Street Thoughts

I don’t want to over-intellectualize things, but after doing this for a few years now, I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, to take street photographs is to think on my feet.

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When I came upon the above scene for example, I am reminded of how much culture depends on physical toil that is too often, invisible. We marvel at the Great Wall of China, at the pyramids in Egypt, and of course, there’s an invisible history of physical toil involved.

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I like the way signs are re-appropriated for other purposes. The full-size image of an air hostess welcomes you into the shop, which is closed for lunch. I make it a point to come here every time I’m in Singapore, to check out some of those NATO watch straps.

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The deployment of trees is part of the city’s architecture.

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The trees frame the building. Living in the city, we tend to forget that it is ultimately nature that frames human activity.

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Something we do every day, waiting at a pedestrian crossing. One of those insignificant yet ubiquitous experience that characterizes urban life which we tend to forget.

Thanks for reading!

Buy my latest street photography and poetry book!

Camera: Olympus XA 3

Film: Ilford XP2

 

 

Chinatown Moments

A history of the present…

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The streets are clean.

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Street tourism.

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Somewhat in your face…

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Street prayer…

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Street fruit!

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Street selfies…

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Another history of the present…

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Thanks for reading!

Buy my latest street photography and poetry book!

Camera: Olympus XA 3

Film: Ilford XP2

Final Things

Things as they are…

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A gate is always a promise.

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Perhaps a promise of bigger things to come.

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Something here.

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A hint of bigger things there…

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And something may blossom.

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All it takes is a bit of introspection…

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A possible vision here…

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And a revision there.

This is the last of four related pieces, after Mundane Objects, Common Things,  and Everyday Things.

Thanks for reading!

Camera: Canon Prima Twin S

Film: Fuji Superia Venus 800

Everyday Things

These are things I see on a daily basis.

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James Elkins: “When we are confronted with an unfamiliar object … we seek a body in it; we try to see something like ourselves…” (The Object Stares Back, p. 129)

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I see, therefore I am.

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This is my mind, even if it’s only for a while.

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Sometimes I feel like this.

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Mostly though, I’m like this.

 

This is a third companion piece, after Mundane Objects and  Common Things.

 

Camera: Canon Prima Twin S

Film: Fuji Superia Venus 800

The Management of Space in a Village

It goes without saying that space is at a premium in Hong Kong.

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This is true even in the more rural areas.

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Things need to stay organized.

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Nature needs to know its place.

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Heidegger: “Everywhere everything is ordered to stand by, to be immediately at hand, indeed to stand there just so that it may be on call for a further ordering. Whatever is ordered about in this way has its own standing. We call it the standing-reserve.”

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It’s all standing by.

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Nothing is to be wasted.

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It’s all about discipline.

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Places to go, and places you can’t go.

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All these structures are standing, even in our literal absence.

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Ilford XP2

 

 

Living Within Ourselves

We’re all caught within our own worlds.

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Not quite looking even when we’re looking.

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It’s an accumulation of life.

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A kind of mobility.

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We pace ourselves.

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A universe in a phone.

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A map is not the same as the world.

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Still we look at the map.

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We can’t live outside ourselves.

Camera: Olympus XA3

Film: Kodak UltraMax 400

 

 

 

 

Loosening Up in Street Photography

I’m a bit of a maximizer (as opposed to a satisficer) when it comes to choosing/doing things.

I try to find out all there is to know before making a decision.

When it comes to execution, I try to go through the various steps in my mind in order to get everything right beforehand.

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Which is why zone focusing and street photography is such a re-creation for me.

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We’re working with a circumference of acceptability.

Is good enough good enough? There’s motion blur here which adds to the sense of movement.

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I was close enough, but it doesn’t mean I could see clearly.

And if we don’t always notice everything around us, why should we demand a photography that sees everything accurately and in sharp focus?

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On the other hand, how much loosening up can one do before one loses discipline?

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There’s a spectrum here, between trying to get everything clinically right and hence losing the moment and operating without some sort of discipline, as if one is holding a camera for the first time.

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Sometimes, good enough is good enough in street photography.

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Try to get everything right and one might lose the “street”.

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There’s that tendency to overthink and hence lose the art.

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On the other hand, one must possess discipline in order to lose it.

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So my job is to learn everything I can, and then forget all I have learnt.

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Imperfection is an art in itself.

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And so is perfection.

And perhaps art is about improvising and about knowing how to move back and forth between perfection and imperfection.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Summicron 50mm Type II

Film: Ilford XP 2