With a new year starts a new experiment and there’s no better way to really see what you’re made of than to try something you have absolutely no experience in and see how well you do. For me that’s video. I’ve always known that this medium has always been at the top and up until the last few years or so, it’s become so increasingly accessible for the general public to be able to create high-quality content that rivals what we see coming out of professional studios. I mean, for the longest time that’s been the case for photography - just ask any grumpy pro photog and the phrase ‘undercutting the industry’ and ‘weekend warriors’ will be said a few times or ten.
I guess I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and start kind of a vlog-esque web series focused on street photography because up until 2 months ago, I had no idea what kind of stuff was circulating around YouTube and I honestly found myself really captivated by it. I was curious to see if I could somehow merge this style of filming, along with point-of-view street photography, and post-production screen capture editing tutorials into one. Very ambitious for someone who didn’t know the differences between frame rates or even how to use any editing programs. Good thing iMovie is so intuitive otherwise it would’ve been super frustrating and I would’ve never gotten anything off the ground.
I’m still trying to figure out the best way to shoot video and stills all in one outing because honestly, it’s tough as it is to get a good shot if I’m not focused. While videography may seem to be a sibling of photography, it’s really more like the distant cousin, twice removed (whatever that means). It’s SO different you guys. What Im trying to say is that, getting my video work to match my photo level is something that will take some time and I embrace the challenge.
With any divergence from the path of stills and more specifically street photography, I feel that I will take a bit of a step back when it comes to the quality of work I’m doing with my shots. I look at it as a "1 step back, 2 steps forward" situation where hopefully the skills I learn from shooting motion pictures will somehow strengthen my still images.
I know one day I’ll look back on this video and see all the cliches, rookie mistakes, and the hack job I did on the audio, but if I consider something like this cringe-worthy in the near future, that just means that at that point in time, I’m at a much better place than when I started. To me, this is one New Year’s resolution that I hope to keep.
Anyways, enough talk (there’s enough of that in the video below) so here it is, enjoy!
A collection of b-side selects from my time in Berlin, Germany. Honestly, I’ve got a ton more images, but at the rate that I’m finding time to share on instagram, I’ll be lucky if I get most of these uploaded before the 1 year mark of my time in Europe comes around.
Lately I’ve been taking a step back from my usual way of shooting to embrace/experiment with a form of photography that I’m absolutely unfamiliar with - minimalism. As far as street photography goes, I once never considered anything without people to be “street”. As my definitions for the genre change (along with the incessant need to define everything) I start to realize that the true appeal for this hobby is the art of seeing.. differently.
What I find interesting is that I used to look at images like this and ‘not get it’. I probably still don’t. I’m not even sure if this is what it should be - I’m no art major and I feel like somehow these things follow a formula that was mentioned in page 5 of “Contemporary Art 101" but until I get my degree, I’ll have to fake it until I make it. What I do know is that pictures of banal objects in everyday life isn’t the decisive moment, it’s not full of interesting characters, nor does it necessarily contain the human condition but in a way it’s still surrounds us and often these shapes and forms go unnoticed.
To me, it’s an exercise in seeing. Trying to master something like this isn’t easy. I often even find myself having to look away or simply leave the images alone for an extended period of time because my eyes get numb to the idea and I’m no longer comprehending what I’m looking at. My goal is to be able to quickly identify these forms and incorporate them into my usual photography to give it more depth. It’s not gonna happen overnight, but hopefully in time, something will come out of this.
It’s gonna take some effort and practice but it’s fine ‘cause changing things up and challenging myself in different ways is one way to keep things fresh - even if it’s frustrating to wrap my head around it at first. For now, consider this a snapshot of what’s going on behind the scenes as my winter hibernation comes to a close and the golden light opportunities finally return.
*UPDATE* Good News! It looks like the European Parliament voted down this proposal and Freedom Of Panorama will continue (for now) Click The link HERE for more info.
Important message, you guys - please take the time to read, thanks! Tomorrow (July 9, 2015) street photography could be illegal in ALL of Europe
The Freedom of taking photos in public places is in danger. Until now, in most European countries, you were able to shoot/publish photographs taken in public – This is called Freedom of Panorama. While on vacation, you could share images with your friends on social media but this may unfortunately change.
The new law would make it illegal to also take selfies in European cities EVEN just for personal use without having to share it anywhere. It would also be illegal to draw and film/record big movies without prior consent from the owner of the statues/buildings.
The timing of this couldn’t have fallen at a more pivotal time. As most of you know, I’ll be in Germany from the 21st to the 1st to shoot a project raising awareness of how strict the law of public privacy is in place over there and coincidentally this restriction could now very well be an issue in other countries as well.
Please stand up and save the freedom of photography. The link in my bio will take you to my blog which will link to the petition and more details of my upcoming project. Feel free to tag your friends, repost, and spread the word - thanks everyone! #.SaveFOP
*Original text modified from the petition website above.
“Orange you glad I’m not twisted”
A Work In Progress: My Views Divided In Phractions - Part I
As of a couple days ago, it’s been just over a year since I’ve been trying my hand at shooting street. I think it’s time to share my process because I’ve made tons of mistakes and it’s good to poke fun at old (young) me and realize that future (older) me will also look back on this and make fun of present me - ‘cause that’s not a confusing sentence. It’s also helpful to see how (if) I’ve really progressed in this genre and use this as a bookmark of sorts. While writing this, I didn’t realize this novel of a post was so long that it was getting to a point that even *I* didn’t want to read through it. I figured it would be better off as a bunch of ‘smaller’ articles instead of one ginormous wordy word post (at least by my standards).
So here’s part I (of who knows how many) of my work in progress..
What I’ve Noticed So Far:
Instagram/flickr has been somewhat of a visual diary for me (cliche line, I know). To see photos that are not necessarily in chronological order but are in the order of what has caught my eye at the time is a great learning tool. I’ve noticed that I’ve gone from shooting people for the sake of shooting people to shooting scenes that mean more than just some dude who passed by me on the way to get some pizza.
[Rob Ford - Sep 2014] “If there’s one person who might know where pizza is..”
[Dog Walk - May 2015] I now prefer to shoot scenes like this (as opposed to one’s with Rob Ford in them..)
I shoot to learn more about myself. I paraphrase Daido Moriyama’s words in my head all the time when it comes to why I shoot - we are essentially capturing ourselves in the photos we take of others. This is in addition to echoing Garry Winogrand’s philosophy of not looking at his photos for a long time after shooting, which he did in order to ‘create an emotional disconnect’. It ensured that personal feelings/emotions at the time of clicking the shutter would not skew his perspective of whether a photo is actually good or not. Obviously, these are different yet complimentary ways of thinking and I subscribe to both. Some photos, no matter how much time has passed, will always evoke some type of emotion from me and I now understand that those are just as powerful and meaningful as the photos that are aesthetically pleasing for technical reasons. So in a nutshell, I take photos but don’t look at them for a while so I can see them more objectively when the time comes to share. But I still take into consideration the images that still evoke strong emotions even after a period of time.
This was taken roughly a year ago and has never been shared until now. It’s still an image that resonates deeply as it’s a reminder of the time I spent working at a retirement home while learning to be patient (a trait I now apply when shooting)
What Catches My Eye:
These days I tend to favour scenes influenced by someone like Alex Webb vs Joel Meyerowitz, who was one of my first main influences (and still remains to be). It’s not to say their images are night and day from one another, both are colour shooters that uses golden hour light and shadows to enhance their scenes (at least from what I’ve seen of their work so far) but I just find my interests are getting caught in the Webb more-so than the Mayoral.. wit.. of the Meyerowi.. ok so I should’ve thought that phrase over a little bit more. Anyways.. similar to how Meyerowitz first started, I some(most)times get overwhelmed by the busyness of the streets and it’s hard to focus on one thing, so I shoot… everything. Afterward, I look hard to see exactly what was in that scene that I was responding to primarily. The best part about being new to all this is knowing I’ve yet to scratch the surface when it comes to discovering great images so experimenting with different styles is fun and exciting still. Also, I can play the n00b card for a little while longer until I have to smarten up and stop making excuses for using bad photos in my body of work ;)
My interpretation of overwhelming busy streets which was taken with an unknown focus at the time - influenced by Joel Meyerowitz
My interpretation of scenes with some depth from foreground to background - influenced by Alex Webb (clearly I still need a lot of work to really fill the frame as he does)
When I scroll down my instagram feed, I see that 2 dimensional images and shots where people horizontally or diagonally pass by ‘things’ are what caught my eye primarily. To a certain degree I still shoot these ‘cause old habits die hard and ‘cause it was instinctively what I thought street was all about.. people in the street. “Stride-By” shots, people passing by storefronts, and people who were just different/interesting-looking were images that I would naturally gravitate toward. Now I’m consciously trying to be a bit more dynamic and sometimes overly experimental with compositions but part of the learning process is seeing what works and what doesn’t.
Not exactly a “Strideby” but an example of things that would catch my eye immediately. (too bad there’s poles coming out of their heads and no one was occupying the phone booth in the foreground)
I used to get very close simply because I felt I needed to. “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” was a Robert Capa phrase that echoed as I shot the street. Also, I think about the fact that he died because he got too close to a land mine. Now, I’m far less concerned of that happening to me in the city, though certain personality temperaments could be the equivalency during heated confrontations (which is also not really a concern of mine). *knock on wood*
Taken at Pride 2014, I found it was like shooting fish in a barrel to walk a street festival and shoot people up close because of how crowded the event was.
Recently, I stopped getting close for the sake of getting close nor do I just take pictures of people because, people. It’s taken me a while (though I haven’t quite figured it all out yet) but I’ve realized that street can be void of people yet still embody the human element. I’ve learned to take a step back and see the big picture or show more of the environment because a spacious setting can say just as much as a super close-up. Also, I find myself now shooting at a wider angle (28mm) vs the 40mm which I shot with exclusively for months. Maybe I’m getting it all wrong, in which case I’ll at least have this piece of writing to look back upon and show me what 2015 Ryan was thinking at the time. Clearly, my style and focus (amongst many things) needs to be refined and who knows if I’ll ever find what I’m looking for in my shooting, but at least the journey so far’s been interesting to say the least.
Well that’s all I’ll say for now. In future posts, I’ll talk more about what I do when I’m on the street (how I approach and photograph scenes) and what I look for and what I learn through my editing process. When I’ll get to it… well.. your guess is as good as mine. Maybe I should talk about how indecisive I can be and how that plays a roll in the decisive moment or maybe.. not. ;)
*sorry for the lack of posts with actual words - I’ve got photos to share though, that’s still pretty good right?
Connected Complimentary Colours
Facing An Unbalanced Reality
These are a small sample of images I didn’t post to my instagram feed ‘cause at the rate that I was posting, it would’ve taken another month to get stuff online. So here’s some imagery, sans captions for the sake of sharing. Enjoy!
I hardly shoot vertical because I never know what to do with my shots but this seems like a good place share them
Mother Nature’s Hot Flashes
With the roller coaster winter we’ve been having here in Toronto this year, it’s only fitting that Mother Nature play a belated April fools joke on us in the form of the frosty white stuff.
This was the same night that Eric Kim was in town doing his workshop so I met up with the gang afterward at Wvrst on King/Portland to talk shop. When leaving the restaurant and seeing the snow come down, two things came to mind: “F-Me” and “Flash Time” (in the non-indecent exposure sense.. exposure..? ..nvm).
Having never shot flash for street before (especially at night) I figured I’d give it a shot (puns always intended). Since I had a few drinks in me already, I guessed that by this time some people might have too and may already be seeing stars as it is.
With liquid courage by my side, and my trusty side-kick to make sure I didn’t do anything too stupid, I channelled my inner Martin Parr, thought of his “Bad Weather” series he shot in Dublin, and convinced myself that now’s as good a time as any to experiment.
So here’s the outtakes of the selects posted on my @phraction_street instagram feed from that night.
..As a side note, when taking pictures of random people through the window you pretend to know by waving at them, just keep in mind..
That the world is a small place and sometimes in the next window you may find someone you actually do know…
That’s when it’s time to put away the camera and catch up with old friends :)