Meaning, Motion, Places & People – Vancouver Street Photography


I recently spent another full day walking around Vancouver with my little Fuji X100s…15km of walking around as a matter of fact!

This was my favourite picture of the day, and so far one of my favourite street images that I have made:

(Click to view high resolution)


It is is pretty cliche to shoot a homeless person when first learning to do street photography.  I think it is the urge to seek out things that are “different”, and try to capture it in an image.    I feel now that there is a time and a place to do so:  either because you have spent time with that person, bought them lunch, learned their history…. or perhaps because there is a story to tell in the image.

This scene caught my eye right away: The gentleman in the picture lying under this beautiful, happy mural.  Not only is there instantly a dichotomy between the scene depicted in the mural and the homeless gentleman, but the mural almost has a “water line” and the gentleman is deeply beneath it.  There is a metaphor for society here for sure.


I had decided early that motion would be the theme for the day while I walked around looking for imagery. I was one of the first ones off of the train when it arrived downtown. While everyone else was in a rush to get to work, I was meandering slowly and watched as everyone pushed past me up the stairs and escalators. The chaos felt a lot like this:

(Click to view high resolution)



Not far from the station this adorable little girl shot past me:

(Click to view high resolution)


I decided to stop for a bit and pan a few images.

Nerd speak: Shutter speed is a measurement of how long light is allowed to hit the sensor of your camera. Very fast shutter speeds are required to “freeze” action, which tends to give you a sharp image from corner to corner but doesn’t always give a sense of motion. Panning is done by slowing your shutter speed and actually turning with the subject of your photograph as you click the sensor. If you time it right you get a subject in focus, but the act of you turning blurs anything that is stationary in your frame…. Implying a sense of movement.

I shot many, may photos over the next 20 minutes or so, but this one was my favourite:

(Click to view high resolution)


To contrast panning with a slow shutter speed with using a high shutter speed to freeze action look at this picture:

(Click to view high resolution)


Two very different images, with very different feelings to them.


My travels through the city this day took me to Stanley Park, down Denman to English Bay, around the water to Yaletown, through the city to Chinatown and Gastown, and back to Waterfront to head home.

I hadn’t been in Chinatown for quite some time and was pleasantly surprised with many of the old architecture and colours I had forgotten about.

I found this boarded up building in an alley off Pender. The design and colours scream out to be used in a photograph. The problem was finding a human element to add to the photo as I was in a very quiet alleyway. I finally got this image, but would have happily sat there for another hour until a true character walked by if my train wasn’t leaving:

(Click to view high resolution)



And, finally, these street photography days are always about the human element.

While I was walking by the Victoria’s Secret store on Robson I had to change a camera battery. I got a chuckle out of the way people would slow down, attempt to look into the store quickly without being noticed, and then quickly walk away again. I figured there had to be a picture there and hung out for a few minutes. If I’m not mistaken these two gentleman walked by the store like this not once, but twice. 🙂

(Click to view high resolution)


One of the hardest parts of street photography is stopping strangers on the street and asking to take a portrait of them. Many street photographers don’t, they simple stick a camera in your face and take their picture. While they are totally in their legal right to do this I don’t just want the image…. I want to meet people and find out about them.

This young lady laughed when I asked. As it turns out I was not the first photographer to ask her for a portrait.

(Click to view high resolution)


This gentleman was promoting his religion and stopped me to talk. He was very nervous, and was fairly new to being out on the street promoting and discussing his religion. He was very hesitant when I asked for a portrait, but was a good sport and had a great energy to him.

(Click to view high resolution)


This gentleman was in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens and was a character to talk to. He has visited these gardens almost daily for years and was a plethora of knowledge about the area.

(Click to view high resolution)


And finally, a couple of quick candid grabs from Gastown on my way to the train.

(Click to view high resolution)



Ansel Adams, a very famous photographer, once said his goal was to produce 12 great photographs per year. When it comes to street I’m not sure if I’ve made any great ones yet, but each day out is a learning experience.

Until next time!

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