Saturday, August 23, 2014

Being Sensible About Street Photography

My daily weapon of choice: Fuji XE-1 with the 27mm pancake lens
I am skipping the 13th week installment of my "Weekly Street Photos" to write an essay about my own personal beliefs on the practice of "Street Photography" in general. 
I am avoiding no. 13, because it seems to be a general practice the world over (even my apartment building ridiculously omits listing a 13th floor on the elevator). Since a lot of people subscribe to this superstition without actually questioning its Templar origin, must I follow their lead blindly? If you agree, then please stop reading. What I am about to say, might seem offensive to you!
For the sake of argument, I should probably start referring to my "Street" photos as "Street Documentary" or "Street Photojournalism," because the term "Street Photography" apparently comes with a lot of baggage. Some street photographers I've come across are so dogmatic about the term "Street," they insist that "real practitioners" of the art should stick by a prescribed set of rules-- that encompasses, not only the aesthetic qualities that each photograph must contain, but also on what subjects can be included, where it must be shot and what equipment should be used.

As a commercial photographer who has shot hundreds of commissioned work on assignment, street style photography attracted me specifically because of the implied freedom to shoot anything I want, when I want, in any way I want. If what I am doing is not "Street" in the strict sense of the term, please tell me so I can stop referring to it as "Street Photography." The hard-core zealots of the movement should not worry, since I use the term loosely-- I literally shoot outside on the streets. If a lot of people have objections on my personal methodology or aesthetic choices, "Personal Documentary," "Street Documentary," "Street Photojournalism" or even "Street Safari" are equally good labels I can readily substitute to refer to the type of photography I do.

"The Hunter" Hong-Kong

Whenever I photograph out on the street freestyle, I feel like a hunter stalking game-- aiming to capture fleeting images of 'life' as it flows around me. All at once, I feel connected to my surroundings, at peace with the moment and one with my camera. This wonderfully fulfilling intimate connection to the world is driving me to pursue this type of photography with a passion that borders on the obsessive, and motivates me to carry a camera every single day.
I have come full circle. When I got into photography 36 years ago, I was essentially a street photographer-- I shot anything and everything around me that caught my attention. I transitioned into amateur photojournalism when I became the photographer for the school newspaper and yearbook. We still used film back then (early 80s), so I also learned how to develop my negatives and print my photographs in the darkroom. I neglected my photography for a couple of years during the time I was in college, and for a few years after that; but formally studied it (with cinematography) when I went back to film school in the mid-90s, then finally pursued it as an alternative career 8 years ago. I got back into personal documentary photography when I began using the Fuji X system earlier this year, because the cameras are delightfully compact yet can deliver high quality professional images in almost any environment.
It would be a tragedy to put something as magical as "Street Photography" inside a box. I agree that rules and limitation can sometimes breed creativity; but it does not work for everyone all the time, particularly for those who engage in Street Photography for sheer pleasure, not merit or acclaim. Rules are for contests and competition, not Art. The limitations (or restrictions) of an art form naturally springs forth from the limitations of the medium itself-- never prejudice. Dogma breeds a certain cerebral paralysis that goes against spontaneity,  the very instinct needed to cultivate good documentary photographs.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Weekly Street Photos #12

This week's theme: ADORABLE KIDS

(Click on Photos for better viewing)

"The Young Maître d"
"Lost In Wonder"
"The Little Goalie"
--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Friday, August 8, 2014

Weekly Street Photos #11

This week's theme: PUBLIC NAPPING

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Waiting Patient-ly"

"Power Napper"

"Grandpa's Siesta"

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Weekly Street Photos #10

This week's theme: MOTHER & CHILD

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"...I Can See You" - Hong Kong
"Feeding Time"
--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia