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?