The 2013 ClickinWalk is coming up but have you wondered if it’s right for you or not? Most of us are used to shooting portraits and street photography can feel a bit intimidating but today we have Click Pros Megan Dill, Justine Knight, and Stacey Vukelj sharing their insights on participating in a photo walk. They all joined in on the New York City ClickinWalk last year (all images in this post were taken during that walk) and are looking forward to it again this year!
Do you have any objectives in mind before you set out on a walk?
JK: I love to challenge myself by trying out a new technique or only using a particular lens. I also like to keep an open mind when on a walk because its very easy to come home from a day of street shooting with no shots that you love, therefore I just try and have fun!
SV: Like Justine, last year I chose to bring a lens I wouldn’t normally use, just to try and mix it up a little. Generally, I try to keep some of my personal projects in the back of my head in case something crops up that might fit in.
MD: Other than to have fun engaging with friends who share the same love of photography, not really! I love the spontaneity that a photo walk provides. Even if the area traversed isn’t brand new to me, it is fun to challenge myself to see things in a different way.
What are the pros and cons of shooting in a group?
MD: The pros: the synergy of being with like-minded peers, and having the pleasure of meeting online friends in person. It is also interesting to see each person’s take on the location once photographs are shared after the walk. I’m racking my brain to come up with cons…bad weather would definitely be one, since most of us are carrying around thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment on our shoulders.
JK: Like Megan, I love watching how everyone has a different perspective on the same environment. I love watching other photographers at work – I learn so much from watching how they position themselves, what catches each person’s eye and how they react tot taking the shot. I also just love being in the hustle and bustle of the city and having my camera along for the ride!
A con is the lack of discreetness 🙂 Walking in a large group of photographers is not necessarily conducive to low profile street photography!
SV: For me, the biggest pro is getting to meet so many other enthusiastic photographers. It’s fun to compare notes, exchange tips and see the end results once everyone shares. That said, I spend way too much time chatting and not enough time shooting. I find it very hard to shoot in a group – my shooting style is very unobtrusive. A group of 30+ women with cameras is anything but.
What is your favorite shot from the Clickin Walk last year and why?
SV: I love this shot of the Standard Hotel in Chelsea. The hotel has a bit of a reputation because the large windows allow guests to engage in some exhibitionist behavior. This shot is NOT of the rooms, but of what I assume is an elevator bank. I love the quiet and the distance and the slightly melancholy and pensive feeling this shot has.
MD: My favorite shot is one of a lonely table and chairs that my group came across while wandering down the High Line in New York City. It was starting to get dark, and I loved how the evening city light was falling on this particular set.
JK: The characters on the park bench shot is my favourite from last year’s walk. I love how it epitomizes the diversity and quirkiness that is New York City. I actually was back in the park a few weeks later at a completely different time and some of those same people in the shot were there sitting on the same bench!
In your perspective, what makes a good capture when shooting on a walk?
JK: Whether it is taking shots on the street or those of my girls, I want an image to be memorable, interesting and contain a story. These are the things that I work hard to incorporate when on a walk. Always successful – no, but always fun trying!
SV: I try to be on the lookout for small moments that incorporate the humanity of the city. An image with a strong narrative or emotional impact is more important to me than a technically perfect shot.
MD: A good photograph both captures the spirit of the location and or/subjects, all while allowing your individual style to radiate. I can go out and take a well-composed and exposed photograph of a building or landmark, but if it looks like everyone else on the planet could have taken it, I’m likely to pass over it in the culling process. Stay true to yourself while shooting, and aim to inject your personal style into the photographs you take on the walk. Consider yourself an artist and not a tourist.
What is your favorite gear for a walk?
MD: I love having a wide-angle lens to capture my surroundings, and rented the 16-35L on the NYC Clickin Walk last year. However, there is something to be said for challenging yourself with an unconventional lens. A few months ago I set through the crowded streets of Hanoi, Vietnam with a 135L. It was a challenge, but I got some great shots I could not have gotten at a shorter focal length. I’d love to experiment with a more creative lens such as a Lensbaby on a future walk.
SV: I often default to a wider lens – my 24mm is very sharp and I love it – but there is something about the 50mm that I adore for street photography. It is not too close, but it still allows for a certain level of intimacy in portraits. I also just got a smaller mirrorless camera for the express purpose of having something a little subtler for street shooting. I have only had it for a week but I already know that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
JK: I am definitely a wide angle person and my 35mm lens is my lens of choice! I think this year I may try some film both color and black and white. Film makes me slow down and think more careful about the shot I am taking so it will be an interesting combination with the craziness of the city streets!
What techniques do you use to be inconspicuous when shooting strangers?
JK: I am definitely a low profile photographer. If shooting people, I will always choose a busy area so that I am taking shots of people involved in their daily life rather than true portraits. But I do not hide my camera, it is always in full view of those around me.
MD: I’m pretty bashful when it comes to shooting strangers in public! I tend to photograph them from the side, from behind, or at a distance. One can also “shoot from the hip”, which I’ll explain more below.
SV: My style has modified a bit over time. I tend to hold my camera high on my chest so I am ready to frame and shoot if I see something. People do not usually think you are taking their picture but sometimes I make eye contact and let them know I’m doing it. Occasionally, I ask. I do make an effort not to put anything notably unflattering on my site.
Do you have any recommendations when it comes to camera settings to avoid “missing the shot”?
SV: Prepare as you go. Make sure you re-meter as you move in and out of different light and if you are using auto focus, know which focal point is active so you can raise your camera and shoot quickly. Shoot at a higher ISO to have greater flexibility with your settings. If you have something particular in mind, do not be afraid to shoot wide, but you will need to take more time to prepare your shot. A narrower aperture allows you to be less precise with your focus.
MD: Close down your aperture. Shooting wide allows for more latitude in regard to shutter speed, but chances are you’ll get more keepers with a smaller aperture due to the increased depth of field in the scene. Plus, it will be easier to shoot from the hip because you won’t be so preoccupied with focus. Read up on zone focusing using the DOF scale on your specific lens, particularly if it is a longer one (greater than 35mm). There are also great DOF calculators that you can download to use on your smartphone while on the go.
JK: I keep my ISO high and my aperture around f5 – f/6. I prefer to capture a lot of the environment in my shots so these settings help me do this and allow me some flexibility to quickly change if required. I will often meter off the sidewalk to determine correct exposure. Also being aware of shadows and bright spots and how they can impact a shot is important.
Do you have any tips for creating interesting compositions and capturing the essence of your location?
JK: Move around, stay still, look at what catches your eye without the camera. Set up the shot before bringing the camera up. Let your creative instinct guide you in creating interesting shots.
SV: Keep your eyes open and be aware. Try to anticipate a scene before it happens. Be prepared to move in order to capture the shot you want. Try not to step into traffic in the process.
MD: Try different perspectives. Capture details. Get close, go long, shoot from above, and just keep moving and experimenting. Don’t preoccupy yourself with shooting ten images of the same scene. Mix up your vantage point, and consciously incorporate design elements such as lines, negative space, and color. Don’t be afraid to break the rules, though. There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs – Ansel Adams.
Thank you ladies for sharing your perspectives from past ClickinWalks! Would you like to participate in this years walk? Find a location near you and sign up today here! And thank you to our incredibly generous sponsors below who are offering up over $6,000 in prizes!