New York Fine Art Photography and Portraiture Services https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com New York Fine Art Photography and Portraiture Services Mon, 22 May 2017 19:07:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Central Park’s History and Photography – The People’s Park https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/new-york-historical-articles/central-park-history-photography/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/new-york-historical-articles/central-park-history-photography/#respond Wed, 10 May 2017 15:23:53 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=9525

*All Central Park photographs in this article are for sale here. See this page if you would like to learn more about the best walking and photography routes for Central Park, or see this

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*All Central Park photographs in this article are for sale here. See this page if you would like to learn more about the best walking and photography routes for Central Park, or see this page to learn more about my guided photography tours of Central Park, day or night.

The People’s Park – the History of Central Park

Of the great many foresights that New York’s planners have had, few if any have been as successful as Central Park. As the first urban landscaped park in the United States, the idea for Central Park was dreamed up by wealthy New Yorkers, who wanted the city to be seen as culturally on par with the great European cities of London and Paris.

Many saw New York as a city fixated on wealth and materialism over culture, and the park was created as a means to break that view. They saw the park as a place where both the wealthy could be noticed and as a refuge for the poor to spend their leisure time.

Bow Bridge and Leaves, Black and White, Central Park, 2010.
Bow Bridge and Leaves, 2010.

In 1853, the city used eminent domain to acquire 700 acres of land at a cost of $5 million for the park at the center of Manhattan. It is thought that another main reason for the creation of the park was to raise the land values for the surrounding buildings. This land was mostly filled with swamps, rocky outcroppings, and irregular terrain, and was not very suitable for development. The park was a way to improve this land – so like nearly everything in New York, profit was likely one of the main motives for its creation.

Approximately 1,600 poor residents were evicted, including Irish immigrants and German gardeners living in shanties, as well as destroying Seneca Village, which had been one of the main black settlements in New York City – including 264 residents, three churches, two schools, and three cemeteries.

The Mall at Dusk, Central Park, 2014.
The Mall at Dusk, 2014.

In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux beat out 32 competitors for the right to design the park. The contest asked for a parade ground, fountain, skating area, a lookout tower, and a location for concerts, and Olmsted and Vaux came through with Sheep Meadow, Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, the Lake, and Belvedere Tower. Vaux designed 36 bridges of different design, from granite to the cast-iron Bow Bridge.

Olmsted and Vaux saw the park as a place for the rich and poor to be in proximity and saw that as a way for the poor to become more cultured, and so they developed the series of bridges and arches so the rich could ride over in carriages while the poor walked below.

The main pathway through the park was named The Mall and was lined with American elm trees leading to Bethesda Terrace and the Lake. The iconic Sheep Meadow, where New Yorker’s now sunbathe and play frisbee was once populated by sheep. Olmsted wanted them for aesthetic purposes, the gray and white offsetting themselves against the green grass. The sheep were stored at Tavern on the Green.

Olmsted had visited several parks through various trips to Europe in 1850 and stated that the park was “of great importance as the first real park made in this country – a democratic development of the highest significance.” Their plan was called the “Greensward Plan” and the original map lives in the Central Park armory.

Greensward Plan
Greensward Plan.
Bethesda Terrace and Painters, Central Park, 2013.
Bethesda Terrace and Painters, 2013.

“[Central Park] is the most important work of American art of the 19th century,” Sara Cedar Miller said. Everywhere you look, it feels like you are staring at a painting, and it is shocking to realize that you actually are. Central Park is a real life painting with every vista planned and created. The park was designed to be a microcosm of New York itself. The southern end was grand, awe-inspiring, and formal, while the north end and Ramble were designed to feel like you were walking in the hills and woods, reminding park-goers of the Catskills and Adirondacks north of the city.

20,000 workers reshaped the land’s topography. Rocks were blasted out with gunpowder and workers moved 3 million cubic yards of soil and planted more than 270,000 trees and shrubs.

Couple in Snowstorm, Central Park, 2006.
Couple in Snowstorm, 2006.

The park opened for public use in the winter of 1859, and thousands of New Yorkers skated on lakes constructed over former swamps. The park was visited by more than seven million people a year by 1865, made up particularly of the wealthy and middle class.

During the first decade, more than half of visitors arrived in carriages, which were owned by fewer than 5 percent of the cities residents. Bans on group picnics discouraged immigrants from visiting the park in the first decade, and school boys could not play ball on the meadows without notes from their principal. Concerts were held on Saturdays and not Sundays so the six-day-a-week workers could not attend. However, these rules were repeatedly flouted and the park was eventually opened up to broader use, including Sunday concerts.

Gapstow Bridge, Central Park, 2010.
Gapstow Bridge, 2010.

Over time, more facilities were built in Central Park, including the Carousel, the Zoo, a playground, and the Great Lawn. In addition, Robert Moses was put in charge of the park in 1934, and over 26 years introduced many facilities, including 20 playgrounds, realigning the drives for automobiles, athletic fields, Wollman Skating Rink, Lasker Rink and Pool, new boathouses, and the Chess and Checkers House.

In the ’60s, rock concerts and be-ins were encouraged, making Central Park a symbol of urban revival and counterculture. However, budget cuts in the 70s caused a long-term decline in maintenance. Central Park during this time became a very dangerous place, particularly after dark, and this kept many people from visiting.

By 1980, the Central Park Conservancy, a private fundraising group, took charge of restoring the park, and by 1990 this organization contributed more than half the park’s budget. Since then, the park has consistently gotten safer, now down to fewer than one hundred crimes per year, down from approximately 1,000 in the early 80s.

The Chase in Sheep Meadow, Central Park, 2010.
The Chase in Sheep Meadow, Central Park, 2010.

Frequently Asked Questions.

1. How big is Central Park?

2. How many people visit Central Park each year.

3. Where is the Central Park Zoo?

4. Where should I go in Central Park? / What should I visit in Central Park?

5. What activities are in Central Park?

6. Where is the last surveying bolt?

7. What is the best time to visit Central Park?

8. What are the best tours of Central Park?

9. Where is the Central Park Boathouse?

Central Park South Skyline at Dusk, 2013.
Central Park South Skyline at Dusk, 2013.

 

1. How big is Central Park?
 
843 acres. Central Park spans from 59th Street to 110th Street between 5th Avenue and Central Park West.

2. How many people visit Central Park each year?
 
42 million people.

3. Where is the Central Park Zoo?
 
The Zoo is located right off of 5th Avenue between 63rd and 66th Streets in the southeastern section of the park. The Zoo features polar bears, sea lions, monkeys, and a petting zoo.

4. Where should I go in Central Park? / What should I visit in Central Park?
 
Visit the Pond, Gapstow Bridge, the Mall, the Lake and Boathouse, Bethesda Terrace and Bethesda Arch, Sheep Meadow, Bow Bridge, the Ramble, and Belvedere Castle. 
 
The Lake in Snowstorm, Central Park, 2010.
The Lake in Snowstorm, 2010.

5. What activities are in Central Park?
 
Visit the Zoo, the Carousel, one of 20 children’s playground, take a rowboat ride on the Lake or have a drink at the Boathouse, take a horse-drawn carriage around the park, people watch in Sheep Meadow, visit a Summer Stage concert, see Shakespeare in the Park, go ice skating at Wollman or Lasker Rink, or get lost in the Ramble.

6. Where is the last surveying bolt?
 
The remaining surveying bolt from the original Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 by John ran del, Jr., is embedded in a rock north of the Dairy and the 65th Street Traverse, south of Center Drive. The bolt is located where West 65th Street would have intersected with Sixth Avenue.

7. What is the best time to visit Central Park?
 
All times are great, but early morning or early evening will have the best light and least amount of people. The park is great to visit in all seasons and has a completely different look depending on the time of year. 

8. What is the best tour of Central Park?

Take a guided photography and history tour of Central Park, and let me photograph you along the way. Photograph an engagement. Click here to view the details.

9. Where is the Central Park Boathouse?
 
The boathouse is located closer to the East Side of the park near 72nd Street. Enter the 72nd or 76th Street Entrances to the Park at 5th Avenue.
 
The Lake at Dusk, Central Park, 2014.
The Lake at Dusk, 2014.
 
The Mall in Night Snowstorm, Central Park, 2010.
The Mall in Night Snowstorm, 2010.
 
Bow Bridge and Fall Foliage, 2013.
Bow Bridge and Fall Foliage, 2013.
 
All Central Park photographs are for sale here. See this page if you would like to learn more about the best walking and photography routes for Central Park, or see this page to learn more about my guided photography tours of Central Park, day or night.

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New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

New York Street Photography

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What is Street Photography? – An Introductory, How-To Guide for Beginners https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/what-is-street-photography-an-introductory-how-to-guide-for-beginners/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/what-is-street-photography-an-introductory-how-to-guide-for-beginners/#respond Tue, 18 Apr 2017 15:17:05 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=9067

What is street photography? Street photography at its essence means candid photography of people and humanity. A street photograph has to be a real, unposed moment. However, the term itself is inherently unclear and

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What is street photography?

Street photography at its essence means candid photography of people and humanity. A street photograph has to be a real, unposed moment. However, the term itself is inherently unclear and clunky. For instance, a person does not have to be in a photo for it to be considered a street photograph. Trying to define street photography is almost like trying to define what sweet or salty is. You can’t fully describe it, but you know it when you see it.

Street photographers are observers, flâneurs by nature. It is a way of connecting with the world and bringing back the moments that stand out. It can be likened to a visual form of poetry – while beauty and form are important aspects of street photography, great street photographs often have something going on beneath the surface. There are hints, feelings, ideas, stories, or questions. These photos are meant to prompt the viewer. Whether street photography depicts reality or not can be disputed, but I would argue that it depicts the reality of the photographer.

An effective way to understand street photography is to look at the work of great street photographers, to see how it varies for each of them, and to try to understand what they were aiming to portray. The end of this article has a list of street photographers and books to start with. The next step is to do it for yourself. You will be awkward and slow at first as you get used to doing it, some of your shots will be technically bad, uninteresting, or cliche (and there’s nothing wrong with cliche), but over time your voice will begin to develop and your photographs will become more cohesive and unique to you – and that is where they will start to stand out.

A quick ethics and law primer

Street Photography ethics and laws

Always look up your local laws regarding street photography, as I am not a lawyer. However, street photography is legal in the United States as long as you use the pictures for artistic purposes. You can sell prints of them, use them in online articles, and show them in books as you would a piece of art, but you cannot use them for commercial or advertising purposes.

Many countries have similar laws to the U.S., but in some, it is illegal to do street photography without permission from the person you are photographing – which makes it difficult if you are trying to capture a candid photograph. Some photographers get tricky, by making sure their streets shots only have people who are unrecognizable, while others disregard these laws and go on like normal. Make sure you do your own research before you decide on what to do.

The ethic of street photography is another story. Is it ethical to photograph strangers in public without their permission? That depends on how you feel. I think these images are important for cultural, artistic, and historical purposes, and I believe I am a good person doing good things, but occasionally I will still feel creepy taking photos of people in public. It can be creepy, but it is what it is, and to me, it’s worth it.

Some photographers will not photograph children or homeless people, while other photographers do incredible and very compassionate work with children and homeless people. The point is to figure out what you are comfortable with and go with that. Don’t let anyone else tell you what is ethically right or wrong.

How to do street photography

How to do street photography

Now that we’ve gotten the definition and ethics out of the way, it’s time to learn how to do street photography. Street photography may seem simple, but it is difficult to do well.

The first step is to push through the fear, to improve your hand-eye coordination, and to get the general tips down both technically and in how you carry yourself. The next step is to figure out what makes an interesting photograph and to develop your voice. But the most important aspect through all of this is to have fun and to try to practice frequently, even if it is in short spurts or with a camera phone – this is what will take you to the next level.

What if you get caught? How to push through your fear of street photography

Fear of Street Photography

Fear is for many the toughest aspect of street photography. How do you possibly get close enough to strangers to get a good picture without getting in trouble? The first thing to consider is where you are located. Obviously, some places like New York will be much easier to do this than others, but that shouldn’t stop you.

Before you start, think about what you will say if someone catches you. When I get caught, I smile, tell the person that yes, I did take their photo, I’m doing a project on the streets and people of New York, and I thought they looked fabulous. Flattery is key. Offer to email them the photograph, and if they still seem uncomfortable, then offer to delete it. If you handle yourself in this manner, you will find it so much easier and sometimes enjoyable when you get caught.

The next step is to go somewhere busy. You shouldn’t only photograph in busy places, but when you are learning this can be very important. Go to a busy street corner, a fair, or an event where lots of interesting things are happening, and you will find that you and your camera will fit right in. When there are lots of people with cameras around and everyone is happy and busy, you will find that people will barely notice you. This is an environment that will allow you to get comfortable with your camera so that you can learn how to take good shots.

Street Photography Tips

 

Similarly, sometimes you will want to pick a spot and let your subjects come to you. Find a location where a lot is going on and spend your energy watching your surroundings instead of walking around. Keep your camera up and ready to shoot, and watch people as they come closer to you. This way they will be entering your personal space instead of you entering their space, and they will not notice you as much. You will also be quicker to react since you will already be in the right spot and watching your surroundings intently.

A quick note: It is common for people to start off by shooting mostly from the hip – that is, photographing without putting the camera to their eye to make it much less noticeable. This is a practice that a lot of photographers do, including me some of the time. Sometimes it’s necessary, but it can be a crutch as well. Learn to shoot by putting the camera to your eye at first. Shoot from the hip if and when necessary, but get that camera up to your eye as often as you can.

Acting

Acting in Street PhotographySome of the best street photographers are also the best actors when photographing. They have a way of looking like they are tourists or that they have no idea how to use their camera. The confused, in their own world, or dense looks that I have seen on some photographers faces have been hilarious. One photographer I know will even go right up and take a photo of someone, and then when they look up, he will say, “Oh, I was just testing my camera. Sorry about that!”

Usually, it will be more subtle than that, but it will help to do some light acting so that the moments can be as candid as possible and so you will not have to deal with everyone stopping to ask if you took their photo. You would get nowhere if that was the case. Also, try to keep from making eye contact with people as that has an evolutionary way of getting their attention. Always look off to the side, above, or through them.

The camera snap is a fantastic technique to use. Your natural instinct will be to remove the camera from your eye the second you take a photograph. Nearly everyone does this, and this is how people know you have taken their photo. Instead, capture the photo and keep the camera to your eye as the person moves out of your scene. This will have them thinking that you are just photographing the background and that they got in your way. Similarly, you can aim your camera above or to the side of a person like you are photographing the background and then at the last second point the camera at them, take the photo, and move on.

Use your eyes

Learn Street Photography

This may seem like such a simple tip, but it’s not. So many photographers that I have taught seem glued to their camera the entire time, and that can stop you from noticing your surroundings. When done well, it almost feels like the camera isn’t even there. To find a great moment, you actually have to see it with your eyes before you go to take a shot, so embrace this. Focus your energy on looking around and try to be as aware of your surroundings as possible.

Get closer

Get closer in street photographyThis is not meant to be a blanket statement, but a common problem is that photographers do not get close enough. Fill the frame with your scene and get close enough to your subjects to be able to notice the little details. But also keep in mind that you can get too close.

Some photographers take this tip too much to heart, and every photograph is a closeup face or detail without any context or background at all. Use some balance, but remember that being part of the action instead of lurking far away will improve the quality of your photos.

Be spontaneous

Moments in street photography happen so fast. So many photographs will appear and disappear before you even put the camera to your eye. This makes it vital to go with your gut. If you feel the potential for a photograph, take it. Often, this will result in a terrible photograph, but when you get a successful one, it will be that much more interesting. Get loose and embrace your instincts.

Emotion and gesture

Emotion and Gesture in Street Photography

Give me a photograph of a normal looking person with a powerful expression any day over the most interestingly dressed person with a boring expression. As photographers, we are looking for ideas and emotions in our images, and a primary way to do that is to capture those emotions in people’s faces, the looks in their eyes, or the gestures in their bodies. When you are able to connect with a person and get a glimpse into what they might be feeling, that will lay a powerful foundation for your photograph. Learn to read people through their expressions and gestures.

Shoot in a variety of locations (including where you live).

Street Photography Locations

Photograph in both busy and quiet areas as you learn, and capture the areas around where you live or work. The more familiar you are with a location and the more time you spend there, the more intimate the photographs will be. Get familiar with certain areas and keep going back. You do not need to go to a different place each time to get a great photograph.

You can get a great photograph anywhere, and you should practice in places that you might think of as typically uninteresting or boring. The term boring is actually quite interesting. Why do you think the area is boring or will not be a good location for photography? Go to a parking lot, a suburb, or a quiet street and see what you can do there. Some of the most incredible street photographs have been taken in these environments.

Street photography cameras and equipment

Street Photography Equipment

It is commonly said that you can do street photography with any camera, and while this is true, some cameras will give you a significant advantage. SLRs are fast but they can be very large, and it becomes difficult to be quick and spontaneous with one. If you must use an SLR (and I used one for over 10 years for street photography, so don’t feel bad), grab a light prime lens such as a 35mm or 50mm (the two most popular lenses used by street photographers).

Prime lenses will lighten your camera and make it much less noticeable. In addition, getting used to a single focal length will have a profound effect on your photography. You have to let go of the fact that you will lose out on some shots because you don’t have a zoom lens. That will happen, but you will make up for this by becoming so used to the prime lens and focal length and so fast with it, that you will be able to capture more spontaneous images. This will help focus you and it will help you become more consistent.

I highly suggest mirrorless cameras or even micro 4/3rds cameras. My recommended brand is Fuji and either the X100 line or the X-T line. Fuji has the quality and design factor that no other camera other than Leica has right now, and they are about a fifth of the price. Olympus, Ricoh, and Sony all make good smaller form cameras as well, but keep in mind that some of the Sony lenses are so huge that it will make the mirrorless camera feel like an SLR. Many people even do street photography with a camera phone. Camera phones have come a long way and you can do great work with one. If you can’t take your camera with you, don’t hesitate to take a photography break with your phone.

Camera settings

Street Photography Cameras

Now for the fun part. Knowing your camera settings well is necessary, and I suggest shooting in either Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual mode. Unless you are very good, Manual can be tough in many lighting situations, particularly for sunny days when you will be shooting in the sunlight one second and in the shade in another.

I prefer to use a shutter speed of 1/250th or faster. This number will guarantee that the motion in your subjects will be frozen. You can stop down to 1/160th, 1/125th, or even 1/60th at night or with people who are not moving, but there is a higher chance of motion blur if they are.

This is a personal preference, but I also like to shoot with as small an aperture as possible. Yes, bokeh can be beautiful, but with a small aperture (large depth of field), it allows me a better chance of getting my subjects sharp. If you miss the focus with a large depth of field, there is still a good chance the shot will be saved. In addition, a large depth of field helps when you have multiple subjects at different depths or an important background that you also want to be relatively sharp. Context is very important in street photography, so I like to have my backgrounds relatively sharp.

Street Photography Cameras

When photographing with a fast shutter speed and small aperture, not much light will hit the sensor, so unless you are in bright sunlight, something has to give, and that is the ISO. Newer cameras create gorgeous photographs at higher ISOs, so you shouldn’t be afraid to raise it up. There will be more grain, but your shots will be sharper and of a higher quality that will more than offset this. And that grain can be beautiful! I like to shoot at ISO 400 in sunlight, 800-1600 in shade, and 3200-6400 at dusk and night. I do not recommend using auto-ISO unless you are in Manual mode. You only want the camera to choose one of the three settings.

In evening, indoors, or in very dark situations, I will often shoot in Shutter Priority mode to guarantee that I have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion. During daylight, I will usually shoot in Aperture Priority. I usually only shoot in Manual at night or if the light is very even. However, you can use any of these modes to the same effect if you know them well.

Advanced Tips

Advanced Street Photography Tips

While the previous photography examples had more differences between them, take notice that the examples going forward will be much more consistent in content and look. They are based upon a project I have been working on for the last seven years titled Luxury for Lease. Consistency is an important aspect to ponder when you become more advanced, and so I wanted the photographs to show that.

Here are some more advanced concepts and street photography tips to consider going forward. Some of these you can take advantage of immediately, while others will take more time to get comfortable with.

Imperfections

Street Photography Imperfections

Street photographs are real and unplanned moments, and they should feel real and unplanned. This gives us a lot of leeway technically, and the lack of perfection can even improve a photograph. Garry Winogrand, for instance, was known for skewing his horizons in ways that landscape photographers wouldn’t do, and this was important to the feel of his work.

Often these imperfections will not only be tolerated but will be encouraged. This is why grain works very well in street photography. So next time you see an element that you screwed up in the image, consider the fact that it might make the photograph even better.

Light and composition

Street Photography Light and Composition

Besides the potential benefit of imperfections, how we deal with light and composition in street photography is very similar to most other forms of photography, so I will keep this section brief. When you walk out of the house and before you even look at your camera, the light is always the first factor to take into account, so make sure to keep light at the top of your mind.

Where are the light sources in relationship to the direction that you are photographing in, and how are they affecting your shot. Is there direct light, a hazy backlight, artificial light, reflected light, or are there pockets of light shining through? Are there beautiful shadows? How is the light hitting your main subject and background? You can do some very interesting things with light once you learn to notice it.

Street Photography Composition

Since street photographs appear so quickly, composition is often done spontaneously and instinctually, so this is where the practice comes in. As we just mentioned with the imperfections, you can get away with a lot more than you can in traditional landscape photography. Skewed horizons or strange compositions can make the photograph feel real and can go a long way, but it depends on the photograph. Think of composition as you would for a breathtaking landscape, but instead of a boulder there is a fire hydrant, instead of a stream there is some spilled coffee, or instead of a mountain there is a ladder. Use these everyday elements in the same manner.

Great compositional photographers have a way of leading people’s eyes around an image, and they use these everyday elements to do it. Every aspect of your photograph is important, including what you put in the corners. A viewers eyes will naturally be drawn off of your photograph, and your corners will keep their eyes from leaving the picture. This will make is feel more balanced.

In addition, try not to get hyper-focused on just your main subject. If you see a great element for a photograph, always look around to see if it is possible to combine it with other interesting elements to create a more complex scene.

Take photos for yourself

Street Photography: Take Photos for Yourself

Try not to worry about how other people will perceive your work. Street photographs can be weird, and not everyone will understand them or like them. Some people just want to see sunsets or pretty travel photographs. This type of work is for yourself. Take photographs that you find interesting and go from there. Often your best work will not be as noticed at first by others. Take the opinions of others into account, but don’t let that lead you. This is a chance for you to create personal, unique, and interesting work.

How will your photos age?

Street Photography: How Will your Photos Age?

Be careful about taking things for granted. I hear photographers complain that they can’t take a photo these days without someone staring at their phone, but at some point that will change and those photographs will feel historic and much more interesting.

Think about what might change and what could be interesting to others that might seem routine to you. If you are photographing in an area that seems boring or standard to you, think about why you feel that way and whether there might actually be an interesting photograph there that you just disregarded. Simple things now will have more weight in the future, while interesting things now might be mundane in the future. It’s very tough to know which is which.

Street photographs without people

Street Photographs Without People

Street photography is about life, but it doesn’t have to have people in the frame. However, there is a difference between a traditional urban landscape photograph and a street photograph, and just like describing what salt tastes like, it’s tough to describe the differences.

Urban landscape images are created to be beautiful. They are what they are, on the surface. That is the most important goal for them, whereas while form is important for street photography, street photographs are created to be interesting. There’s something to them that goes beyond just beautifying and glorifying the surroundings.

Zone Focusing

Zone Focusing for Street Photography

Zone focusing is the king of all technical skills for street photographers. It is the practice of setting your camera to manual focus and using focusing distances to your advance. Some cameras will have a focus distance meter on their lens or in their viewfinder, and this helps immensely.

I typically set my focus distance to around 8 to 10 feet, although in very busy situations such as rush hour on a busy corner, I will set it to 5-6 feet – but the closer in, the more exact you have to be with the focus. You then need to photograph your subjects when they are in the range that your camera is focused for, so you will have to learn your distances (i.e. how far 10 feet away is). Because of depth of field, zone focusing is much easier with a wide-angle lens, so I typically only do it with a 35mm lens and sometimes with a 50mm lens in bright sunlight.

Street Photography Focusing

You can zone focus with any depth of field, and I will sometimes zone focus even with an aperture of F2.8, but it is much easier to do with a large depth of field. Ideally, you will start off with a 35mm lens using F8 to F16. With a wide-angle lens and F11 for instance, if you are focused at 10 feet, most of your scene will be sharp. Subjects at 7 feet will be pretty sharp and the background will be pretty sharp, so this gives you a lot of flexibility in how you can shoot. And the most important factor here is that you don’t have to spend the time locking in the focus, so this will make you that much more quick and spontaneous.

See this article for a more in-depth guide to zone focusing. Zone focusing is not hard to do well, but it takes a little practice at first, so be prepared to screw up most of your photographs the first time around.

Projects and sequencing

Street Photography Projects and Sequencing

As you improve and build up more and more of an archive, you will start to notice more consistency in your work. You will start to think of themes, ideas, and projects. This is why editing time is so important for street photography. By spending time with your photographs, you will understand yourself and your work better, and it will help inform what you shoot when you go out.

Search through your work and split them up into different ideas. Continue to move around the sequence of the photos to play around with these ideas and add to them over time. Plan for these ideas to take a lot of time to grow, and many of them will happen organically. A project you think of one year in might completely transform by year three.

The photos you see in this section are part of a project called Luxury for Lease, which is about the changing nature of New York, the gentrification, the loss of interaction and loneliness, and the suburban cleansing of the city (you can read more about it here). It took time to truly understand what I was trying to create with this project.

Editing is where you figure out what you are doing, so make sure to spend a lot of time with it.

Conclusion

Street Photography Tips and Techniques

This is a lot to absorb at first, so keep this article and come back to it over time. All of this information is important to know about, but you don’t want to let it bog you down when you shoot. The true key is time spent shooting. The more you shoot, the more the street photography gods will reward you, and the better you will be at capturing those spectacular moments that you come across.

Learn to love the walk and adventure, enjoy the connection with others out there, and try not to worry about whether you are capturing great photos or not. You can worry about that when you are editing, but when you are out there, the key is to shut off your mind, be relaxed and spontaneous, and most of all to enjoy yourself.

If you want to learn more about street photography, you can purchase my ebook, The Essentials of Street Photography, and if you plan on coming to New York, you can download my free guide, The New York Photographer’s Travel Guide. I also give popular private street photography tours and occasional in-depth weekend and weeklong street photography workshops.

An Introductory Guide to Street Photography

Street Photographer Research

Here are some street photographers to start off with in your research. There are so many more photographers than this to focus on, but this is a great list to start with.

Garry Winogrand
Robert Frank
Martin Parr
Bruce Davidson
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Josef Koudelka
Helen Levitt
William Eggleston
Trent Parke
Alex Webb
Vivian Maier
Lee Friedlander
Joel Meyerowitz
Daido Moriyama

Street Photography Books

The Americans by Robert Frank
The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson
William Eggleston’s Guide
Garry Winogrand Met Exhibition Catalogue
Subway by Bruce Davidson
Friedlander (MoMA)
The Last Resort by Martin Parr
The Suffering of Light by Alex Webb
Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore 
Exiles by Josef Koudelka
55 by Joel Meyerowitz
America by Zoe Strauss
Magnum Contact Sheets
Minutes to Midnight by Trent Parke
Slide Show by Helen Levitt
Vivian Maier
A Day Off by Tony Ray Jones
Gathered Leaves by Alec Soth
Early Color by Saul Leiter
Life is Good & Good for You in New York by William Klein
Grim Street by Mark Cohen
The Urban Prisoner by Matt Weber
American Photographs by Walker Evans
Personal Best by Elliott Erwitt
The World Through My Eyes by Daido Moriyama

Educational Books

Bystander: A History of Street Photography
Street Photography Now
The Essentials of Street Photography & Street Photography Conversations
Street Photography and the Poetic Image
The Street Photographer’s Manual
The World Atlas of Street Photography
Street Photography: The Art of Capturing the Candid Moment

Street Photography Resources

Magnum is THE international photography cooperative, originally co-founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1947. The roster of photographers cover a variety of genres but includes a variety of street and documentary photographers. The website has a variety of resources and a wealth of photographs and photographic stories to explore.

iN-PUBLIC is the original street photography collective set up in 2000 to help promote street photography worldwide. The website holds a variety of educational content and interviews, and the roster of photographers is impressive and worth exploring.

LensCulture is a website and online magazine dedicated to sharing contemporary photography of which street photography is a significant focus. The website shares interviews, essays, educational articles, photographer portfolios, and sponsors photography awards several times per year.

AmericanSuburbX is an online photography and art website with a huge number of artist profiles, essays, interviews, galleries, and reviews.

Miami Street Photography Festival is a well-known festival that always has a fantastic roster of speakers. The festival consists of exhibits, workshops, and portfolio reviews. Also new is the Street London symposium.

Hit The Streets – if you’re a podcast listener, this is the street photography podcast to check out.

Art Photo Feature is an online street photography magazine and community run by Rohit and Vineet Vohra.

Street Photography Documentaries

Everybody Street
Finding Vivian Maier
Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank
The Many Lives of William Klein
The World According to Martin Parr
Pen, Brush, and Camera – Henri Cartier-Bresson
In The Real World – William Eggleston
More Than the Rainbow – Matt Weber
Near Equal – Daido Moriyama
1981 – Joel Meyerowitz
BBC Master Photographer – Andre Kertesz

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A Foreigner’s Road Trip – Robert Frank’s America https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/new-york-historical-articles/the-foreigners-road-trip-robert-franks-america/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/new-york-historical-articles/the-foreigners-road-trip-robert-franks-america/#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 19:03:43 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=9000

  Despite being born in Switzerland, Robert Frank defined and diagnosed America in the ’50s in ways that his contemporaries couldn’t. While his peers were photographing the optimistic and prosperous 50’s post-war United States,

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Despite being born in Switzerland, Robert Frank defined and diagnosed America in the ’50s in ways that his contemporaries couldn’t. While his peers were photographing the optimistic and prosperous 50’s post-war United States, Frank’s photography took a stark and much more realistic turn.

Frank’s childhood was difficult – in the 1930s, the fear of Hitler invading was real, and Frank’s father was stateless due to his German citizenship being revoked for being Jewish. “My father married my mother because of money. It became the most important thing in order for them to feel good. If my father had a good day, dinner would end and my father would take out his wallet and give my mother 100 Swiss francs.”

“[The war] certainly convinced me to get out of Switzerland. To get out of Europe. It was mandatory that you would go somewhere and learn English.” Frank moved to the U.S. in 1947, and at first, he felt the optimism of America in the ’50s. “Leaving Switzerland and coming to America, we felt like the door opened. We were free. And I liked it. I liked it a lot. It was another world, where you could move, where you could take the train somewhere. Travel.”

Robert Frank, The Americans
Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey.

Frank worked as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar and then as a freelance photojournalist for McCall’s, Vogue, and Fortune. However, he soon began to notice that there was a difference between the optimism and propaganda about American society versus the reality. He saw a grim and lonely country that was obsessed with money, and perhaps Frank was in-tune to noticing this due to his father’s relationship with wealth. “At that time as a photographer, I searched for very clear and strong pictures. I was attracted by what you call somber events.”

Frank grew a close relationship with Walker Evans and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1955 with the help of Evans and Edward Steichen, which allowed him to purchase a used Ford and travel across the U.S. He visited Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, Montana, and Illinois. While he took his family on some of these road trips, he traveled alone for most of it, and it was a very lonely and grueling trip. All in all, he took 28,000 shots for a book that would be called The Americans. “I was absolutely free just to turn left or turn right without knowing what I would find.”

His first stop was Ford’s River Rouge plant in Dearborn Michigan. “I went to Detroit to photograph the Ford factories, and then it was clear to me I wanted to do this. It was summer and so loud. So much noise. So much heat. It was hell. So much screaming.”

Robert Frank, The Americans
Assembly Line – Detroit.
Robert Frank, The Americans
Factories – Detroit.

“In America, I wanted to do it differently. There was no more romanticism really. It was a look at the way a country that I didn’t really know, that I had only lived in for a couple of years, so The Americans was the first time that I made a trip across the country.”

“It was really a hard trip, but I felt often something strong from the people.” “I looked at poor people, how they tried to survive, what a lonely time it can be in America, and what a tough country it is, and also I saw for the first time the way the blacks were treated. It was surprising. But it didn’t make me hate America, it made me understand how people can be. You learn a lot traveling. You learn a lot when you’re a photographer.” “That trip I got to like black people so much more than white people.”

Robert Frank, The Americans
Funeral – St, Helena, South Carolina.
Robert Frank, The Americans
Men’s Room, Railway Station – Memphis, Tennessee.

Being a Jewish photographer in the south in the ’50s did not come without its own problems, particularly being a foreigner with cameras at the beginning of the Cold War. People thought he was a spy. “Are you a Commie?” he was asked. In one incident, he was told by a sheriff that he had an hour to leave the town. In another incident in Arkansas, he recalled, “I remember the [policeman] took me into the police station, and he sat there and put his feet on the table. It came out that I was Jewish because I had a letter from the Guggenheim Foundation. They really were primitive.” The sheriff said, “Well, we have to get somebody who speaks Yiddish. They wanted to make a thing out of it. It was the only time it happened on the trip. They put me in jail. It was scary. Nobody knew where I was.”

Robert Frank, The Americans
Charleston, South Carolina.

The Americans was a stark change from the polished, safe, and optimistic photographs of America at the time. Many of his subjects were on the fringe of society – outsiders in a way, as he was, yet entirely American. He stayed in cheap hotels and photographed in department stores, diners, sidewalks, parks, and rallies. While there were some sentimental photographs, he was attracted to the imperfect and the ordinary. He caught people in normal moments, showing loneliness, boredom, and stress.

Robert Frank, The Americans
Elevator – Miami Beach.

However, when he returned, Frank found it difficult to find a publisher for The Americans. His images were so different at the time that people did not appreciate them – they did not know what to make of them. His photographs covered the tensions of the time, and he contrasted them with the optimistic pillars of American society – Frank was particularly attracted to the the jukebox, the flag, and the car.

Robert Frank, The Americans
Candy Store – New York City.
Robert Frank, The Americans
Cafe – Beaufort, South Carolina.
Robert Frank, The Americans
City Fathers – Hoboken, New Jersey.
Robert Frank, The Americans
Covered Car – Long Beach, California.
Robert Frank, The Americans
Indianapolis.

Frank finally found a publisher in Paris in 1958, but it was his introduction to the Beats and Jack Kerouac that would help him reach a larger audience. “Kerouac personified what I hoped I’d find here in America. He was interested in outsiders. He wasn’t interested in walking the middle of the road.” Kerouac said, “Robert Frank…he sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world.”

The book was published in the U.S. in 1959 to much criticism. “Meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness,” wrote Popular Photography. “The Museum of Modern Art wouldn’t even sell the book,” Frank said, “But the younger people caught on.” Over time, the book would be recognized as the most significant book in American photography. Frank received his first individual show in 1961 and showed at MoMA in 1962.

Robert Frank, The Americans
View from Hotel Window – Butte Montana.
Robert Frank, The Americans
Ranch Market – Hollywood.

After The Americans, Frank abruptly left photography and turned to filmmaking, releasing Pull My Daisy in 1959 starring Allen Ginsberg. He would release 31 films, the most notable being Cocksucker Blues, which showed the Rolling Stones on tour and included lots of drugs and sex. “It was great to watch them — the excitement. But my job was after the show. What I was photographing was a kind of boredom. It’s so difficult being famous. It’s a horrendous life. Everyone wants to get something from you.’’ Frank would himself shun the spotlight and fame as much as possible, and while the Stones enjoyed the film, they thought it would hurt their chances to tour and they sued. A court order allowed the film to only be shown five times a year and only as long as Frank was present.

Frank returned to photography in the 70s, publishing his second book, The Lines of My Hand in 1972, a visual autobiography of personal photographs. He began to work more with constructed images, collages, words, and scratched or distorted negatives. “I don’t get an idea.. every year. I get an idea maybe… I had the last idea in 1960, 1970.”

Robert Frank, The Americans
Canal Street – New Orleans.

Robert Frank Quotes

“I leave it up to you… They don’t have an end or a beginning. They’re a piece of the middle.” – Robert Frank.

“Those are the difficult moments every photographer has to get over and get away with it and not be discouraged. Because if one is sensitive, it has an effect on you. So maybe it’s better not to be sensitive as a photographer and just go on. Many photographers today have that but I never had that. I think it’s nice to be sensitive as a photographer and maybe it’s harder.” – Robert Frank.

“Intuition is a very important part of my brain. I never really had a concept of something. It was always following the intuition before I saw it.” – Robert Frank.

Robert Frank, The Americans
New York City.

“I think people like the book because it shows what people think about but don’t discuss. It shows what’s on the edge of their mind.” – Robert Frank.

“Something I really like is a big flag. Here, people are so proud of it. In other countries, you don’t feel they’re so proud of their flag.” – Robert Frank.

“The reaction surprised me because people thought it was an anti-American story… but I do like America. I became an American.” – Robert Frank.

Robert Frank, The Americans
Drug Store – Detroit.

“I always liked to turn around the corner because there’s always something around the corner. As long as you’re curious about it. That’s when life is interesting – if you’re curious.” – Robert Frank.

“The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” ― Robert Frank.

“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” – Robert Frank.

Robert Frank, The Americans
U.S. 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas (Robert Frank’s family and Ford).

“I have been frequently accused of deliberately twisting subject matter to my point of view. Opinion often consists of a kind of criticism. But criticism can come out of love.” – Robert Frank.

“My photographs are not planned or composed in advance, and I do not anticipate that the onlooker will share my viewpoint. However, I feel that if my photograph leaves an image on his mind, something has been accomplished.” – Robert Frank.

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. This kind of photography is realism. But realism is not enough – there has to be vision, and the two together can make a good photograph.” – Robert Frank.

Robert Frank, The Americans
Movie Premiere – Hollywood.
Robert Frank, The Americans
Movie Premiere – Hollywood.
Robert Frank, The Americans
Political Rally – Chicago.
Robert Frank, The Americans
U.S. 285, New Mexico.

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Winter New York Street Photography https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/winter-new-york-street-photography/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/winter-new-york-street-photography/#respond Mon, 06 Mar 2017 21:43:37 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=8950

It’s been about four months since I last posted some of my photography here. If you’d like to see more of a daily feed, you should check me out on Instagram. I enjoy shooting

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It’s been about four months since I last posted some of my photography here. If you’d like to see more of a daily feed, you should check me out on Instagram. I enjoy shooting up until New Years, but always have a very hard time in the bitter cold of January and February when you tense up, your muscles freeze, and your hands slow down. I try to push through though, and at least it’s almost over.

Here are some favorites from the winter. Enjoy!

Yes, this is December in New York.
Yes, this is a butt selfie.

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A Cup of Tea – The History and Photography of Martin Parr https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/historical-photography-articles/history-photography-martin-parr/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/historical-photography-articles/history-photography-martin-parr/#respond Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:21:59 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=8860

All photographs copyright Martin Parr. “Fashion pictures show people looking glamorous. Travel pictures show a place looking at its best, nothing to do with the reality. In the cookery pages, the food always looks

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All photographs copyright Martin Parr.

“Fashion pictures show people looking glamorous. Travel pictures show a place looking at its best, nothing to do with the reality. In the cookery pages, the food always looks amazing, right? Most of the pictures we consume are propaganda.” – Martin Parr.

On the surface, the work of Martin Parr is filled with whimsy, garish color, and playfulness, but deep down this humor both highlights and masks a harsh critique of society. Born in England in 1952 to a middle-class background, the documentary work of Parr has focused intently on modern life, including the culture and social classes in Britain, wealth and luxury, consumerism, and travel. Parr understands the important of grabbing the attention of viewers, and so he uses humor and peculiarity as a way to achieve this purpose. His photographs find a way to toe the line between beautiful and ugly.

“The fundamental thing I’m exploring constantly is the difference between the mythology of the place and the reality of it… Remember I make serious photographs disguised as entertainment. That’s part of my mantra. I make the pictures acceptable in order to find the audience but deep down there is actually a lot going on that’s not sharply written in your face. If you want to read it you can read it.” – Martin Parr.

Beneath the surface, Parr’s photographs are filled with oddness, idiosyncrasy, understanding, and unease. His photographs force us to pay attention to and question the ordinary. Particularly with his critiques on British society, Parr captures everyday moments and objects in a way that make them feel surreal and absurd. An ordinary cup of tea in an ornate teacup looks beautiful and regal. It is photographed in a way to make it appealing and proper, but this forces us to question it at the same time. A plate of food, which would normally be photographed in a pleasing way, is captured in all its ordinariness. “I think the ordinary is a very under-exploited aspect of our lives because it is so familiar.” – Martin Parr.

The Non-Conformists

Parr’s first major group of work, The Non-Conformists, took place in the rural communities of West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, and Ireland from 1975-1982. He focused on rural life and the decline of farming communities by photographing at the local non-conformist chapels. While his work was in black and white at the time, much different from the color that he is most known for, you could see his style developing. The photographs were not as harsh as his work would become, but they still focused on the ordinary and did not set out to glorify or beautify his subjects. They were as they were. Ordinary and humorous moments were pervasive, but the entire project has an overarching feel of sadness and decline.

The Last Resort

The next project that Parr would take on, for which he is most widely known for today, was The Last Resort, focusing on the past-its-prime beach town of New Brighton. The focus was on the leisure activities of the working class. “Of course, New Brighton is very shabby, very rundown, but people still go there because it’s the place where you take kids out on a Sunday.” It can be easy to mistake the humor in this project as a form of mocking, but that is because the images ring so true with intimacy and understanding for his subjects. Parr’s aim was not to mock, but to give honest look into the working class world. “[Parr] was attacked by some critics for his scrutiny of the working classes, but looking at these works, one merely sees Parr’s unflinching eye capturing the truth of a social class embracing leisure in whatever form available.” – Karen Wright

“At the time, when I first showed it in Liverpool, no one batted an eyelid because everyone knew what New Brighton was like. And then when I showed them in London [at The Serpentine Gallery], there was all kinds of responses; people were somewhat shocked.” – Martin Parr

The beach has been a recurring theme throughout Parr’s life. It was always where he went to test a new camera or way of shooting. As many city street photographers have their favorite corner, the beach was Parr’s favorite corner. “You can read a lot about a country by looking at its beaches: across cultures, the beach is that rare public space in which all absurdities and quirky national behaviors can be found.”

The Cost of Living

In 1987, Parr would move with his wife to Bristol, where he photographed his next project, The Cost of Living, which focused on the middle class as they became wealthier under Thatcher. He captured a variety of middle-class activities including shopping, parties, and events.

Small World

Parr shifted his eye toward a critique of the mass tourism industry, which he also saw as a form of conspicuous consumption. He stated, “the thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it.” Parr set out to attack this mythology of the travel destination by focusing on the ordinary follies of tourists in them. What he showed was people so disconnected from their surroundings that it looks like they are in an amusement park and not an actual place.

Common Sense

Parr would take the critique of consumerism further by focusing an entire project on it, Common Sense, from 1995 to 1999. He focused on the trivial and absurd realities of consumer culture and projects, often photographing strange objects, and taking tight detail shots as one would do for a magazine shoot. But instead of being classic and beautiful, the objects in Parr’s photographs look strange and almost ridiculous. Their flaws are the focus of many of the photographs.

Luxury

In 2009, Parr released a book titled Luxury, which continued his focus on photographing different classes of people and critiquing their lifestyles.

Photobooks

Over the years, Parr has built one of the largest photography book collections in the world and was the co-author of The Photobook: A History (in three volumes), which covers more than 1,000 photo books from the 19th century to modern day. Parr has been a strong voice for the value of the photo book in the photography world.

“I firmly believe that the photo book is still an underestimated asset in the cultural history of photography. Speaking as a photographer, it is the one vehicle for photography that has influenced, not just me, but many photographers in a very big way. Finally, in this last decade, there has been a strong revival of interest in the photobook.”

Quotes from Martin Parr:

“With photography, I like to create a fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist.”

“My black-and-white work is more of a celebration, and the color work became more of a critique of society.”

“We are drowning in images. Photography is used as a propaganda tool, which serves to sell products and ideas. I use the same approach to show aspects of reality.”

“I go straight in very close to people and I do that because it’s the only way you can get the picture. You go right up to them. Even now, I don’t find it easy. I don’t announce it. I pretend to be focusing elsewhere. If you take someone’s photograph it is very difficult not to look at them just after. But it’s the one thing that gives the game away. I don’t try and hide what I’m doing – that would be folly.”

“Part of the role of photography is to exaggerate, and that is an aspect that I have to puncture. I do that by showing the world as I really find it.”

“I photograph wealth.”

“Photography is, by its nature, exploitative. It’s whether you use this process with a sense of responsibility or not. I feel that I do so. My conscience is clear.”

“If there is any jarring at all in my photographs, it’s because we are so used to ingesting pictures of everywhere looking beautiful.”

“I try to photograph my own and society’s hypocrisy.”

FRANCE. Calais. Auchan hypermarket. From ‘One Day Trip’. 1988.

“The idea of England in decline is very attractive.”

“You have to take a lot of bad pictures. Dont’ be afraid to take bad pictures… You have to take a lot of bad pictures in order to know when you’ve got a good one.”

“I accept that all photography is voyeuristic and exploitative, and obviously I live with my own guilt and conscience. It’s part of the test and I don’t have a problem with it.”

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The Wall and the Exile: the History and Photography of Josef Koudelka https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/wall-exile-history-photography-josef-koudelka/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/wall-exile-history-photography-josef-koudelka/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 20:16:48 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=8615

  “I was brought up behind the wall and all my life I wanted to get out, and this is the principle of the wall — you know you can’t get out.” – Josef

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“I was brought up behind the wall and all my life I wanted to get out, and this is the principle of the wall — you know you can’t get out.” – Josef Koudelka

The wall and the search for freedom have been the main themes throughout the work of Josef Koudelka. Born in 1938 in Czechoslovakia and an engineer by trade, Koudelka would take up photography at 30 years old, making his first mark as a photographer during the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968 that ended the reforms of the Prague Spring.

Smuggled out of the country by the Magnum Agency and published anonymously under the initials P.P (Prague Photographer), the work of Koudelka during the invasion was so prolific that it led many photo editors to think that it was the work of a collective of photographers instead of a single person. Because of this, Koudelka needed to leave, and Magnum helped him to escape to England in 1970, where he applied for political asylum. However, without a true home to be able to go back to, Koudelka became a nomadic photographer, traveling around Europe in search of freedom.

“When I first started to take photographs in Czechoslovakia, I met this old gentleman, this old photographer, who told me a few practical things. One of the things he said was, “Josef, a photographer works on the subject, but the subject works on the photographer.”

A major theme that grew in Koudelka’s work was of the strength of human spirit that shines through a bleak and difficult existence, an existence that mirrored his own. Koudelka’s first major work after the war was a project on the Romani (gypsies) of Eastern Europe, where he embedded himself with the group, often sleeping outside, and leading the Romani to think of him as even poorer than them. He often focused on social and cultural rituals, along with death.

While gypsies were typically looked down upon, Koudelka showed an understanding of them through his photographs, and he photographed them in a respectful and thoughtful manner. Throughout these photographs, you can see glimmers of mutual understanding, and you can often feel the presence of Koudelka just behind the camera. When Koudelka turns his camera on a subject, it is clear that he is also photographing himself in a way.

“Whatever I do, essentially, I do for myself. I didn’t do “Gypsies” to save Gypsies because even I know I can’t save them. So everything I do for myself. If it helps something, I am very pleased. I go around the world and try to discover what interests me and what has something to do with me. For that reason, I never work for a magazine, I never did any fashion, I never made any publicity. For me, a project must interest me and have something to do with me.”

“Nothing is permanent — that’s also what I learned from the Gypsies. Bresson used to tell me that your problem is that you don’t think about the future, and that’s exactly what I learned from the Gypsies. Not to worry much about the future. And I learned that to be alive I don’t need much. So I never worried about money because I knew in the past if I needed the money I borrowed it so I didn’t lose the time.”

The next project that Koudelka would work on turned into the famous book Exiles, publish in 1988. The photographs were deeply personal and mostly taken throughout his travels in Europe and the United States after escaping his home. While the photographs are dark, lonely, brooding, and alienated, they also show the perseverance and strength of people.

“Koudelka’s unsentimental, stark, brooding, intensely human imagery reflect his own spirit, the very essence of an exile who is at home wherever his wandering body finds haven in the night.” – Cornell Capa

One of his most famous images from the book, of a dog scavenging a bleak wintery landscape, is reminiscent of a self-portrait. You can imagine Koudelka just behind the dog scavenging with his camera.

“I became what I am from how I was born, but also what photography made from me. Other people ask me, ‘Are you still Czech or are you French?’ I don’t know who I am — people who see me might say who I am. I am the product of all this continuous traveling, but I know where I come from.”

For the last 25 years, Koudelka has been working on a landscape project – “I have been interested in how contemporary man influences the landscape.” His landscapes are bleak and ominous, show the ravages of industry, and even though they are devoid of people, they all show the weight of people on their surroundings. They are both ugly and beautiful.

“The changes taking place in this part of Europe are enormous and very rapid. One world is disappearing. I am trying to photograph what’s left. I have always been drawn to what is ending, what will soon no longer exist.”

These landscapes lead Koudelka to his most recent project, photographing the walls between Israel and Palestine. It’s here that his work has come full circle, photographing something foreign yet familiar to him. The wall is both a barrier between the Israelis and Palestinians and between humanity and nature.

“One day, while we were walking along the Wall I saw a graffiti that said: ‘One Wall, two prisons’. That sums up how I was feeling. You know, I grew up in Czechoslovakia, behind a wall. I always wanted to get to the other side.”

“I know what a wall is about.”

Purchase Josef Koudelka: Exiles

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The Top 15 New York / New Yorker Documentaries https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/new-york-historical-articles/the-top-15-new-york-new-yorker-documentaries/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/new-york-historical-articles/the-top-15-new-york-new-yorker-documentaries/#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2016 01:21:11 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=8331 Winter is coming and it’s been dreary for the last few days, so I thought I’d finish up my list of favorite New York and New Yorker documentaries to get you through the cold.

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Winter is coming and it’s been dreary for the last few days, so I thought I’d finish up my list of favorite New York and New Yorker documentaries to get you through the cold. We’ve got movies on artists, photographers, a tour guide, fashion icons, New York history, pick-up basketball, the Bowery, the people who live in the subway tunnels, and more. My personal favorite is The Cruise.

I put links to where you can find the full-length versions, but seven of these can be watched for free directly on YouTube. Enjoy!

1. The Cruise [Tour Guide / History]

View full length here: Amazon Video, iTunes.

2. Bill Cunningham [Photographer / Fashion]

View full length here: Hulu, Amazon, iTunes.

3. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child [Modern Artist]

View full length here: YouTube.

4. Everybody Street [Street Photography]

View full length here: Vimeo, iTunes.

5. Andy Warhol [Artist]

View full length here: YouTube Part 1, Part 2.

6. Paris is Burning [Fashion / History]

View full length here: YouTube.

7. Dark Days [Subway Tunnel Inhabitants / History]

View full length here: YouTube.

8. Iris Apfel [Fashion]

View full length here: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes.

9. Man on Wire [History]

View full length here: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes.

10. On the Bowery [History]

View full length here: Amazon Video, iTunes.

11. New York: A Documentary Film [History]

View full length here: DVD Only.

12. Joel Meyerowitz [Street Photographer]

View full length here: YouTube.

13. William Klein [Street Photographer]

View full length here: YouTube.

14. Mary Ellen Mark [Street Photographer]

View full length here: YouTube.

15. Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-up Basketball, New York City [History]

View full length here: Amazon Video, iTunes.

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October Street Photography https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/october-street-photography/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/october-street-photography/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2016 19:35:50 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=8196

 

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5th Avenue, New York Street Photography by James Maher

42nd Street, New York Street Photography by James Maher

Upper East Side, New York Street Photography by James Maher

Gucci, New York Street Photography by James Maher

Manhattan Bridge, New York Street Photography by James Maher

Greene Street, SoHo, New York Street Photography by James Maher

Lower East Side, New York Street Photography by James Maher

The future, SoHo Photography by James Maher

Lower East Side, New York Street Photography by James Maher

Central Park, New York Street Photography by James Maher

Financial District Skyline, New York Street Photography by James Maher

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Photogenic New York, Fox 5 News Interview https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/fox-news-interview/ https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/street_photography/fox-news-interview/#respond Wed, 05 Oct 2016 21:57:59 +0000 https://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/?p=8087 James Maher News Interview from James Maher on Vimeo.

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James Maher News Interview from James Maher on Vimeo.

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