Little Tokyo and the Challenges of Street Photography / by Christopher Myers

I've always been a big fan of street photography; seeing people in their natural environment. However, it's more than just going out and pointing a camera at people. It's taking everything in, finding similarities between cultures, classes, and individuals. Often the pictures themselves can act as a kind of metaphor for life. The expressions on peoples face when they don't know they're being watched sometimes says it all. These simple observations, to anyone that's keenly aware, echo the state of the world we live in. 

If there’s one thing to remember from this post it is this: only shoot in the morning and evening when the sun is directional.
— -Me, CKM

Here I took an evening trip to Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles and aimed my lens at the populace. Here are some things to think about when you're walking about:

Subjects

I know some people like to go out and just photograph one thing: people, doors, signs, dogs, etc., but I personally like to capture the "feel" of the place. To me, this means capturing a speckling of all of it and then selecting what stood out in my mind. It's basically what I see when I'm trying to recount the place to someone who hasn't been. 

Lighting

Mid day is horrible. Horrible for everything outside of a controlled studio. If there's one thing to remember from this post it is this: only shoot in the morning and evening when the sun is directional. I'm going to go as far as saying this will instantly make your images much more professional. Don't argue with me here. Just do it and then send me thank you pictures. What more can be done is deciding how you want to utilize that directional light. Do you want to back light your subjects? Do you want to front fill them? Find places in the environment where the light is beautiful and then wait like a deadly assassin for your targets to come into view. 

Focal Length and Approach

There's a great deal of photographers who's approach is to really get in their subjects faces, and I wholly encourage you to do so. It's very nerve racking, especially if you're a shy person like myself, but this challenge will only make you a stronger person. You'll make enemies, and you'll gain friends. Just do it. Shyness aside, I still like the sniper shots. I don't care what anyone says. The fact that the person has no clue that I'm observing them means I get honest expression and moments you don't capture by getting in close (I mean you can but you better do it quick while they don't know what's happening). Plus, for me, I love compression. Something these street photographs hate for some reason. Personally, I stick with my 70-200mm, and if I'm feeling sassy, my 50mm. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to carry that 105 for better bokeh as well. The director of the Palm Springs Photo Festival swears that a 20mm prime is his go to street photography lens. Guess it depends on your personal aesthetic. 

 

The images below could use a whole lot more dodge and burn, but hell, I have a million photos I have to get through and I was just having fun with this. I'll get around to it and submit to a gallery at some point. I'll be sure to let you guys know. In the meantime, get that camera, get out there, shoot, shoot, shoot, and let me see what you guys got. 

One last thing. For more inspiration, you should definitely see the works of Bruce Gilden, who's just one of the funniest, craziest photographers out there. The reserved, Josef Koudelka. And the ever renown Ralph Gibson.