Anatomy of a street shooting session

16 05 2010

I was shooting the streets in the center of the city yesterday. For some reason I tried to break out of my usual street shooting pattern. Maybe the sun boiled my brain, who knows. Anyway, instead of shooting everything that moved about, I tried to establish a some sort of contact with people I wanted to shoot. Of course, this is something that should always be done, but to actually do it.. well lot more difficult than one would think!

What was also odd about this session was that I actually didn´t shoot that much. No sir, almost every picture I took yesterday is here. (Of course I didn´t include the duplicates of the each picture or the lousy picture of a police car I took.. But other than that, all are here..)

One more thing: the way I shoot most of these. Instead of trying to look invisible, I tried to look as visible as possible. I bolted a flash unit with diffusor in my camera and made it very clear for all, what I was doing: photography. This actually helped to establish the contact in some cases. Maybe I move towards this Martin Parr -type photography even more in the future. So I´ll just have to start hunting for a small softbox that goes well with HONL speed straps. That´ll make the camera even bigger 😉

The bottom line: I thought it would be fun to post here the anatomy of the whole session I spend shooting. Just remember that the time between consists of loitering about and scanning the street for something interesting to see. Anyway, moving on to the pictures. Are you ready?

The first picture I shot was done the “traditional way”. Traditional for me, anyway. I saw the situation and seized the moment. Before I shot the picture, I stood there contemplating the situation for a while. They saw me, but didn´t seem to react to my interest. I took this as a sign that it is ok to shoot them.


First one, situational. The awareness about the photographer is there, even though not visible.

Next I moved on, towards a stand where few people were telling about their convinctions and things they do to make a difference. You´ll have to guess the subject I´m afraid. Anyway, I stopped there for a quick chat, for their initiative, when they offered me a cup of coffee. After chatting there for a while I felt completely comfortable to snap a couple of pictures.


First pic of that stop, these persons offered me a cup of coffee. After a while I offered them a chance to get photographed.


Second picture of that stop. With her, I spend most time talking to. She seemed interested about what I was doing. At the end, I asked if I could snap a picture of her.

Third stop: a terrace at the local Tex Mex -restaurant. These gyus asked me, if I could take their picture. And I did. This proves the fact that when the camera is big & visible enough, some people might actually want to appear on your pictures.


"Hey Mr, can you take our picture?"

Next, I returned back on my footsteps and stopped at this line for ice cream. I noticed this young chap with pink clothing and thought it would be cool to take his picture. I waited a while, so he had spotted me, and then continued to take the picture of the line. Again, I made a conclusion that it was ok to shoot him (no pun intended) because I didn´t see any signs of objection. The rest of the people on the line might or might not have noticed me, but the girl in red shirt sure did.


Ice cream line.

The next picture sure was interesting. The girl did notice me, you can tell by the slight smile on her face. Maybe she thought that the guy with that big a camera surely is pro. So no objections there either.


Fixing the shoe. Sure, crab your shot mister!

We are always told, that it is a no-no to take pictures of street musicians, because that subject is so worn out. I took it anyway. Again, they know very well that I´m right there, shooting the scene.


Street musicians.

In the next picture I cheated a little. I´m guessing that the couple sitting on the terrace assumed that I was shooting the musicians, when in reality, I was shooting them. I think the wine was not that bad, it must be the “music”.


She doesn´t think they are real musicians.

Next, once more that situation you run into very often when shooting the streets. You try to make yourself either invisible or visible. The latter was the case in here, but still there is no way to tell whether she knew I was taking her picture.


The lady with a dog, occupied with her cell phone.

The final picture of the session was of this lady, who initiated a chat with me. She started by asking me about the magazine I was shooting for. We ended with a nice chat about life and hobbies as well as work. In the end I asked if I could take her picture and she thanked me for it.


The lady who wondered about the newspaper I was shooting to.

So, what did I learn? It was interesting to notice how this type of approach actually gave me quite a good rate of decent pictures and situations. I think that the outcome from this shoot was much better than usual, when I´m doing the street shooting more in the spirit of HCB. I´ve decided, that I sure will try this approach again. This also proves two things in photography:
1) If you can´t get a good picture, it is because you, the photographer, build a barrier between you and your work.
2) If a photographer can´t get a goof picture, he/she is not close enough.

We´ll continue from that 😉


9 07 2009

Surprised, originally uploaded by mungozan.

It´s been a while since I´ve posted anything over here, sorry about that. I try to correct that now and try to post an image at least once a week, starting now.

Yesterday evening, I was shooting at Kokkola evening market as I´ve done couple of times before. As usual, I was scanning through the market place, looking for people to shoot (no pun intended).

When I came across this stand with sunglasses, the girl was leaning over and organising the sunglasses. She didn´t notice me at first, so I thought I´d try something different.

I bowed down before her, taking my time to frame and waiting for her to notice me. When she did, I took the picture. Her reaction was surprised, but she was amused in a friendly way. So I think this method certainly paid off.

Something to try next time as well, I think..

Some tech info for you techies out there:

Camera: Canon EOS 50D
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/400)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 17 mm (EF 17-40 f4 L)
Exposure: 0.00
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: No Flash

Latin Show Dancers

19 05 2009

20090516-183644-4187-Edit_sRGB, originally uploaded by mungozan.

I was shooting a city festival called “Yläkaupungin Yö” last saturday. There numerous performances, people wandering around in the University end of Jyväskylä city center. Here is the first shot of the series, one of the Latin Show Dancers dance group explaining something about their performance.

And another one with dancers in action:

20090516-183818-4209-Edit_sRGB, originally uploaded by mungozan.

More shots in my flickr photostream. Later also more from other performances and subjects.

Marko Paananen

14 03 2009

20090307-130318-2897_sRGB, originally uploaded by mungozan.

This finnish TV-face gave a speech about trends in decoration and renovation last weekend at Rakentaminen & talotekniikka 2009 in Jyväskylä.

I got the impression that he knew what he was talking about.

Miia sitting

16 02 2009

20090214-144843-2148_sRGB, originally uploaded by mungozan.

We (me and Paula) visited Miia last saturday, which was Valentine´s day. It´s funny how in Finland the day is called a “Friend´s day”. I guess it works better for us rigid finns.. It´s easier for us to talk about friendship than it is about deeper affection (see, I can´t even write the word here 😉

Sami´s revelation

19 01 2009

20090118-175203-1557_sRGB, originally uploaded by mungozan.

While visiting Sami and Katja yesterday, we learned something new about them. If you take a close look at this picture, you just might guess, what it is..

The light in Jyväskylä

21 09 2008
The keyboard player in Katri Ylander´s band:

20080918-195737-9554_sRGB, originally uploaded by mungozan.

I was shooting the opening event for the “Light is in Jyväskylä”, season for night-time lighting in the city of Jyväskylä. Jyväskylä, being the only finnish city which is part of the international “Luci”-organisation, has paid a great deal of attention for improving the city´s night-time lighting during the darker part of the year.

In the event, there was few speakers and a Finnish Idols-star Katri Ylander performing. Maybe the keyboard player in me (I used to play keyboards in a band when I was younger) made me seek this angle for the gig, who knows 😉

Picture of Katri Ylander herself:


20080918-195737-9666_sRGB, originally uploaded by mungozan.

The audience includede a delegation from Jyväskylä´s Chinese friendship town:

20080918-195737-9458_sRGB, originally uploaded by mungozan.

The rest of the pictures, both from the people around and from Katri Ylander, can be found here []

Acting goofy

14 09 2008

20080913-124855-8978, originally uploaded by mungozan.

Funny how it is. You find a funny hat, you try it on. Instantly, you turn into this funny person and some dude wants to take your picture.

This is Juhani, who is form this writing course I started going into last year. He found a hat. He put it on. I took out my camera. He posed, I took a shot.

Something going on

31 08 2008

20080812-162138-7351, originally uploaded by mungozan.

For some reason, this image bounced back at me when I was looking through my photostream in flickr. The situation is not that special, the image is very static, but there´s something on that little girl that grabs the eye.