Friday, August 29, 2008

What is Street Photography? (Part One)

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan, all rights reserved

Street photography is actually a misnomer for the kind of photography that it refers to as the subjects of this kind of photography are not limited to street scenes as such. The word “street” is used here rather as a synecdoche to mean anything that does not belong to the private space, of which the street is part and the quintessential symbol of.

"Rainy Day" ©Eki Qushay Akhwan, all rights reserved

The Setting
The first thing that characterizes street photography, therefore, is the setting of the scenes. Street photography takes place in public places. But obviously this characteristic alone is not enough to define street photography. The photo of a bunch of tourists posing on a road side with a monument behind them, for example, cannot generally be categorized as an example of street photography. The disqualifier in this example is the “posing”.

Deliberate posing takes away another essential element that defines street photography, that is candidness. A photo of posed subjects does not qualify as street photography because in such a photo, the real condition of the subject has been masked and silenced by the interplay of the camera factor, the photographer, and the subject’s own need to conform to the superego expectations and to appear agreeable to the viewers.

Candidness in street photograpy presumes that the photographer does not interfere whatsoever with the subjects and/or the unfolding event. This include obvious factors such as posing and making the subject aware of the presence of his/her camera, and more subtle factors, such as the comfort level of the subjects with the presence of the photographer as an alien person in their environ and the photographer’s own attitude towards the event and his/her action and reaction to it.

For a treet photographer, being inconspicuous, therefore, is of paramount importance. A number of strategies are known to be practiced by legendary street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson. These include the use of simple, unobtrusive, and inconspicuous equipments (Bresson is known to use mainly his Leica 35 mm rangefinder cameras whose chrome body he often wrapped in black tape to make it less conspicuous when taking pictures), refraining from taking pictures until the subjects feel comfortable in your presence, and blending in with the scene in which a photographer takes his/her photos.

"Night Baskteballers" ©Eki Qushay Akhwan, all rights reserved

(To be continued in part 2)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Types of Photo Blogs

Written by Eki Qushay Akhwan

In the previous post, I hinted that there were photo blogs that, in my opinion, did not qualify as photo blogs because they contained too few photographs and were saturated instead by ads. The namesake and the few photos contained in this kind of “photo blog” are, in my opinion, just a masquarade for the real thing, which is to host ads.

Anyone who are well-acquited with blogging of course know that the internet is not a pristine place where only good things can be found. There are junks, recycles, and second hand items, just like in the real world. Everything is eventually up to us, users and consumers, to pick and choose what we want to have – stone or gold, junks or things of value.

Intelligent choice, of course, can only be made if we know how to filter out the bad from the good. This article is trying to highlight the different types of photo blogs to help you make the choice about which type(s) of photo blogs to look for to satisfy your needs, which can be of serious purposes – like finding inspirations for your budding interests in photography or satifying your thirst for aesthetically stimulating visuals – or less serious aims like making connections and just browsing for fun.

Personal and casual-sharing photo blogs
The personal and casual-sharing photo blogs are photo blogs whose aim is to share photos with those you know, e.g. family members, friends, and colleagues. The subjects of the photos in this kind of photo blogs are usually the person(s) who owns the blog, those who close to them (family, friends, colleagues), and anything related to threir activities. The theme of this kind of photo blog is usually documentary. The picture quality, technically and aesthetically, is generally not of the main concern as the pictures are meant to be shared with those who are related to the pictures.

Serious/Professional Photo Blogs
Serious/professional photo blogs lies at the other end of the continuum of the personal and casual-sharing photo blogs. The owners of this kind of photo blogs are usually professional photographers or those who have keen interests in photography (i.e. photo enthusiasts). Their purposes for creating the blogs are usually to display or exhibit their portfolio, share their works with those who have similar interests, and/or offer/sell their works. Pictures in this kind of blog are generally of high quality both technically and aesthetically. Most of the time, they are also inpirational in the choice of their subjects, angles, and other techical and non-technical aspects. I love to stop by this kind of photo blogs to get some inspirations, and this is the kind of photo blogs you should be looking for if you are serious about your photography.

There are a number of sites that collect photo blogs like this, such as photocommunity, photobloggit, coolphotoblogs, etc. Places like this are a good point to start a photo blog walk and find serious photo blogs.

Documentary, information, and news photo blogs
Photos have undoubtedly become inseparable part in the dissemination of news and information. This kind of photo blogs does not present photos for the exclusive sake visual enjoyment, but also present information. World class magazines and news organizations like the National Geographic, TIME, Magnum Photo Agency have photo blogs or photo related pages of this kind. They have not only pictures of great quality, but also pictures that do tell stories. This kind of photo blogs are very useful to visit both for the visual insight and inspiration they give and the information content.

There are of course other kinds of photo blogs. Their varieties and number are growing substantially day by day. But the last two types I mentioned above should be a great place to start your photo blog walks and get your visual inspiration.

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Unless otherwise stated, the articles and photos in this blog are the copyright property of Eki Qushay Akhwan. All rights reserved. You may NOT republish any of them in any forms without prior permission in writing from Eki Qushay Akhwan.

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