Edouard Manet, a 19th century painter, was a talented artist who captured the modern life of Parisian streets. Street photographers can learn from his paintings by studying the human gaze Manet captured so well.
Portrait photography on the street is hit or miss. Taken in public of people unaware of you, portraits can be challenging and exciting, but difficult to obtain. While there are some street photographers who will pose subjects on the street, I don’t do that. For that reason it’s rare I get a good candid portrait on the street. For me stunning street portraits depend on composition and the subject’s gaze. Let me explain.
Look at two candid portraits I shot in public and notice specifically the impact of the subjects’ gaze. Gaze can be inwardly directed or outwardly directed. Both are extremely valuable. When you get a shot with a riveting gaze, you have something special.
This photo captured on a hot July day shows the pure joy of a cool dip in a fountain. The subjects gaze outward to the right at persons with whom they have some relationship. Maybe they are daring them to get in the water. This is an outward gaze because it’s interactive and interpersonal.
Now take a look at these boys at the county fair. There is also pure joy in their gaze, but it’s inwardly directed, not directed at a person or each other. Their gazes reveal their inner feelings. The boy on the right is not so certain; the second with the shades is projecting Mr. Cool; the third is ecstatic.
Store windows are a favorite subject for street photography. Reflections coming from outside are very important because they add to the artistic value of the photograph. Simply taking a photograph of a store window with somebody else’s hard work and passing it off as your own can be unethical. I believe it’s important to add your own artistic value to any store front shot. In this case the value I added had a lot to do with my choices of what was reflected in the glass and image post-processing . This photograph began as a burst of 5 bracketed shots. HDR processing was done with Photoshop and converted to black and white with Perfect Photo Suite.
Saul Leiter (1923-2013) came from a long line of rabbis and Talmudic scholars and began study at the Cleveland Seminary. Much to the displeasure of his family he dropped out of rabbinic training to go New York to study abstract expressionist painting. He was among the first seriously to pursue color photography in the 1940s. Click here for The New York Times article.
See a selection of Mr. Leiter’s work on this Pinterest board below. He is listed as a master photographer on the international website of street photography known as in-Public.
Below is a trailer for the documentary about Mr. Leiter
In this video Lukas Vasilikos presents his street images of Belgrade as a slide show with the accompaniment of original music. This is a very effective way to add interpretive power to your images. Music will add mood and point the viewer in a specific emotional direction. Done deftly the video can contain images that change with specific shifts in the music adding to the emotional message.
Mr. Vasilikos is a member of the VIVO Street Photography Collective.
One of several collectives of street images, VIVO is international in scope. These are pins from my Pinterest board. Check out the complete site.
Check out these talented street photographers from Poland. These are my Pinterest pins from the un-posed site. Visit the complete site for more.
Interesting interview with street photographer, Jonathan Auch. Click source link below. Thanks to Brian Sorensen.
Source: Brian B. Sørensen – Google
BBC Documentary – highly recommended
Excellent series in short snippets on the history of photographic capture and printing. Highly recommended.