Let me begin the blog with a quote from Matt Stuart,
”Buy a good pair of comfortable shoes, have a camera around your neck at all times, keep your elbows in, be patient, optimistic and don’t forget to smile.”
If you call yourself a street photographer or if you are interested in street photography or looking for inspiration before heading on for a street walk, make sure you check out Matt Stuarts work, it takes you to a world of absolute creativity, perfect timing and the best candid moments on streets. Without a doubt Matt is the master of juxtapositioning. ( Each time I head out for a street walk, I make sure I absorb much needed motivation by running through his photographs).
Each word in the above quote makes sense, lets quickly run through it. Walking miles is part of streets, so a good pair of shoes definitely helps. Carry your camera everywhere, we heard that a million times, haven’t we. Keep yourself ready for the shot at any given moment when on streets as the moment vaporizes much quicker than we anticipate. Patience is the ultimate weapon indeed and smiling has convincing power like no other. But the word “Patience” is what this blog post is all about.
When you look into Matts Stuarts work, one of his biggest asset has been his power to wait. He sees a frame and waits for the element to magically appear and fill in the frame. He visualises the scene and waits to execute it. Thats what makes him such a master of streets. He needs to be addressed as Matt StuART’IST for he is indeed a great artist 😉
Its TRUE that street photography is all about grabbing those decisive moments which disappear in split second. You have ‘No Control’ of the situation, you literally care nothing about the settings on your camera, don’t care if you are on A-priority or S-priority or on M, dont care if you stamping someones feet, blocking someones way or whatever other awkward situations you can think of, all that matters is getting that moment right. Shoot right where you stand, just grab it…Bingo.
“But” – its also true that its not always true 😛
It can be a bit different at times. You may have an opportunity to ‘Control’ the scene, a bit though. You have good enough time to frame your scene, get the settings right and get all the other textbook ABC’s spot on and then you wait and wait and wait for that magic moment. Eveythings under your control here, other than ‘THE MOMENT’. The difference here is, you still are capturing that decisive moment but you set the stage to capture that split second moment that you pray would randomly appear in your frame. Confused !!! Lets look at an example.
When it rains in Dubai, it opens new doors for street photography. The above photograph was shot during one of those rainy days.
As I walked around the streets of Dubai, soaked in desert rain, I reached this zebra crossing which striked to me as a very potential frame. Great clouds in the background, beautiful wet road, brilliant reflections and just about everything right. All I had to do now is set the stage. I had enough time to set the composition I needed, get the settings on the camera right. I had to now just stand there and wait for the MOMENT. Many people walked through, many pictures were clicked but somehow it lacked the feel I was looking for. It just wasn’t right. It took me 15 odd minutes to get the moment I was looking for (which you see above). Ladies walking through the frame, just about right position, right postures – I imagined it as a ramp walk on streets 😛 Below are the shots which were clicked before the FINAL one, those which failed to impress.
Nothing wrong with this shot, but for me it was more like a snapshot which you usually see in some corner of a newspaper with headlines “Rain in Dubai”. I wasn’t pleased, so the wait continued…
This was shot next, but I knew something better would come. Decided to lit another cigarette and wait. Smoking in rain is so much fun 😛
and this, I thought this was THE ONE, empty, clean and neat with just one prominent human element…but I didn’t visualise this when I first stopped at this spot, there was a bit more drama I was looking for and so the wait continued…
and this…this was a beautiful moment but I wasn’t pleased enough to move on… (its all about personal taste of the photographer)
And then the final image was created. It may not be perfect, you may choose any of those rejected images over the final one, but as I said, its all about personal taste. I had visualised something on this line as I decided to wait at this junction and as I clicked and ‘chimped’ on this image, I knew I had it.
Beauty about street photography is its very decisive. You think you got it, but street may have had more to offer, that is ‘if you just had waited a bit more’. “Click-Chimp-Move” syndrome has to be replaced with “Click-Chimp-Wait” 😉 Nothing wrong in chimping at your LCD after each shot, but make sure you analyse the elements in your shot close enough to know if you hit the sweet spot or not…and only and only when convinced about the moment you grabbed, move for the next shot. When you see a scene worth the wait, spend time on it, eventually all that patience would yield you with a very convincing shot. It can be annoying at times and patience may run out but force yourself to hang around, with practice you will get used to it.
I have another few set of examples to back this topic which would come up in next section.
‘Click Chimp and Wait’ 😉