Street photography is like falling in love…
I was walking in downtown Los Angeles when I saw the two brothers sitting there. They were drinking soda by a hot dog stand. The symmetry struck me – their identical outfits, the two-tone wall they leaned against and the two bottles.
It was after a couple of days photographing Japanese baseball superstar Hideki Matsui’s home opener with the Los Angeles Angels. There were so many Japanese photographers that I had to leave for the stadium six hours before the start of the game in order to reserve the best shooting position.
Matsui-stalking was fun, but no-one gets into photography because they enjoy fighting for shooting positions or carrying heavy camera equipment up flights of stairs.
Walking around downtown with one camera and one lens (Canon 5D Mark II and 50mm f1.2) is much more like it. Street photography is like falling in love with photography all over again.
A couple kisses on a street in South Los Angeles, November 11, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
It all started a few months ago when I was given a Blackberry with my first camera phone. Suddenly I was able to snap every photo I saw without having to think about choosing a lens, setting the exposure, over-thinking the composition. Capturing decisive moments, it has become my photo sketch pad.
In the rain one morning, I saw a girl gazing at a make-up advertisement in a store window. I snapped one frame with my phone before she ran to join her mother.
I started carrying the Canon 5D around with only one lens. It’s perfect for the street.
LA’s Fashion District is a mix of wholesale vendors, warehouses and garment shops in an older part of town peopled by a mix of fashionistas, immigrants and the homeless.
A homeless man sleeps on a bench in Los Angeles January 26, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
The boys were sitting on milk crates while their mother ordered a hot dog. I crawled under the counter so I could shoot without distracting them too much.
I took a few frames, and then looked up to see if their mother was watching. She smiled at me. I thought how much simpler it is to be female when you’re taking photos of children in the street. I’ve never had a parent look at me as if my intentions were creepy. I introduced myself and she said it was OK to their take their picture.
In the UK at the moment, the Information Commissioner’s Office privacy watchdog is drafting a code, which photographers fear will require them to obtain permission from anyone in a photo taken in a public place before they can publish it.
In the U.S., street photography for editorial use in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Elliott Erwitt is still legal. Sharing the beauty of everyday moments. I’m enjoying the freedom, and hope it lasts.
Teenagers play the guitar on Venice Beach in Los Angeles January 15, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson