So in my last post I mentioned that I spent some time in Chicago a few weeks ago. I wasn’t shooting the entire time that I was there though which was nice. I did have a little bit of extra time, built into the schedule, even though said changed quite a few times over the course of the few days. I was in Chicago in the first place on behalf of Vitamin J B2B Digital Agency here in Indianapolis. One of their clients, Paoli furniture, always has a display set up at Neocon 2014 in Chicago and they needed someone to shoot all their displays for the Neocon iPad app to go along with the show, as well as document the sales folks and customers interacting with some of the incredible furniture that they had on display. It was quite the event, but that’s a story for another time. This is a post about expanding horizons as sometimes the only way to learn anything is to put yourself outside of your comfort zone. Anybody who reads my blog or has been to my website knows that I’m much more portrait photographer and sports photographer than I am a street photographer. When it comes to street photography I leave that to folks that know what they are doing like Scott Strassante, Zack Arias, or my buddy Charlie Simms. Not knowing what I’m doing however didn’t stop me from calling my buddy Charlie while in Chicago to show me the ropes of Street photography, and boy; did he show me some ropes.
(Nikon D4s, 1100ISO, Nikon 50mmF1.4G, 1/30th@F3.5)
Charlie was incredibly gracious to come and spend the evening wandering the streets of Chicago with me. I didn’t even have to promise him food, candy, beer, or a few rolls of expired film. As it is, you could easily write a book with all the stuff I DON’T know about Street photography. Charlie however learned by doing, by researching, and by imitating the pro’s that he follows on these here intwewebz (pros like the aforementioned Scott Strazzante or Zack Arias). He was diving in front of people on the crosswalk, playing frogger with the traffic, and to my disbelief not only were people not shouting or cursing at him; they usually waited for him to make the image before moving on. Charlie described this process as “finding beauty in everyday monotony”. Helluva description considering the accuracy if you think about it. Most people walking on the street are walking to go somewhere. Whether to work, to home, to the corner to buy some smokes, to dinner or ect. Everybody had places to go, and not everybody thoroughly enjoys their chores amirite? Finding beauty in everyday monotony. That’s what street photography is to Charlie. I admittedly don’t have the same guts that he does. Jumping around and in front of people to get the shot that I want, always being ready to ask forgiveness when necessary, but most often sporting a smile if someone turns and sees his lens. This is completely not my ballgame which is funny since this is coming from a guy who firmly believes that there are 1o photos within 10 feet of you waiting to be taken at all times. That’s also why I kind of admittedly failed this self challenge, and ended up shooting more inanimate objects and buildings, than people on the street.
(Nikon D4s, 1100ISO, Nikon 50mmF1.4G, 1/80th@F2)
Charlie however as I said was in his element and it showed. In fact he was so in his element that he was almost taken out by a few cars, light poles, a newspaper box, and even a handicapped guy on a scooter who as I recall had a few choice words for us for getting in the way; although none were loud enough for us to clearly hear. Off we went, walking through the streets and what started as a quick walk ended up being several hours. We would have kept going much later than 10:30 at night too had I not found out I had what ended up being a 7am call time (meaning I needed to be up at 5:30) the following morning.
(Nikon D4s, 900ISO, Nikon 50mmF1.4G, 1/60th@F1.4)
Originally I was trying to think in black and white while I was shooting, but I ended up getting caught up by the colors in the city. I was armed with my trusty Nikon D4s and Charlie? Charlie had only his Fuji X100s on hand which once again proves that gear doesn’t matter as his shots are easily 100 times better than what I got on our walk. Ironically, the shot I was happiest over the entire evening was one that I took relatively early on the walk while scouting the top of a parking garage for a elevated shot of the downtown.
(Nikon D4s, 80ISO, Nikon 24mmF1.4G, 1/160th@F1.4. Nikon SB900 attached to the Camera’s hot shoe via SC28 off camera cable held in my left hand. Flash set to iTTL -1.3 with a 1/2CTO to help match the color of the setting sun)
On top of the garage the skills I am generally hired to use kicked in and I saw an opportunity for a portrait of Charlie. This was no surprise to him as when I called him to come out, I told him I wanted to take a portrait of him while we were out and he graciously agreed. I wouldn’t tell him what I had in mind because I didn’t know. It was his world, and I was just living in it for a night. When the moment was there, the moment was there and that was all. He did allow me to photograph him several times over the course of the evening, very graciously stopping what he was doing to move to whatever spot that I asked. I even tried to incorporate motion into a few of them, to illustrate the whirlwind of street photography, but those shots just didn’t call to me like the one above did. That and I only took a handful of shots, wanting to get back out of my comfort zone on the street. Heck, if I wanted to shoot portraits all night I’d have made arrangement’s to break out the Zepplin I had with me on that parking garage.
(Nikon D4s, 400ISO, Nikon 50mmF1.4G, 1/60th@F1.4)
It was a nice evening. I failed miserably at the whole Street Photography thing, but that’s why you try something new. Charlie showed me his side of the world, and it was great. You should check out his work, he’s got some really great frames of Chicago either on foot level or elevated. In fact Shannon and I have a float mount metal print of this one hanging in our hallway. Indianapolis doesn’t compare for things like this, and we could have walked through Indy three or four times in the time we spent getting lost in Chicago. Sort of an odd thought honestly considering that Indianapolis isn’t exactly small at just shy of 1 million inhabitants. Regardless of how it all turned out photographically for me,it was a nice evening and I look forward to trying my hand at street photography again in the future. Big thanks out to Charlie for meeting up and giving me the rundown on a type of photography I know absolutely nothing about. Next time maybe I’ll try it with a bit more inconspicuous of a camera though, like a Nikon Df, or my own Fuji X100s. I love my Nikon D4s, but it’s a big beast of a camera that’s hard to miss when trying to be discreet. Now I’m making up excuses so it’s time to go. More soon.