I love taking photographs. That’s been true for a lot of my life, and particularly since we all started walking around with decent cameras (aka phones) in our pockets. I’ve also always enjoyed looking at street photography, though I’ve never been particularly serious or studious about it, and most of my own photography has been more about nature and the places I travel and the shows I go to.
Recently I started getting inspired to dig deeper, both as a student and as a practitioner. I don’t own a camera, other than the one in my phone. But everybody keeps saying the best camera is the one you have, so that’s what I’m using.
I try to take a daily walk, and this week I started incorporating intentional street photography into those walks. The first set of photos (above) was taken yesterday on a walk through the Victorian town of Bellefonte, PA. I took these photos while looking at the images on the phone screen, a point that will come back in another batch of photos below.
I mentioned online that I’m getting into street photography and I tagged photographer Reuben Radding, who shared my post. That led to folks recommending documentaries for me to watch. Last night I watched Finding Vivian Maier, a film about a street photographer whose work was unknown during her lifetime. It was complicated and moving. This afternoon I watched Everybody Street, which served as a great overview of many different photographers. Other docs that people have recommended but that I haven’t yet seen are Everything Is Photographable, about Garry Winogrand, and Elliott Erwitt: Silence Sounds Good. Before this, the only documentary about a photographer I’d seen was the wonderful Bill Cunnningham New York.
Today I walked around downtown State College with my phone set in camera mode and held to my chest. I used the volume button to snap photos as I walked, and I didn’t see the results until I got back to my van.
I have a tendency to get really into things for a while and then move on. But I’ve been taking photographs nearly every day for years, so this is less about adding a completely new practice than about refining a practice I already have.
Yesterday I had this exchange with saxophonist and photographer Bryan Murray:
As I said to Bryan, I don’t know what I’m doing yet and I don’t have the critical faculties yet to really plan a photo or tell after the fact whether it’s good or bad and why. But that’s what practice is for. I signed up for a Udemy course on street photography, and at some point I’ll save up the money to take one of Reuben’s classes. Meanwhile I’ll just keep walking around and clicking the fake shutter on my 1s and 0s camera and I’ll see where that takes me.