When browsing book “Women are Beautiful” the other day I noticed another Leica on the very left of one image – the one of a girl on bicycle reproduced below. It could have been Tod Papageorges, or maybe Joel Meyerowitz who would share street shooting with Winogrand in the 60’s. He liked to be accompanied.
And yesterday I replied to a post on Blake Andrews’ blog mentioning his trip in Paris last year with friend and photographer Georges Kelly. That made me considering how some photographers do manage to shoot with other people, especially when these people are photographers too. I am thinking about street photography, and more generally unplanned photography where you have to make long walks and subject matter is uncertain, but it could be true for many other genre.
I usually go out alone for shooting, and I don’t know whether or not I would like to be accompanied. For sure I would love to see some photographers I like at work, but it would probably inhibits my own routine. Not so much out of shyness or whatever, but because I would have something else in mind other than to find my own subject matter. I sometime meet some other photographers downtown Boston and I do appreciate to have a chat. But it stops me from taking shots – or when I do it tend to be merely mechanical, like a sort of reflex to make sure I stay warm up.
When I am out for shooting I tend to take sudden and random decisions on where to go, at which pace, how long to stay at the same place, when to have a drink etc… that makes my way rather erratic and seemingly purposeless. I can’t really imagine someone along with me in those moments, especially if he/she wants to have his/her own shooting job as well. Also – and more importantly – I am afraid I am not fun at all to get along with when shooting because it introverts me a lot. I am not willing to talk much, I barely can’t stand a 2+ phrases conversation by fear of losing the thread of my own shooting. I am probably wrong on that but I can’t help feeling otherwise. I often have some small talk with unknown people around but that’s all – except when I meet fellow photographers.
Therefore if I have to shoot with a buddy the best for me would be someone who is exactly like me when shooting, which by the way I believe is common among street photographers. But then how to decide which direction to head for and when to have a beer ? Now of course I believe you don’t have to walk in each other steps but the freedom you have when you walk alone is something very unique. I assume that in my case it goes back to when I was in my early twenties and was fond of long walks alone in Paris, looking at people and things on every direction. I did not shoot photographs back then, but indeed the routine was quite similar.
Actually the only people I walk with when doing street photographs are my wife and kids. I used to be OK with that and still do quite often, especially when on a trip somewhere or when it comes to have them in the photograph otherwise than for formal family shots, such as in the picture above. But it is becoming more and more difficult. Reason for that is that now I like to take more time and I am getting slower in my photography. I would grab lots of snapshots while out for a walk with my family before but now I shoot much less in all circumstances. More of a film ratio as opposed to digital squander. But my 3 kids are all but easy to watch for so that taking pictures with them around is like being on the pitching mound and constantly checking out all runners on bases loaded. And that makes me walk a lot of hit(ter)s.