I’m an AWFUL street photographer

13Jun14
I don’t often post re-runs on HBlog, but this one serves and important purpose. (Check back tomorrow and all will be revealed.) With apologies to my friends — and faithful readers — who may have seen this post a couple of years ago:

Every so often, my friends at work and I are asked to give a “creative inspiration” presentation. I really struggled to come up with a topic that would show me (1) trying something I’d never done before, and (2) evolving creatively as a consequence. I suppose I could have talked about how I transitioned from journalism into advertising. But in the end, I settled on street photography instead.

I’d often wait several minutes for a scene to clear out and be devoid of humans.

Other times, I would include a person in the frame — but only as a visual element.

I liked the resulting images, yet somehow they seemed a bit empty and impersonal.

Then I got to know a handful of street photographers. Among my favorites was a guy who called himself Yanidel.

I adored his images; they seemed so honest and unselfconscious. He had a gift for capturing the very heart of what makes Paris so interesting and vibrant: Her people.

“I want to be a street photographer, too!” I decided. You know what they say …

But my shyness soon got the best of me.

Is it just me, or does the guy below on the left look uncannily like Bob Dylan?

This poor puppy was disconsolate about having been left outside a grocery store. (Happily, his owner did eventually return and there was a loud, joyous reunion.)

I loved the way this guy’s tongue shot out every time he pressed the shutter button.

I also loved the contrast between this man’s bold, colorful attire and his dour expression. <<Bah, mais la vie est merdique, n’est-ce pas?>>

As for these two, above: I knew *exactly* what they were up to because I’d done it, too.

Street photography has a couple of basic tenets. First, you’re supposed to only observe and record. In other words, don’t try to change or stage the events as they’re unfolding. Second, be discreet. In other words, don’t get busted!

I was slowly getting more and more comfortable with raising my camera to capture “the decisive moment” …

I started asking my subjects about their surroundings, their opinions, and their lives. Like this clochard, who has three daughters somewhere …

… and this kind crêpe vendor, who hasn’t been home to Pakistan in years …

… and this park cop, who — well, I don’t know what his story was, but he sure loved hamming it up for the camera!

I may be one of the lousiest street photographers in all of Paris, but that’s OK. I found an approach that enriches me as a person, and that makes me happy. In the end, isn’t that the true purpose of any art?



14 Responses to “I’m an AWFUL street photographer”

  1. This is such an inspirational post. I have such a draw to street photography but am still stuck back in the “photographing their backs” stage. lol 🙂 thank you for the tips and also for the motivation!!! Your photo’s are BEAUTIFUL!! Thanks for the wonderful post!!

    • 2 hmunro

      Aw, margber … thank you so much for your kind words. You’ve made my day! I’m still loathe to photograph people going about their business (*true* street photography) because it can feel like a violation of their privacy or personal space — and I’m seldom happy with my images if I feel like I “stole” them. My workaround has been to interact with people and so “street portraits” instead, but every photographer has to find his/her own path. And who knows? Maybe someday I’ll graduate from my current mug-shot phase and blossom into an actual street photographer? 🙂 Anyway, thanks again for stopping by. Keep shooting!

    • 3 hmunro

      PS: Just saw that you reblogged my post. Thank you, thank you, from your newest subscriber! (Loved your New York photos!!)

      • You’re very Welcome!! Sadly, I just had to take it down because something happened to the link. It’s broken. Only part of the post is visible. When clicking the “read more”…it leads to a dead link. Not sure what happened. It was working this morning. I will check back later and re-blog it again if link is fixed. So sorry. 😦

  2. Reblogged this on margber photography and commented:
    Today, instead of posting one of my photo’s, I’m re-blogging this wonderful post from a blog I recently stumbled upon – HBlog. It may just be the inspiration you need to go out there and be the street photographer you’ve always wanted to be! Enjoy!

  3. Great post. You tell the story of a lot of us.

    • 8 hmunro

      I am both honored to hear you say that — and comforted, too. Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

  4. 9 Holli

    I love how you’ve told the story of your development through pictures! Frankly, these are beautiful pictures!

    • 10 hmunro

      Thank you so much, Holli! I’ll admit that it was really rewarding to go back and examine my own work in this context. Sometimes we don’t realize how we’re growing and evolving, except in hindsight. Anyway, thank you for stopping by!

  5. What a fun post! For a while, I thought i would pursue photography a bit, and then realized that I needed to be a little more deliberate about the things I choose to get involved in. I’m already spread too thin, so now I let my husband (and often my students) do photos of things I think I want. My life is much simpler that way. I do love the photos in your post, though! 🙂

    • 12 hmunro

      I love the idea of delegating one’s hobbies, Deborah — that’s brilliant! You are also very wise to avoid taking on new interests and projects when you’re already feeling spread too thin. Perhaps you can apply your pedagogical skills to teach me how to do the same? 😀

  6. I love your street photography… Truly works of art these… I love how creatives are inspired by one another, yet no two pieces of work are the same each person has their own interpretation.

    • 14 hmunro

      Thank you, dear Rochelle! Your kind comment has made my day.

      Last year I did a project with a friend and very accomplished photographer in which we went to the same place and shot the same things — but our images were astoundingly different. It really awakened me to the fact that, in a sense, there’s no such thing as a truly shared experience because we all see the world through our own unique filters.

      Anyway, thank you so much for stopping by! It’s always lovely to hear from you.


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