Oct 122011

After 18 months using the same preset, I though it was probably time to experiment with a change of look of my pictures. The new processing is very light, just a few Lightroom sliders tweaks here and there. The goal is to actually depict the world as it is, with its true colors.  I hope you will enjoy it. (click on pictures for high res)

All pictures taken in Istanbul with Leica M8 and 35mm Lux Asph

Oct 102011

The schoolyard all to herself, a little girl enjoys a few instants of freedom in the middle of Cusco (click on picture for high res)

Leica M8 with 35mm Lux Asph at F1.4, 1/8000, ISO160

Oct 092011

As we walked down a street of Cusco, we suddenly heard “Maradona, Maradona”. For a while, one could almost think that the God of football was in the same street, yet he was not. It was just a little girl calling her dog. I never thought someone would ever call its dog Maradona, it made me laugh for quite a while. (click on picture to enlarge)

Leica M9 with 35mm Lux Asph

Oct 082011

Whenever they have a while to escape (which is actually quite often), Cubans crowd buses or any kind of transport mean and head for a day at the beach. (click on pictures for high res)

PS: still taking a rest in Rosario. Posting pictures taken during the first 3 months of the trip.

All pictures taken with Leica M8 and 35mm Lux Asph

Oct 072011

When rain suddenly starts to pour, street artists sometimes find themselves stuck with little protection. Of course, a box will do … though an important feature was  missing for better usability.  (click on pictures for high res)

Oct 052011

In my spare time, I do look at a lot of street photographs, be it in books, Flickr or at exhibits. While there is an endless variety of subjects, approaches, and styles, I believe that most photographs can be linked to a determined type of street photography. The proposed listing below does not intend to be comprehensive, but provides a quick (and spontaneous… ) description of what I believe are the five most popular types in today’s street photography. Theses types are obviously not mutually exclusive and you’ll most probably find that your pictures  or preferences fall in a mix of these categories.

I) Up close / In your face

The closer you get to your subject, the better. It is all about the man in the street. There are two important sub-types : the street photographers that look for subjects that stand out in the crowd, be it because of traits, expressions, or clothing. And there is the street photographers that use his own presence or attitude to influence the behavior of its subjects (flash, intruding in private space). The results can be spectacular,  but unluckily, I’d say that 99% of time they are actually plain boring. Indeed, if one wants to see odd faces, just head to the next metro, no need for to look at a photo book for that. Finally, and take it as a tip to beginners in street photography, it is not because you get close enough, that your pictures will be good (enough). It takes a whole lot more than guts to produce consistently good results in street photography.

Main focal : 35mm and wider.
Skill : Guts
The master is : Bruce Gilden

Both pictures taken in La Havana, Cuba.

II) Classic

The main characteristic of this type of street photography is the search of balance between form and subject. A great subject/scene itself does not make a good picture most of the times, composition is the differentiator. HCB, Brassai, Walker Evans are evident examples of this decades old tradition. Classic street photography is often linked to the Humanism movement, and a key influencer (or vice versa) of 20th century reportage photography. All in all, let’s say classic street photography attempts to describe human conditions in a form as pleasant as possible for the viewers’ eyes. Nowadays, the main struggle of this type of street photography is innovation and staying out the clichés. While our environment evolves, many “modern classic” shots do bring along an impression of “déjà vu”. The end question being: does it really matter ?

Main focal : 35mm to 50mm.
Skill : Composition
The master is : Henri Cartier Bresson

Both pictures taken in Cusco, Peru

III) Modern, content centric.

This is the current dominant type of street photography. It’s all about the content, with humor, mystery or oddities being a must for a successful pictures. Multi-planes, multi-subjects, multi-meanings (which often end up as “no meaning”) is the flavor of the decade. The hero is no more the subject, but is  nowadays the street photographer, showing off his swift mind. Looking for adulation in photo-sharing sites, the modern street photographer forgets to ask himself : “Is a good street photograph actually a good picture ?” Or put it another way : “Will it appeal to people outside of his community ?” Answer is probably no, normal Joe buys exclusively Robert Doisneau’s postards. Nevertheless, for the trained eyes, modern street photography did produced some jewels. I just wonder how many of those will actually be remembered five decades from now.

Main focals  35mm to super wide.
Skill : Eye, composition, decisive moment.
The master is : Winogrand

Pictures #1 and #2 taken in Paris, #3 in London

IV) Abstract – Impressionist

This type of street photography does not record the strict description of an event in time, but the feeling of it. Reflections, blurs, shadows, colors, …, are used to project you in a place where time and location are undefined. The human element of these pictures is often abstract, be it silhouettes, forms or simply the feel of it. These pictures are extremely difficult to craft since it often calls for a perfect balance between subject and composition. The biggest drawback of this type of street photography is that 95% of the time, it will not be understood by your peers, making it very difficult to produce consistently good images.

Main focal : Any, but preferably fast.
Skill : Observation
The master is :  Saul Leiter

First picture taken in Cuba, second one in Istanbul, Turkey.

V) Graphic

Man-crafted environment is the most important piece of this type of street photography. Humans are only a part of it. Patterns, structures, shadows, tones, textures, colors are the main elements of theses pictures. Since it is above all a graphical exercise, it is very difficult to find an individual message to many of these shots. They are above all a visual experience and therefore will look great on any kitchen walls or hanging behind your CEO’s desk.

Main focal : Any
Skill : Patience

First picture taken in Cuba, second one in London.

I picture myself somewhere between Classic and Impressionsit, though obviously I do not restrict myself to other shots opportunities. Now ask yourself, which type corresponds most to your photography ?