I wanted to be able to upload the stills I took from my last episode so you guys can take a closer look instead of trying to pause the video which can be kinda annoying especially when you want to see the details of the image. Below you'll see all of the featured images so please let me know your thoughts below and enjoy!
Saturday was an important day to show solidarity and try to capture the moments of the Women's March movement. I was glad to be a part of it but I had no idea just how much energy this would require until I actually got there...
It's one thing to be a part of the demonstration and to stand with those with a significant message to say, it's another to do so while walking and trying to capture the event using both stills and video.
Imagine a photographer having to capture his own wedding and try to take part in all the festivities, while trying to use Facebook live to share the event with those who want to see it as it happens. I mean, it's not too hard to fathom as our insatiable lust for media consumption is just that real these days folks.
I wasn't on assignment, but to be honest, when you're at something like this, it's hard to shut off your mind from always being in documentation mode.
I mean just because you're not being paid to do something, doesn't mean that you shouldn't use available opportunities to learn more about yourself, hone your craft, and improve problem-solving skills. This is why, even though it was such an exhausting event, I still felt that I was able to come away with something that was both beneficial to myself and to others.
My takeaway from documenting the event: Judging from what I think is underwhelming stills and footage (because I know that I can shoot better than this,) I learned that splitting your focus between two mediums can split the quality you come away with. If you decide to shoot video, then just shoot video. If you decide to shoot stills then just shoot stills.
If you are overly ambitious (stubborn) as I am and decide to do both anyway, at least go in with an idea of what you want to accomplish. I usually don't do this as sometimes inspiration happens on the spot, but don't risk it if you know you have to deliver. Understand when you've got enough images and frames to tell the story you want to tell and use the rest of the time to enjoy the moment.
Get more than 3hrs of sleep the night before an event.
I wanted this post to be simply about my experience at an event, but as I kept writing it went from simply sharing images to sharing a message that surpasses the actual media itself. A fine example of how you can go into something with one set of ideas but completely come out the other side with a new understanding. Hopefully this theme of adaptation and openness to new ideas as they present themselves will go beyond this page and rub off on places in the world where it could really be beneficial.
Above are the snaps I took from the event and below is the video I managed to put together with the random clips I captured throughout the day.
Scenes from the Toronto Women's March on January 21, 2017. 12:00 pm at Queen's Park. A peaceful march in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington.
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!
Here's the next image up for critique. You might have seen a variation of this shot that did make the cut but this version did not and I'd like to hear why you guys think that's the case. Again, I'll refrain from sharing my reasons for not posting this version but will update the post after 24hrs with the answers - once you guys had a chance to come up with your own assessments.
2016-09-11 9:02pm 24mm (eqv) 1/6s f2.8 800 ISO
Below is the one that I ultimately did select (just for comparison)
2016-09-11 9:02pm 24mm (eqv) 1/9s f2.8 800 ISO
*Update* I've received a bunch of great feedback on both my instagram feed and below in the comments section and am delighted to see that many of you guys are on the same page as I was regarding my deciding factors in choosing one image over the other.
In the top (rejected) shot, there's too much overlap with the characters near the middle of the frame which creates a two-headed man. The man standing at the foot of the staircase and in the foreground were there for a while which gave me a greater opportunity to be picky and to try and time the other people coming down the stairs to be more evenly staggered.
The other thing that caught my eye or rather the eye of the hero in this shot is the glare in his glasses. What a difference a slight tilt of the head can make in removing a distracting element like that but of course I just got lucky that he did so in the frame where better things were happening in the background. Also, what might have been causing the glare may have been a bright screen that turned on just outside of the frame which explains a bit of why his shirt is a bit more blown out than the other frame.
The other thing that the better shot had was a bit more breathing room at the top of the frame. While some may say that the balance between the bottom of the foreground guy's shirt and the space between his head and the edge of the frame is equal and thus more balanced, I see the ceiling fan being cut off and wanted more emphasis on where the people were entering the frame.
One last thing that was mentioned is the motion blur. I actually don't mind it and in some cases, prefer it in the right places as it conveys movement and activity within the scene. I'm ok with it just as long as it's not too distracting, which in this case here since it's only found on the supporting characters.
I guess that's a wrap for now - thanks again for participating in these critiques. It's great to hear your input and share your thoughts with all those wanting to learn more. Stay tuned for the next installment!
A visual mark-up of what I was talking about above.
Here's the next image up for critique. Right now I'll refrain from sharing my reasons for not posting this image but will update the post after 24hrs with the answers - once you guys had a chance to come up with your own assessments. You guys offered such great feedback with DM's on my instagram accounts that I felt that instead of keeping all this fabulous information for myself, that it would be better served to have everyone's thoughts in one place and use it as a collective learning tool for all. Feel free to leave your comments below on what you liked/didn't like about it, what could've been done better, and why you think I rejected this shot in the first place.
*update* What I primarily disliked about this image is that ultimately it's just a picture of people eating. I remember being once told that the most unflattering shots of people you could take is of them either eating or caught in mid-sentence making a weird gesture with their mouths. Street photography to me is about respecting your subjects and not making them either a spectacle or exploiting a moment of vulnerability. While this isn't the most embarrassing image you can take of someone in mid-chew, it also has nothing else going for it.
The tree shadow, while it fills the right side of the frame, doesn't fill it with anything that relates to the human subjects. On the top left corner, it's pretty dead and those sliver of elements also don't add to the scene.
Just because the light may be good, doesn't necessarily mean the subject matter or the scene is worth capturing. I was attracted to the light and how it hit the people but when you really break it down, that's all it's really got going for it.
I decided to try something new with images that I never ended up posting for whatever reason. I'm going to use them for critique analysis and share my thoughts on why they just didn't cut it for me. I hope to use this as a tool to help others as well as myself. By sharing my process, perhaps future work will not suffer the same fate and overall growth can happen for everyone!
Featured below are the previous images I shared on my instagram stories from my @phraction_street page and here's what I had to say about each:
In this shot I felt, that the entire right side was empty, the characters weren't all that interesting nor did the foreground or background elements connect in any way.
A lot of people commented that I could crop the entire right side out but I'm a stickler for keeping the original aspect ratio I shot in and extreme cropping will only make me a lazier photographer knowing that I can just fix things in post. I'm a professional photo retoucher and though I know I can do a lot of things but I'd rather spend my time enjoying photography instead of working ;)
In this one I rejected it from consideration because there were too many objects sticking out of the guys' head, there were only 2 points of interest (and they're not even that interesting). I usually go for at least 3 if possible, and the red car overlap simply bugs me.
And that's where we're at so far. I wanted to put this up and future posts on something that doesn't disappear after 24hrs because I think this is something that can be useful and can be built upon even after the fact. If there are any additions or comments to any of the images you see above, please comment and share your thoughts so others may learn as well!
I find that the best way to really shake the rust off when you haven’t shot street in a while is to go to these massive public events where everyone has a camera out and just shoot with little possibility of confrontation. I mean, really if someone were to be that pissed that you’re taking their picture at something like a pillow fight, then they’ve obviously need to use their pillow to catch up on their sleep.
Usually when the lighting is as drab as it was today, I just opt to stay home but in these cases, the flat lighting takes one photographic variable out of the equation and gets you to focus on composition and getting your timing down - both of which I felt was still in Winter hibernation mode. (seemingly all the snow indicated that Spring was still in hibernation mode too)
This was also an excuse to stretch my in story-telling and editing muscles as those I feel need a good workout as well. I mean, I hardly look at images the minute I get home from a shoot so it was weird adhering to a false sense of time sensitivity as I gave myself a deadline to work with. I just wanted to see if I could still curate images quickly and narrow down a story to only a few selects.
Given the nature of social media and how I’m terrible at posting on the fly, I knew I’d never keep up with those who tweet and actually ‘insta’gram. Probably another reason why I think I wouldn’t be a good photojournalist.
In any case, trying to narrow things down to 10 images or less was a struggle. Even when narrowing things down in Lightroom with first flagging selects, then colour coding, then again with star ratings, I still ended up with about 17 images. Fail. Might as well share the link to the rest of the 50+ images for the While I’m at it. Click here to view the rest of them on facebook.
Good thing this event is pretty self explanatory because I’d feel pretty bad if you still didn’t get the concept of a pillow fight just by looking at the images. Clearly it’s simply legal assault ;)
Hey, if any of you guys have some solid techniques when it comes down to narrowing down selects for photo essays, feel free to let me know, otherwise enjoy the snaps!
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.
Almost my entire life has been spent within the little box of Toronto’s downtown west-end. Walk out of my childhood home, turn in one direction and skyscrapers bite the sky, turn in the other and a scar-like expressway extends forever, separating the city from the polluted lake and the evils of small-town Ontario.
Parkdale isn’t lovely in any conventional sense. It’s a beautiful mess of neon-bright colours, perpetual gridlock, people from all walks of life and social strata, graffiti art, garbage, crumbling brick, and grey cement. The exorbitant cost of living, condominium developers, and pressure to gentrify may have forced steady change on it, but its heart remains. It’s a layered, intersectional part of the city, and while it may be possible to stay in your own particular layer some of the time, walking from one block to the next, you’ll pass chichi coffee shops, rooming houses, and faltering businesses.
Growing up there in the 1980s—the decade that brought us Pac-Man’s release, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and the World-Wide Web—I found comfort in the fact that maps were superfluous. I felt my way around with my eyes half-closed—sometimes reading a book or singing along to music. I loved shortcuts and back alleys. Some people preferred fine art galleries, but I would just head to my neighbourhood’s shadowy places to look at the ever-changing murals. Sticky situations were handled by making eye contact, picking my nose, giving someone the finger, ducking into a corner store, or hailing a cab.
I learned to appreciate the things people who fled to the suburbs warned you about: chaos, the ugliness of haphazard growth, and “crazy” people. Given the choice between sterile serenity and hectic density, I always chose the latter. I’d still rather schlep my sorry ass around the city on crowded streetcars, with sweaty businesswomen in polyester suits breathing fishily down my neck, than live an enclosed bubble existence.
In Parkdale, nothing was truly private, and nobody bothered to pretend, because we lived on top of each other, and were forced to witness each other’s private moments and humiliations. Often we pretended not to see. But not always. A few years after my parents divorced, when I was about nine, my father moved to a tiny dead-end street called Virtue that consisted of about twenty houses. Virtue Street was an enclave of gossips who seemed to know and see all.
Every couple weeks, I stuffed all my clothing and school books into big black garbage bags, and lumped them on my back from one parent’s house to the other past the corner where the sex workers did business—they kept an eye on me. On foot seemed like the most hassle-free way to go. Waiting for a drive was intolerable, because I was an empowered, independent sort of girl who thought she was Nancy Drew incarnate. I took action, investigating all potential mysteries, taking people’s fingerprints, examining their handwriting, and poking around abandoned buildings for clues. Only now do I realize that maybe some of those things weren’t so safe.
An insatiable desire to understand the why and what of my universe eventually turned me into a writer. It was either that or an anthropologist. There were so many characters. It was virtually impossible not to interact with someone on the way to the corner store. I remember this one man, an outpatient from the nearby mental health hospital, who sat on our corner, rocking back and forth, with his hands over his face, whispering his traumas. Summer, autumn, winter, and spring came and went, year after year, but he was still there, wearing thin lace-up leather shoes with no socks. We never spoke a single word to each other, and I have no clue whether he even saw me, but I was grateful for the sight of him there by the streetcar stop, because it meant I was home.
He is just one of the memories that follow me around the area. Rita Cox, the local children’s librarian, told the best Anansi the trickster stories. She saved incredible dress-up costumes for all her Parkdale “kids” in the basement of the library and rounded us all up so we could dance in the carnivalesque Children’s Caribana along the waterfront. I fell in love with steel bands, and the fact that gorgeous music could be made from the lid of a garbage can or an empty oil drum. That’s the music in my head when I think of Parkdale.
There was my best friend Sheena, who moved away, but used to live in the duplex unit upstairs from us. She was an amazing dancer and made me practice routines to Madonna’s early oeuvre and the Rocky Horror Picture Show until I pretended to hear my mother calling me for dinner. She was also the best teacher of everything naughty. She showed me how to light cigarette butts with a magnifying glass, how to cut a hole in my screen window so we could escape at night (or let the boys in), how to dress for clubbing, and how to do a strip tease the sexy way.
I once saw a man have a heart attack on Queen Street, within spitting distance of two beat cops, who did nothing until I screamed at them to call an ambulance. A frail Bird Lady lived in a boarding house on my street, and her family consisted solely of the pigeons she fed every afternoon. Her head was injured one day, when her door was busted down during a raid on her building, so I brought her flowers from the lilac bushes in our front yard, and asked why she’d refused to go to the hospital. She was convinced they’d lock her up.
A person’s life was both worthless and priceless at the same time. It just depended on who was doing the measuring. Some people would be there for you no matter what, others would steal the shoes off your feet. Understanding this was the key to how the community functioned. If you were an insider, you were pretty safe, unless you crossed certain lines.
But when I traveled just twenty blocks in any direction, the rules changed. I got disoriented. People became inscrutable. North was no longer up, south wasn’t down. Things were further apart, more uniform, less familiar. If I went just a bit further, and blinked for a moment, when I opened my eyes, I’d shifted into a parallel universe.
In some ways, flying through space would have been more appropriate than taking the subway out to North York. Everything matched: people, houses, box stores. I immediately missed the sound of a thousand different voices, the strains of every kind of music in the world floating down from open windows and out of tricked-out Honda Civics. Parkdale always had its own particular vibe.
So I always returned with a sense of relief. While forays outside the little box were enlightening, nothing beat familiarity. Besides, a mental chasm existed between the urban and the suburban, between hectic chaos and artificial order.
We are all shaped by our environments. I am a child of the city.
*An early version of this piece was published in City of Words edited by Sarah Elton (Cormorant Books, 2009).
*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.
Auf-ering Support Fur Das Wurst Way For Phraction Zu Travel: AKA Get Ryan To Germany!
I’m starting a new street photo project called “Anonym” which will consist of me trying to find creative ways to obscure the identities of the people I shoot, in accordance to the strict privacy laws there. I’m raising funds to get to Germany and get this off the ground!
As some of you know, I placed in the top 3 in the “Observe: Under Construction” international street photography competition in Iserlohn, so I’m also trying to finally see my work displayed in an international gallery. I made a promise on facebook that if I won, I’d would use my winnings toward seeing that print in person (and you simply don’t go back on facebook promises) …as it turns out, I’ll actually need a bit more than I expected to realistically go :) I can’t make this trip without your support so (with reservations) I’m asking those of you who enjoy my photography for help in funding this endeavour.
For those who know me, it’s a gut-wrenching struggle for me to ask for any help, let alone financial help. Chalk it up to stubbornness, pride, or simply being one of those people who have a complex about being in debt. Long story short, it took a lot of encouragement from friends to even consider something like this.
Instead of simply asking for donations, I want to be able to offer something in return so I’ve set up a couple fundraising accounts - all of which enable you guys to receive a token of gratitude, even for the smallest (but equally appreciated) donation.
I have set up 3 sites to cater to different levels of support!
One site is called http://www.Patreon.com/phraction and there I will be hosting an on-going, monthly subscription-based artist fundraiser where I will be uploading behind the scenes content, images that hit the cutting room floor, stories, and articles that will mostly be exclusive to the “Patrons” who support me. There you can pledge as little as $1-$15 and have a chance to win signed prints and other rewards.
The other site is my http://www.GoFundMe.com/phraction page which I’m setting up specifically to raise funds for this Germany adventure and focus on a photo project while there. The reward levels here are catered more toward locals to Toronto (whom I can deliver prints to in person) but anyone can donate there and if you do, I’ll find a way to get you a print :)
In addition to those 2 sites, I have also recently uploaded the very image that is hanging up in the gallery to my http://Society6.com/phraction print-on-demand site. Here you can purchase fine-art prints, framed images, and canvas versions of some of the images found on my instagram feed. This is especially useful for those of you who are not located anywhere close to Toronto and would like to simply purchase a print and have it shipped almost anywhere in the world.
All 3 offer totally different things so you can participate in as many or as little ways as you like… though you know, the more the merrier ;)
I’m using the 200euros I received as prize money toward the trip and I set an arbitrary goal of $3000 because I have no idea what anything actually costs - but rest assured, I’m doing what I can on my part to fill in the gaps by selling my old photo equipment (I have Nikon lenses for sale!), telling people to buy my book (buy my book!), eating less (I really should), and taking up a newspaper route (i’m kidding) just to fund this adventure.
In regards to the photo project/essay while I’m there, apparently Germany is one country that has very strict privacy laws in place that prohibit one from publishing street photos without consent of any individual featured. The idea will be to see if I can creatively work around this restriction and challenge myself to come up with street photos that abide by this law as well as outline personal experiences while I go about creating this story. I hope to come back with a bunch of content to share - from images, to stories, to maybe even video. I want the opportunity to push myself and the boundaries surrounding the art of street photography.
It’s worth mentioning, that on top of never having been to Germany, let alone Europe, I will have to put all this together in less than 30 days as the gallery will be finished by July 26th.
Honestly I have no idea what to expect. I’m not an avid traveler, (I sometimes get turned around in my own city); I don’t speak German (except for swear words and sausage so there’s only so much I can imply with that); I’ve also gotten progressively worse at being organized (thus the last-minute planning of this entire campaign). You guys can have a first-person view of seeing me rise to the occasion or falling flat on my face (which makes for good TV) so let’s see where this goes and thank you all for entertaining the thought of supporting me by taking the time to read this novel :)
If you want to see what kind of images I can take while out of my comfort zone, please make a pledge. Thanks everyone!
“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
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 :)
Area Study: Duke Of York Public School
Sometimes if I come across an area interesting enough, I’ll either stop and explore the compositional possibilities or come back when the light is good enough. Luckily this day I had both (and bonus time on my hands) so I took the opportunity to take a look around at a place that’s literally a couple blocks from my pace.
Forgive the over-use of my shadow-selfie ‘watermark’ as for most of these shots I really wasn’t trying to be in them but I couldn’t really avoid it so I do what I normally do and make cameo appearances as compositionally pleasing as possible..
Ok so I know I could’ve tilted the camera upward a bit more..
It’s been a while since I’ve gone and shot textures and random objects so it was refreshing. Also great to be outdoors after being cooped up in the house hibernating, because winter.
Not having too many people pass by I had to work with what I had which pretty much meant shadows and a discarded flannel shirt.
It also gave me the opportunity to work on some angles because I’m usually not good at abstract compositions so lately this has been something I’ve been doing behind the scenes as these wouldn’t really fit well on my instagram.
I’m not 100% sure of the story behind this place but I’ll take a stab at saying that it’s probably not in use anymore.
Finally good to see the white stuff melting (probably 90% of the reason I included the snow in this :)
The place is wide open for the public and kids could still come to play but with the new playground that just opened up as part of the revitalization project of the area, I can see why they’d prefer to go there than here.
This composition looked better in my head than what came out.
And that’s pretty much it! I’ll try to keep the super-wordy posts at a minimum and see if I can share more photo sets that I wouldn’t know where to share anywhere else. I can only fit 10 shots in the ‘gallery’ at the very top so I used that area to showcase images that might benefit from a bit of zooming in to see the details.