I’ve been spending a lot of time studying photography, especially street photography, been following Eric Kim and will actually be attending one of his workshops next month in Chicago. He has written quite a few eBooks, which are available on his website and the one I’m reading now is Street Photography 101 which has a lot of really good ideas.

Yesterday, I went out again with the Rangefinders Documentary Shooters Meetup Group to Younge/Dundas Square. I had a theme in mind—shooting people trying to stay warm. But even though it was about -10, it was sunny and people were dressed warm, so they didn’t look all that cold. I had to pretty much abandon my original plan and just look for whatever.

Street photography is a little like ski teaching. Even though you may have a plan all drawn out, things such as weather or available subjects may change and throw your plans awry. If you’re working on a project, it may be better to push that project to the back-burner while in the field. You know it’s there, but you’re not focusing on it, but rather, just let things happen naturally. Later, you may find that there are some shots that fit into the project. Ski teaching is the same, but the other way around. You fit the lesson to the students after you see what they can do.

As it turned out, I got a few shots I’m very happy with. I find that I’m getting braver out there, and I think it’s from my immersion with photography books, especially Eric’s. The other thing I want to mention is that I actually had a conversation with about half of the strangers in this photo set after I took the shot. As Eric mentions often, that’s another great aspect of street photography—when you open up your mind to the unexpected, you make friends with strangers.

After we were cold enough, we walked along Dundas Street, to the AGO where we visited the exhibit “Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross”. Henryk was a Polish Jewish photographer actually hired by the Nazis to document life in the ghetto, for propaganda purposes. However, he took a lot of unapproved shots and managed to bury the negatives, and then dig them up after the Soviet liberation. These shots are the ones in the exhibit. Very disturbing, it reminded me of our visit to Auschwitz a couple of years ago, which still keep me up some nights.

When I‘m out shooting in the street, the worst I will get are dirty looks or someone waving “No No, don’t take my picture”, but Henryk faced far, far worse consequences on the streets of Lodz, Poland.

I ask myself if I would be able, as a street photographer, to do as Henryk.

From Globe and Mail Feb 19

[click on any photo for slideshow – enjoy!]

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