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Posts Tagged ‘street photography’

I contact

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on March 4, 2017

For street photographers, the exploration of new surroundings does not stop to exotic places and big city structures. It goes well beyond the decor and  always reach the line of cultural differences when it’s time to press the shutter. Of course each photographer will have it’s own approach, some are less “in your face” than others in their own body language and image making tactic, and that’s the part A of the equation. Part B is the interaction with the locals and their attitude towards photography. In my traveling experience, the southern of the hemisphere I went, the more the people were acutely “aware” of their immediate surroundings. Some clearly overreacted, and some other people were down right paranoid in regards to the motive of my photographic ventures. In some cases the explanation  that I was an artist just didn’t cut it… and I must admit that explaining why I took a photo of an intercom (at night) can sometime raise eyebrows.

Eye contact also varied greatly from one place to another. In Spain for instance, I felt that madrileños responded in keeping eye contact a lot longer than most of the other places I went, and much longer than the eye contact I can have in my own native town, Montreal where the contact is a lot shorter and less direct, in the context of street photography. In the end it’s always intriguing to see what can be attributed to the size of the city, to the culture, and to the photographer attitude. All the spices that makes street photography one of the most interesting way of seeing the world.

 Adios all!

3 button intercom, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau © /Millennium Images.

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One step beyond the decisive moment

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on November 17, 2010

Le Boulingrin, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
I was looking at this image recently, and I went along thinking about the decisive moment, the concept elaborated by Henri-Cartier Bresson, a pioneer in the history of photography, one of the greatest photographer of our time.
This notion is embedded with a number of interesting nuances. The first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that there is a very fine line between the decisive moment and what I would call the expected moment. If one stand on a street corner with a well composed visual background and wait for an interesting silhouette, perfectly profiled to fit a predetermined space, does this stand for a decisive moment, or does it become more of a expected moment?
The idea of the decisive moment has been explored long and large, and could be ready to morph into higher grounds. For the sake of clarity, how can we describe a more precise notion of the decisive moment, while remaining faithful to the initial principle that something can never happen twice in the exact same way? How about the unexpected moment? Something that would distinguish planned imagery disguised as being something related to the decisive moment. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, what’s unclear is tagging a concept for something else, stretching the definition just a bit too far to remain true to the principle.
So, from now on, let’s reach for this ever elusive unexpected moment, just like this great image that went so  fast in front of my eyes, and that I missed last weekend…
Adios all!

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Street photography

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on August 5, 2010

Homme et son soulier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
I’ve always been intrigued by the standard notion of “street photography”.
It’s one thing to adhere to that definition, and it’s quite another to find a personal style within the specific set of rules that constitute that definition. I had numerous “existential crisis” around the act of fitting inside the street photography notion until I had reached a relative peace of mind.
While there is clearly a sense of the decisive moment in every street photographers work, (a notion first pioneered by Henri-Cartier Bresson), I often find myself questioning the known boundaries of the street photography movement in a way that would still allow me to take advantage of its aesthetics strongest points.
Technique has obvious impact on the working mechanic of the movement and I recently managed to depart from traditional 35mm format cameras to see what would bring a bigger format in adding a 6 x 4.5 medium format camera to my arsenal. I saw that it clearly brought a more contemplative dimension to my work, since larger formats tends to slow everything down.
Another aspect that I often question is the location. What constitutes the street, in terms of territory from a pictorial point of view? Can a rural, non/asphalted location be considered “street photography”, and if not, why exactly? How pre-fabricated  (urban) the location must be to tag an image “street photography”? How big the city must be in order to engineer street photography imagery? Is it possible to come up with that type of imagery in a village? With a forest in the background?  These are relatively mundane questions at first, but upon further inspection questions like these remain important to ask for anyone interested in street photography and it’s place within the history of photography.
Doing street photography is one thing, and liking it is easy, but to find a personal vision within the traditional context of the definition is quite another thing that requires a massive amount of dedication.
Adios all!

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