Some thoughts about street photography

see into the light

See into the light

I am thinking about street photography.  I understand about life in cities and people is important to have a reference of scale so when the composition ask it I introduce people in public spaces in the photograph. For example in this first photograph… Could you have a sense of the size of the door without the couple?

Caress of afternoon light

Caress of afternoon light

In Peru, Chile and Bolivia there is no problem in shooting in the public space of the street. It’s the space for everybody so the same way I take photographs of others I discovered others shot photographs of me. I never could forbid nobody in the street to have photographs about me, the same way I couldn’t forbid nobody to shot the façade of the buildings I designed because I designed them precisely as a contribution to the public and shared space of the city. Of course there are limits and I try that the person is not totally clear, because I’m not focused in persons but the happenings of the city.

In search of the unknown

In search of the unknown

The life in the highlands, the coast and the jungle is quite different. Usually population in touristic cities are used to photographs, commercial cities instead are the less welcome to photographs. In any case I can say that in Peru, Bolivia and Chile is allowed to take photographs in any public space.



But I understand it’s not a universal way to see things. I know in continental Europe and in Quebec laws forbid photography of people, even in public space. If I would visit those places certainly I would respect the law and save my camera, but I don’t understand why the citizens of those countries have not the same problem when they visit my country and are happy to shot, as it’s nothing wrong really, every person, especially the ones with more typical costumes. Also I see their albums and they are proud to shot people in Japan or India…



So this is my thought. In my way to think, to feel, to express, (and according to the law of the countries I have visited and the one where I live) I know I’m doing well. I considered to delete, modify or don’t post street photography for the readers of the sensible countries but this is not a magazine. This is a personal diary, and I need to be faithful and true to myself.

I hope you can appreciate in my photographs and words how is a world different to yours, in the same way I learn from the yours. But if it’s against what your heart and mind consider correct and you are not going to change your mind then my best suggestion is to leave my space, as always honored for your time towards what I write and show. Nothing more.

color in the white world

Color in the white world

If there is an idea I try to express is my feeling that in cities we tend to be actually alone. The crowds and the cities make us living around several interactions, but in the end they reinforce our will to be ourselves. Certainly cities reinforce that will on me. In the highlands I try to live close to hills or mountains, in the coast close to the sea…

mural painted with reflections

Mural painted with reflections

There is an almost funny feeling of solitude contrasting with the idea that we walk regularly with the same people in the way to work or studies. What is more accentuated in this time where we cannot get a word with the passenger next to us without being seen as perverts but we wake up passions with the stranger that we “knew” in internet. But although sometimes it’s real mostly that’s an illusion: here we are just chains of letters. The person next to you in the street is more real.

doubt at afternoon

About shadows and thoughts

When I take these photographs I think in Hopper’s oeuvre. The reflexive loneliness of the persons. They way they never get to make eye contact closing their souls around themselves.

We sell colors

We sell colors

In Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino I also feel that strange life that is the life in the city. A carnival where people of every kind is mixed and the traditions and routines make us forget that perhaps some of the things we do aren’t healthy or logical. For example one of the reasons I don’t see my University former mates is because the meetings have to be done drinking several bottles of beer… but it’s the life in cities.

is it truth

Is it truth?

And I like to think in cities as living animals, giant and living according to their own rhythm. Indifferent to the little and ephemeral people moving around their bodies.

Time to go.

nice day for a walk

nice day for a walk

36 thoughts on “Some thoughts about street photography

  1. Well said, Francis. And as usual, beautiful photos. Also, nice slogans to accompany them :D very thoughtful, thought-provoking.
    (Also agree with you about living in cities.. hehe)…

  2. I really love street photography but to me, it’s difficult. I’m scared to take pictures of people… I’m scared of their reaction. Will they be mad at me ? Do you have that feeling sometimes when you press the shutter ? A rush of adrenaline and hoping they haven’t seen you ?

    1. This is the secret, just smile :-) if you show confidence they aren’t going to think you are doing something wrong. And try to take the picture as if you would doing something casual or taking the building or surroundings and not them directly. And also is important to know your limits… for example places with commerciants in non touristic places, banks or military buildings can be dangerous places to take photographs.

      1. I know and I agree :-) actually I don’t focus in people but in the story they are part in the city, for that there aren’t close ups of the faces in my post. I have a friend that blur the faces in an artistic way, so it conserves the expression (doubt, reflexiveness) but not the detail or identy of the person, that could help you, if you have time I strongly suggest you to see here a bit of her truly amazing and beautiful work :-)
        I understand the law forbid in UK to take pictures without consent if you are going to sell them. Otherwise it’s okay.

  3. People who move to the cities prefer privacy, I think. You’re just one of a great number, and there’s a lovely sense of anonymity. There are no secrets in a small community. I guess some people see having their photo taken as a loss of that anonymity, even though they’re just a part of the scenery.
    I would say, ‘Get over yourself, my photo is not about you!’
    Well, I’d like to be able to say that someday….right now I’m too polite.
    Keep taking lovely street photos, Francis! Besos!

    1. Thank you, Melissa ^^
      I remember very well your experiment in Ecuador. And I also agree about the differences among big cities and small communities.
      It’s nice to be polite :-)
      Besos :p

  4. The pictures that caught my attention more are “In search of the unknown” and “Doves”…and also the one title “contemplating”… If I could choose which picture I would like to be in, or be the persona of, it would absolutely be that one…

    1. That’s a good choice, the lady is preparing the land for another sowing. Her eyes from time to time are looking at the past :-) or at least that was what I though for her way to make a pause seeing nothing in special.

      1. Thank you, Inese… I’ll take advantage to say… there is an error on WordPress, I cannot see all of your comments in my notifications, I have to see them in my mail… is strange. It’s quite late there, wishing you a nice dream :)

      2. Is both, the comments I haven’t liked you are the ones I cannot see… I have to go to the administrator of my blog to answer you. Thanks for your comprenssion, Inese. I would feel pretty bad if you could think I’m being rude with you :(

      3. No, you are not, I just trying to figure out what can go wrong… What was about that ‘liking’? I think I didn’t understand, could you write that again?

      4. For example I have just “liked” your comment (click in a star with the tag “like”) but those are the ones I can see in my notification panel. The rest of your comments just appear in my mail and in my wordpress administrator section, I can reply you from there but there is no option to clike “like” So if you see some of your comments I have not clicked “like” is because they didn´t appear in my notification panel :/

      5. Oh you don’t have to ‘like’ my comments :) I do it just as a habit, or when there is nothing more to say.
        Now I got it. So you just see some of my comments… Now it is almost 4am here, I will do my investigation tomorrow. I will check my mail too. It is all very strange.

  5. “..cities as living animals, giant and living according to their own rhythm. Indifferent to the little and ephemeral people moving around their bodies.” : ) And to think that.. it is exactly these “ephemeral people” who.. build them. Impressive imagery, again. ^_^ Wonderful post. Francis. I liked the.. Doves photo. And the.. Nice day for a walk.. caption. n_n

  6. To be honest, I don’t know exactly. I don’t usually take photos of people. But when I somehow do take photos in the street, people are somewhere in the background, so I don’t think they mind. But now, that you asked.. I think it is interesting, and important, and I’m going to check. Thank you for asking. : )
    Your posts, in general, are so full of interesting and useful things. All presented in such an enjoyable way.. I always feel I have gained an important insight on some aspects, after reading them. And looking at the photos. ^_^ Thank you.

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