Some of you might remember my journal entry from last year’s Make Music Day, when I first tried my hand at some street work. While I like the photos I took, they weren’t quite what I wanted. Over the course of a year I’ve branched out a bit with my style in general and tried a few times to figure out street photography, but it didn’t really *click* until I watched this video by Andrew Kearns (@andrewtkearns) with Joe Greer (@ioegreer/@ioestreet) about the subject. The video completely inspired me to try it again and not get discouraged when I don’t get “the shot.” I don’t live in a bustling, diverse city like New York, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t worthwhile moments to catch.
I’ve been following Joe on Instagram for quite a while and it’s easy for me to say he’s one of my favorite photographers. His street work is incredible, his portraits are soO good, and his film shots liiiterally make my mouth drop open. I sometimes even let out a little involuntary groan because he’s THAT. GOOD.
I’d been feeling generally uninspired for a few months, only capturing a few shots I liked here and there with my DSLR. There has definitely been a lull in my creativity lately because I just didn’t like what I was creating.
This lull lasted until about two weeks ago when I decided to start shooting with a Kodak Retina Automatic III I received for my 19th birthday. She is so cute and I love her. She’s a rangefinder and has an automatic light meter and a low f/2.8 aperture and I think she’s beautiful. I filled two rolls of film (that have yet to be developed, so the photos might be trash, who knows?) and then the focus ring somehow got stuck and can’t focus on subjects further than 4 ft away. Once I get the photos developed I’ll decide if I want to try to get her fixed, but I’m not sure at this point.
Long story short, my Kodak made me excited to take photos again! For two weeks I was stoked each time I could take her outside and people watch. I discovered I really enjoyed capturing little aspects of life, from sunlight hitting a house just right to strangers eating lunch downtown.
Cue the video with Andrew and Joe. Hearing Joe talk so passionately about street photography (and seeing how easy it could be with my iPhone) made me realize how badly I wanted to add to the archives of everyday history. With this new drive, I grabbed my Kodak and my phone and walked around downtown for Make Music Day 2018. The next day, I took some photos at a rummage sale. The next, Saturday Market.
I was really stoked to use my Kodak for street photography, so when it broke, I was pretty disappointed. I actually went home and moped around for the rest of the day because it felt like all of my ambitions were crushed. But oddly enough, because of my moping, I realized how badly I wanted to keep doing street photography. I hadn’t felt that drive to create in way too long.
I ended up searching Google for other film cameras I could snag off of eBay or semi-wide lenses I could use with my Canon Rebel 2000 (my EF 40mm f/2.8 came in the mail today and I am way too stoked to use it). Doing this little bit of research has definitely resulted in a list of film cameras I want to get my hands on in the future.
During the Googling process, I also remembered one of my other favorite street photographers, Vivian Maier (if you haven’t seen any of her work, I strongly suggest looking through her portfolios. She has a really interesting story too; she was a nanny in Chicago with a secret obsession with photography. There’s even a documentary about her). Looking through her photos legitimately almost made me cry. There’s so much detail, emotion, history, and mystery in each of her photos, and her eye for composition inspires me to no end.
So even though my Kodak is broken and I’m really sad about it, I can’t remember the last time I felt this inspired and happy with the photos I’m taking. I know the style is something very different from what I’m used to (and what other people are used to seeing from me), but it’s something I truly love and want to continue improving.