How to sum up three joyous days of photography, meeting really great talented people and everything in between? Well, if I was a creative writer I would be up to the task but since I’m not, I choose to let my pictures speak for themselves. Street photography is rather new to me as a concept, I believe I’m more familiar or should say comfortable shooting documentary and portraits. I guess that is the main reason why I wanted to take part in this workshop, to get a better understanding of what street photography is… the essence of it that is. You can theorize street photography all you want but what really did it for me was seeing all these guys in action. It made a whole world of difference to me.
“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away”. ~Eudora Welty
Not my favourite photographer but I sure like that quote.
Friday before the workshop, since I had the day to myself, I decided to go down to Venice beach and shoot some frames.
Wide spaces, gray or sunny make me feel good. All the color ones, unless specified otherwise, were shot with the Contax 645, 80mm 2.0 and 160NC film.
I was here about 10 years ago during Summer and it was great to see it under such different circumstances and weather. It also made me realize how photography has changed the way I look at things and experience them.
I love old cars… and how they set time lines in a shot such as this. Of course that dish bring you right back to reality.
This guy was really amusing! He just bladed up and down the beach playing his guitar through a mini amp, which was surprisingly loud! A couple of days later Nhat Nguyen told me a great story about this guy and another dude which involved a book a bout rollerblading, some heated discussions/altercations and about 25 years of stubbornness. ;) But I’d digress!
I want a house like that!!!
Lots of different people and things going on in Venice.
This skate park must be really cool to shoot when its active. Although I still liked the emptiness and concrete shapes.
All kinds of characters
I love pelicans in formation!
Its too bad I only had a few hours down in Venice, that morning I couldn’t make up my mind… it looked like it was going to rain but at the same time I didn’t want to be stuck at the Hotel all day long, I only had one day before the workshop and I totally didn’t want to waste it. I’m glad I went down! The trip back though was a different story. Taking the bus back to the Hotel (which was about an 1h 1/2 ride) was an adventure in itself. It was around 4:30 pm on a Friday so you can imagine that it was close to rush hour and everyone was on a rush to get somewhere. But it didn’t bother that much, I wasn’t home and just being somewhere new, experiencing the moment, the smells and sounds was captivating. It really started raining hard by the time I got off the bus, I only had about a 5min walk back to the Hotel so I didn’t mind that much. I went in to a 7 eleven and picked up some beer and wine… which by the way was a third of the price we pay back in Montreal for the same wine. Fucking government run liquor stores are a gold mine. So anyways, I was on my way back all happy and still floating on a cloud from the whole day when this asshole in a Hummer looked straight at me as he was going up the hill and went for this huge puddle of water right beside me. I mean he really swerved into it and I just saw a wall of water coming right at me. Needless to say I was soaked from head to toe, even my plastic bags with the beer and wine were filled with water. I hate Hummers, but even more I hate assholes in Hummers… which kind of go hand in hand.
Sexy legs right? Minus the socks of course… and some really wet clothes in the bathroom.
Next morning walking to our meeting point in Chinatown. I was thinking about this whole trip and what exactly we were going to do that day, I then realized I had to just live the moment and stop thinking so far ahead. One of the great things I took back from this trip. I tend to over think things too much and question my decisions, its really annoying. 2011 will be the end of that as I know it… for many reasons ;)
First shot in Chinatown… glad I brought the Electro 35. It still surprises me from time to time.
Got to the meeting point and recognized Chris Weeks right away amongst other talent people. It is kind of surreal meeting someone who’s work you’ve followed and admired for a while and are used to only communicating via internet. Back in the days when he was on Deviantart I was doing a lot of painting and hadn’t really touched photography in a while. Through Chris’s journal entries I got to discover Severin Koller’s work as well as Arthur Mola’s, to only name a few. I won’t get into a whole discussion about how and when but if you haven’t seen their work you SHOULD take the time to look at it, really. In fact its because of these talented photographers that I fell back in love with photography. I really found the whole concept of street photography liberating. Here I was painting for the last 4 years and was filled with frustration from the lack of time and skill I needed to create the images I so wanted to create. That isn’t to say that street photography, when done well, is any easier. In many ways its even harder but the whole aspect of painting with light, looking for the moment or like Frank Jackson would say: “Letting the moment find you” was very attractive and inspiring.
After some tasty entries and a few words exchanged we headed to a quieter and sunnier spot where Chris, Frank and Severin talked about their work and the story behind some of the shots.
I found Frank’s approach to photography very poetic.
What I enjoyed the most about this whole experience is getting very different point of views from each one of them. There’s no wrong or right way in which you have to approach street photography, you have to find your own way. So to me its kind of like a ship that will never reach its destination but rather keeps on collecting experiences from all of its voyages.
Ok no more ranting, here are the shots from both days and some from the last night. First I wanted to select only the ones I thought were the best but since this is a blog entry and not only a street entry, I decided to show you more of what I experienced as it flowed.
Oh yeah, the leica guy! ;) We had the opportunity to shoot all day with some Leica M9s
and I chose a nice 35/2 . First time I ever held or shot a LeicaM camera. At first I wasn’t comfortable at all, it was very different and really smooth. I’m so used to my Nikon F3 and the Electro that this was like ridding a Ferrari for the first time. I think I only got the hang of it by the end of the day ;)
Snipers getting into position!
One more way to use an umbrella
The M9 is really quiet
One size fits all
I like this moment
We then changed locations and headed down to Olvera Street
We all wear masks from time to time ;)
This was right before we went in for supper and Severin let me use Chris’s Nocti, bad idea, now I want one and an M6 :) But seriously what a lens!!! Its either I get a car or buy one of these but I still haven’t decided.
Next frames are with the Nocti on the M9 and files converted in Silver Efex 2.0
I was very glad to also have met Andy Bond from Vancouver. Another great guy and very talented as well.
Chris Weeks, who hadn’t yet realized I was shooting with his Nocti ;) Or had he?
Paul Posadas who’s calm energy I enjoyed very much and who reminded me… and others too I’m sure, that it isn’t really the camera that makes the photographer. I’m still amazed but what he shot with a little point and shoot. Nice work Paul!
It wasn’t too long before the guys were at it again! :)
We then had supper and talked about our day, the food was pretty decent.
Later that evening I hooked up with Arthur and we, innocently enough, decided to walk down Sunset thinking we would see some action. What we didn’t realize is that we were pretty far from any action and it was getting pretty cold, even by Canadian standards. But nevertheless it turnout to be a fun stroll to nowhere with some pretty interesting topics of conversation. Man, he really made me laugh with his stories!!! It was great killing some time together. I really only managed one shot from that night.
Cute though, right?
That night I got a text message from Nhat and we decided to hook up the next morning and have coffee before meeting back at Chris’s place. I was really happy we actually had a chance to meet and chat for a while, one of those talks that I wish would have lasted much longer. Which reminds me, somewhere in Severin’s negatives there is a 1/2 roll of pictures I took of Nhat that morning with my Contax 645. I will have to come back to that one day. I have a feeling our paths will cross again… I’m pretty sure.
Almost ready to go.
I’m glad Severin used my Contax, its always interesting to see how other people use one’s camera, and in this case I was sure he was going to enjoy it! I saw him shooting some crazy stuff which I can’t wait to see!
We started out at the farmer’s market
A lot was going on there! Great starting point!
I wonder if that is his real name.
Sometimes it’s right there!
And then other times you let them find you ;)
We split up into three groups and decided to hit Hollywood boulevard. I was with Frank Jackson and Paul Posadas. Here Frank is consciously or not giving me the thumbs up, can’t even remember taking this shot.
I think I had a much better second day than the first day, and it had a lot to do with the fact that I used my own cameras + I was more into getting the shot.
Some are just moments I want to remember for personal reasons.
Others just made me smile.
Because of the oscars, they had closed a portion of the street which was great for changing directions at any time.
There were some quiet moments…
… some loud ones…
… and some unexpected ones.
… they could be anyone…
… so yo better make a lasting impression.
I really enjoyed watching Severin in action, I was surprised at how close he got to people and actually got them into it.
Just another moment
Open for business
Helping the business
Taking care of business?
Are we missing what’s right in front of us?
Waiting for something
Met up with the rest of the gang and we headed to the rendez-vous point. Luckily there was no shortage of stuff to shoot.
There were even other guys looking for some moments… I’m not sure what this guy was looking for though.
That’s one cozy looking dog
I remember when I used to smoke how frustrating it was when I couldn’t find a light… it drove me nuts. Quiet desperation!
Yes, I love old cars! Don’t see many of these back at home.
Don’t see any of these back at home.
Like I said, I like old things… that includes buildings and details.
Where is this guy going dressed like that?
I was actually looking for Spike Lee but this is close enough :)
We then headed back to Chris’s place where we did our final selects and had some really tasty pizza!
But not before getting some last shots.
A dangerous gathering… no one knows who might get shot
The again, some of them might actually enjoy it.
Back at Chris’s place everyone was pretty busy making their final selects.
Felt really good being around people who shared the same passion about photography…
… and also being out of the cold.
That same night we shot down in the echo park area.
She was nice, in a freakish kind of way
You will probably see what was on the other end in one of their entries :)
Strange how pre-concieved notions get challenged sometimes.
I wonder what George Lucas would think of this setup, then again who cares, I liked it.
Everything looks different at night and in bw
Michael Hacker reviewing
Where do you go from here?
We stopped at a dinner and had a snack before calling it a night.
I’m happy with how this shot turned out.
We walked down Sunset and said our goodbyes. By the time I packed and was ready to go to sleep there was about an hour left before my cab got to the Hotel, so basically I didn’t sleep. This trip sure was a blast in every way, I definitely learned a lot about myself and others through photography. Now the exciting part will be to put my new perspective into use. Thank you Chris, Severin and Frank for your knowledge and for putting together this workshop. Would be great to see you guys in Montréal one day… who knows.