself, don’t say there aren’t any nice subjects to shoot.
This is something which has been mentioned by millions of photographers a trillion times, and yet some people cannot get it into their thick heads. “Owning a Nikon does not make you a photographer, it makes you a Nikon owner.” That is one excellent quote said by someone, not me, but I don’t remember who it was. But the main point here is if you do not know how to shoot, then no great camera is going to make you a photographer. First you have to learn to see, your eyes are there for that; then you have to learn to compose, any rectangular framing is enough for that; and then all you need to do is press the shutter, i don’t think there is any camera in the world which comes without a shutter (what the hell!). I am not saying that everyone owning a Rebel T1i is a genius and people going for the 5D Mark II is a fool. Its not like that. It is not wrong to own an expensive camera or a lens (obviously they are made to be purchased and used). But buy them only when you know what is the purpose of that expensive equipment you hold, and how is it going to help you with your photography. Don’t buy it just because you can afford it. Know the function of each kind of lens, know the basics of focal length and its relation to depth of field, know the difference between a crop sensor and full frame, know it all, and then decide on what you really need. And if you think that the above photograph is not too bad, then the surprise is, I shot it a few months back with a Samsung Galaxy cellphone of 2 megapixel camera and post-processed then using Little Photo, a mobile photo editing app.
Whenever the topic of street photography arises somewhere, the most common thing that I get to hear from friends as well as strangers is that they are scared that people may just beat them up for clicking pictures without asking. Trust me, it never happens. No body has the time to do that. And not every person on the street is a hooligan as you suspect. Frankly speaking, even I was scared of the same thing at some point of time, but after reading a book by one for the best contemporary street photographers, Thomas Leuthard, I forced myself to get the courage and move forward. And guess what, I started getting much better pictures. It is not the people really who stop you from capturing a great moment, but it is you yourself. Maybe one in a thousand will ask you for what purpose did you take the shot, tell them that its for your office assignment or college project and move on. The stranger will never bother to ask you any more. But just make sure that you don’t look like a freak.
What! Are you kidding me? Only a freak wanting to shoot hot chicks and post them on Facebook calling them their girlfriend would do that. 800mm lens is for a wildlife photographer. Respect them, and the amount of risk they take to bring out those amazing shots. An 800mm lens only reduces their risk factor by 15%. If you are a street photographer, I don’t think you want to sit at home and shoot the entire city. Probably the best lens for street is a 50mm prime lens. It gives you wide aperture (to allow maximum light) so that you can shoot at high shutter speed even in low light, and great depth of field to isolate your main subject in a crowded street. Some street photographers also go for 85mm, 35mm or maybe even 28mm prime lenses. Street photography is all about going closest to your subject and mixing yourself with the environment. It is only then that you can come out with the best shots. As the photography legend Robert Capa once quoted, “If your photos aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”
If you already have a mind-set that life is boring and there is nothing on the streets except crowded people running around recklessly, then mate, first and foremost you need a psychiatrist. You have to learn to see the beauty of life and appreciate it. Every moment every person is doing something so unique that once the moment passes, it can never be caught again. First, realize that, and then go out on the streets. You will know exactly what I’m talking about.
Now this is the most controversial topic in street photography, and many of you may disagree with me, but that is your faith and I can’t change that. I have my own belief and I won’t change mine. According to me there is nothing wrong in shooting something which shows the darker side of life, after all its not manipulated. What I’m portraying in my picture is nothing but reality. Many people believe that it is wrong to shoot pictures of poverty, physically disabled, or any such thing which makes the viewer sad. But I as a street/documentary photographer believe that it is my duty to bring the truth of life in front of everyone. If you wanna get all smiles, go for the portfolio of a landscape photographer. After all life is never fair, so why not bring it out. In fact I would find it unethical to not show reality and only concentrate on the bright side. This is what leads to misconceptions in the minds of people about a particular place or society. The bottom line being that I’m not shooting these people to make fun of them, I only want to portray reality.
Kindly feel free to post your views about street photography and whether you agree or disagree with me. And if you found this post helpful in any way, then kindly share it and spread the word.
Dipayan Bhattacharjee, a Visual Story-teller and a passionate People (Street/Documentary/Reportage/Portrait) Photographer, is currently based in Shillong, India. He is pursuing his graduation in Media Technologies with Honors in Photojournalism. He loves traveling to different places, observing life and capturing it, as the moments pass away forever.
Dipayan has done a number of personal street/documentary projects. He has also completed several freelance assignments which include covering a few local events and also portfolio shoots for individuals as well as music bands. His work has been published in a couple of national magazines which include The Northeast Today and Eclectic Vibes.
Available for Documentary, News, Reportage, Portraiture Assignments.