Street photography is more than beautiful light and shadows. It’s a glimpse into the life of ordinary people. An expression or a gesture that tells the story of everyday life.
Yes, as you know, I love photographing a beautiful silhouette or a person walking through a shaft of light in the perfect step, but those images are much less challenging or rewarding than capturing a really special expression or gesture. Both are still a depiction of everyday life, the first is more giving, while it is much more difficult to see and appreciate the second. The rate of success in capturing the uniqueness of everyday life in a compelling photograph is also much lower.
The slice of life forever frozen in time, in all its simplicity, is what street photography means to me in its purest form. I am the happiest when I capture a moment of the human condition, whether it is love, sadness, the struggles of aging or anything in between. The challenge is to learn to recognize the moment that will make the strongest possible photograph. It can be as subtle as the position of a hand on a railing, the loneliness in a woman’s eyes or men adjusting they reading glasses.
I hope this makes sense. Here is a selection of photographs to help illustrate the point I am trying to convey, because a photograph is worth a thousand words.
All shot with either the Fujifilm X100S, T or F at 23mm 🙂
Thank you for visiting. Please share your thoughts in the comments!
CAUTION: This is not a product review!
I’ve had the privilege to be one of the Beta testers of the recently announced Fujifilm X100F since November. I don’t write reviews, it’s not my style. But there are many good product reviews out there by some of my X Photographer friends. Guys tend to geek out with new gear, I don’t 😉 I can recommend this review from my good friend and former workshop student Ian Mac Donald, a fellow Fujifilm X Photographer in Canada.
The problem with Beta testing is that you can only use the gear ‘in secret’ until the product is announced so I wasn’t able to travel with it much. Thankfully, the X100F was announced the day before my Paris workshop started last week so it accompanied me on the streets of Paris for a few days.
As you know, I was a Fujifilm photographer well before I became an official ambassador in 2015. My love affair with the x100 series started with the S. It was the best camera I had ever owned (previously a Canon 5D Mark II shooter). The X100T surpassed it and, Fujifilm made an even greater product with the X100F. I’m more in love with it than ever!
What makes this camera so special? From my personal experience, it has become an extension of my vision. I don’t even have to think about it, it’s so intuitive that it almost feels like a part of me. The latest version is very impressive. Here are some of the features that I particularly enjoy: The faster auto focus, the added Acros film simulation, the focus joystick, the faster minimum shutter speed in auto ISO, the longer-lasting batteries. It also has the much sought after 24.3 mp X-Trans CMOS III sensor. The improved ISO ceiling of 12,800 (vs. 6,400 on the X100T) wasn’t a big deal for me but some people may find that useful. There is a boatload of other new features that I have yet to use. Remember, this is not a review, only my honest opinion.
So the question is: Should you get this camera? As long as you keep in mind that the only way a new camera will make you a better photographer is if it takes you out to shoot more, then YES! And this may well be the camera that is going to take you on more photo walks because it will also become an extension of you.
Conclusion of my findings: This is one sweet piece of gear. I loved its predecessors but you will find that the jump in improvements from the T to the F is much bigger than it was from the S to the T. The X100F is very noticeably faster and better and I couldn’t be more proud to have had the privilege to be one of the first photographers to experience its magic.
Here are a few sample jpegs taken in Paris this month. The color photographs were shot in Classic Chrome, The B&W were shot in Acros film simulation setting. Very little, if anything, was done in LR, slight exposure adjustment if needed, a tiny bit of straightening and a tiny touch of clarity on the B&W. I must have shot as much in color as I did in B&W this time.
Here are a few of the pics I shot with the X100F during my weekend in Paris…
Paris in Classic Chrome…
Paris in Acros…
This fun lifestyle video clip was shot for Fujifilm USA by photojournalist and friend Dustin Scholl in Minneapolis in November
BONNE ANNEE ~ HAPPY NEW YEAR!
2016 was a very, very busy year for me. It was also a very exciting one!
I taught 10 photo workshops in 4 different countries.
I had a solo gallery show at the beautiful Mpls Photo Center. Watch the opening reception video here.
I recorded and aired a podcast episode each week. I left Street Focus on the TWiP network and launched a new podcast under my own brand Hit The Streets with Valerie Jardin without even missing a single week!
Fujifilm USA sent me on a few speaking assignments across the country as an official Fujifilm X-Photographer. I was also a speaker at a few photo conferences.
I wrote and published an ebook which, I’m proud to say, turned out to be a big hit.
I signed a contact with a publisher in New York for a “real” print book to be published in the Fall of 2017. As I am writing this, I am only a few days away from the publisher’s deadline and adding the finishing touches to the manuscript. I will be very happy when it’s off my hands and I can kick off the 2017 photography workshops in Paris in January 🙂
2017 is shaping up to be another busy year, with new exciting photographic adventures.
Living your dream is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but also the most gratifying.
Here is a selection of some of my favorite shots of 2016 in a 4 minute video format. Enjoy and thank you all for your continued support!
Using a special effect lens is always a great exercise in creativity. I love the extra challenge. Seeing the resulting photographs on the computer screen after the photo shoot is always a bit like opening a present. The Lensbaby Velvet 56 offers a new way of seeing and forces the photographer to let go of the notion of sharpness. The fun is in the experimentation with different levels of soft focus depending on the chosen aperture.
These photographs where taken on December 11 at The Landing, a historic village south of Minneapolis composed of authentic buildings designed to recreate 19th century life in the prairie. The buildings were all moved from various locations throughout the state. During the visit, re-enactors welcome the visitors into their ‘homes’ and talk about the hardship of life in the prairie during the winter months. For a few hours you travel from 1850 to the turn of the century, immersed in a different time period. Lucky for me, the snow storm had kept the crowds away that Sunday afternoon and I was able to collect quite a few images without ‘non historical’ people in the background.
I had never used the lens in low light situations and it was really difficult to know how the pictures would turn out from looking at the LCD on the back of the camera. I had to trust my instinct and hope for a few keepers. I was using the Fujifilm XPro2 in Acros and Classic Chrome film simulation bracketing. After a few shots, I knew that I would use the Classic Chrome, it was the perfect combination with the lens and subject matter.
I had so much fun exploring each building in search of adequate window light and interesting details of everyday life from the past. The actors were so authentic and so passionate about the time period they were reliving, I grabbed a few shots of them while they were talking with the visitors. Santa was as close to the real deal as one could ever imagine, and he took his role very seriously.
The challenge of manual focussing added another level of difficulty to the low light situation inside the buildings. I was very impressed with the performance of the lens. I don’t think one can ever master it completely. There will always be an element of surprise in the photographs it produces and that may just be the biggest appeal of the Lensbaby. The anticipation is somewhat reminiscent of shooting film.
Overall I am quite pleased with the results. The lens was the perfect companion for my time travel adventure. I can’t wait to use it again in a different era.
Wishing you all a warm Holiday Season from snowy Minnesota! Please leave a comment below.
My New York will always be more classic and black and white. I love New York almost as much as I love Paris. It’s almost as if the two cities are trying to compete with each other for my attention by carefully planting the right subjects to cross my path. Is it the conspiracy of two cities or simply my creative vision listening to my heart?
Here are a few photographs that landed in my camera last week in one of the most amazing cities in the world.
I hope you enjoyed this selection, I always enjoy reading your comments…
Thank you for visiting!
Visiting Coney Island may seem like a crazy idea in December but I had such a great afternoon there last week. It takes about 90 minutes on the subway to reach Brighton Beach from Harlem, it’s all part of the experience! It was not very cold for a December day, no snow in New York yet. But it was definitely cold enough to keep most of the tourists away, which was a bonus.
I knew that Brighton Beach was heavily populated by Russian immigrants. Most came to NYC in the 40s and 50s. What I didn’t expect was to hear the Russian language almost exclusively. In fact, I tried to have a conversation with several of the elderly people who were out for a stroll on the boardwalk and several knew no English at all. This really shows how big and tight of a community it is and it really enhanced the timeless feel of the experience for me.
I quickly decided to shoot in B&W because there was very little color and I found monochrome fitting with the dreary Winter day.
The amusement park at Coney Island was shut down for the season but crooner’s Christmas music was streaming from the speakers on the deserted boardwalk. It was quite an eerie atmosphere. So try to imagine Bing Crosby singing “I’ll be home for Christmas” as you look at the photographs below 😉
Overall, it was one of the highlights of my week. Something new and unexpected in New York City and I love to be surprised!
I hope you enjoy this post, very different in nature from the previous one. Just another day in NYC as seen through my lens. Please leave a comment!
It was my first time walking the streets of Harlem with my camera. I stayed in a small apartment on 136th street, at the corner with Malcom X blvd, also known as Lenox Avenue. I walked along the boulevard for an hour or two each morning over a period of 3 days. The time was short but I headed out each day with my camera set to classic chrome and limited myself to one street only. Harlem is changing rapidly but it still has a gritty feel which is very different from the other boroughs of Manhattan. I’m not shy and I have some streets smarts. I can sense when I need to move on if I feel that people are starting to question my intentions. I always make small talk with locals, anywhere in the world. People in Harlem are extremely friendly and always welcome a conversation and a smile.
It takes a while to get the feel of a neighborhood. I didn’t have the pretension to ‘get’ Harlem in just a few days, but I wanted to share a glimpse of my first experience.
I hope you enjoyed this mini series. Please leave a comment below, thanks!
I didn’t shoot much in B&W during my last visit to San Francisco. If you saw the previous post Classic Chrome in San Francisco, I was definitely more in a color mood that week.
Most of the B&W I shot was at night, in harsh sunlight or in situations where the subject would stand out better than in color. Monochrome also adds a layer of grittiness that is most fitting in some urban settings.
You know how much I love B&W, it remains my favorite way to see the world. But I must admit that recently I’ve been looking for more color on the streets. As you know, it’s not a decision that I take lightly. I make the decision in camera, like in the film days, except that I can change my choice without having to finish the roll of film 😉
Color adds another element of difficulty for the street photographer. It needs to be part of the story without distracting from it. It’s really a balancing act. If the color overpowers the subject, B&W makes more sense. Since Fujifilm came up with Classic Chrome, it has become my color of choice. I find that it has the timelessness of monochrome in a color palette. Does it make sense? It’s simple and real,it fits the streets. If you’ve experienced it, I’m sure you get it.
Many ask why I shoot JPEG? The answer is simple: Because it doesn’t get any better that! I’m not sure I would feel the same way with any other gear. But the JPEGS my little camera give me are better than RAWs processed in LR. Yes, shooting JPEG is less giving and more challenging. But this is street photography, isn’t one of the goals to get it right in camera and spend more time on the streets vs. in the digital darkroom? I don’t need to bring out details from the shadows, I love deep shadows! I don’t care if some of the highlights are blown out, it’s often the desired result for more dramatic effects when shooting silhouettes for example.
And why this constant JEPG vs. RAW question? Isn’t it time to put it to rest? Does shooting RAW make you feel like a better photographer? Then shoot RAW!
Another question I often answer is why I use the LCD vs. the viewfinder. Why does it matter? When do you see any of that information attached to a photograph in a book or a gallery? And if you did, would it change to way to look at the photograph? Would it make a difference in the merit of the artist? Does bringing the camera to your eye make you look like a real photographer and using the LCD like an amateur? I hear that often… Well I guess I’m an amateur then, and that’s okay with me!
Well, these were just a few thoughts to ponder on this Sunday morning… Here are a few of my Classic Chrome JPEGS shot without using the viewfinder of my X100T 😉
These snapshot are a random collection of everyday people seen in Chinatown, North Beach, the Mission District, Union Square, and the Financial District in San Francisco last week. Enjoy!
Thank you for visiting and I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comment section.
Maybe another reason why I love NYC so much is because, like Paris, I see it mostly in B&W. But I don’t believe that photography should be all color or B&W. The photographer has to let the subject dictate the choice.
Here are a few of the color subjects I saw a few during my New York wanderings last month… If you missed the New York in B&W post, see it here.