Saturday, 25 June 2016

Street Photography - Capturing unmediated chance encounters and random incidents with people.

Capturing unmediated chance encounters and random incidents with people is the most wonderful yet intense and scary photographic challenge I have experienced so far.  It is such a layered recipe; cultivating ingredients like nerves, anticipation, rawness, excitement, stress, and pure wonder at what the human species is up to on a daily basis.

I enrolled on a street photography course with Alan Cox (, with the intent to learn 'How To?', and to consider the implications of 'Can I?' and to ponder the most important question for me, the 'Why?'

 Street Photography - DunedinPhotography to me is art.  And there is an endless spectrum of possibilities for the way a photographer may want to capture and display their art.  My photography is about capturing the essence of people, seeing them interact and impressing the images I capture in times when someone or a group of people are engaged with either themselves or others.  It is about finding that moment in time of authenticity. 

One definition of Street Photography is "a type of photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places. Street photographs are mirror images of society, displaying “unmanipulated” scenes, with usually unaware subjects.”

There are many questions around what can you shoot and what can you not shoot, what are your boundaries and are you allowed to?

Can you shoot in public places i.e, streets etc. The answer to that is yes.  It is no different to the press, tourists or other photographers that shoot in the same places.  You can't shoot in private areas e.g, malls, shops or other confined areas.  What is very important is to understand your intent as a photographer. 

My intent is to capture images that celebrate the humanity and diversity we have around us.  I am not out to harm anyone, however I am still part of the rich tapestry of life photographing people live their days in the complexities of life.  

Street photography should also not be about bringing others into disrepute or negative light.  The intent is positive, to create a gallery of wonderful images that show the colour in other people.  Ironically I have shot most images in black n white.  This resonates with me, as I find it is striking and gives a grit about life.  The colour is from the people's expressions and what they are doing in each image. Although some images I have chosen to introduce are in colour, as I consider it suits the photograph.

 Street Photography - Dunedin

On several occasions I was asked and was challenged as to what I was doing?  As advised by Alan, and rightly so, I was honest and told them up front.  I showed my photographic business card.  These encounters were all I experienced, however if I was to be challenged more, or someone did not want their photo taken, I would happily show them what I had taken, offer to send it to them and also happily delete the image if requested too.  The best policy is to be honest, however it is raw and nerving to be challenged by the public.  You are encroaching on people's boundaries, and it is challenging to be faced with randoms.

I learnt quite a few strategies and techniques during the day and have a long way to go to build this sort of photography, however the results are wonderful (I think).  It is photography at its essence for me, capturing unmediated chance encounters and random incidents with people and to celebrate the amazing diversity of others in 1/320 sec or less is incredible.

Thanks to Alan Cox's tuition I have a better understanding of street photography and found that I love this sort of photography.  Of course I acknowledge I have an endless amount to learn - that's the exciting part - being humbled by the incredible things I see and experiences with people and photography.  Celebrating the diversity of humanity in everyday life.

Link to my Street Photography can be found at:

Andy Thompson
Andy Thompson Photography NZ
'People in Action'