Les Rues De Paris | The Streets of Paris – Part Three

“Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”

– Marc Riboud

I have just returned from a week spent shooting in San Francisco, a trip that filled my cup with new photos to share and new stories to tell.  It was a week, if you will, of savouring life intensely.

For now, however, here is the final set of images from my last trip to Paris.  I hope you enjoy them, and I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers,

Ian

What Lies Behind : Photographic Insights – Volume Three

Camera INFO:  Fujifilm X-T3 with 23mm f/2 Lens | f/5.6 | 1/500th | ISO 400

“I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.”

– Bruce Gilden

I have long held a fascination with people.  I think it stems from my former career as a paramedic, where I would have ten or twelve patients in my ambulance each shift.  These patients came from all walks of life:  celebrities, newborns, holocaust survivors, CEOs, tradespeople, athletes, veterans… each with their own story to tell.  This love of meeting new people and hearing their stories subsequently influenced all aspects of my photography, and most definitely my approach to street photography.

When I see somebody that I think would be a great subject it is usually their appearance that strikes me at first.  It might be an outward characteristic:  their smile, their eyes, perhaps the outfit they are wearing.  Just as often, however, it is something more intrinsic… some indescribable strength, a sense of wisdom, or perhaps a vulnerability that you can see and feel from a block away.  Great subjects come from all walks of life and are a gift to us when we are out shooting on the streets.

Such was the case with the subject in this photograph, who I saw last year while I was teaching in Toronto.  There was something striking about the way she walked, a strength and sense of purpose in her step that was instantly noticeable.  I saw this photograph in my mind within seconds, with her red hair and green dress set against the darker buildings she was walking beside.  I decided to crouch down, shooting upward at the subject, to emphasis this perceived confidence and strength.

My camera was in Aperture Priority Mode (at f/5.6), with Auto-ISO set to maintain a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th (which is usually fast enough to freeze a subject’s motion).  You can see in the settings above how the camera raised the ISO to 400 to maintain my desired shutter speed.  I knew that these settings would nail the exposure for me and, because the subject was approaching quickly, I simply pre-focused on the sidewalk where the subject would be when she walked passed me, re-composed, and a second later clicked the shutter.  

Photographs like this happen fast.  I would say that the total amount of time, from first seeing the subject to capturing the image, was maybe ten or twenty seconds at the most.  What allows us to capture these photos with consistent success is practice.  We need to have the technical aspect of our photography nailed down, so that we don’t have to think about it while we are focused on the process of crafting our images.  I believe it was Seneca who said:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

Preparation (practice) allowed me to capture this image, and all it needed in post production was a slight contrast boost and a crop to clean up a distracting element.

To circle back to the beginning of this post, what was it that made me want to take this photo again?  It was, undoubtably, the subject.  Great subjects like this deserve to be photographed.

Until next time,

Ian

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About this series: 

Ansel Adams once said: 

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

This statement is absolutely true.  To quote David Hobby, “we should all strive to become thinking photographers.”  I love it when my students ask questions about a photograph because I can see their minds at work.  Sometimes these questions focus on how an image was made (the craft), sometimes they focus on why it was made (the vision), but they always show a student’s desire to improve their craft.

When I look at another photographer’s image I am always interested in the photographer’s thought process:  What drew their eye in the first place?  What did they see in their mind?  What was their process for the creation of the image?  How did they go about achieving success?

With this in mind, I have spent the last year writing a book featuring my images and the stories behind them.  The book will come out later this year, but in the spirit of open source education I have decided to publish 2 dozen of these photos and essays here as well.  My hope is that everyone can benefit in a small way from this sharing of ideas, much like I have benefited from other photographers who shared with me.

Renewed Focus | A New Year

I spent New Year’s Eve photographing the wedding of a wonderful couple, people whom I admire tremendously.  I am no stranger to working on December 31st of course, having done so countless times in the past as a paramedic and as a musician, but this time it felt different to me.  At the end of the night I was exhausted from shooting for ten hours but I left the wedding feeling inspired, both by their love for each other and by the opportunities that they now share together.

And now, as I settle into 2019, I find myself reflecting on the last year and giving careful thought to where I want to take my work this year.  It is clear to me that 2018 was the most successful year I have had:  I worked with wonderful clients, taught amazing students, delivered photography presentations for a wide variety of clients and traveled the world.  I am so thankful for these opportunities that paid the bills, kept the lights on, put presents under the tree and allowed me to spend another year working on this crazy thing called photography.

On reflection, however, I don’t feel like I always pursued my long term artistic and business goals with intention in 2018.  While I always approach every job, every workshop, every presentation and every client with the utmost sense of professionalism, I can’t escape the feeling that much of the year happened despite my efforts, rather than because of them.  When I look back, it feels a bit like 2018 was a fast moving river that just carried me downstream from January to December.

Running a full time business is a lot of work, especially when you are balancing it with caring for a family and all of the day to day tasks that occupy our time.  Being a photographer can look glamorous from the outside, but the reality is very different:  There are websites to update, files to shoot / edit / process / backup / deliver, social media sites to run, book keeping to do, taxes to pay, insurance to renew, personal education to complete, etc.  It is very easy to feel busy when you are running from one small task to the next, but busy does not always mean productive.  If you aren’t moving the big rocks, if you aren’t completing the projects that move the ball further down the field, then you’re really just treading water and maintaining the status quo.

Do you ever feel this way?  Like the seemingly endless day to day tasks of working and living consume you to the point where you don’t get the really important things done?

I have huge photography related projects that I want to accomplish in 2019.  Projects that will help people, projects that my students will benefit from, projects that will be of value to my clients, and projects that will bring me artistic joy.  My goal in 2019 is to attack these projects with intention, with purpose, and to no longer allow “busy work” to interfere with the completion of these goals.  Yes, the day to day tasks of running the business will still need to get done, but I will no longer allow them to be a barrier.

Do you have a photography related goal that you’ve been putting off?  If so, I encourage you to make 2019 the year that it gets done.  Hell, I’ll even help if I can, but let’s make this the year that we do the things that have been sitting relentlessly in the back of our minds.  And, to all of the clients and students who I am going to be working with this year:  We are going to have an amazing time, make wonderful photographs, and approach photography with a renewed sense of purpose and wonder.

I’m pretty damned excited.

Cheers,

Ian