Sunday, March 3, 2013

X-Pro1 And Street Shooting

I went to the Bronx Documentary Center on Saturday to see a show entitled Seis Del Sur - Dispaches From Home by Six Nuyorican Photographers. On display was their work that at some point in their careers documented life in the South Bronx. I was particularly drawn to the show because of the work of Angel Franco, a senior photographer for the New York Times who I met when I was a young pup (photographically). Franco was close friends with my mentor, Mario Cabrera, and they both were brought along by Ben Fernandez who was chairman of the photo department at the New School at the time I was learning my craft. The show runs only through this coming Saturday, and should not be missed.

After seeing their work I was inspired to get out and do some shooting. I guess it's pretty obvious by now to anyone who has read this blog over the past year - I love shooting street, and I love doing it with the XP1. In my hands the camera feels like the perfect tool to craft the images I see and feel in my eye and gut. And the 14mm f/2.8 lens is ideal for the crowded streets and public transportation of Manhattan.

I look for two different scenarios when I shoot street: firstly, to find a person or several people involved in the environment around them and/or with each other. When I see that I try to be as nonintrusive as possible - I don't want to enter into the equation of the moment, but rather just let it play out and bear witness to it with the camera. Secondly, to see an interesting facial expression or interaction with me, the photographer - often involves engaging the person in conversation. Rarely am I drawn to photograph a scene on the street that does not involve people somehow.

Here's three examples I shot in midtown Manhattan. For the first image, I only saw the gentleman walking towards me from about ten paces away. Not much time to get the shot. That's when the wide angle lens and the XP1 earn their price. If I'd have tried to get this with my Nikon D700 and equivalent lens I would have been jamming the thing up his nose.

I was on the subway going up to the Bronx Center, deep in thought about Franco and what I might encounter on the streets of a neighborhood I'd never visited. I felt a looming presence next to me and when I looked up my finger tripped the shutter before I ever thought about it.

Sometimes people on the street really do oblige me by giving me a shot. I'm sure this gentleman had not a clue as to why I wanted this photograph, but afterwards I talked with him for about ten minutes and promised to email the jpg to him. There's certain things about people on the street that catch my eye immediately: with men it's beards and cigars, with women it's legs and faces. Can't help it, I am what I am.

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