Hong Kong Lucida

A Thinking Street Photography Blog

The Work of Street Photography

I am reading Shop Class as Soul Craft by Matthew B. Crawford.

It’s a meditation on the value of manual work. I’m on page 79 at this point and it’s one of those books I’d like to read slowly, because there are so many wonderful insights that are conveyed in a very accessible manner which encourage me to stop and just think.

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Take this sentence for example:

If different human types are attracted to different kinds of work, the converse is also true: the work a man does forms him.

I am a literature geek, pure and simple. That says a lot about who I am already. Neat, simple and a bit obsessive.

So I have chosen the kind of work that suits my temperament.

The work then further deepens my temperament.

I am sure many of us could say the same thing.

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But I’m at a point where something else has come into play – my interest in street photography using quality compact film cameras.

Street photography relies on serendipity. It celebrates ordinary, everyday life, and it’s something to think about as to keep myself from going insane during banal moments (such as when I am at the back of a really long queue at a crowded supermarket checkout.)

And it introduces a kind of variety into my work I suppose. (The Chinese characters at this shop entrance means “anarchy”.)

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I was standing outside the shop composing with my Contax TVS and a passerby saw what I was doing.

“All these crazy shops,” he muttered to me, and walked on. It looks like a Japanese ramen place as far as I could figure.

So, yes, I suppose it’s a little bit different from my day job. Here, I’m standing at the entrance, aiming my camera, waiting deliberately for the right moment.

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What am I doing, and what am I looking for as a street photographer? I admit I live within myself too much.

Maybe part of the work of street photography has to do with getting away from myself.

Sometimes, it’s good not to be myself.

I look into the backs of trucks.

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I look at other people at work.

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I look at stuff.

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I am intrigued by the strangeness of other people.

I imagine myself wearing their clothes. Then, I imagine myself wearing their skin.

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And I look some more, and am sometimes not quite used to what I see.

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One comment on “The Work of Street Photography

  1. janicewasabi
    May 23, 2014

    hmm, you really seem to hang about Sham Shui Po a lot. it’s the area where I live around and I can’t help imagining someday I might bump into you… it’s also interesting to read about how a non-SSPer ‘sees’ the community.
    ‘anarchy’, ha! must be that ramen shop!

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