"Join me, and together we can end this destructive conflict and rule the galaxy as father and son!"
Well, perhaps that's a little over-dramatic and not quite the message I'm looking for.
JOIN ME in my first photography exhibition, entitled "In Transit," opening at Le Saint Ex cafe in Itaewon. I will pass along the details as I get them, but I wanted to quickly make the announcement out to get spots in your calendars.
For those of you who may have followed my photography in the Seoul Selection newsletter, or perhaps had seen it in other places around Korea, now's my first real exhibit (outside of the very pleasant Fulbright Forum I did two years ago).
The show is entitled "In Transit" because it is a simple umbrella phrase that captures the fast-beating heart of Seoul life as it is found in the millions of people in near-perpetual motion everywhere the eye – and camera – can see. People spend so much time traveling in the most public of spaces, yet are so very alone in the experience. The picture above is the representative image of the exhibit, as the nearly 20 images in the show record the entire gamut of the transitory experience – from the most intimate of human interactions to the coldest of stationary spaces. I liked this picture the most because of the composition and framing, of course, but also because of the luck I had with her stance and capturing just the right amount of blur on just the right body parts.
Just so you know, taking pictures of people walking can be a major pain, and requires some extra shooting to get just the right pose. People can look pretty awkward if caught in true mid-step, so in order to convey the message of them walking or even running, one has to get the shot in the right part of the stride. In the above case, I was lucky to have captured the instant the woman alighted off the last step, with her planted right foot frozen by the camera, but with her forward-swinging left foot blurred just a bit. The same effect is true for her swinging arms, relative to which her right shoulder (holding a bag) is nearly stationary.
Since I was nearly jogging to get her in frame as she came down off that last step, the composition was very quick, so much that I can't even remember how purposeful the framing was. Since I am not much of an off-tilt framer, however, my hunch is that it was point-and-shoot, and that my aperture had been somewhat stopped-down because I had been shooting outside (which is my default mode). I had probably opened up the aperture without thinking about it, as I tend to do when I come in from the inside (dialing down the aperture number a few clicks without actually looking at it).
All in all, a lot of luck got combined with instinct and a few camera skills, which just continues to prove my point regarding the question of "How do you get street photos like that?" I always say that taking pictures is technically easy – learning the relationship between shutter speed, aperture, and depth-of-field is really about it – it's just having the will and gumption to follow your instincts and not apologize for having to step slightly outside accepted norms of behavior. Being sheepish about taking a picture of someone sleeping on the subway because of how others might look at you sideways, or fearing being called a pervert because you took a picture of a woman (with all the "perversion" on the Internet, the Spice Network, and the naughty stuff at the local video store, I continue to be surprised that people somehow assume that a person taking a picture of a woman in a subway stairway is some kind of sexual deviant) is only going to make you not take that picture that may turn out to be great.
Street photography is not so much about technical skills, as many people assume, as about simply breaking away from everyday social constraints and ettiquette (just a little bit!) and assuming the authority to take the shot. It's basically about considering oneself a "real" photographer and getting out there and doing it, as opposed to constantly "feeling dumb" about taking pictures outside the realm of the safe and comfortable.
Well, that's the way I see it, anyway.