Category Archives: Street Photography

It’s Not What Your Work Does For You, It’s How It Inspires Others.

Today is a marked day for me. Since 2004 I have been saving emails from web friends that I have helped in some way. Today in my Email I received #1000.

Look, I seriously live for photography. I love my work and feel blessed in a way I don’t feel I deserve. But there has always been 1 thing that excited me as much if not more sometimes……when I get to help someone and create inspiration. This recent note was from a female shooter, very good shooter that has amassed a beautiful body of work. She can’t see where the work is taking her and she can’t see the path she has traveled to get here.

We did a Skype thing and after a hour, she had a completely new look at her work. I’m not saying I’m a miracle worker, a teacher or anything other then a dead serious shooter that works from the eye, heart and mind.

The feeling I have now for helping her see the light is a feeling that I wish many could experience but won’t.


I made 2 photos for her to show how I think on the run….






You either get these or you don’t but the important thing to me is….she gets them and can now see the light….

I feel blessed for a minute………..

Staying Focused on the Unfocused.


Some of my favorite photos are unfocused. I’m talking like the Bar Shot of Robert Frank. I’m not posting his photo here because you should know it and if you don’t, go learn it.

What’s interesting is the lack of fine detail and what remains is just the needed detail and info to view. Does this mean that the photo has bad IQ? Maybe what it means is to be aware of the inverse square law that governs photography….life also but photography for us. The lack of detail in the image draws us in to investigate the meaning without interference.



So perhaps the critics that always know best and force the guilt of freedom upon us could in fact be right……NAH!  This comes down to INTENT again. The next time you look at a photo and see that it’s not as focused as you may like…..ask yourself if the DOF was wrong or the camera had shake or maybe, just maybe….

That was the shooters intent…..fancy that!



In Search Of: Intent



The way photography works for me when I’m really on it is….. I see something that would make an interesting image. Then with the image in my head, I frame and then release the shutter. Looking at the screen on the camera shows me a general idea of what will develop. When I get to the computer and open the file in LR…that’s where the magic is. The image will either be borne in LR or it won’t.




As the image is being processed, same as in my darkroom, I start to FEEL something emotional happening. I see the image that I feel. I hope you get that. It’s always been that way for me, hopefully always will be.

When I see the finished photo, I don’t care who likes it, who wants to buy it, who comments on it…..all I know is that the image has achieved my INTENT and that in the end is all that will ever matter to me.



We can all hide on forums, web hosting sites etc. It’s nice to get response from our efforts. We feel that we are reaching out to others with acceptance.

At  the end of the day my friend, it’s you and your work. Nothing can strip you down and make you stand naked in front of your intent like the work you produce.

I hope you like what you see and if not seek out the method to find your intent, because what someone else does is nice for them but you……….click!



The Olympus EP-3 is on the job.



It’s been some time since I used a Pen Camera. I’ve had both, the EP-1 & the EP-2. I must admit, the EP-1 was and still is my favorite digital camera…until now! All the things I wanted to see improved are installed in the EP-3. This is not a review. This is not a sales pitch. This is the lost and found of feelings for a camera and how it helped me work. I know, youse don’t care about feelings about your camera. I know, you don’t name your cameras either. I feel for you, I really do.




I got very attached to the Pen 1 because it never let me down. It always brought satisfaction when I processed my work. Nah it ain’t no high tech fancy schmancy camera. What it is, is a very elegant extension of your vision. The EP-3 is an updated version of a camera that worked great as it was. So you figure out what that means. I know!





I’m not saying the EP-3 is the camera for you but I am saying….when I stopped using the Pen 1 & 2…something got lost in the mix. No, not a case, not a battery, nothing tangible. That’s the problem….I couldn’t find what I was looking for because I couldn’t touch what I was looking for.


I set the EP-3 up last night. The menu confused me a little but I got thru it. After a few hours I felt comfortable that I was good to go. I dreamt of being on the street and below also. I could see myself using the camera making images….. I awoke knowing that the camera and I were on the same page and The Pen 3 was up to the task and also to carry on the heritage of it’s forefathers.



So I made these images today in 24f weather. I forgot one important thing about the Pens….. Metal cameras get cold as fast as hands…..



There exist little doubt about the Pen 3 and me. We traveled a long way together. Maybe different versions of a real camera but we were together for many a good images that will become part of  my history.


Looking out into the light………?



Enjoying Your Vision


There is such pressure to produce quality work that one may feel stifled. Lets face it, like it or not we like to have people LIKE our photos, FAVORITE our photos etc. It makes the reward of others equally or even more gratifying then our own. Don’t feel bad, just remember that photography is a personal journey and we answer to our own self…when we realize that.

The above photo could be seen as “Contrived”. Of course it is. That was my INTENT but I don’t care because I like the image and it reflects how I felt at that very moment. I set it up in a flash of a second and needed to make it look just as it does. I used Andre’ and made the photo knowing what it looked like before release. Oh’ sorry…Andre’ is my white GRD4. Of course you name your cameras also…..right?



Photographic INTENT is the single most important piece of the shooters LIFE. What I mean is….you must be in the HERE and NOW at the time of exposure. Bresson called this the Decisive Moment. We call it Awareness of Intent. It’s not exactly the same but it’s not exactly different either.

The above photo was next in the shoot that I was aware of my intent. The file number shows not far apart. I’m not explaining why I made the photo, only that my INTENT is realized by it.



This is for Alan Barr. He posted a photo the other day of this escalator and I asked him with a comment if it was from Snyder or Oregon Ave. Her replied quickly that it was in fact at 15th and Market. Talk about Visual Perception…..I have been on this escalator a million times…yes, I counted. I know it back and forth and have made countless images of it and it’s faithful riders.

When Alan posted the location to my question I felt like I was forgetful or better yet….stupid. How could I not recognize that escalator? That my friends is the concept of photography in a single image. It totally proves the separation of the 3 dimensional reality from the 2 dimensional reality.

Thank You Alan…your a gentleman shooter and I’m lucky to share the same streets as you.




With all this being said….sometimes ya just get lucky……

Till next time….


The GRD4, The Natural Choice For Street


As many cameras as I have had and tested and used, the GRD4 stands above and beyond the rest. I do a 30 day test period with any new camera and I don’t use anything but the test camera.



I have been testing and using the Fuji X10 and it’s a very nice camera. It’s great for street with a learned intuitive interface. I passed the 30 test date a few days ago and I longed for my GRD4.



The Ricoh has such a NATURAL feel to that it’s almost an organic feeling. Funny, an organic digital experience.


I’m not going on and on about this camera but…..well….later….


The Fuji X10 … The Continuing Saga

“As you go throughout your life, brother whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.”  (Dr Murray Banks).

The point is this. I’ll discuss the camera and not the issues or things it doesn’t have or do. This is a users findings and not a review.





The X10 is really responsive. I use it in M mode and choose my Aperture and Shutter Speed. I use Auto ISO/3200 and this lets the camera choose the proper ISO based on my settings. I’m happy and the camera’s happy. Oh, X10 is named Walker after… WALKER EVANS. Of course GRD4 is named Andre’ after…. Andre’ Kertesz. WHAT! You don’t name your cameras?

A streetshooter ain’t no streetshooter don’t name a camera.




I like to use HD when on the street. This goes back to my early Leica M daze. So I look at DOF Master and set the camera according to it’s findings using a 2/3″ sensor.

Life has a sense of humor. Life even prescribes meds for that uncanny sense of humor,….well my shrink prescribes meds if life doesn’t. See, if you take everything literal in life you’ll make the same mistake I made about a 2/3″ sensor. Oh yeah….bulldinky, we all know the X10 has a 2/3″ sensor but I read the cinema 2/3″ and not digital camera.




Thanksgiving Anti-Parade

My grand daughter wanted to see the photos I made at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. Come on, cut me a break….I live here and I’m not letting an event like this pass me by. So I load the GRD4 attach a strap, put a few batteries in my pocket and hit the street. See, that’s the word that gets me every time…”Street”. I’m a streetshooter. What could be easier then doing a parade? Well, if the parade wasn’t on the street…I’d be ok.

Unfortunately, when I hit the street, I go into work mode. I’m just waiting for an image to pop up and call to me. This may or may not be a good thing. I guess it depends on what part of the parade you want to see.

So I walk around making photos and try to keep from feeling like I don’t belong. I try to find what makes me feel like I fit in.

I never find that tho’ and just keep looking and making photos.

I guess it’s just that I’m a streetshooter…..

Hipshot, Chestshot, The GRD4 It Still Smells of Street **** or **** How The 21mm Adapter Showed Me The Way Home.

Well the GRD4 once again proves to be a very worthy camera. It’s that I feel that any camera provides me the energy or inspiration to work, it’s just that the Ricoh lets me work and thing without intruding on me.

I went out today and used the 21mm adapter. It’s normally to wide for me but I need photos for an upcoming workshop on freeing the self and also editing. The camera is on a neck strap hanging as low as I can get it. I don’t use a finder even tho I have the Leica. I hate putting the camera to my face and covering life in front of me. There’s a magic in working this way without a finder and using your internal eye.

I think the beauty is in the discovery of a shared vision. The camera and I work together to make the images. Yes, it’s always like that but working this way is more of a conscious effort in the collaboration between the two of us.  I can’t make claim to 100 percent of the result. The camera gets it’s say as much as I do. This being the way I think and actually the way it is, is liberating and visually exciting.

With the camera hanging in front of your chest, theres a very cool non intrusive presence to the subject. I let it hang and when getting ready for an exposure, I place my hand on the camera and my thumb gets the duty the finger usually has.

The strange this is, the photos show eye contact but yet the camera is hanging down low. If in fact it was true eye contact, then the eye would not meet the viewer right on. This means that the subject looks at the camera but mostly never sees the thumb release the shutter.

I find it interesting that so many people walk around with their head in a low position. Of course the camera loves this kind of positioning.

So, even for straight street, this is a great setup. In all the photos, I never looked at the screen. I just feel the frame and then move my body slightly to make the frame the way I want.

It should be noted that the GRD4 has a sense of humor and proves itself in some photos that I won’t publish.

More tomorrow as the 21mm adventure continues…….        It’s tomorrow…strange how that works….hmmmm

This is more mainstream for me but it was because I met a shooter downtown from a forum we both belong to. She asked me to show her how to feel the frame. A good question I thought to meself.

I said, self…we need to help this lady out. Her issue was that she didn’t understand how to relate the subject to the background. I explained that, that is the entire thing about photography, painting etc. What lives in the fram must relate to everything in it good or bad.

Taking the elements of the frame and putting them together makes the image. Just as important is the presentation of the image.

All photos processed in  my presets for Light Room 4 & Nik Silver Efex.

Saturday Morning…. I had an appointment at the VA Hosp for more treatments. I’m not excited about that but it gives me a reason to get on the street and work.

I’m still doing the chestshot with the GRD4/21. It’s interesting. I can just about see full frame now and that’s neither good nor bad, not sure. I don’t like being predictable but I love consistency. Beings a Libra, balance is always my goal. The above photo was made on the spur as this new work is. I saw the image come together in my head in a fraction of a second. I knew how to process it to get my result. and new the framing about as good as I could get it.

I get these images sometimes that are more like dreams to me. I mean I am conscious when I make them but when I get them finished….it’s just a dream….. There was this kid named Jasper at the bus stop with his dad and sister. Jasper was about 10 years old. He liked my white camera and asked if I had a white camera because I was white. I asked him if he had a black camera because he was black. He smiled and said his dad did but he was allowed to use it at partys. Then he used my camera to make a portrait of me…..hmmmm


I posted this image a few days ago on Flickr and a few forums I visit. No one could figure out what the woman was doing. Some thought she was on a cell phone. Some thought she was doing something with makeup or the like.
Actually, her name is Diane. She is a photographer. She came to me for guidance on street work. She was changing the lens on her M8.2. She was worried about dust from the concourse getting on the sensor so I told her to get close to the wooden wall. I made the photo with every intention of it being ambiguous.

Subway Concourse, Phila. Pa

I planned on documenting the occupation on Dilworth Plaza whenever I could get there. I would go and take my GXR and move in and out of the scene and capture the overall feeling of the group. I work almost invisible and try to only observe and record. I really try to do the documentary thing but sometimes, like always…. I see an image that is a part of everything and yet it is just there by itself. It is just breathing by itself. The energy starts to overcome me and I go into my usual semi-trance mode. I hear nothing, see nothing, smell nothing unless it is related to the new image waiting to be born.

And then when all is right, the finger gets to do it’s magic….Snap!

Occupy Philly