Around town / Auckland in the spring (August, 2012)
Our incredibly rainy and colder-than-usual winter weather has finally broken, and we’ve had a steady string of warmer, sunnier days, which means that the main topic of conversation among passing acquaintances on elevators and at coffee shops is how it’s great that the sun is out and spring is just around the corner (usually accompanied by some kind of “Thank god!” punctuated with sighs of relief).
Because most of the past four months has been a steady diet of this:
But which has now happily morphed into this:
The warmer weather has also brought the street performers back to Queen Street, the main tourist drag in central Auckland. During the winter, the street musicians and novelty acts mostly pack it up and keep it at home, with the occasional exception of a shivering guitarist on a cold weekend.
So when the sun came out, I took a spin around the Queen Street area this past Thursday and Friday where I caught a street musician singing Rat Pack songs into an old-school microphone and fielding the occasional (albeit unusual) request for a photo-op with the tourists:
Even the singer was caught slightly off-guard by the request for a photo, and found the whole interaction highly amusing.
And then there’s the card trick guy, who brought his folding table back to the street to hustle for some attention and spare change.
I don’t usually do street photography, but I’m hoping to start engaging in more of it this year — to hopefully start capturing what makes my neighbourhood “My Neighbourhood”.
Street photography takes a whole different kind of attitude and approach that I’m not yet accustomed to — what I want is for street pictures to be spontaneous, but I find that when I raise my camera to focus on a subject, spontaneity is often the first thing that flees the scene, resulting in subjects who (if they’re aware of my camera — and it’s a pretty big camera and lens I carry around, so yes, they’re 99% aware when I hold it up to my face) can be noticeably confused or uncomfortable about it.
“Who are you? Why are you taking a picture of me? What is this for?” are questions that fly across some facial expressions in rapid order.
I have to figure out a way of either smoothing that over beforehand, or simply working through and past it with a kind of brazen confidence.
One experienced street photographer recommended a good pair of running shoes for when brazen confidence isn’t enough, though a quick smile and thumbs-up is said to be all it takes to disarm the occasional cranky reaction.
For a discussion of “Yes, fine, it’s photography, but is it art?”, see: Why street photography is facing a moment of truth