Garage at night

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Shot this a week back during a very late night out with my friend Andrea. Man we had some laughs. Didn’t get home until almost 4:00 AM, but it was worth every minute of it.

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Cabbagetown Festival

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Shot this one on the weekend during the Cabbagetown Street Festival, which is right around the corner of my new place. Had a fun day out with my buddies.

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CNE 2019

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I shot this back on the holiday Monday during a little downtown walkabout with my friend Andrea when the CNE airshow was happening. I thought the overhead streetcar wires made for good framing. Hope you like it.

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These two I shot while at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) a week earlier. I’m not really a fan of the Ex but I took my Brazilian friend Andrea, who had never been. We had a nice day.

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Selfie Time

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I snapped this a week back when I was out with a small group of friends. That’s me with the small Fuji X Pro 2 to my eye. The guy with the big Canon 5D Mrk IV beside me is Mark. He’s new to our group. To my other side is lovely Andrea, who I’ve crushed on for like the past two years (she’s not interested, sadly). And the guy mugging for the camera is my close buddy David. We had a great day out. I didn’t get home until midnight, after leaving my place at 8:45 AM that morning.

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My new pad

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So here’s my fancy new micro pad. After 31 years in the same house I finally sold and have migrated to a downtown apartment. It’s only 330 sq/ft but so far i’m totally comfortable here. It also has a nice balcony, built in dishwasher, and a washer/dryer in the unit.

 

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Human Backpack

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I shot this about 10 days back and in doing so broke one of my personal rules (as opposed to one of the rules of composition). That is, don’t shoot people from behind without a very good reason.

Why not, you might be wondering. For a couple of reasons.

Firstly, Facebook and Instagram of already chockablock with street photography images of people from behind. If your goal is to add to the noise rather than create something actually fresh and interesting, then I can’t think of a better way to produce mundane, done-to-death images than photographing the backs of people.

Secondly, it’s a very lazy way to produce street photography. One of the biggest challenges with creating great street images is finding the courage to point your camera at people while facing them. It feels invasive and rude, to be honest. But the cornerstone of great street photography is the capture of interesting faces and expressions in the crowd. Hard to do that when you’re shooting someone from behind, right? The only way to get over this fear is by forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and practising pointing your camera at people. Each time you engage the shutter and photograph a person from behind is a missed opportunity to practice shooting people from the front. You’ll never improve as long as you keep shooting the backs of people in the street.

By adopting this personal rule, coupled to my other rule of not using a telephoto lens for street photography, it left me with no other choice than to get past my shyness of sticking my camera in strangers’ faces. I’m still shy about it, mind you, but not nearly as much as I used to be. And using a wide angle prime forces me to get up close and personal, rather than standing back at a distance and zooming in.

Now, with all that said, there are times when perhaps shooting someone from behind works. It comes down to the subject matter. Maybe the person has a funny or poignant slogan on the back of their t-shirt, for instance. Photographing this person from the front, in this example, means missing that slogan on their back. In this photo above I liked the way the mom was holding her son as she piggybacked him across the street. A photo from the front wouldn’t have done it justice. Even then, I wasn’t sure if this shot would ever see the light of day, since I’m waaaaay more critical of my shots of people from behind than with shots that capture their faces.

So in conclusion, I would suggest you try to refrain from shooting people from behind unless you have a really strong reason to do so. Even then, once you’ve taken a “from behind” shot, review it later with a critical eye during the post processing stage. If you still really think the photo works, then maybe it’s a keeper. But assume most shots from behind are not, and you’ll be safe.

This is only my opinion, of course. As always, your mileage may vary.

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Nike Airs

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When I approached this homeless guy he was sound asleep outside a derelict storefront. At first I thought to shoot the whole scene, which would offer up more of a story. Instead, I shot only his shoes and lower legs, which tells no story at all.

What it does do is offer up a healthy dose of ambiguity. When it comes to single shots I think it’s a bit of a waste of time to worry about trying to tell a story. Storytelling in photography works best when you present a photo essay (3 to 15 photos) that leads the viewer down a path and in the ends suggests the story the photography wants to tell. A single photograph just won’t cut it when it comes to storytelling; at least most of the time. Obviously there are examples when it can strongly suggest a story, but mostly street photography tends to be random, candid moments that really don’t tell much by way of story.

The best street photography, in my view, is usually ripe with ambiguity. The ambiguity in an image invites the viewer to ponder what’s going on and in the end come up with his/her own story in an attempt to resolve the ambiguity. Of course it has to be a pretty compelling image before the viewer will feel inclined to think about what he/she is looking at. An image that’s ambiguous yet relatively boring will only make the viewer ask, “What’s going on here, why am I even looking at this,” before moving on to another image. No one wants that, right?

Had I shot the entire scene with the homeless guy sleeping outside the storefront, the resulting image would have left nothing to the imagination. You’d understand what’s going on immediately, feel a little empathy and perhaps sadness for the guy’s situation, and be done. With only his feet showing in the image, it makes you wonder about the rest of the scene. There’s content but no context. Any sense of story lies in the context, not the content.

This sort of thinking and style of shooting lends well to street, but would be a failure if one was shooting documentary photography. With documentary photography the goal is to provide enough visual information that the viewer understands what he’s looking at and why. Plus, documentary photography is usually used to augment the written word. Street photography, on the other hand, sometimes works better without words, or even a title. Let the viewer’s imagination run wild rather than try to contain it with words, is my thought.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this photograph. My move is finally complete and the old house closes tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll have more time for photography now.

 

 

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Legs

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Shot this at Dundas Square Saturday afternoon. Seemed odd to see a tourist bus with a poster of legs on it, and buddy sitting there with one missing. In street photography we call that “juxta” (short for juxtaposition). Hope you like it.

 

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