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Boundaries in Street Photography are Complicated
How I photographed The Smoke Break in Jaipur
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The debate surrounding photography in public spaces abroad is a topic that never seems to fade away. Should you have the right to take photographs? What about the privacy of the locals?
This argument, as old as photography itself, continues to thrive. Taking extreme positions on either side dismisses the nuances of the discussion, making it difficult to change anyone's opinion. For me, it all boils down to a simple philosophy: photography in service of others.
What I find fascinating about this photo—and its impact evolves over time—is the contrast between a calm, central figure and a chaotic backdrop with other characters immersed in their work, simply trying to navigate through the morning. The positioning of arms and legs adds an intriguing element, while a ray of sunlight breaking through the canopy behind me lends a touch of magic to the face and the smoke.
"Papa, is this a Kodak moment?"
Whenever I visit a new city, my goal is to find a bustling market or bazaar, where constant exchanges take place. It can be either the easiest or most challenging environment to adapt to, depending on your perspective.
A part of me might wonder, “Ah f*ck, what if someone gets pissed at me today?” But I counter that thought with, "What if we can create something special today?" And by that, I don't only mean capturing an image; I mean fostering a meaningful moment between two individuals who may not even speak the same language.
I acknowledge the privilege I have when visiting communities like the one in Jaipur. However, I refuse to let that privilege distort my photography into something that doesn't reflect who I am. To counterbalance it, I believe in sharing my photography experience with others. In this particular scenario, after capturing a candid shot, I made eye contact with the subject and asked for a more posed portrait. We exchanged a few words, and although he declined a copy of the photo (so I mean, how good is this photo really?), I thanked him for his time and continued my journey.
Short. Concise. Intentional.
There’s this growing contingent of people that wanna police how photography—especially street photography—should be conducted. And my brain can’t help but think about this sage moment of wisdom from Conor McGregor.
As with any creative field, there will always be individuals who exploit it like culture vultures. However, the solution isn't to police the art form itself. While holding the worst offenders accountable may have some merit, I firmly believe that the best response is to demonstrate how we can do better.
Let me clarify: I don't claim that my philosophy is the ultimate way to approach photography. Far from it. To me, it all comes down to intentions. I strive to capture people within their environment in an authentic and impactful manner. In doing so, I aim to engage in dialogue and learn as much as I can about these individuals and their surroundings, to genuinely portray their lives and share their stories.
This is only the beginning.
Photography is a process. And I believe the best process is the one where you can be share your passion and put yourself in a position to keep learning.
In Case You Missed It…
Many of you may have already seen it but if you liked this post and wanna hear more about my thoughts around photography overseas, check out the first episode of Church & Street. I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Capture One Pro Contest!
Next month, I’ll be announcing the winner of our first contest for a full license for Capture One Pro 23 as well as my Global Styles Pack. All you have to do is create an account with Capture One with this link here and…
If you’re already a part of this Church & Street club, just make an account with Capture One with the same email and you’re entered.
How am I picking the winner? I’ll be taking the mailing list here, randomly picking one person, confirming they meet the requirements and then contacting them directly before announcing the winner publicly.
Oh, and this contest is void where prohibited by law.
Reader Question: Am I getting a Leica Q3?
I was fortunate enough to get some early hands-on time with the Leica Q3 and in short, I think it’s gonna make a lotta people happy. There’s some changes that might alienate a minority of Q users but this camera introduces a suite of great upgrades that’ll grow the user base.
Will I get one? I don’t think so. Look, I enjoyed the hell outta this camera but I think the next move is for me is to add second M camera to my kit, where it’ll bring more direct value to the work I’m doing. That being said, I wouldn’t mind getting some more time with this camera overseas to really see what it can do for my photography.
If you wanna hear all my thoughts on the Leica Q3 as well as the upgrades I enjoyed the most, you can check out my first impressions below.
If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future post, leave it in the comments or send me DM on Instagram.
Anyway, that’s enough for this post. Hope y’all get crush the week ahead.
See ya next time!
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