Authors Posts by Andrew Sweigart

Andrew Sweigart

181 POSTS 68 COMMENTS
Andrew Sweigart has pursued creative endeavors as a writer and a musician, but street photography has captured his soul. He enjoys finding the beauty in the routines and mundane of everyday life. If you would like to see his work you can also visit his Street Hunters Profile. He is co-founder of Street Hunters.

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Introduction

Street Photography can be a confrontational art. Not the finished product, but the creation itself. The act of snapping that candid moment can be an offensive action to the subject. When you think about it, there’s times where you wouldn’t want to be photographed! You’re not looking or feeling your best, lost in your own world, walking or just standing around. Then, you catch someone taking a candid snap of you. Depending on your mood, your disposition, you may react. Your reaction might be a simple “hey” or “what are you doing?” Another person might be more aggressive. It can become quite the sticky situation.

Doing what we do, this is bound to happen. Fortunately, this has only happened to me a few times. So what’s the best way to get out of an awkward moment when out on the street? I can only answer that question based on my personal experience, so first I have to explain my style when working on the street.

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Why Shooting Backs Is Still Street Photography

Introduction

In the ever-widening scope of what we consider street photography, most would secure that nothing beats a great candid portrait. A person’s face alone can tell a thousand stories. The eyes, the expressions and even the wrinkles and scars help us to get lost in the story the face can create. But can a shot from behind a person be as poignant as a frontal one? I believe it can!

Introduction

If you’ve read any of my posts before, you’ll remember how I’ve said sorting street photography is a real challenge for me. Two things factor into the challenge: time and location. As far as time goes, I work a odd night shift. When I finish work, there is literally nothing going on nearby. So, shooting on the weekdays is frustrating and pointless. This leaves the weekends. Weekends are a battleground! Chores, family, friends and relaxation all compete for my valuable time. Believe me, I want to do it all, but sometimes it’s not possible. Deep down I want to shoot, shoot, shoot. So, I do what I can and usually end up with just a few hours each month to go out and do it! This leads us to the second challenge: location!

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ATTENTION

The following views are mine personally and do not necessarily represent the views of the StreetHunters team.


Introduction

How do I define street photography? At the root, it’s a “style” of photography. Genres and styles. Seems to me that all forms of art are categorized by genres and styles. I don’t like to be categorized, and I believe most creative folk do not, either. But, I can understand why it’s a necessary evil. If any style of photography pushes the confines of categorization, street photography surely does!

Categories are good for the marketers, from the top all the way down to the retailer, promoter, etc. They know where to place the “product”. They know how to promote it. How to sell it. And it’s good for the booking agent at the club or the gallery owner. To get similar genres and styles together. To appeal to a certain crowd. To know what section of the book our music store to go to. It’s a degree of homogenization that effectively helps to sell or bring our notice to something.

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Determining your Street Photography Style

Introduction

So when taking a long, hard look at this title, I had to ask myself an obvious question. “What is my street photography style?”  Talk about a tough one! Do I even have a “style” per se? Hmmm.

Creating a style for oneself is by no means an easy task. Since I’m a new photographer, this is still a work in progress. Figuring out what my style is, as the end product, to me, is a Herculean task. Let me sort of digress and go into the music world. I never wanted to be in a band that sounded like anyone else’s band. My goal was to create our own SOUND. THAT sound encompassed everything aural. Tones, beats, noises, grooves, riffs, samples, lyrics and the singing. All the sounds. I wanted nothing more than for someone to hear us, with an unheard song in a mix, and say HEY! That sounds like Deerheart! To have your style be your identification, without a listener even seeing who you are… that was a goal of mine, personally. And an admirable one too, I thought. I would have loved to be an influence on someone else’s style and hopefully we were. I do know this: we rocked people as much as we turned them away. I thought that was a good start!

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Andrew Sweigart selfie

Introduction

Street Photography has opened a door into a band new realm of creativity for me. I would be willing to bet that any one you reading this could say the same. This expedition is still in it’s early stages for me. I can count my street excursions on my fingers and toes! Like any new adventure, it’s exciting, but also slightly terrifying. The thrill comes from the wonderful mixture of both.

Besides the thrill, the biggest reward I’ve reaped is the skills I’ve acquired. Prior to this, I would have considered myself a hobbyist. I would shoot mostly inanimate objects, with the exception being animals. Venture out on a sunny day and snap away mostly on Auto. I got cool shots, but I didn’t challenge myself. It wasn’t until I got gentle pressuring from Spyros that I even attempted shooting a human being or street shots. I was fearful, really. But man, am I glad I accepted the challenge! I didn’t know what I, with my camera, was capable of. That being said, I’d like to tell you about the benefits that I’ve discovered, of being a street photographer. I’d like to focus on the new skills that I’ve begun to acquire. And I’m going to keep this simple and personal. No technical talk, because frankly, I don’t know it!

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Note: The following views are mine personally and do not necessarily represent the views of the StreetHunters team

Introduction

Rules are made to be broken.” Nowhere does this hold more true than in the creative world. Great artists, in any genre, break rules all the time. Sometimes, the act results in failure. Sometimes, it’s a game changer. And sometimes, it’s a different means to an end.

From what I’ve read and what I’ve seen, shooting with a fixed prime has long been a commandment of street photography. Using a 35 or 50mm had been gospel. Why? The most popular reasons I’ve seen are these:

  1. all the great street photographers have used them.
  2. fixed primes produce the sharpest images, and
  3. a fixed focal length lens helps the Street Photographer know what he / she will see in the viewfinder before the camera hits the eye, enabling them to focus faster then they would with a zoom.

All very, very valid reasons. Using a fixed prime is the the best way to get the street feel and to isolate and capture your subject within whatever composition you’ve dialed in. But, it is the only way? I’m saying no, it’s not.

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Introduction

I’ll be honest, I prefer my street photography mono. It’s classic. Like Rob Heron has said, it has a timeless feel to it. However, I’m slowly warming up to shooting color. I believe this is because I’m technically becoming a better shooter. I have found my beginning shots that are simpler, more stark mono compositions have yielded some pretty palatable results. However, the more I shoot, and the more I grow in my skill set, the more I like the more vivid, rich color pieces. Let me try to explain why.

Being still very much a novice to street photography, and photography in general, I keep things very simple. I shoot JPEGS only. The reasons why is this: Due to schedules, I have an extremely small window of opportunity to shoot every week. So, I spend what free time I have just shooting a TON of pictures, practicing my composition skills and working on building my technical skill set. Eventually, when I think I’m ready, I’ll shoot RAW, and that wonderful world and the full glory of post processing that goes with it, will be a new bag of tricks to play with.

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Introduction

Street photography is still very fresh and new to me… I’m very much a rookie. I can count my street excursions on both hands! For the amateur photographer, street photography can be intimidating, frustrating and almost overwhelming. Personally, I still find the intimidating part applies, but it lessens each time I go out to shoot. To go from shooting trains sitting in the rail yards and pets lying around to shooting on the street was a big jump. So, I’d like to tell you how I did it and about some of the trials and tribulations I’ve encountered early in my journey!

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Introduction

Technology has certainly come a very long way and in just a short amount of time. One of the most shining examples of that is our mobile phones. Think back to the earliest variations and compare them to what we have now. Amazing! Besides being mini computers, they have become fantastic cameras. The quality of pictures we get these days is phenomenal when compared to just a few years ago. Really, our smartphones have become game-changers in the world of photography. So, I’d like to talk about why smartphones are good for street photography!