San Francisco Street Photography – May 22-23

I took a couple of days off this week and was able to spend some time just shooting without the need to be somewhere else.  Not feeling the pressure of time freed me up to be creative and patient, and I believe the images reflect that creativity and patience.  Having the luxury of time totally transforms the street shooting process.  Standing in one spot for twenty minutes waiting for the right shot to come to me is not something I’m able to do ordinarily.  What a treat it was.

Yesterday I packed along my X-Pro 1 with 35mm and my X100 for a walk from City Hall to Bush and Market via the Tenderloin. I took my time. Watched what was going on. Soaked it all in. I hadn’t walked that way before.

I noticed I was being followed and photographed repeatedly by a very animated young woman with a cell phone camera. She approached me at the corner of Turk and Hyde and asked (I’d have said demanded, but the conversation turned out fine) in a very suspicious manner what I was doing, why I was taking pictures. What I did with the photographs once I’d shot them. If I was working with the Po-lice.

It was a conversation that will stick with me for awhile because it was the first time that I had had to explain what street photography was to someone who had absolutely no idea what it meant, what it was or why anyone would take photographs of strangers doing seemingly mundane things.

To her, I was a threat.  What I was saying didn’t make sense, or she didn’t initially believe me.  I hadn’t taken her photo either before or after the encounter, but it was obvious she was looking out for her neighborhood and I had nothing to hide, so I was open and friendly and took the time to talk with her.

I told her that I liked taking photographs of people just living their lives, going from here to there, and of people whom I thought looked interesting. That I didn’t photograph homeless or destitute people, that it was a hobby and something I’d done for years for fun, to pass the time and to help me remember what I’d seen when I’d been out walking. That I loved the city and loved being in the middle of it. She said that all back to me at every pause in my explanation, perhaps believing me.  Her body language got less and less aggressive until finally she said good bye and we went our own ways.

I’m not an aggressive street photographer in the first place and I always ‘read the room’ in terms of neighborhood and vibe so as not to rile the locals. Whatever she saw that made her approach me, I thought it was worth the time it took to reassure her that I wasn’t up to anything nefarious.  Nothing happens in a vacuum and I believe that it’s important in situations like that one to just be respectful and friendly and move on.  Your mileage may vary, heh.

With all of that having been said, I only took 2 or 3 photographs in the Tenderloin – the one of the two boys running along the barricade in front of the Federal Building and of the gent wearing a Pacific Trail jacket with the Emerson quote about leaving a trail.  It was a great day, and the encounter with the young woman – which could have spoiled the entire experience – served to make me feel better about what I do, why I do it and how.

Hope you enjoy.

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Things in 3’s, Slow Club, X100

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Reflections and shadows, X100

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6 stages, X-Pro 1 with 35mm/1.4

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City Hall Staircase, X100

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Contrasts, X-Pro 1 with 35mm/1.4

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Passing through, X-Pro 1 with 35mm/1.4

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Leave a Trail, X-Pro 1 with 35mm/1.4

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Play, X-Pro 1 with 35mm/1.4

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One Bush Street Single Point, X-Pro 1 with 35mm/1.4

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Profile, X100

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Big Feller, X100

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He draws the eye. George Lucas lookalike and motorcycle guy are both captivated, X100

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Yin and Yang, X-Pro 1 with 35mm/1.4

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Josh, Burritt Room, X100

A May afternoon

A May afternoon

Shot this yesterday on my way back into the city after a drive up to Napa.

I return to this spot whenever the opportunity arises and the weather is favorable as I think it offers one of the best views of the bridge in the area.

Everyone and their brother drives up to Hawk Hill and photographs the bridge with the city skyline in the background. While it’s no doubt a beautiful vista, the fact that there are tens of thousands of these images online causes me to avoid the area when I’m in the mood to photograph the bridge.

There are many fewer images of the bridge looking north from atop the bluff. I prefer the foreground interest afforded here by these grasses and of course my friend the dead tree which is not present in this shot:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wupjak/8273226521/in/photostream/lightbox/

Black and White weekend wanderings in San Francisco

This weekend’s ‘out and about’ results from our wanderings about the city.  The weather has been incredible with temperatures hitting 80 degrees in the Mission.  Sunday morning featured a torrential downpour that lasted about 5 minutes that had us seeking cover inside the Whole Foods at 17th and Rhode Island, but the rain was soon on its way elsewhere and we continued our walk.

Destinations included the Coffee Bar on Bryant (http://www.coffeebarsf.com/bryant-st), Trick Dog (http://www.trickdogbar.com/) and Front Coffee (www.frontsf.com).  Enjoy!

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His friends were late, or he was early.

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Caitlin at Trick Dog

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A laugh, Valencia Street

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Illuminated, Coffee Bar

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Precision, Front Coffee

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Discount Socks, Front Coffee