Street art in Wicker Park, hipster Chicago neighborhood, looks nice and has deeper meaning. The same painting has Gandhi with humble peaceful smile and Che looking determined to use all necessary means to achieve his goals. One man has never killed and another one eliminated as many as he deemed useful. Two are icons of the Left in struggle for Social Justice. Before red sky with revolutionary masses both men are united by suffering of millions that coursed by their deed and ideology. Both men represent favorite myths and symbols without regard to disastrous results and lessons that could be learned from history.
Photographers often discuss about merits to have project or just do random walk during street shooting. I am a random walker. I constantly move from one place to another being alert to any opportunity for my shot.
Recently I had interesting experience in project based photography. My boss asked me to make some images for our company website. My professional responsibility has no relation to the photography or any fine art for that matter. My hobby is well known in our office and I’ve got my project.
Besides shooting in the office, I took some pictures about building. This is the famous Chicago CBOT building that has a lot of action and interesting architecture. To have project is unusual for me experience. I was constrained by the place and I had to explore every situation. It is hard to say whether good shot is the product of the pure luck or having project really helps.
By understanding relationship between the candid street photography and gambling we can answer many related questions. In gambling and in street photography you “invest” time and money. The major loss in candid photography and gambling is your opportunity loss to spend time in more rewarding way. Success in gambling and candid street photography can be achieved only by mixture of talent and pure luck.
Q. All photographers compete for attention, money or honor. Why does photography with such low entry requirements have free “how to” information available with no strings attached?
A. Because information does not make you better photographer. By learning and doing photography you feed The System. Very few of us have talent that would allow competing with professionals but meantime education encourages us to pay for books, read advertisements and buy equipment.
Q. Why do people flood each other with so many bad images?
A. Investment on every image is extremely small so it is easy to make bet for some glory. Most of us take good picture once in a while by pure chance. Streak of luck makes us feel as a genius. Lucky moments we remember much better then millions of failures and hours of wasted time. Positive reinforcement pushes us to do more shooting. Our real loss is the totality of all missed possibilities, time and money that we spend for this pursue.
Q. Why some people cannot stop buying equipment? Do we really need 3 cameras and 20 lenses to make good shot?
A. When photographers experience persistent bad luck (bad streaks) or got bored they can exhibit irrational behavior (going on tilt). There is only one remedy for this. Photographer has to admit this problem and reevaluate the basic strategy.
Q. Why the majority of photos (good but especially bad) are taken during good weather, interesting locations, or in the bars?
A. Most of us intuitively understand the concept of hedging. Hedging is the idea to get at least something in one thing for a loss of another. It is essential strategy in the most popular gambling activity – financial trading. At least photographer can enjoy walking, sights or cocktail when nothing valuable in terms of imaging comes to his way. Much more people would like to get soaked in the rain if this would guarantee great picture.
Give me more questions and I will happily explain them.
What is “the candid photography of strangers”?
Why is the candid photography unique?
It is very common for the street picture to have some details by pure chance. Photographer did not have time to notice them and he paid attention to something else. These details could make image stronger or weaker depending on your luck. Sometimes accidental details create or destroy whole composition.
I walked along Millennium Park in Chicago. I’ve seen children play in fountain and made a quick shot. I did not have another chance because some tourist moved to my frame. Image of children playing with water became cliché. Yes, they are cute and there is a lot of movement. I did not have much hope for this image but when I looked at home I’ve noticed woman on background. I’ve cropped to have only children and lonely figure of a woman. Woman’s gaze created another meaning of the whole photo. This is was very lucky detail.
When we have great weather in Chicago I try to take some pictures before boarding the train to my suburb. One day I noticed that at the end of the day, the bright sun shines like projector through the entrance of the station. It makes an incredible contrast and long shadows.
So, while I am enjoying second day at the same location, I saw another photographer, with a classic Leica on his neck, had the same idea. I took one shot of him and, since he obviously saw, I decided to introduce myself. His name is Gary. I thought for a moment about the coincidence of having the same name as Garry Winogrand. Gary was shooting for a week, taking advantage of this amazing light. I asked for permission and took another picture of him.
That would be the end of the story if I had not replied in the street photography forum with the link to my picture of Gary. They recognized him as the Chicago based photographer, Gary Stochl. It did not take long to find out that this was indeed Gary Stochl – an incredible photographer with a remarkable life story.
Here is the link to related images: Ogilvie Transportation Center
This is the oldest and the cheapest lens that I have. My wife bought me this glass as a gift fifteen year ago for about $300. At that time it was very expensive for us.
I almost never used it. Oddly, I thought that having such expensive zoom I should stay with Pentax brand. This is the classic example how wrong reasons lead to great decisions.
Now, when I do candid street photography, this lens has the second life. I even bought rubber hood for it. It is fun to take quick snapshots using pull-push for zoom and manual focus. With some practice you can operate it pretty fast. Image quality is good enough.
Pentax’s in-body image stabilization technology works great with this stuff too. Usually, I configured it for 200mm. When I am in the mood for long range hunting I have fun with Promaster 60-300.
Editor’s choice for Image of the Year
Rules and Myths of Candid Photography: Wide angle or telephoto lenses