Folsom Street Fair - NSFW

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by spearhead, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    Who else went? As usual, a great event, but for the first time in years, with great weather. Usually there is harsh sun that means shooting on one side of the street, the other side is too hot and harsh, but this year it was overcast and a lot less steamy.
    My gallery here is a bit unedited, I expect to cut it down to well under half, and it includes a number of photos from the music stage of bands I know and work with. It would be great to see what other people have.
    It should be understood that some posts here will be Not Safe For Work, please post links rather than photos here.
     
  2. Here's my stuff... All shot with a cellphone cam...
     
  3. I was going to go but in the space of a week the weather forecast went from "partly cloudy" to "cloudy with 40% chance of rain". At least that's what two out of three forecasts predicted on Sat. night. So I decided not to chance it. Instead, me and my father went to see the Bill Owens exhibit (which is worth seeing) at San Jose Museum of Art. It rained in San Jose a bit so I felt a little better about not going to Folsom. I'll be at next years Folsom Street Fair...weather permitting of course.
     
  4. Both great. cellphone Holga, schweet. Jeff, did you shoot using a lot of fill flash? I think the set is just amazing. Showing the creativity and color of the people and the event and the pics are great in so many levels. My take of the fair when I went was that people revel in showing themselves it is an exhibition fair, and I especially like it when both you guys present people as they themselves would like to be portrayed. The photos both in b/w and color. Plus, I was really enjoying the processing of both, and especially enjoying the skin tones Jeff was getting. You must teach some tricks some time:) The only thing I found disturbing was Jeff's photo of that dude with the cap and a beard molesting a poster? Now that is bloody disturbing.
    Too bad I missed it again this year, had to work down here in So Cal half the weekend and am kicking myself. Hopefully next year. Did you guys go early?
    Here's one from a couple of years ago.. [​IMG]
     
  5. Jeff. I grew up on the SF penninsula. I now live in New England. I miss SF and its unrestrained psyche. The quality of your pictures is always the best. I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures.
     
  6. Brad, Excellent stuff as usual.
    I do not think you forgot to bring the camera to the event. Any particular reasons to use cell phone camera? Regardless they are great.
     
  7. Brad, I like the look of those photos, in fact I just reset my Lumix to square format, dynamic B&W, spot meter, and exposure to -1 to see if I can duplicate it today. What I won't be able to find around here is similar subject matter. Maybe in Santa Cruz?
     
  8. >>> I do not think you forgot to bring the camera to the event. Any particular reasons to use cell phone camera? No, I had my dSLR in my bag. My interest in shooting SF events has diminished a lot over the last couple of years - I've been passing on most lately. But knowing there was a good chance of rain, and it would be an overcast day, brought me out knowing the light would be decent - unlike every other year for that event. That, and wanting to come back with something different, led me to shooting with just my phone. The nature of the event seemed well-matched to the processing. Going out with a full-charge, my battery was sucked down after 200 or so shots. I just purchased an external battery for my phone to guard against that in the future. Thanks Barry, Insoo, and Sanford...
     
  9. Shooting in a square format does not come naturally. My first attempts look like rectangles with the sides cut off.
     
  10. Brad, nice shots! Correct me if I am wrong, but I sence from viewing your images and others by you that you are doing more candid work as compared to your former on location street portraits. I also think that getting a good candid shot is more difficult that the controlled on location portrait. Anyway I like what I see. Forgive me for saying this if I offend anyone, but at this type of event, shooting on location portraits is like falling off a log, it is just to easy. Shooting the candid HCB type shot is by far the greater challange. Again , nice shots
    00ZOJL-401877584.jpg
     
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    Shooting the candid HCB type shot is by far the greater challange​

    Why is that? You don't need people skills that often for shoot-and-run. People skills are harder to develop than camera skills.
     
  12. With an on location portrait you have control over virtually every aspect of the photograph. With a candid shot you have very little control, if any, of the subject(s) . You have a fraction of a second to compose and shoot with usually only one shot available. The type of people skills needed for on location photography are not harder to develop than the camera skills needed for the quickest of shooting and the eyes and reflexes needed to execute and compose a great shot. People skills are people skills regardless of how they are put to use and regardless of the profession you are engaged in. For example, how many photography seminars do you see totally dedicated to developing people skills. I haven't seen any in 28 years, although they might exist. Also I have seen some of the biggest pricks shooting in studio fashion in NYC, who had virtually no people skills but produced great images. I don't know if I even agree that people skills are learned, you pretty much have them or not by the time you graduate High School. Basically the people skills you refer to are simply being nice and it is extrememly easy at the type of event you shot to get anyone to agree to have their picture taken, after all, these subjects are specifically present to be seen and want their picture taken
     
  13. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    how many photography seminars do you see totally dedicated to developing people skills.​
    And the result of that is a lot of distant and boring shots of people snapped surreptitiously.
    You have a fraction of a second to compose and shoot with usually only one shot available.​
    Some of my best street shots were taken by standing in one location that had the right vibe and watching for something to happen. Composition is often done well before the subject has entered the frame.
    I have seen some of the biggest pricks shooting in studio fashion in NYC​
    Nothing to do with street portraiture. These are photographers who deal with clients and professional models, not people on the street.
    I don't know if I even agree that people skills are learned​
    You can learn to speak to people in new ways, just like you can learn to look at things in different ways. However, this comment is funny since you also say this:
    The type of people skills needed for on location photography are not harder to develop than the camera skills needed for the quickest of shooting and the eyes and reflexes needed to execute and compose a great shot.​
    which says the opposite. You're going to have to decide if they can not be learned or if they are easier to develop than camera skills. In other words, you've made completely opposite statements in a single paragraph.
    it is extrememly easy at the type of event you shot to get anyone to agree to have their picture take​
    It's just as easy to snap candids, since nobody cares about cameras. Actually easier, since the people you ask sometimes turn you down, or you want them to move out of the sunlight, and then you have to work on these things.
    these subjects are specifically present to be seen and want their picture taken​
    Plenty of them initially turn me and other photographers down. In fact, many of them work pretty normal business jobs and being shown this way is not good for them, although things have changed quite a bit in that respect in the last five years. I sometimes have to show them my book and chat about where they will be posted, and have a general discussion about the event or life in general, before getting the OK.
     
  14. It's difficult to get a good photo of any kind.
    It's often pretty clear when people take photos like they were "falling off a log." The photos usually show that kind of superficiality and ease rather than depth. Deeper and more interesting photos, whether candid, set up, whether shot at a fair, or shot in a studio, or out on Main Street, require vision and skill. Just because you have willing models with out-of-the-mainstream looks doesn't mean you have an easy good photo. Relying on "freaky" or different looking people alone, without some sort of vision and depth of approach, just doesn't cut it. (Look at Arbus if you want to see a thought-out and significant approach to what at the time were considered odd and/or controversial subjects.) Having seen thousands of photos taken at San Francisco fairs of "interesting-looking" people, I know how few are actually good photos or ones that I'm interested in spending more than a second with.
    The reason to find Jeff's and Brad's photos good has less than you might think to do with the raw materials they worked with.
    .
    With an on location portrait you have control over virtually every aspect of the photograph.​
    Right, so that means thinking, decisions to make, intentionality.
    ________________________
    The main difference between candid photos and ones that are set up is that the former are candid and the latter are set up. Yes, of course, different types of photographers and photographers working in different genres will have some different concerns and develop some different skill sets. But, the seemingly ever-present claims that one is more difficult than the other, one is more honest or true than the other, one is more photographic than the other, are bogus.
     
  15. Bottom line for me is that no way do I believe that people skills are more difficult than camera skills. Again, if that were true we would be seeing countless seminars on learning people skills. I would also say that the camera skills necessary for on location portatraits is less than candid street photography since you have much more time to work out exposure, conposition,lighting, you can move subjects into better light, you can take multiple pictures of the same subject until you get it "right" Hilarious thread!
     
  16. John, I'm glad you like my pix - thanks! But... I have to take issue on a few things. Except for the last photo, none of my pix were snapped candidly. I pretty much got in front of people and fired. There's not too much to it, other than that. On some portraits I took multiple shots and picked the one during editing that had a look I was seeking. The post-processing atmospherics might give the illusion of candidness. But they really weren't. On people skills. They're difficult to learn, and like any other aspect of photography, it takes *a lot* of practice - I pretty much learned from watching Jeff. Engaging strangers on the street and getting them to do what you want is a refined skill, usually involving establishing trust. It's easy to talk about and rationalize how simple it is in the abstract, but difficult to do where it all comes together with ease on the street. Success has a lot to do with reading people in an instant and fine tuning your approach as you engage. It's subtle. As are all aspects of good photography. With respect to few/no workshops out there on developing those skills, that's really a shame. I see many photographers shooting on the street where I can spot in an instant they're uncomfortable being around and shooting people, even candidly. Ultimately, I believe that's revealed in their photographs.
     
  17. I guess I am underestimating the people skills required to do street portraiture. Easy mistake for me since i don't do it. To the contrary I try to avoid it. Often, especially like the event Brad and Jeff just shot, people ask me to take their picture (posed). I do it not to be rude, but have never published or printed one. Its just not a type of photography I am attracted to do myself. Different strokes for different folks.
     
  18. . . . street portraiture . . . i don't do it.​
    Then why do you make so many claims about its relative ease, the skill required to do it, and the kinds of outcomes achieved?
    This forum, the "street" forum, tends to be filled with a fair amount of folks who assume their way is either better, truer, or more difficult than other ways, often other ways they've never even tried. Candid street work can be great and good candid street work is rare and difficult. As are all forms of photography. MY way isn't better, harder, or truer than YOUR way. We can discuss and embrace all the differences, we can nuance them and understand them, but we don't have to JUDGE them the way they are so often judged here.
     
  19. Interesting discussion. I can only wonder what I may have come home with had I decided to chance the weather and attend. With me, regardless of my location, sometimes I engage with people for a picture, other times I shoot candid. It depends on what the picture in each instance is likely to result in. After all is said and done, I don't dwell on could haves, should haves, or would haves. I look at my results and if I don't like them, that's the end of the story. One of the questions people always seem to ask me when they first see my work is "Do these people know you are photographing them"? It's a legit question and I wonder if it would change how they see the work (or me), but I also don't think it matters if a shot is candid or not. If I like the work that's what's important. If others like it as well, that's fine too. It just tells me I made the best possible choices in taking the picture the way that I did.
     
  20. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    As Brad mentioned, the weather was a positive. It did rain on and off before noon, but after that, it was fine. The overcast was a real treat after all the years of hard (and hot) sunshine, the cool-ness meant that it was easier to stick around.
     
  21. Lots of fun looking through those!
    If I had to pick out a couple of favorites, and I do, it would be Jeff's shot of the christ-like person in front of the blue roll-up door, and Brad's shot of the person with a necktie wearing Jodhpurs.
     
  22. Making a successfully interesting photo has many facets. Obviously, everyone here knows that. It's a challenge to move oneself out of the comfort zone of shooting the known and familiar and develop the judgement to discern substance opposed to what is just repetitive and cliche or imbued with false gravitas. Maybe part of having that freshness is developing a state of basic humility and real interest/curiosity about the subjects of your photography. Here, for instance Brad's and Jeff's photos have that playful quality, Jeff's in this set captures the joy of the revelers at the event, the creativity, the voluptuousness and pure joy of expression both by the fairgoers and in the taking and processing of the photographs themselves. To me, a So Cal dude, my take is that the Fair is as much about an attitude of joy in freedom of expressing in as joyfully extreme manner possible what it is and who it is one chooses to be that is uniquely the best of San Francisco, much less about the sexual fetishism of the fair or sexual orientation itself. Its really celebratory. At least that was my take of the Fair the one time I was able to get to it and that's how I see these photographs.
    That perspective may be shallow to some, but to me the overly dour exposition of a culture and its members is overdone and somewhat boring no matter the skill level.
     
  23. after many quite boring threads of photos this was an enjoyable experience. Generous also to show the lot, not something that happens that often. Thanks for that.
    I agree with Fred here, good photography is hard at the best of times. That said John is right in sofar that shooting at events isn't that hard in that whichever way you turn there are opportunities for good shots in abundance concentrated in a relatively small place. Where you go wrong John is in:
    "Bottom line for me is that no way do I believe that people skills are more difficult than camera skills".
    Oh yes they are! And you know it ;-) If you couple experience with opportunity many photographers could go to an event like this and be sure to get a fair amount of good photos. Still, I've seen enough photos from good photographers who went there who's photos weren't that good, mostly because they wouldn't get close enough or engage the people there. That's because, as Barry aptly put it it's
    "much less about the sexual fetishism of the fair or sexual orientation itself" and more about
    "an attitude of joy in freedom of expressing in as joyfully extreme manner possible". He's right I think and to get the most out of that (photographically speaking) you've often got to engage. Besides, it's more fun that way, at least during events.
    Thanks for the photos.
    00ZOSJ-402037584.jpg
     
  24. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    (Ton) shooting at events isn't that hard in that whichever way you turn there are opportunities for good shots in abundance concentrated in a relatively small place.​
    Relatively speaking, photographers gravitate towards places where there will be more opportunities. I can spend all day in San Francisco in Presidio Heights and see about three people on the street that aren't contractors, gardeners, etc., or I can go to Mission Street and see people all day and night. It's always a matter of degree. So many photographers will gravitate towards events to maximize opportunities. I don't place any value on going to Presidio Heights and standing there all day because it's "hard."
    (Barry) uniquely the best of San Francisco​
    You are very right, Barry, in your characterization of the Fair, and most events in San Francisco. We have gone past the divisions often found in large groups of people, and have events that encompass everyone, except perhaps fundamentalists of most religions. This event is only missing children, otherwise it is a true melting pot of everyone in San Francisco.
     
  25. Jeff, excellent points. One additions is that, if you are doing an architectural series or putting together a group of photos of upper class urban dwellings, Pacific Heights would provide a myriad of opportunities. People seek out fairs, sunsets, bustling neighborhoods, pretty models, downtown high rises for the opportunities they want.
    Of course, opportunity is only one element. Ton and John, a wealth of opportunities on a given day or in a particular neighborhood doesn't make handling the camera or making a good photo any easier. As a matter of fact, a viewer can often tell when a photographer is simply shooting fish in a barrel and when it's easier to do that it is sometimes even more difficult to make a good photo.
    I've always remembered the words a very experienced photographer said to me when I had presented him with what he thought was a really good portrait of a very interesting-looking fellow. He said, now try making a really good portrait of a regular or average-looking guy. Can you take an Abercrombie and Fitch model and make it not look like an ad or an "attractive" photo and do something more personal and unique with it? There's a continuum we exist in between making photos of extraordinary persons or things and making extraordinary photos of more ordinary things. And lots of stuff between those two. We seem to be placing undo emphasis on the so-called accessibility of subject matter. Such accessibility is as likely to lead to thoughtless and typical photographs as it is to more compelling ones.
     
  26. Fred's last paragraph kind of reminds of a scene from the movie "Almost Famous" of a conversation between the Cameron Crowe character and "Penny Lane". Paraphrasing the dialogue, he asked her if she ever hangs around with normal people and she replied that famous people are just more interesting.
    That aside, I think Fred's right, the challenge is to make an interesting photo of a normal person and that requires a little more than just shooting fruit as it falls off the tree. But the thing about the Folsom fair is, all those people are normal. Espcially In the context of the event. To capture that reality is, to me, interesting. It humanizes people greatly.
     
  27. Barry, I think we agree in spirit and sentiment. Thanks. Just an important point that I didn't and don't use the word "normal" in this sort of context.
     
  28. Sorry Fred, don't mean to be dense, but not understanding ". . . use the word "normal" in this sort of context."
     
  29. Barry, you said "I think Fred's right, the challenge is to make an interesting photo of a normal person . . ." I didn't use the word "normal" and wouldn't use it in the context of talking about people at Folsom Street Fairs or people photographed by Arbus.
     
  30. Ahhh got it. I was referring to your friends comment about "average-looking guy" Sorry.
     

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