Hong Kong is a fantastic city for street photography. Especially when you are getting some great advice from some of the best street photographers around. Since last weeks episode of Hong Kong street photography, the advice that I took on board the most, was get closer and have no fear. Easier said than done. It’s tough, putting your camera in the face of strangers and taking a photo. Even more so, when using a flash. I was told I was crazy. People laughed, chatted, and asked if I could send them a copy the photo I had just taken.
Street photography is a great way to meet the locals.
Some may have concerns that taking photos of strangers is being sneaky, or somehow devious. In-fact, it is the exact opposite. On the street, I found myself being incredibly empathetic towards my subjects. Despite being complete strangers, I had a feeling of emotional attachment. I spent a great deal of time just observing people walking in a dream-like state throughout the busy city of Hong Kong. Voyeuristic, yes. Hey, we all are.
People watching is one of the worlds most popular hobbies. Even when getting in close, and using the flash, I would say that around 90% of people simply didn’t care that they were being photographed. The other 10% were very interested, and wanted to chat. A great side-effect and bonus, of street photography.
Homeless, disabled, and other “vulnerable” members of society in Hong Kong – I’m not really interested in photographing without their explicit permission. They’re “easy targets”, and I don’t want to exploit their position in life. But, each to their own, you may decide otherwise.
Street photography is overly fascinated with the composition, theme, and presentation of the image.
Practicing street photography is an ideal way to force you into learning about photographic composition, until it is second nature. That perfect moment in time when everything is as it should be is short, and fleeting. You need to be fast. General “rules” of photography don’t apply. With street photography, you should probably endeavour to break the standard rules as often as possible. Focus is not important. Sharpness isn’t either. However, don’t take my advice, take the advice of some of the most famous photographers of all time:
“Sharpness, is a bourgeois concept” – H.Cartier Breson
“There is nothing more useless than a sharp photograph of a fuzzy concept” – Ansel Adams
Next week, I’ll present a single article with my favourite images from my Hong Kong street photography excursions. These images work better as a series, for two reasons. Firstly, I haven’t yet take a single iconic image, that stands strong on its own merits. Secondly, with a series of images, I can tell a story about the people on the streets of Hong Kong.
I like to mix it up, photos of the sites, architecture and attractions, mixed in with candid (and sometimes posed) street photography shots of the locals from each country I visit. In this way, I feel you will get a more complete picture of what a destination is really about.
Hope you enjoy today’s Photo Friday, black and white film edition of Hong Kong street photography.
PS, I would like to add, when it comes to street photography, I’m a beginner. It’s one of those things that takes a long time to truly master, and you need to enjoy the journey as much as the end result. A bit like travel, no?