One of the photography genres that I’ve been exploring is street photography. Everyone seems to have their own view of what makes a photo an example of street photography, but there are a few agreed upon constants. To me, the important elements of street photography are the urban location and candid photos of people depicting a slice of life. The best street photos tell a story, and the very best capture a “decisive moment” as coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Where a landscape photographer might focus on refining his composition skills and making sure every part of the photograph is just right, a street photographer must practice timing. Read this for an example of the importance of timing in photography. I’d like to share some of my recent favorites from a couple of walks around Seattle armed with my camera.
I took this photo at Pike Place Market, where there are multiple locations selling flower arrangements for around $10. FTD and other flower companies should be ashamed of how much they charge for their products. Items on the periphery of photos can be a problem, but they can also add interest. In this case, I think the woman on the left adds interest because we can see just enough of her to judge her facial reaction and pose. Yet there is enough missing to suggest a larger story.
This guy was also found at Pike Place Market. He was giving away free slices of delicious pears. He was fairly loud and sarcastic, and I think I captured that in this picture, along with the pear, in mid-slice. He acted a little upset that I took his picture, but I couldn’t tell if he was joking. He did have a knife, though…
The stars of the show at the PPM are the fishmongers who toss fish back and forth in response to people’s orders. There are often large crowds of people around them, watching. They get a little annoyed when more people are watching than ordering, though. I realize there are some who would cry blasphemy that I categorize a color photo as a street shot, but I think the colors here are important. The red of the “catcher’s” hat, the pink of the fish, and the red light above the thrower’s left hand all add to the photo in my opinion. I tried it in black and white and didn’t like the result. The timing in this shot was important, and I love the out of focus dude’s expression as he awaits yet another giant, cold, slimy fish being thrown his way. The angle the shot was taken at helps add to the movement of the scene and creates a sense of motion and tension. Diagonal lines are often used for this purpose in action shots.
This is the last picture from the market, I swear. The “Now in Season” sign at the top of the picture makes me laugh because it makes me think of the humans being in season, or tourist season. Ok, maybe I’m the only one who thinks that. Anyway, I like the “slice of life” aspect of this photo, along with some visual things. The bright white of the ice and apron on the left balances nicely with the darker right side of the photo and the man in silhouette on the extreme right edge. I also like the reflections on the floor and even the drain on the floor. I like pictures like this that reward close inspection with a lot of details and I wish I could take more of them. It’s hard to get right, though, because it’s equally important to lead the eyes to the subject of the photo and keep distracting details out.
I like the aesthetics of this photo with the men nicely following the rule of three, not to be confused with the rule of thirds. The fact that it took three men to stand and the front of the boat and guide us in was funny to me. Yes, I realize they each has his work to do when the boat docks, but at this moment three seems like overkill. Kudos to the pilot, though, because they aim those ferries well.
I mostly like this picture because of the matching hats. In this case, the diagonal lines lead the eye towards the main subject, but they also create a subtle feeling of motion. Can you find the word “camera” in this picture?
This one was serendipity at its finest. I took the picture because I wanted a picture of the convertible with some panning to show movement. I didn’t realize how fitting the advertisement on the side of the bus was until I opened the image on my computer. If the ad had been perfectly clear instead of motion-blurred, I don’t think this photo would have had the same impact.