Talking about Rules and Revisiting Your Camera
by Alexander Hessentswey
If someone states – “you can’t shoot a street photo without asking the person’s permission”, or “you can’t do a street photo with a tele lens or with SLR”, there is always someone who appears and says “I do”.
￼ Railroad Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Panasonic 25mm f:1.4 Leica-labeled, 50mm in equivalent)
You should be more or less in harmony with your own moral principles when shooting. The camera can’t shoot itself — at first, you have to “see”. The photography doesn’t have “should I or should I not” in itself. Only when we talk about moral decisions, laws, physics or the camera options – such as speed or the focal length of the lens, or sometimes when we talk about styles. You can’t call it a photo if it was actually painted and not shot. You can’t shoot someone undressing in his private house of course but there are plenty of great shots made with wrong equipment in incorrect ways.
￼ Sedov the Sailboat, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Panasonic 25mm f:1.4 Leica-labeled, 50mm in equivalent)
No person can disallow you to shoot in colour instead of black and white or to use zoom when all others tend to use fixed lens. On one hand, Just common sense and chances can get you a good shot. On the other, you use what you have to use, and if it helps you, and if it works, it’s your way.
But, talking on genres, you may risk to get out of a particular genre. Don’t listen to those doubtful phrases like “a portrait is when the person knows you photograph him/her” (somehow, in paintings it is not so). But, yes, every genre has it rules. To worry about it or not is your decision.
￼ Vasilyevsky island, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Kodakchrome E100G through Leica Summicron R II 50mm)
￼ Vasilyevsky island, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Tair 11A f:2.8 135mm for M42)
There are two exclusions. It is all about style and the rules of composition. You can’t do things that lead to a bad style and get a lot of good styled photos and if you go against the rules of composition you’d better know what you are doing because it can lead to the uncomfortable results, expressing not the same thing that you see in a photograph yourself. But if you follow all the rules it’s a risk to end up with a static and totally common shots without any expression or thought or meaning.
￼ Sedov the Sailboat, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Yashinon DS f:1.7 50mm for M42)
Sometimes it’s better to be a part of the story. And the other thing is if you can feel the story. Personally I know some people feel uncomfortable when someone with a 35mm lens come close to one’s nose and shoots so I use 135mm or longer. It’s so silly and unprofessional (and you still can insist it’s not street photo), I know, but less rudely and obtrusive also. So you decide.
￼ Floating Lights Party, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Panasonic 25mm f:1.4 Leica-labeled, 50mm in equivalent)
There is one thing though that you should try. Think if is something your camera needs or wants – not only lens cleaning, but… new lenses with more pleasant bokeh or more detailed? Antique lens? An effect filter, as soft focus, yellow filter, circular polariser? Go through settings and try to do something you didn’t do before, be different. Surreal white balance, film emulation modes with dynamic black and white or vibrant colours or nostalgic look, underexpose for 2 stops, use the lens you’ve used many months ago or the one with unusual characteristics for you – too soft, too long, too wide. Try to experiment and you’ll be surprised how great your old camera can perform.
￼ Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Panasonic 25mm f:1.4 Leica-labeled, 50mm in equivalent)
Sincerely yours, Alexander Hessentswey from Saint Petersburg, Russia. His TWITTER is HERE.