I am of the opinion that street photography as a practice by certain well-known photographers is not possible outside of large cities, which is why I think that the street photography workshops I find online are held in larger cities. Specifically, I think street photography cannot be done by non-white people in wealthy, mostly white, small towns like Princeton, Hopewell, etc., in New Jersey. And impossible in towns that have no downtown, like Montgomery, West Windsor, etc.
I have tried many times. When I point the camera in the direction or a person or person, they immediately stop to either remove themselves from the scene or give me a look that feels to me like “what the f**k are you doing”.
I am not comfortable with street photography in general but I feel that if I were to spend an hour or more walking around taking photos of people that I would soon have a police patrol car following me around and beyond that being questioned as to the reasons for my actions.
Is this image of skateboarders on Scudders Plaza street photography? There was no street here. I interacted with them. We chatted about camera equipment and the best angle and shutter speed to use for these shots.
Would the father in this image get upset if he notice that my camera was pointed in their direction?
Jamie believes and I agree that empathy is the greatest tool we can use to determine what’s ethical and what’s not. We need to put ourselves into other people’s shoes before making assumptions and snapping a photo based on them. Ask yourself what your motives and if taking that photo will make you feel uneasy. Be brutally honest yourself with the answer. And if your gut feeling tells you not to do it – then it might be best to just put your camera down.
I agree with much of this.
When we see the person for a fleeting moment in the street, we know nothing about them and their life story. We’re limited by our own experiences. The assumptions we make could be completely wrong.
And I also agree that we:
should try and get to know our subjects and form an empathetic connection with them. This could give us a more accurate representation of their personality.
Today I worked in Manhattan at the client’s Old Slip address in the New York Financial District. As I have done the last few times, I drove for over an hour into Jersey City and parked in the Paulus Hook neighbourhood. The parking deck is a few minutes walk from the Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal. While I don’t enjoy the commute once I am in the New York office I have more options for lunch and exploration than I do at the Metro Park, New Jersey office.
As I did on my last commute to the Wall Street I brought my camera, my FujiFilm X-T2, and my only lens, the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR. This is only the second time I have done this since I bought the camera a few weeks ago. It’s a bit of a hassle bringing the camera kit. My TimBuk 2 messenger bag was never meant to carry a camera kit plus all the other things I need for the work day — over the ear headphones, notebook, iPad Pro, snacks, diabetes kits, phone charging kit. It just doesn’t fit well. I managed to squeeze it all but the bag bulked as though the straps would burst. I think it’s time I bought a larger bag.
It was lunch time and I wanted to eat out but with so many options it was hard to make a choice. I decided to walk on South Street and hoped I would find something appealing. Last week I walked toward Battery Park so today I walked in the opposite direction; toward Brooklyn Bridge.
Some people say it’s the end of summer but the heat and humidity on this day suggested otherwise. The temperature yesterday at noon was around 32ºC (~90ºF) and the humidity was over 50%.
After a few minutes of slow walking, I spotted some trees and umbrellas just under the FDR. I thought it might be another urban oasis — a park under the highway. I was curious but I also hoped it was a restaurant. I crossed South Street at Maiden Lane and made my way over to the area.
Yep, it was a restaurant and a park. I perused the menu at Industry Kitchen but the crab cake caught my attention. The hostess gave me a choice of sitting inside the air-conditioned bar and lounge but despite the heat and humidity, I decided to sit outside where I could observe people and the park. I ordered the crab cake and Camp Wannamango by Harpoon Brewing. Lunch was $34 with tip. But my wife reminded me (we were texting during my lunch) that the view was worth it.
After lunch, I explored the backyard of the restaurant — what some may call the South Street Seaport District.
Many people were eating lunches they acquired from the street side vendors. It’s a much cheaper lunch and you still get to enjoy the view from park benches and seats.
I was surprised at how many people were out just walking around despite the heat and humidity.
I explored Hornblower Cruises & Events Pier 15 which is both pier and urban lounge. I had an excellent view of Brooklyn Bridge Park but many sunbathers were simply enjoying the sunlight.
I was starting to feel the warmth but it was time to end the lunch hour and head back to the office. I took a slow walk back down the other side of South Street toward Pier 11.
I think it’s exciting what I can discover with a few minutes of exploration in my colloquialbackyard.
Backyard: A person’s neighbourhood, or an area nearby to a person’s usual residence or place of work and where the person is likely to go.