Continuing that last thought…
The kind old lady who would develop my films would occasionally take out the contact sheet from the envelope and give me a lesson. It was okay. She had been a professional since my father was a child and had a numerous awards on her walls.
The one thing she would tell me again and again? “You’re too far from your subjects. Too remote and cold. Get in closer and bring them to life.” And I would nod at her and say, “Okay. I will.”*
Let me tell you about me: I grew up awkward. I know! Shocking. This means that I grew up socially inept. Being socially inept is fine if you’re growing up surrounded by a diverse, patient, and kindly group of people that only exist in 90s children’s shows. But if you’re from a place where everyone actively undermines each other because misery loves company (What do expat communities have in common with Nova Scotia? Can you guess?), that’s going to lead to a lot of hate. Directed outwards, but mostly directed inwards.
So when you feel that way about yourself, you become very sensitive to the personal space of others. “Is he coughing because I’m smelly? Did she move to the empty seat because she thinks I’m perverted-looking? My lazy eye makes everyone hate me!” Self-undermining shit like that. Since street photography requires that you’re either fully confident you can handle your subjects, or utterly uncaring about their feelings, that oversensitivity puts you too far away from your subjects by reflex.
Even when the subject seems open to your presence. The girl in the first (Remember what I said about the Pen in low light? The blurring in both images is made by camera shake from my pulse.) shot was openly smiling at me. The two in the bottom were merely puzzled about what I was doing. None of them were hostile, yet I was behaving as if I was photographing wild animals. And some people do take that approach. They’ll have a telephoto lens and what is essentially an urban blind so they don’t disturb the wild subjects. I don’t see anything wrong with that approach, but I feel that if I take it up I’d just be giving myself another excuse to not engage with others.
The Olympus Pen EE-2 has a wide lens. In order to do street photography with a wide lens you must get closer. How you attempt to do that varies. The sneaky way, the confident way, or the rude way. Everyone who focuses on street photography does it differently. But at least they do it. And it’s something I feel that I must work on.
You know, when I next have the chance and have no convenient excuses on hand.
Anyway, I’m done with the Olympus Pen pictures. Maybe I’ll move on to the Pentax or Holgas. Or maybe even some comic art! Who knows?
* Actually the conversation went more like this;
Her: “ReallyfastJapanesewordsthatIbarelycaught too far morereallyfastjapanesewords get closer.”
Me: “Durr… Okay!”