I recently read this article about street photography being exploitive. While I do agree with some of the points of the article, I must say that the article was pointing to a very specific style of street photography. It isn’t fair to use a headline that covers all street photography.
First, let me just clarify. I have been through several conversations with friends of mine saying that taking photos without their permission is against the law. I have done some research and honestly, there seem to be no clear answer. There seem to be no law against taking photos of someone without their consent in public, I may be wrong, whoever can clarify, please do. You can read what I read here.
I think it may come as a shock to some friends that there is no law regarding photo taking without consent. I should add, people can still sue you for harassment and stalking, so please be careful. However, I think that this aversion to having your photo taken is actually quite a recent thing.
Cameras weren’t aways as accessible as they are today. With the invention of the smart phone, it became so easy to have a camera and take photos everywhere we go. This accessibility is both a good and a bad thing.
We now have the ability to record our lives on photos and have precious photos on hand at any time. We now can communicate with pictures across the planet. We now have busybodies that would take videos of other people’s misadventures to have them laughed at and ridiculed online. When we see something is wrong, we take photos or videos to record it. Catching someone red handed has never been easier.
Back in Poly, when I was in PFP, I taught my class how to play bridge, so it became such a fun activity for us. Our WhatsApp group was even named after a phrase we say when someone burns someone’s card. We played a game before our class outside our lab. While playing, a teacher walked by, saw us play cards, took photos/videos of us playing cards. He kind of assumed that we were gambling. We weren’t of course, but we were afraid of getting into trouble. (We didn’t, by the way) It was interesting, my friend noticed his camera and we immediately linked it to getting into trouble. Why? It seems like we have grown into it. A health inspector taking photos of people violating health laws. A person taking a photo of someone slacking off at work. Such ideas get out into our minds without us realising at all.
While there are exceptions, I believe this thinking of someone taking a photo of you equates to you getting into trouble is in fact, very recent.
Okay, I kinda shared why I think this is recent. Now, let me shared why street photography is interesting to me.
I think it started back in Poly. I was doing the photography module and I really enjoyed it. I learned what aperture, shutter speed and ISO was. I enjoyed taking photos. I went around church and shot with the school Nikon Camera. I met people in the park and took photos of them. It was really a simple thing, but I really enjoyed taking photos.
Back then, taking photos was really exciting to me. It was a fun way to capture the life around me. I remember going to different places and trying to get that nice picture that people would post. I watched many YouTube videos on photography. I began researching on cameras. Haha, I even asked my teacher what he thought of Sony and he gave me some history with Minolta etc etc.
While researching on my camera, I found DigitalRev TV. It is a great channel, I really enjoyed watching their fun videos of them doing camera comparisons and reviews. Not all photos were great, but the video on film photography really struck me. Kai’s photos on the XPan was simply amazing. I loved how he managed to capture the environment and the subject. What was even more mind blowing for me, was that those photos were not posed. They were candid photos, they were real. I fell in love with it.
Then of course, through them, I found the works of Henri Cartier Bresson. Dunno who he is? Haha, trust me, Google his name, see his work and you will love how amazing his street photography is. They are surreal, imaginative and really captures the decisive moment.
Why is Street Photography important?
It is a form of photography that doesn’t depend on good looks, good figure, expensive equipment or even the camera. It simply depends on the moment. Capturing a moment that isn’t staged for the rest of eternity, isn’t that beautiful?
Everything can be beautiful, even the simple streets around your apartment. There are stories all around you, images all around you.
I love this fact. This has freed me to take images without being afraid of taking a bad picture or missing a good photo. If I miss the decisive moment, I will just take the next moment.
My approach has changed over the years. I have grown to be more considerate, but confident. I have tried and learn tricks to take nice photos. So with that, I started a simple project, “Streetsofhome” on Insta.
The concept is simple. I will go to every single MRT station in Singapore to take street photos around the station for 15 mins. Why 15 mins? For practicality and insurance. Practicality because 130 stations x 15 mins would equate to 32.5 hours of shooting time. That doesn’t even include any traveling time. So there is a need to be objective and make the project manageable. Insurance? HAHA, if I took a bad photo, I have an excuse to say that I only had 15 mins.
So yeah, more photos are coming, keep a lookout! 🙂