On July 6, I went out with Scott Malo and Alvin Paringit to photograph the streets of Calgary, and the exhibition grounds of the Calgary Stampede, along with a group of others who were interested to learn, and go out in a group to shoot. We started out stymied by a voracious Alberta storm, so in good spirits tucked into a neighbourhood pub for an excellent butter chicken, and a good talk about street photography. The photographers began first in our shop, showing images that they have produced at the Stampede. Both using many of the same techniques to capture, they went quickly through their images, concentrating less on the varieties of different cameras, lenses, or shooting styles, but focusing more on editing, and selection.
“Street Photography” is a strange subject for both of the photographers, since they acknowledge the great power of an image shot in the street, but we also talked about constructed scenes, working with larger formats, and to a degree, their choice of weapons. Scott was working with the digital version of the Leica MD, a camera that forces the photographer to wait to upload their images to see them, thus replicating some of the elements of working with film. Alvin was also shooting a digital Leica, his mounted with a 28mm lense, so critical in the work of the great Garry Winogrand.
We got out once the weather relented and got to shooting with a group of twenty disbanding and going different directions to photograph for the evening. I struggle with this form now, many years ago I worked hyperfocusing and capturing in this style, but slowly my pictures have changed to nearly all vertical frames, often very composed. It is hard to shoot portrait orientation and not draw much attention to oneself with your elbow out as you look through the viewfinder! If you look through the viewfinder… Many street photographers see that as a bad habit…
The night revealed an incredible sky of mammatus clouds, and a hew of soft, orange and pink light covered everything. Alvin got me with an off-camera flash (another great street technique, used by Mark Cohen, and Bruce Gilden), and got a keeper, and I was glad to oblige!
We ended the night with one of the remaining shooters, a brilliant tech trainer with more knowledge of tendencies in social media than anyone I have ever met. We all talked about the repertoire of cameras and techniques that add to the total sum of photography today (she had been shooting all night with an iPhone). There is no one right way. We agreed, the camera (whatever it is) serves the purpose of communicating a feeling in a picture.
You should check out Scott and Alvin’s work, captured at the “greatest outdoor show on earth”, and other places: