Street photography is an art almost as old as photography itself. With the advent of portable cameras, photographers began exploring and documenting the world around them, capturing unstaged moments, interpreting life and challenging the perceptions. But I find myself very timid when walking down a street taking pictures of absolute strangers. I start off hesitant clicking a picture here, another there. And soon you will find me clicking away to my heart's content, approaching and talking to strangers, the original misgivings forgotten. I still prefer being invisible; it gets amazing candid shots!
Busy public places are fantastic for street photography as its easier to be invisible in a crowd. In the words of Joel Meyerowitz, "There is something exciting about being in a crowd, in all that chance and change - it's tough out there - but if you can keep paying attention, something will reveal itself - just a split second - and then there's a crazy cockeyed picture."
Madivala market, just a stone's throw from my place, is an ideal location for street photography. Having someone like Pattu along definitely helps soothe the nerves. While shooting on the streets, I find him quietly confident, observing the scene with an open mind ready to capture whatever appears in the viewfinder. He can easily strike a conversation with absolute strangers, complimenting them and requesting permission to take their portrait.
Street photography is all about gestures and expression. Subjects and settings can vary greatly and spontaneity helps. The goal is to tell a story in a single frame, communicate an emotion. Henri Cartier-Bresson, considered the father of modern photojournalism, has opined "Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oops! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever." He termed this the decisive moment. Street photographers strive to capture the life and culture of city streets, searching for the decisive moment.
I normally prefer black and white for this genre as it helps remove any distractions of colour from the frame, allowing the viewer to be more drawn to the subject. The best thing about street photography is that it is possible for the final viewer to see more than the original photographer. There are lots of stories out there waiting to be told. And I am ready with my camera to have some fun!