Most street photography is absolute garbage. Far too often, the bulk of street photography shots are boring, un-engaging, creepy, intrusive, and utterly voyeuristic trash. Not to mention cliche’ — “oh look, a wrinkled homeless person” — YAWN! Also, the photos are usually black and white, with the clarity slider cranked to the max.
Once in a blue moon however, someone does something unique and worthwhile with regards to street photography. One such positive example is Humans Of New York (Google HONY).
Now, I’m not saying I’ve never taken a street photo, but I have a few personal rules when I go out and shoot “street”:
- Try to shoot interesting things / people.
- Get consent before taking the photo or at least make sure they are fully aware that you are taking their photo.
- No cliche’ black and white photos with over cranked clarity (well maybe once in a while, but rarely).
- Be safe.
- Be respectful.
I’ve read articles and watched tutorials where the photographers go out of their way to conceal what, whom, and when they are shooting. To me, that’s ethically questionable, and something that I do not support.
Now, let’s talk about using the optical viewfinder (OVF) in the X-Pro2 for street photography. In the past, I have made fun the OVF calling it a “hipster mode” of the X-Pro2 (see my review here). I bought the X-Pro2 because at the time, it had the best Fuji sensor / autofocus / performance to date. Also, it had an EVF which I still prefer using. Now, I own an X-T2 which is really more of an ideal camera for me. However, I haven’t sold my X-Pro2 because I still like the ergonomics of it, it’s nice to have two bodies for important shoots, and I really want to give the optical viewfinder a chance since I never really did before.
I asked in a forum online about user opinions on the optical viewfinder (link here). I received a lot of really good answers, and decided that I need to try it out for myself — especially since I never really gave it a fair shot. Furthermore, I know people pay a premium to shoot with Leica rangefinders — especially for street photography. I’m not about to drop $10k on a Leica and a couple of lenses (maybe later), but since I already own a rangefinder, why not use it?
I had Friday off, and ended up in Capitol Hill, Seattle. One of the most interesting streets there is Broadway. I really didn’t have a lot of time, but did manage to walk down the street and take some photos using the OVF only. I also didn’t check any of the images and shot RAW using the viewfinder only. Why? I’ve been reading about the Leica MD (a Leica without any screens that goes for about $6K). The Leica’s main feature is not LCD. I could do the same thing with my Fuji, but with autofocus. These were all shot using the 35mm f/1.4 lens. The parallax correction and moving focus point when hitting the button is quite a bit different than I’m used to. Without a doubt, it’s a retro throwback (i.e. “hipster mode”), but I kinda like it. It’s fun. Also, especially in the harsh midday sun, the OVF is much more visible and easier to see than the EVF is.
These photos were all processed in Capture One Pro 9 only.
I asked the people in the barber shop if I could take a photo, and got permission.
This guy saw me right there with my camera, and knew I was taking a photo of his dog and him. Again, I got consent.
This dude was sitting there without his shirt on — kinda odd for the weather. So I asked if I could take his photo and he posed for me. Then he started getting weird saying that Jimi Hendrix was the second coming of Jesus, that he plays in his band, that he’s Einstein reincarnated, etc. I slowly backed away from him.
I talked briefly with this skater and he did a few tricks for me so I could take some photos.
After he sat down, I spoke with him through the fence and showed him the photos of him doing the tricks. I asked if I could take his portrait. He said sure and was being funny with flipping off the camera, but it was only halfway there. So I told him to go ahead and really do it. That’s how this picture came about.
Are these the best photos out there for street photography? Nope, but it was an exercise in using the OVF of the X-Pro2, shooting Leica MD style (or old school film style), and practicing taking street photos. It’s still not my favorite genre of photography, but it was an entertaining way to spend an afternoon and meet some interesting people.
I think I’ll be using the OVF some more in the future.
Originally published at bershatsky.com on October 30, 2016.