"New" Street Photography

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by jkantor, Apr 25, 2000.

  1. While we're on the subject of new styles, I've been thinking about street photography. There are few places today for traditional street photography (at least where I live in central Florida). But I've been observing the places where people can be found: malls, fsst food restaurants - even in their cars stuck in traffic. Is anyone doing any photography of people in these venues?

    <p>

    When I get some time, I'm going to start working on some projects in this area. Luckily, one advantage of central Florida is that you can carry a camera anywhere and people just assume you're a tourist.
     
  2. Security guys will get you if you don't...watch...out! (Use a Diana
    or a Holga and be nonchalant, any pro camera and a deliberate
    attitude will get you rousted)... t
     
  3. rowlett

    rowlett Moderator

    Yep, malls must be one of the factors that contributes to the "street
    photography is dying" notion. But it's the amount of street
    photography done, not the opportunities or potential for it, that
    leads some to feel that SP is dying. The same opportunities exist now
    as they have for decades, but I am no living proof of this as I find
    SP difficult and challenging. There is a good thread going on the SP
    list server regarding "confrontations."
    <p>
    I take my camera to malls every so often and find that success is more
    of a challenge than it is on the street. But even though it's more
    difficult to shoot in malls because reduced ambient lighting forces
    opening up more which hinders zone focusing, and slower shutter speeds
    resulting in increased unsharpness, there are so many great
    opportunities for excellent candid photography that I'm surprised
    that mall photography (MP) isn't more prevalent. I long for a decent
    shot of an argument over the difference of $.19 on some sale price, or
    the suspicious expression of a store clerk stocking a 14 year old
    suspected shop lifter in action.
    <p>
    Fast food restaurants are perhaps more challenging as you attempt to
    capture the impatient expression of the lady with six young restless
    kids behind you in line at a McDonald's. Time, however, seems not to
    be a factor as it takes forever to get served anymore, except for a
    McD's in Times Square once where they asked for our order before the
    door closed, and by the time we reached the counter our food was
    ready. There were so many people crammed into the place that you
    would have to raise the camera above your head and shoot downwards --
    great wide-angle opportunities. At some fast food chains you might be
    able to capture the eyes rolling, the fingers tapping, and the
    impatient *sigh* when you take longer than two seconds to decide what
    you want from 493 different items (not counting the value meals)
    illuminated in 12 point text on overhead menus.
    <p>
    I have not been overly successful photographing people in cars stuck
    in traffic, but I have tried this numerous times. I find that cars,
    period, are difficult to photograph and make interesting. I find that
    a lot of my street photography has a car zooming by in the frame which
    mostly detracts from the picture. This is difficult to avoid during
    the day in some areas, even in Alaska. By the way, I think Alaska
    must be sort of the same as Florida in that both seem very touristy,
    surely a candid photographer's advantage. People often treat me as a
    tourist when I'm out and about with my camera. The restauant people
    often ask where I'm from and seem surprised that I'm just a local.
     
  4. <img
    src="http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/burmashave/2nddude2.jpg"
    >

    <p>

    Fortunately, here in Nashville, we still have several thriving
    commercial districts and neighborhoods that retain a lot of local
    character (they're not overrun by franchises). I'm just starting to
    make some serious progress in one of them; it'll take years before I
    can begin to adequately explore the possibilities.

    <p>

    It's funny you should mention people stuck in traffic--I had actually
    planned to stake out a spot at a nearly cafe and shoot people in their
    cars while they were backed up in traffic. Due to laziness, I was a
    little late for rush hour, but the cafe itself provided some good
    opportunites.

    <p>

    I hate malls and fast food restaurants (don't like the smell, don't
    like the atmosphere, don't like the people), so I usually avoid them.

    <p>

    People's reaction to the camera tends to vary according to the area.
    The place I've been photographing a lot later is a favorite of
    students and artists in the area, so I don't stand out too much. I've
    had a few people ask who I was shooting for (they thought I was
    reporter). Another good area downtown is a real tourist district, so
    the camera won't stand out there.
     
  5. (I think I detect an undertone of sarcasm in Tony's post.)

    <p>

    I know that there are still places that have a traditional street life
    - but it seems to me that the purpose of street photography is as an
    historical and sociological record of what people actually do in
    public. It's just that the conception of public space changes or
    evolves over time. (We probably should also talk about taking pictures
    in offices!)

    <p>

    One picture I wish I had gotten recently was at a Taco Bell. (It's
    either camera equipment or decent food for me right now!) There was a
    grandmother and her two granddaughters saying grace over their
    meal.

    <p>

    But the most interesting restaurants are the small locally owned ones
    - Chinese, Italian, Greek, etc. Both the customers and employees
    usually have something much more unique about them. (A while back I
    used to frequent a Greek owned restaurant in Clearwater that had a
    50-year-old male - and extremely unfeminine - crossdresser as a
    regular customer!)

    <p>

    My traffic projects may be a bit more unusual, but, like Mike talked
    about, I'm currently trying to borrow a 300-400mm lens to set up near
    a busy intersection and do some candids of the drivers. I also plan to
    mount a camera on the hood of my Jeep with a wide angle lens and a
    remote so that I can get some real "traffic" shots.

    <p>

    And finally, I'm eagerly awaiting the new Casio WristCam (out this
    coming fall). It should be quite interesting to use for candids at
    the office!

    <p>

    http://www.casio.com/corporate/index.cfm?act=10&ID=745&CFID=217792&CFT
    OKEN=57350259
     
  6. rowlett

    rowlett Moderator

    Besides poking fun at lousey service in fast food joints, no sarcasm
    was intended.
     
  7. rowlett

    rowlett Moderator

    Rereading my original post I see that it does sound sarcastic. Sorry.
    I didn't mean for it to be. I'm truly interested in these areas where
    so many types of human interactions occur. In malls and fast food
    joints (as probably in traffic jams, too) there is an abundance of
    impatience, restlessness, and vigilance. These can be as
    photographic as any subject.
     
  8. John: are you thinking of Tati's "Traffic". If not, it's worth a
    look.

    <p>

    I'm not good at melting into the background, and my best people and
    'street' stuff is of people who know me, but I have noticed that the
    stereotypical Boss-Hogg American tourist (or camera-bedecked Japanese)
    is often percieved as irrelevant and unthreatening. Young couples
    draped over motor scooters on the back streets of Naples would
    studiously ignore those in golfing trousers and Bob Hope white caps,
    but get edgy and suspicious when they saw my jeans and polo shirt.
    Minimum-wage security guards have similar attitudes and insecurities.
     

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