Just came back from Bangkok after attending a 4-day workshop with Matt Stuart & Jesse Marlow. This is by far the best 4 days of street-photographic education I have had. Matt & Jesse are so hands-on they are with you almost all the time keeping an eye on your technique, constantly prodding and pushing you to improve. The changes they suggested for me made a dramatic improvement in my photography. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. All pictures in this post were either taken during the workshop or were taken after the workshop in the past week.
The first thing I learned was to properly read the light and get better control of the exposure. Autoexposure gets the job done for plain documentary situations but when you keep moving between light and shadow, you better get a grip over your camera. This was the most difficult exercise for me and I ended up with quite a few underexposed or overexposed pictures. Gradually things have gotten better and are pretty much under control.
The second thing I learned from the workshop was to change from my personal favorite 50mm to a more standard 35mm lens. This did two things. I had to get closer to the subject to avoid wasted space around the frame. I now didn’t have to back up too much into the streets to get wide scenes. I thought this would be very challenging but I adjusted almost immediately.
The creative technique I learned was to identify a potential picture and wait ‘fishing’ for the magic subject to arrive. Sometimes it takes 10-15 minutes and sometimes the subject never turns up. That wait for the unexpected subject was quite enjoyable and I started to like this technique a lot.
The other creative technique I learned was to identify a potential ‘intereting’ subject and to tail them for some distance until they meet the ‘right’ background. I tried this only a few times since I was happier with the ‘fishing’ technique. Looks like I am a fisherman after all.
The most important thing is to take pictures when the light is good and to rest and regain your strength when the light turns bad. Midday and mushy light is challenging to shoot. Unless you are working on using these light situations consciously, have a break or hang out with friends and come again later.
Bangkok is a lively city. It was full of action and the people were very welcoming. Thai people are extremely curteous and very rarely object to have their picture taken. Bangkok is a fun place to try different ways of taking street pictures. And before I forget, the food is great.
Loopers Collective, the Bangkok-based street photography collective organized the workshop. These guys are photographers who love street photography. They know their Bangkok like the back of their palms. It was great fun taking pictures accompanied by these guys. I got to develop new friendships that I hope will carry on for a long time.
I already miss the buzz of the streets of Bangkok. The other most important thing I learned was to seek interesting situations in my own city and take pictures using my new-found skills.
Even when people do not want their picture taken, they can contribute to a good picture.