iPhone street shooting video by Koci Hernandez

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by brad__, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. Check out this really excellent video about street shooting with your phone by Richard Koci Hernandez. He's a journalist and a professor of journalism at UC Berkeley. It's iPhone specific, but the principles apply to any mobile phone.
    Link
     
  2. I saw that video a couple of days ago. I've done this with a DSLR, a compact and a smartphone, and in my opinion, a compact like the Canon S90/95/100 has it all over the phone for this purpose. If anything, I've found that doing this with a phone is actually less discreet. Look, it's a wide angle lens, and it's not like you can just pretend to be using your phone... you really have to point that thing very carefully if you don't want any wild distortions, and doing so makes it pretty obvious that you're taking a picture rather than reading what's on the display. In fact, because of their shape, flat but wide, the phones look larger when pointed at someone than a little compact digicam does. You're also stuck with only the wide angle lens, and so you have no choice: you always have to be very close to the subject.
    Personally, I've found it's much easier to do street photography with a compact digicam. I particularly like the Canon S series, simply because the lens can easily be zoomed or set to open at a precise focal length, like 28, 35, 50, 85, 105. It's a million times more versatile than a phone camera, and the picture quality is much better overall - all i-hype aside.
     
  3. >>> If anything, I've found that doing this with a phone is actually less discreet. Look, it's a wide angle lens, and it's not like you can
    just pretend to be using your phone...

    I've shot with the same range of cameras from a 5DII with large/heavy lens, a compact LX3, and my camera phone. For me, with
    respect to discreetness, it makes absolutely no difference. Why pretend?

    >>> You're also stuck with only the wide angle lens, and so you have no choice: you always have to be very close to the subject.

    Yes, I much prefer being close to my subjects. For me, good street photography is about being close to people, and best shot from
    within rather than from afar down the block. Before moving to cellphone shooting my only lens used on my 5DII was a 35mm.

    I'm really enjoying shooting with my phone, going on 6 months now. Its versatility as a device that supports so many aspects of my
    street shooting is key.
     
  4. Thanks Brad. I think there are a few lesson's in here:
    -gear doesn't matter, not really
    -limitations can be assets
    -street: shoot close, very close
    I still shoot most of my work with a (D)SLR or a MF camera but find myself using my iPhone more often. When I was walking the frozen canals in Amsterdam two weeks ago I used my iPhone a lot more than I did my DSLR. It's fun and about the obvious limitations I feel very much at home by what Travis said about that the other day:
    "Coming from a traditional photography background, I was very anti iPhoneography in the begining. I felt that mobile photography was almost like cheating in a way, because the camera does all the work: sets shutter speed, aperture, etc. But now I just don't care"
     
  5. Eek-sellent! Any experienced photographer who wants to teach or mentor a new photographer should watch that video. It effectively demonstrates why digital is such a great teaching tool.
    And it's the best implementation I've seen yet demonstrating how great digital is for teaching. The apps for locking focus on one area while dragging a finger around to show the effect of metering on exposure, including silhouettes ... wow. That's the type of technique I find myself struggling to explain to new photographers, and it's demonstrated so well with those apps.
    I don't even own a working cell phone now, but if I had to teach someone the basics of photography, I'd definitely consider something like an iPhone or the Android equivalent now.
     
  6. >>> I think there are a few lesson's in here:

    One more, and that applies to any kind of capture method, was his stressing finding good light. That is so
    key. And yeah, Travis' words and reflections are great...

    >>> Eek-sellent! Any experienced photographer who wants to teach or mentor a new photographer should
    watch that video.

    That's what I liked, especially with the sp vids around on the net now that try and portray sp into some
    kind of bad-ass macho endeavor, even some going full-Gilden* on passersby for the shock value. But not really *teaching* anything about
    the craft of sp to people wanting to learn.

    * I like Bruce Gilden a lot, IMO, one of the best street shooters out there - something I suspect not many would agree with.
     
  7. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I've shot with the same range of cameras from a 5DII with large/heavy lens, a compact LX3, and my camera phone. For me, with respect to discreetness, it makes absolutely no difference. Why pretend?​

    The only big difference is ease of carrying. A phone is easiest. A compact is easy but less easy than a phone. A dSLR is a pain to carry for a full day if you're not being paid. Otherwise, I have the same experience as Brad. I'm as obvious (or as discreet, depending on how you want to look at it) with a big camera as a phone.
     
  8. to which I might add, I carry my iPhone with me all the time which I don't with any cam, not even a P&S
     
  9. Yes, I much prefer being close to my subjects. For me, good street photography is about being close to people, and best shot from within rather than from afar down the block. Before moving to cellphone shooting my only lens used on my 5DII was a 35mm.​
    For the past week, I've been spending time in the "Street" category of the Photo Critique forum. I've posted a couple of my own for critiques and I've submitted my opinion on others...choosing my words carefully here....overall, with a couple of very notable exceptions, I found most of the 'street' photos dull, and uninteresting...sterile is the word that stuck in my head. I think it is because of the lack of interaction between photographer and the environment surrounding the subject. I believe many of the photos were taken using a telephoto lens which is like sniping: very precise, but cold and emotionless. That comes across in the quality of the photo to me. So, it stands to reason that using a tiny phone camera is far more challenging to pull off. You sort of have to make friends with the subject, however briefly,before you take their picture.
     
  10. Well, all I can say is try it. I saw the video on a website which is apple-specific, so anything is suspect. I like to shoot close too, but that doesn't mean I want to be limited to it by the phone. 28mm equivalent is not the only way to be close, or even to do street photography. It's just one way. What is hardly discussed is that unless the conditions are pretty close to perfect, and the lighting behind you is such that you can easily see the phone's display, you're not going to get much of a picture from a phone of any brand, unless your standards are pretty low.
    Look, I'm not saying they are useless for it, just that it's not all it's made out to be.
    I've looked at a lot of pictures on iphone photography sites, and I'm pretty sure that many of them are faked, ie originally taken with a better camera, downsampled and transferred to a phone in order to be app'ed. People will do those things, you know.
     
  11. Regarding Gilden's style (which makes me laugh because he's so New Yawk - I remember fellows just like that when I was a kid in NYC), what made that video so good is that Hernandez demonstrated a balanced variety of styles and approaches toward accomplishing the goal. Within a 12 minute video he covered pretty much the gamut of approaches, from establishing a rapport with subjects and photographing them openly, to the hip-shot and side-shot sneak grabs.
    The "pretending I'm listening to music" thing was hilarious because it reminded me of those tiny ads in the back of Modern Photography back in the 1960s for those mirrored sideways view doodads you could stick on your "girlwatcher" lens.
    "...you're not going to get much of a picture from a phone of any brand, unless your standards are pretty low."​
    Considering how popular low tech, low rez cameras and optics are - Holga, Lomo, the original Lensbaby - there's a significant demographic of photographers whose interests are beyond worrying about technical specifications... other than deliberately choosing to seek particular types of technical flaws in the pursuit of their preferred aesthetic. Not much different from me sticking my well corrected Nikkors on my SLRs and then abusing TMY by pushing it to 6400 and throwing away most of the technical capabilities Nikon engineers tried to craft into the equipment. But, yeh, my standards actually are pretty low, I admit it.
     
  12. >>> Well, all I can say is try it. I saw the video on a website which is apple-specific, so anything is
    suspect.

    Suspect? Please be more specific.

    >>> you're not going to get much of a picture from a phone of any brand, unless your standards are pretty low.

    Now that's really funny!
     
  13. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    you're not going to get much of a picture from a phone of any brand, unless your standards are pretty low.​


    Check out this exhibition of 20" x20" prints from phone cameras used by two street shooters. There wasn't a single negative comment about how the prints looked at the very well-attended opening.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Hey, I recognize that second photo from the right... must be a good 'un, since I'd seen it only once before somewhere on photo.net.
     
  15. Coming from a traditional photography background, I was very anti iPhoneography in the begining. I felt that mobile photography was almost like cheating in a way, because the camera does all the work: sets shutter speed, aperture, etc. But now I just don't care"


    Ton, you only ever shoots fully manual on your dslr? Come on, automation can be good. It allows one to focus on the subject. As much as I like your recent site redo, I find your "iphoneography" label rather silly. You have urban and doc up there as I recall, and not nikon dslr photography, digital compact photography, etc...Photography is photography whether it's the Iphone, LF, Minox, d300 or whatever...
     
  16. bms

    bms

    Inspiring. The last few times I was in NYC I left my M at home and took my Nikon V1 - smaller, faster, more automatic - I felt it improved my shooting (plus with a "27 mm equivalent" I had to get closer)... Maybe next time I'll just take my phone :)
     
  17. Leslie, for the record, Ton didn't use the word "iphoneography." He was quoting a guy named Travis who said all that stuff.
     
  18. E, look here...right next to urban works and documentary.
     
  19. It isn't a big deal (nice site btw, Ton) but it is just a tad silly imo, that's all...
     
  20. Leslie, I don't think it's silly at all. It's descriptive and speaks to a movement. Kind of like the Digital
    forum changing names to Mirrorless (even though I and millions of others been shooting with mirrorless
    cams for more than a decade).

    In the end, it's Ton's site. He's out there actually shooting with one regularly and getting outstanding results - he
    can name the category anything he wants.
     
  21. Leslie, to begin with I always welcome constructive feedback so thanks for that but I think you misunderstood about why I like the quote of Travis. The reason is fairly simple, I come from a very traditional background as well. The Academy I went to, and the very reason for choosing that particular one, was they still used traditional techniques as part of their program, all the old procede's. The emphasis was on photography and developing and printing technique. It took me a fairly long time to switch to digital as a result and I was just as hesitant about using my iPhone for any "serious" photography until quit recently.
    As for your question, I hardly ever shoot manual. I prefer to use aperture or shutter priority when using a camera that has these features, which nowadays is almost all digital.
    As for the rest, and mind you I never thought about it as deeply as this very text might suggest, using that iPhoneography tab does send the message that gear isn't as important as it is often made out to be which is exactly what you are getting at as well.
    No app is going to create you a good photo but shooting with a (relatively speaking) low-res phonecamera doesn't mean one can't create outstanding results, with or without using apps.
     
  22. That is a good video, and the photographer points out a lot of things that are teaching points for young photographers. For those that pooh-pooh the iphone 4s -- it's an 8mp camera. I don't own a smartphone of any sort, but this video certainly points out how one can use any tool to its fullest when you know what to do with it and have good ideas for your work.
     
  23. Leslie, I don't think it's silly at all. It's descriptive and speaks to a movement.​
    Well, we disagree...Not a big deal. Monotony is rather boring, no? As for a movement? Perhaps, someone is too amorous with their tool brand;)
    In the end, it's Ton's site. He's out there actually shooting with one regularly and getting outstanding results - he can name the category anything he wants.​
    Of course, without saying...
    ...using that iPhoneography tab does send the message that gear isn't as important as it is often made out to be which is exactly what you are getting at as well.​
    I feel different regarding this matter. Just by naming/calling it Iphoneography (or leica photography, lofi photography or RF photography) conjures up some preconceived notion biases (more so than just being descriptive), which I don't personally like...I think these biases would turn off (and on, also) certain groups of audience...I rather people like my photographs because of what they are and not because it's mirrorless, Iphoneography, or, say, RF photography...
    PS.
    • E, don't quote "for the record" so quick:)
    • Again, Ton, nice site...Iphoneography isn't much in the scheme of things.
    • I actually like the Iphone. Except maybe for the mandatory two year contract thingy
    • WTF is Travis? Sorry, I don't stop here by often enough...
     
  24. >>> Monotony is rather boring, no? As for a movement? Perhaps, someone is too amorous with their
    tool brand;)

    Monotony? Please elaborate on that.

    The movement, perhaps not a good term, actually, in general is cameraphones; of that there happens to be a lot of traction with Apple's.

    >>> I think these biases would turn off (and on, also) certain groups of audience...

    No, it's Ton's photos that actually speak. I can't think of a single person who would be "turned off" by a label. However, I
    could see some finding it helpful if they're into the same type of capture.

    >>> I rather people like my photographs because of what they are and not because it's mirrorless,
    Iphoneography, or, say, RF photography...

    And of course you can label your tabs as you see fit. Others recognize it might be good to set them
    aside from their other photography.
     
  25. Leslie firstly, your opinion is as valid as mine or anyone elses. Secondly, your mind seems set, not that I would try to convince you otherwise. On the other hand it's quite conceivable you may have missed something, that's why I'm going to explain.
    The word movement was perhaps not as unluckily chosen after all. There's no denying that cam phones and in particular the iPhone have created an alltogether different, or more precise, an added approach to creative photography. A lot of this is certainly due to the retro Hipstamatic app
    For most this is only fun. For some, like Brad, Travis and me, it's a lot more than that. From a personal point of view I think there's an immediacy that's hard to get from a P&S or a 35mm (D)SLR. Then there's availability, it's a camera that I always and I do mean always carry with me.
    As for quality, sure it's a tiny weeny wide angle lens with a fixed aperture of 2,8 and ISO 80, serious limitations for sure. And yet it's possible to create great photography with that. I'm not going to tell you it compares to a (D)SLR or even a high-end P&S because it doesn't. On the other hand I've created 30x30 prints that I would use without any hesitation in a gallery exhibit.
    Consider this, the most important museum on contemporary art in the Netherlands, the Kunsthal did a major and prominant exhibit on just this kind of photography in 2011 and by know they've decided to go on with that.
    In the US, to give just one example, there's the iPhoneography annual exhibit in Miami. Now, I know from firsthand experience that curators in places like this are people who take art very serious so one would think there's something to it.
    In the end it all deals with serious photography (and I for one take my photography very serious). Some may not like it but by now it's quite certain that it's a lot more than just another hype. It's about photography.
    BTW, Travis is Travis Jensen, one helluva SF based photographer who does not frequent this forum.
     
  26. Ton sums up nicely about what phonecam shooting is about from a dedicated sp perspective.

    I would just
    add that my phone also offers a lot extra value supporting my street shooting. Taking personal notes, capturing
    subject information, realtime bus schedules and positioning, voice recording, showing potential subjects
    portfolios of photos (though I'm using a 7" Kindle Fire for that now), GPS, maps, light post processing,
    keeping appointments, social media photo uploads, plus all of the normal other "stuff," like email, web,
    listening to music, reading news, and phone calls. At the end of a day of shooting, my photos sync
    wirelessly for organizing into LR on my desktop computer or laptop if I'm on the road.


    Ton, quick question re 30x30. Centimeters, right? I think you'd also be pleased going even beyond that.
     
  27. yes Brad, it was indeed centimeters. If I remember correctly you've printed some 30x30 inch. Must be a sight.
    and to add to the extra value you mentioned, I commute by train every day for two hours so I watch video as well. Just watched The King's Speech. Also a great way to unwind after a day of shooting. Versatile camera or what? ;-)
     
  28. Ton,
    I could be wrong but I don't see how the availability and immediacy have to do with anything. I carry my P&S 99% of the time while out. Immediacy maybe god send, if you are working for reuters or even working an event but street photography, really? Good result is great result whether it's via camphone in a minute or a month, say, Clive France's art film prints. Time matters little here...
    As for Miami Iphone exhibition, I could careless. I lived in the area and Art Basel (the largest, most famous art fest in America, they say) doesn't impress me much. Great arts need not to be judged by what museum they exhibited in, what price they sold for, nor whether In-Public folks like them or not...
    That said, I do like the Iphone. Nothing wrong with it, it's cool because of the additional functions, Brad mentioned. But I think that by just labeling photography "Iphoneography" is a bit silly. It takes away its seriousness IMO. The photos should speak for themselves. Does Bruce Gilden has a section called leica flash photography on his site? Does Alex Soth have a LF label on his site? Nevermind Magnum shooters, let's talk PN folks now. Does Jeff S. have Iphoneography on his site, he uses an Iphone I heard. How about Mike D.? He used (or still does) an M3, does he specify anything RF/leica photography on his site?
    Again, do whatever you feel. Anyhow, I swamped with work. Sorry for my slow replies...
     
  29. To be clear, I have nothing against Iphoneography itself nor the Iphone, lomo, toy cam or lo-fi photgraphy. Hmmm...maybe I just despise so called labels. FWIW I hate (most) modern SP. I think many so called street shooters should take a beginning composition photo course...
     
  30. Again, do whatever you feel.​
    I meant to say forget what I said instead/nevermind. Of course, I meant *Alec* Soth. Best to you, Ton.
     
  31. Interesting video particulary about the use of light.
    Anway, time for a photo a mobile phone one of course.
     
  32. Well Leslie the way I see it you keep making this bigger than it is or deserves.
    The photos should speak for themselves.​
    yes, and either they do or they don't. No label is going to change that. I judge contests and some people keep hammering on about a black frame would be so much better than a white frame on any given photo. What they actually should concentrate on is the actual photo. It's just one example of people distracted by inconsequential stuff.
    Does Bruce Gilden has a section called leica flash photography on his site? Does Alex Soth have a LF label on his site? Nevermind Magnum shooters, let's talk PN folks now. Does Jeff S. have Iphoneography on his site, he uses an Iphone I heard. How about Mike D.? He used (or still does) an M3, does he specify anything RF/leica photography on his site?​
    Why would I care or anyone else for that matter? Again it's inconsequential. I look at their photography, not inconsequential things surrounding it. Presentation is important but only so much. Of course, in Alec Soth's case the fact that he shoots some of his series with a 8x10 is intrumental in these results.
    Immediacy maybe god send, if you are working for reuters or even working an event but street photography, really?​
    yes, really.
    Great arts need not to be judged by what museum they exhibited in...​
    it should tell you something though
    whether it's via camphone in a minute or a month, say, Clive France's art film prints. Time matters little here...​
    these are two different things though. Post work, whether in a darkroom or behind a computer is quite different from shooting work. Any idea how long it takes to create a salt print for instance? Does it automatically follow that a cam shot gets printed without any form of post? Mine don't and time matters very much if you want your resulting photos to be as good as they can be, camshots just the same as all other ones. I do postwork for some other photographers as well. They wouldn't like it one bit if they thought I rushed it or took shortcuts. Believe you me, time does matter and you take as much as is needed.
    But I think that by just labeling photography "Iphoneography" is a bit silly.​
    Whether you like it or not and regardless of its importance, if any at all, it's what people do and often not without reason or merit. You only have to look at the history of photography to discover that. Ever heard of Typography, Appropiation, Image Construction to name just a few. All labels.
    I think many so called street shooters should take a beginning composition photo course...​
    there's no doubt that composition is the single most instrument in photography as a whole and SP in particular, at least not in my mind.
     
  33. Does it automatically follow that a cam shot gets printed without any form of post? Mine don't...​
    sorry about the typo. I meant to say that everyone of my camshots is postprocessed.
     
  34. "street shooting" - I do not like people sneakin up on me in public places with their iphones in the name of "art". If you want to photograph somone - please ask before taking a picture.
     
  35. Thomas K, just out of interest, do you get people sneaking up on you in public places with their iphones in the name of "art" a lot?
     
  36. Thomas,what I see I photograph...it is really that simple for me. I do not sneak or creep I'm very open with my photography I feel no need to photograph otherwise.
    I have taken 10's of thousands of photos and not one person has ever challenged me. Among the cams I used today was a M8 with a honking great Voigtlander 50mm 1.1 lens.. nobody objected to my street photography,indeed, they stepped back so as not to get in the way of my photograph.
    An open society is a free sociecty..I have little interest in a society which takes away photograph freedoms in the name of vanity.
    My Sermon of the day.
    00a5q9-447325584.jpg
     
  37. Mr. Koci advises his viewers to sneak up on people on the streets with their iphones, to disguise themselfs with headphones, as to pretend that they are not taking pictures but listening to music or checking email. I find it creepy, in free society. Bad advise - just my opinion.
     
  38. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Why do you project what you don't like onto everyone else?
     
  39. Jeff:
    Do you enjoy beeing secretly photographed?
     
  40. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I could care less.
     
  41. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It's odd that someone who doesn't apparently do any street photography comes on here to tell other people what they should be doing.
     
  42. "Mr. Koci advises his viewers to sneak up on people on the streets with their iphones..."​
    That was only one of various techniques he demonstrated for using the iPhone for street photography, some of which were completely open and apparently included talking with the people he photographed.
    "I find it creepy, in free society. Bad advise - just my opinion."​
    Those surreptitious techniques might be excellent advice and very useful in societies that are not free, or in any situation where journalists and observers trying to document newsworthy events or public incidents are hindered or threatened.
     

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