GOING CANDIDby Thomas Leuthard
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Written by Thomas Leuthard, street photographer from Switzerland, already popular in internet through 500 px and flickr community, the free e-book is a 'collection of thoughts about street photography and some tips on how you should work as a street photographer'. The book will be useful to beginner street photographers, while an experienced street photographer will hardly find something he doesn't already know there. So if you are moving your first steps in street photography…go and download it.
The book defines street photography as 'the documentation of life in public in a candid way', ' a mirror of society', 'a single human moment captured in a decisive moment', it encourages to rely on the eye more than on the gear, it encourages using little unobtrusive and fast cameras, not necessarily expensive. It suggests using prime lens. The book can be useful to beginner street-togs because it focuses on training the eye, learning how to see and brainstorm ideas, ideally plan street photos suggesting many simple exercises for it. The book gives suggestion on places to choose, times of the day, on what to look for, series to make to sharp your eye. The e-book gives simple suggestions about composition, settings, ways to play with angles and perspective. The book reviews also some basic ways of processing images, keeping the edit minimal and basic, it encourage to play both with colors and b/w and to be selective about your portfolio. It gives a few suggestion and tricks to make a street photographer more comfortable and easy-going in taking pictures of strangers and suggests ways to capture people without them noticing or complaining. It minimizes 'getting caught' suggesting a series of hilarious and surreal answers to give to a menacing subject that caught you taking their photo. And finally the e-book gives a large (honestly TOO large) amount of suggestions about self-promotion on flickr and self-marketing.
COLLECTING SOULSby Thomas Leuthard
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If GOING CANDID was about the basics of Street Photography and should encourage beginners to find a starting point, giving basic knowledge, tips and tricks, this second eBook is more about the personal view on things of the Swiss street photographer, and it is a bit more advanced.
"You cannot call yourself a Street Photographer just because you point your camera at people in the streets. You cannot just turn a street snap- shot into black and white. It's not that easy. You really have to practice, have a plan, get close, study people, be interested in humanity and spend a lot of time walking up and down the streets. You cannot learn Street Photography. You have to have it inside your body. It's a feeling, an interest in everyday human life, characteristic faces, interactions between people and life in general. It's more a kind of hunger to document life happening in the streets than voyeurism. It’s a kind of lifestyle." Like in GOING CANDID the photographer encourages using the tools in hand and don't rely on gear but on your personal point of view, ideas, plans, developing a personal way to see and style to capture images. The book lingers over criticism, how to handle it, keeping in mind that "you should never forget that you shoot for yourself and only for yourself. There is no other reason for you to press that shutter button. If you at any time make a photo for someone else you should stop and think about it. You will start losing your personality as a Street Photographer if you stop doing things because of criticism. It’s your style which makes you unique, not the amount of people who like your work". Another relevant suggestion the e-book gives is 'when you lose, don't lose the lesson': "When I miss a shot, I’m always happy in the first place that I have seen the situation. It’s important that we see the things before we can capture them. Then I’m wondering why it happened (…) When you want to get better, you have to understand why it didn’t work out. Street Photography is a lot to do with self-education; if you can figure out and analyze your mistakes yourself, you can improve much faster".
The book replies to common questions asked to street photographers, like people reaction's to being photographed; how to overcome the fear or shyness : "It's all about practicing and gaining the confidence to know that most of the people will not care about you taking their photo. It's the fear of the photog- rapher who thinks he is doing something bad". The photographer suggests that PRACTISE (shoot, shoot, shoot) is the best way to improve, and minimizes (too much) the importance of knowing the works of the masters of street photography. It gives practical advises on how to increase your chances to take the photo, which basically consists in carrying your camera, keeping it switched on and ready, finger on the trigger, adjusting the settings according to the proverbial 'better safe then sorry'. Leuthard is certainly not ashamed to suggest autofocus, digital fast cameras, sneaky point and shoots and he's a fan of keeping things simple, and you won't find there Leica flattering. The author suggests to write down ideas if we happen to see potential images or come up with potential photos, it suggests watching a lot of images but mostly imagination. Other tips and suggestions are given on how to make yourself unobtrusive and 'invisible' (or at least discrete), it encourages taking more than one frame. Going again counter-current, the author believes that a "title can help to draw the viewer’s attention to the right point" also in street photography. But he also states that "When a photo tells a story, there is a good chance that people will like it. The more the viewer can read into the photo and the more they can imagine a story, the better it will be accepted. You cannot create this story with a good title. It must be already in the photo. A title can help to guide the viewer somewhere he might not get to by just looking at your photo".
STREET FACESby Thomas Leuthard
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The e-book is about 'candid street portraiture' which is a controversial theme itself, since that many street photographers consider images that focus only on people as spontaneous portraits and not street photos. Anyway, according to Thomas Leuthard "I’m not sure, if this word (Candid street portraiture) exists, but I call it like that. Portraiture is clear; it’s a photograph of a person that displays the expression, per- sonality, and mood of the subject. A candid photograph is a photo- graph that is made either without the subject's knowledge or without their explicit permission, hence they are captured un-posed. Since the whole thing is happening in a public place, it’s street photog- raphy. Therefore I call it like that and it’s important that all the three elements are fulfilled. You have to get close, you have to be in a pub- lic place and you don’t ask the subject upfront. Of course there are different ways and styles to do this. This is what this book is all about: the ways, styles, difficulties and challenges of this kind of photography". According to this definition, the usual themes about gear, lens, settings, kind of approach, composition, b/w versus colors, fear of shooting strangers from close and get caught, ethic questions, critics and rights, developing a personal style, telling a story with a portrait, are approached and analyzed. I'll just report the conclusive top 10 of things to remember from the e-book according to the author himself:
1. Candid Street Portraiture is straight, real and not setup.
2. It’s not about the camera, the lens or the settings.
3. Your eye decides on what you see and capture.
4. A good composition can do much more than good technology.
5. A good photo arises from the camera, not from your computer.
6. You can’t start at the top. It’s a long way to get closer.
7. It’s very important how you approach and act while you shoot.
8. 95% of the people won’t say anything. That’s a proven fact.
9. You cannot learn everything. There must be some talent present.
10. There is no right or wrong. It’s your photo, your style, your way.