An ode to people watching! …or #ThrowbackThursday? Sorting through my archives during a re-edit of my portfolio I ran into a folder from 2009ish titled “People Watching.” The contents within that folder turned out to be a collections of my attempts at street photography. If I’m remembering correctly I also believe during the time these photos were shot I was still using my Blackberry Curve 8530, which my fellow BB users would remember that the phone has an amazing keyboard –and sucky camera! The concept of Instagram or decent cell phone photography was nonexistent. For my street photography treks I’d throw a clunky DSLR (probably a Canon 5D or 5D Mark II) around my neck and trot around with a 35 or 50mm lens.
At the time I didn’t know what I was looking to document when I went people watching. Whenever a person passed by that had some form of interesting quirk, look, swag, whatever it was I’d take a photo of them. Naturally I’m a very curious person and as I mentioned before I was also a very shy person. Flipping through my people watching images you can clearly see a distance between the subject and I. Something about approaching a complete stranger and asking to take their portrait was phenomenally haunting. The worse they could do was say “no” or scold me to “get lost.” I can’t quite pinpoint why I was so afraid and shy perhaps they’re trademarks of an introvert. Nowadays I’m very much in everyone’s face with a camera [Talk to Everyone!]
Looking back is rather amusing. Despite the distance I feel that in my people watching ventures I was always searching for a sign of human connection or acknowledgement. The images left in the “People Watching” folder generally had a gaze or sign that displays the subject’s awareness of me taking their photo. Perhaps one day I’ll try street photography again.
Until then I encourage you all to dig through your archives and see what you can find. And if you’re interested in street photography check out Eric Kim‘s street photography blog. He gives out solid tips on the genre and is fun to read.