Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wrapping up street photography...

I was doing a shoot at a cafe two days ago when this cute puppy walked by. Since today and tomorrow are pretty much filled with birthday activities for my daughter (now 4), I guess this will be my last street photo of the month.

For me, street photography is a favorite and I'm sure we will revisit it in one form or another in months to come. In fact, next month's theme is perfectly compatible with street photography (or portraiture or many other categories...). There is a very subtle hint in the photo above. And I mean, subtle as in "What the —? I'm not seeing it. That was the best example you could find?" That kind of subtle.

Any guesses?

I promise it's not pet photography.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Interview with Ilan Bresler

I am happy to present an interview this month with Ilan Bresler. Readers of Take-Out Photo will recognize his name from his participation in the monthly specials. Since I always visit the site of people who participate, I began browsing through his work and became increasingly impressed with his point of view. As you will see from this interview, Ilan puts a lot of serious thought into his photography, and I think it shows in his work.

—Note: Please respect the copyright of my guests' work.

How did you first become interested in photography?

Almost since I can remember, I've been into photography. I was born in Belarus, and my family migrated to Israel when I was 8. The language barrier was kind of a trauma, I guess, and as a way to overcome it I used my grandfather's old camera. So, till about 7th grade I was the “Russian kid with the funny looking camera”.

In high school it got too awkward, so I dropped the hobby for a time, but almost as soon as the digital cameras appeared I got one for myself – A small 3 megapixel Nikon 3100 camera. I had a few frames I felt were not too bad and after an agonizing period of trying to overcome my shyness, I decided to post them on a photo forum.

The comments felt almost like an adrenalin rush to me. Pretty soon, a few of the more experienced members of that forum took me under their wing and I quickly found myself surrounded by an inspiring group of photo-mentors.

The easiest side of street photography – “sign and object” kind of photos. Street photos are not only about people.

Tell us about some of the photographers and/or artists that inspire you.

First of all, those photo-mentors I’ve mentioned earlier. I learned something different from each and every one of them. I’m only sorry that none of them has a website I can link to. They influenced me in many ways. One told me about composition, the other, the technical side of photography. One introduced me to Yasuhiro Ishimoto, the other to Henri Cartier-Bresson. A very important lesson and one of the first I learned was that the fact that I’m using a digital camera doesn’t mean I can just shoot without thinking—“Think and then shoot” became a motto.

A funny thing is that this motto lead me to use my digital camera in the same way I used my film camera few years earlier. I might come back from a trip with no more than 40-50 photos while my other “digital photo” friend would come back with more than 400 photos.

Over the years I bought many photography related books, mainly books of those considered to be “Masters of Photography.” Apart from those photographers I mentioned earlier, I find that in different parts of my life I was influenced by different Masters – Sebastian Salgado, Martin Parr, William Eggleston, Eugene Smith. Also, Israeli photographers like Alex Levac and Vardi Kahana. is another great inspiration for me; I visit it almost on a daily basis, going through the photos over and over and over again (Nils Jorgensen is my favorite). However, the biggest influence was a Russian/Israeli photographer I encountered almost by accident—Julia Komissaroff. Her use of a wide angle lens in street photography, the feeling that she is right in the middle of the situation, a part of it, left a very significant impact on me. She made me try and learn to overcome our natural fear of taking photos of people up close.

“Think and then shoot” was a new direction which I still follow.

I notice that you maintain both a photoblog and a Flickr account. How has sharing your photos on the web impacted your work?

I never thought or planned to start photoblogging, actually.
After a few years of photo-forum activity and after starting two photo-related forums myself (both are still active) I got a bit tired of “forum critiques.” I just didn’t feel it contributed to my progress anymore. I felt I have found a formula that will always bring me lots of “Wows!” and praise comments, but that kind of photography lost much of its appeal to me. I didn’t want to get “stuck” on that level.

Meanwhile, I was invited to participate in a few exhibitions and even had an option for a solo exhibition, but I always thought that my photos weren't good enough to waste someone’s time or in the worst case, money.

Flickr was just a nice way to keep my photos online so I can send a link to a friend and/or those whose critique I'm interested in.

One night, on an impulse, I bought a URL address and started a photoblog. I still don’t know why I did that, and I still think my photos are not that good, but I never regretted doing that— I have discovered many new photographers and blogs which influence me, whether it’s a new technique or a new idea or an online interview :)

The feeling of being stuck lead me to photoblogging.

As you know, take-out photo is exploring street photography this month. How do you manage to capture so many great moments? Do you carry your camera with you at all times?

Most of my more successful street photos, I got while traveling abroad. The reason for that is while I’m in another country, the camera is glued to my hand. However, on my daily routine which consists of a train ride to my office and back, going around the whole day with a DSLR is not something that I will consider. It’s just too much hassle.

By connecting these two facts I’ve decided to buy a compact camera that will answer my needs without limiting me too much—so I got myself a Ricoh GX200. That camera, for me, combines all the significant features needed for street photography. It’s fast, it has RAW support (a must) and a 24mm wide lens. And although the camera has its limitations (over 200 ISO the photos are almost unrecognizable) it fulfills my needs and more.

A compact camera brought the hobby to my everyday routine. Photo inspired by Martin Parr.

When not using the compact camera, 99.9% of the time I use a wide angle 17-50mm lens by Tamron. I own an 18-200mm lens, which sounds like the ideal lens for street photography, but the lens is just not fast enough and spends most of the time in my backpack. I don’t believe in going out to a street with lenses with over 70mm range—telephoto takes away that special feeling of actually being there at the scene and maybe it will sounds a bit weird, but it doesn’t feel right for me to “steal” street shots from a distance.

When walking around with my camera, I set my mind to “photo mode.” I’m very aware of my surroundings; the camera is always ready to shoot and the more I do it, the more I practice it, the “easier” it gets for me to get in that mode and the results are getting better. Or at least that’s what I would like to think.

Do you have any advice that may help readers who are new to street photography?

I’m not sure I’m in a position to give advice, but these are the “rules” I tend to follow:

The tiniest nuances can become a good photo.
I was standing next to this couple and I saw they were a millisecond before kissing each other. I took the photo, and here is the result:

That’s what I love in Nils Jorgensen’s gallery whom I mentioned earlier—it’s all about those small nuances we see every day, but that we never really look at.

Street photography is not only about people; it’s about situations. People are just another (important, no doubt about it) ingredient.

Street photography is not only black and white. I don’t know why most tend to convert their frame to B&W, maybe because it gives that classic feeling, but sometimes shapes and colors are no less important than the situation itself (Martin Parr’s works are good example for that).

And my most important “rule”, I think, is – “don’t try to impress your critics.” I don’t take or post photos that I think will get the most praise. I take and post photos that I personally love and enjoy.

Tell us about some of your favorite photos.

That’s a tough one. Photos that become my favorite are usually those where I was able to capture a combination of “layers.” Mainly I enjoy those where I manage to include a layer of humor.
The photo below is one near the American embassy in Prague. I saw that frame building up in front of me in a matter of seconds. I jumped so quickly that I startled my girlfriend who stood next to me, and even before I saw the result back home, I felt it was going to be a “nice one”.

On the next one I just saw the sign and waited for the right “shape” to enter the frame. Today I find such photography a bit too easy—it’s all there, you just need to be patient enough.

Thank you, Ilan, for a great interview.
Thank you, Marc for having me on your blog.

You can check out more of Ilan's work on his photoblog and his flickr site.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Street photography at night can be challenging, but it's worth a try. One night in Paris a few years ago, I was wandering around with my camera and came across this great scene. Firemen had been called to a café named l'étincelle (that's "spark" in English). Because of the limitations of my camera back then, I had to do a longer exposure which accounts for the blurred movement. It makes the photo more abstract (I have not done any retouching on it), but I think that's why I've always liked it. I have a copy of it on my office wall.

Night photography is another thing to try for this month's "street photography" challenge. Use ambient light to capture the feel of the night. And if you're shy about taking photos out on the street, the anonymity of darkness may work to your advantage. Give it a try and post your results for the "monthly special." So far only three have dared...maybe you could be next.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quarter to Five at the Louvre

I came across this photo while I was doing some spring cleaning of my photo library. You may have seen a different photo of this installation in a previous post, but here is another take on time that I really like. It may be a stretch to call this "street photography," although I was actually outside when I took the photo. At the Louvre, a windowed passage looks into one of the Richelieu rooms. I was passing by and saw this very bored worker dangling her shoe from her toes while waiting for her shift to end. The clocks, frozen at 5:45 in this photo, seem to condemn her to an endless wait.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Cleaning for the Digital Photographer

Don't try this at home!

I'm no expert on the history of spring cleaning, but I know that a good post-winter clean-up is a satisfying practice. Personally, I love to declutter and for the most part, would rather get rid of things that I haven't used in the past year.

My recent computer disaster made me revisit my approach to digital photo storage. And as I pay more attention to storing photos, I find myself wanting to do some decluttering on my hard drive.

Hard drive clutter
Removing photos from a computer is not unlike weeding out a crowded closet. I remember assessing the contents of my closet one year and realizing that all of my clothes were brown or blue. Ugh! My reassessment helped enrich my local thrift store's supply of brown and blue clothes and it inspired me to vary the colors in my wardrobe.

Apply that same editorial eye to your photos as you will see that
  1. you don't need 25 versions of the same photo (see below), and
  2. you will get a better idea of your own style (varied? monotonous? need more color? etc.)
  3. you suddenly have a lot more space in your digital closet just waiting to be filled with wonderful things
Many gigs of storage space are lost to things you will never use.

Organizing can be addictive—just ask a Fly Lady zealot. Mocking aside, some of those Fly Lady principles can be quite easily applied to your virtual world. The "27-fling boogie"— a Fly Lady ritual in which you clear your house of 27 things—could easily extend to your computer. If you sort through one folder a day on your computer (not to mention that cluttered desktop), you will feel liberated and more in control. And since you have the cleaning bug...

Cleaning your camera and computer
Make your computer and camera feel more like new with a little cleaning.

For the computer, I suggest you check out this very thorough guide cleaning every part from the inside to the keyboard. You may have to invest in a few tools (compressed air, for example), but maybe they will help you create your own little computer/camera cleaning bucket.

And now for the camera.
The good/bad news for point-and-shoot cameras is that you can't do sensor cleaning. That's good news, because sensor cleaning is not fun, but it's bad because if something does somehow get into your sealed camera and onto the sensor, you may as well buy a new camera.

Lens cleaning for a point-and-shoot cameras is problematic only because of the small size of the lens. Camera hacker has a post with some good principles (don't use solutions on those small lenses; use your breath) and some frightening suggestions (Q-tips and toilet paper? Dubious choices, in my opinion. You can do the same thing with lens cleaning paper or inexpensive cloths found at any camera store).

For the DSLR crowd, lens cleaning options abound. And if you ask me, all the standards work pretty well (microfiber, various kits, disposable lens cleaners, etc.). When it comes to sensor cleaning, however, the myriad options are downright intimidating. A good article on one man's first attempt at sensor cleaning only reinforces my own fear of ruining my expensive new camera. But another article from a trustworthy source is a bit more reassuring.

With my previous camera, I used the Green Clean system for stubborn spots with satisfactory results. However, I found it difficult to ensure that all the residue from the wet swabs got absorbed by the dry ones. With my newer camera, I will probably cross my fingers that the automatic sensor cleaning + a blower like the Giottos Rocket Air Blower will suffice. But I know that I will need some kind of brush or swab one day, and I also know that the control freak in me would hand it over to a dealer only as a last resort.

For a more thorough look into the self-cleaning vs. pro-cleaning dilemma, read the post and comments.

Spring cleaning resolutions
Hopefully, this post has given you some good ideas for spring cleaning your camera and computer. If it's inspiration you lack, here's one last suggestion:

Cleaning out computer files (probably more than the physical cleaning) is the perfect task for moments of procrastination. I've done a lot of file cleaning when I have more pressing matters that I want to ignore. OK, that's probably not the best advice, but hey—at least you will have accomplished something.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bleach Bypass Photoshop Tutorial

By request, here is a quick bleach bypass tutorial.

As a disclaimer, I should note that I do NOT actually do my bleach bypass in Photoshop. I do it in Aperture with one of two plug-ins (that also have versions for Lightroom and Photoshop): Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 complete or Tiffen Dfx v2. I love both of those plug-ins because they save a lot of time without taking away user control. Nevertheless, at about $300 each, the plug-ins might not be your most affordable solution. So here is a quick tutorial (emphasis on quick—I will have a little less explanation/images than usual for the sake of time) for achieving a bleach bypass look in Photoshop:

1. Open your image and duplicate the layer (Mac: Command-J, PC: Ctrl-J). I will use the same photo you saw at the bottom of my last post. My bleach bypass in that post was done with Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0. But the end result here will come reasonably close.
Here's the pre-bleach image:
2. Set the blending mode of your top layer to "overlay."
3. Add a hue/saturation layer on top of your "overlay" layer. Use this adjustment layer to desaturate around -50 to -70 percent. I used -65.
At this point, your image will already look a lot more like bleach bypass.

4. Now add a levels layer on top of that. You could just as easily work with curves here, but that's just how Photoshop is—there are always multiple solutions. Use the far left slider to bring the black point more toward the center and slide the middle point more toward the left. Remember, all of these steps depend more on your preference than on a set formula. Experiment. Here's what my sliders looked like:
5. [opt.] If you need to tweak things a little more, add a curves layer. On this layer you can manipulate the green and blue channels for a cooler tone, or you can add a slight s-curve (which is what I did) for a little more contrast.
That's it.
Here is my final result:
Other than the fact that I didn't add any vignetting (as I had done in my previous post), I think the result is not bad.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More New Orleans Street Photography

Before I move on to some small town street photography experiments, let me share a few more pics from New Orleans.

Another street portrait. I told her I loved the hat and asked if I could take a photo. She told me I was probably the fifth person that day to make the same request, then she struck a pose that she described as "Audrey Hepburn-esque." I think she pulls off Audrey quite well—and that's no easy task.
Audrey Hepburn via "the glamourous graduate"

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a city that has a higher per capita tuba ratio than New Orleans.

About 30 seconds before I took this, the guy broke a guitar string. A quick cigarette and then he hopped on his bike to go buy a new string.

I couldn't help but wonder if the kids who tap dance with mason jar lids stuck to their shoes aren't having a laugh at the tourists by playing to ethno-economic stereotypes. In any case, they put on a show and I emptied my pockets. I later noticed an unwitting self-portrait in the reflection, and resisted the temptation to photoshop it out.

A little less dancing, a little more money-making. When I gave money to the boy in front, the one holding the box said "Hey. What about me?" "I'm all out of bills," I replied. "That's OK. I'll take your change." And he did.

This photo was just asking for a bleach bypass treatment. The guy playing the drum appeared to have the most monotonous musical job in New Orleans—or so I thought until I heard an NPR spot about a new CD that promises to treat the listener to "55 Minutes of Solo Triangle." Seriously, give it a listen. I know that the NPR spot wants the earnest musicphile to readily differentiate the nuanced variations of triangular ting ting tings, but to me it's like revisiting "Ice Ice Baby v. Under Pressure" —and no one should expect you to endure that kind of memory on your morning commute.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


It pays to have your camera out and ready for the everyday stories the surround you. I happened upon this little crisis along the New Orleans waterfront. If I were your local news reporter, I would have to call it a "kite-astrophe." (hardee har har. Get it? kite-astrophe. Ugh. Sorry for that. That's just one more reason I avoid the local news.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Nawlins" at Night

I had better luck yesterday with street photography at night than during the daytime. I didn't want to do any photos with flash (I didn't even bother bringing a flash), so I set my camera's ISO to 2500. Here are some of my favorites:

A worker in a restaurant takes a break. My favorite detail is the bead necklace not far from his feet.
A concert for no one.

A brass band draws a crowd.

Possibly my favorite because of the man dancing.

I love the rich colors at night, but I'm also torn between color and black and white.

The atmosphere of this restaurant really comes through at night. The large windows also made me think of Baudelaire's "Les yeux des pauvres" ("The Eyes of the Poor")—a prose poem that describes how a couple sitting inside a restaurant reacts to a family watching them from the outside.

Tough sell.

Another colorful night shot that would have looked too ordinary during the day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Street Portraiture

A couple of posts ago, "P" posted the following question:

I've developed an interest in street photography and taking portraits of strangers. Do you have any tips on how to approach people on the street for a quick portrait without creeping them out?

In response to that question (See how much I like comments!), I decided to conduct an experiment here in New Orleans. My goal is to ask ten people on the street if I can take their photo. So far I have only asked four because it takes longer than you might think to find a subject. It also takes guts. Here are the results so far:

subject #1: Irina.
I saw her sitting in a park taking a beer and cigarette break. I simply approached her and said something like "I love how colorful you are. Can I take your picture?" She put down the cigarette and I asked her to keep it for the photo. We talked for a while and she asked me if I would be in town next week to do some body-painting photography for her (I won't, although I'm sure it would have been interesting). We talked about her recent trip to Amsterdam, about neon paint, and other things. Approaching her for the photo led to a memorable experience that was well worth the potential refusal.

subject #2: the tattooed girl with bike
Emboldened by my initial success, I reacted quickly when I saw a girl with some pretty original tattoos coming toward me with her bike. "Great tatts! Can I take a picture?" She obliged. It was that simple. We talked about how a friend of hers did the tattoos then she introduced me to her girlfriend (I really should have taken a picture of them together), and that was that. I love the personality in her expression.

subject #3: washboard musician
Street portraiture does not always have to include faces. Here, I just wanted the hands of the man playing a washboard with a jazz band in the street. In order to take the photo, I had to get right up behind him while he was playing. He looked up at me and I mouthed "Can I take a picture" while pointing from my camera to the washboard. He nodded yes. I then stuck around and listened to the group.

Above is a shot of some of the other musicians. The singer (dancing at left) reminded me of Gelsomina in Fellini's La Strada. I tipped them after taking some photos (always tip street performers if you photograph them) and then I bought their CD. Another great experience.

subject #4: feet of tourists eating beignets at the Café du Monde.
Next to the Café du Monde, where tourists wait in endless lines to eat beignets (basically a rectangular donut covered in powered sugar), I noticed ground flocked with excess powdered sugar and asked the couple seated on the bench if I could take a picture. OK, I didn't exactly ask. I just sort of told them. In some cases (you be the judge), telling is preferable to asking. For me, this was a better souvenir than a beignet, and I didn't have to wait in line.

I need to get back out on the street now. A few thoughts before I go:
  • Street photogrpahy is more fun and less expensive than buying souvenirs. I haven't set foot in a single shop.
  • Most people will let you take their portrait if you are natural, complimentary, and friendly about it. Tell them it's for a project if you like or an assignment from a crazy blog that you read.
  • Even though I am currently batting 1000, I think that pre-screening your subjects is necessary. What I mean is that some people don't even want you to look at them much less take their photo.
  • Remember that the type of photo you get from a street portrait is not the same as a candid street photograph. Each has its place, but don't expect to make one into the other.
  • Don't hesitate or you will miss an opportunity. I saw the toughest wheelchair-bound guy ever today. I wanted to take his picture, but we were both crossing the street in opposite directions. I later regretted not turning around.
If you decide to give it a try, post your results on your own blog (or photo sharing site) and link them back here on the monthly special page.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If there are no people is it still street photography?

Yes. At least in my opinion it is.

Eugène Atget—one of my favorite photographers of the 19th century—took plenty of "street scenes" that did not depict people. His photos of storefronts come to mind. If you were to get argumentative on me you could say that those photos fall under the category of "architectural photography." But I'm in no mood to argue. I've got a paper to present at a pop culture conference in New Orleans tomorrow (on the representation of telephones and fear of nostalgia in horror films. odd. I know.) and I have yet to write it.

But I did manage to get outside for a couple of hours and take some photos. I will post some people photos tomorrow. Today, I wanted to do a share a few nostalgic images from my wanderings in the French Quarter. The photo at the head of this post was just begging me to give it some soft vignetting to complete its postcard look.

A straightforward toned shot of a café. This photo belongs in a kitchen somewhere.

I put in this last one for the amusement of my family (big fans of Little Debbie).

Even though I would rather see you venture out and take some photos of people for the monthly special, street photography without people might be the solution for the the super shy.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

More street photography for the timid: Demonstrations

In 2004, when Bush paid a visit to the French, he was not greeted with the kind of fanfare he would have encountered in Texas or Utah.

Never one to miss a good public uprising, I ventured out to the anti-Bush demonstration with my camera. Now, before I offend anyone, let me say that this has nothing to do politics and everything to do with a good journalistic-style photo op. Back in the 2002 during the French presidential elections, I attended the right-wing rallies in the morning (although I have to admit that the giant image of Jean-Marie Le Pen on a big-brother-sized screen in front of L'Opéra gave me a sick feeling and I had to leave) and then the massive anti-Le Pen demonstrations in the afternoon. I took video that day rather than stills, but I am glad I have the first-hand footage.

The anti-Bush demonstrations of 2004 were relatively mild. My favorite photo is the one of two "Americans against Bush" looking around for like-minded protesters. To be fair, Bush's approval ratings had already taken a nose-dive (46%) in America. But the image makes me laugh, nonetheless.

I wish I had taken more photos of the anti-McDonald's/Americanization protest performance during which students fell to their knees in mock-praise the golden arches.

I treated the images in a sort of low-grade Holga manner in homage to William Klein's grainy May 1968 photos. The vignetting seemed especially effective in isolating the two Americans in the first photo.

Practical lessons for street photography
  • Get journalistic. Whatever your political point of view, a demonstration makes a great opportunity to practice your street photography.
  • Plenty of people will be taking photos at a public demonstration, so there is no need to feel timid.
  • Your photos of political/social events have more personal value than a newspaper photo. I certainly would love to have photos of the events witnessed by my grandparents.
Have you ever had the opportunity to photograph a public event such as a demonstration? I realize that they may not happen as much in your city as they do in Paris, but when/if they do, you might want to get out your camera.

Friday, April 3, 2009

First steps toward street photography

Let's assume for a moment that you are a little hesitant to try street photography. Perhaps you are worried about photographing strangers. Where do you start?

One good way to get your feet wet is to take pictures of people who will appreciate the attention. One day in Paris by the Bastille metro stop I happened upon a group of skaters doing jumps off some stairs. Their sport is very much about spectacle and showmanship. Each jump is an attempt to impress fellow skate punks as well as the inevitable onlookers—Place de la Bastille is hardly a secluded area. You can tell by the angle of the photo that I wasn't trying to be subtle about my presence. In fact, I was crouched on the ground fairly close to the landing point. I was shy at first, taking a few photos from the side, but soon I realized that with only one exception they didn't mind at all. I caught the attention of the one wary skater (not pictured above). He happened to have the best style and most interesting board, so I approached him and volunteered to send him copies of the photos via email. That was all it took.

If there is a lesson to be learned here it is to start with people who don't mind the attention. Offer to share your photos with them. After all, unless your picture is horribly unflattering (and I highly recommend cultivating a sympathetic rather than a judgmental eye), most people would probably love a copy of your work. Suddenly, your intrusion will have become a free photo session. This kind of quid pro quo is not always practical, but it is a good strategy to keep in the back of your mind.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Monthly Special: Street Photography

Marcel and Fritsch guessed it right: street photography is the theme of the month. I am thrilled to be focusing on street photography this month because it is one of my favorite ways to work.

What is the definition of "street photography"? Wikipedia does a good job of demonstrating the difficulty of a one-sentence answer. According to the article overview, street photography is " a pure vision of something, like holding up a mirror to society." The article asserts that street photography "tends to be ironic and can be distanced from its subject matter and often concentrates on a single human moment, caught at a decisive or poignant moment." The latter part of that sentence is a not-so-oblique reference to Henri Cartier-Bresson's concept of "images à la sauvette," or "photos on the run," which was translated into English as "the decisive moment" for a 1952 book of the same name. The Wikipedia article points out that street photography is just as likely to display complete subjectivity as it is to be a mirror to society. I am not sure that I like the insistence that street photography "tends to be ironic and distanced," because that judgment depends as much on a person's reading of the photograph as on the original intention.

I much prefer the definition given by Nitsa. Her "no rules" approach fits perfectly with my own beliefs in photography as a means of personal expression first and foremost rather than a demonstration of technique and adherence to classical rules. Her blog is an excellent source of information and inspiration for street photography.

The challenge

Take your photographic eye to the streets this month. Look around. Capture what you see. There are no rules, only viewpoints. Share how you see the world. Document your own culture or one that is foreign to you. Search for glimpses of larger stories in the everyday.

As I said in my previous post, for some, this challenge may stretch your comfort zone to its limits. For you, I anticipate the following possible reactions:

I don't live in a big city. Nothing happens here. What will I photograph?

I do understand your concern. In fact, when I moved to Utah I shifted my focus to portraiture because I had no appreciation for my new environment (except the nature, but as a fan of big cities, I almost never do nature photography). It took me a long time to begin to appreciate my area on its own terms rather than wish it would be more like Paris. If you feel that you have nothing to photograph besides your family, maybe I can help change your mind.

I'm too shy to take pictures of strangers. Besides, won't I get in trouble for that? Isn't that a violation of privacy rights?

I admit that it does take guts to take pictures on the street—especially of people you don't know. A massive telephoto zoom lens certainly doesn't hurt, but your simple point-and-shoot can yield amazing results. As for violation of privacy, the law changes from country to country. In America—big surprise—there is virtually no such thing as privacy in public places. That doesn't mean that you should act like obnoxious paparazzi, but it does explain how they get away with it. I am no lawyer, but according to my understanding of the law in the U.S., you can photograph people and/or property in public for non-commercial purposes as long as you do not violate the expectation of privacy (e.g. perverts taking photos up skirts, in bathrooms, etc. are definitely violating the law). If you are shy, start with a public event such as a parade or a demonstration. You won't be the only one with a camera and you will soon see that most people will not mind at all. Don't focus on Ninja-like stealth; focus on your subject. It's OK to let them see you taking pictures. If they ask you to stop, respect their privacy, delete those photos, and move on. Avoid taking photos of government buildings or secure facilities as well as in places where photos are prohibited (as is the case in many—but not all—museums).

Why would I want to take pictures of people I don't even know? I'll just stick to my family, thanks. See you next month.

Wait. Don't go just yet. First of all, not all street photography focuses on people. Second, your photos of the world around you will document your own ideas, your own unique perspective. You will capture a moment in time and a moment of your own life as you engage in street photography. Try it.

I look forward to a lot of great work this month. Now take that camera and get outside.