Having had a go a bit of ‘street photography’ on a recent trip to Amsterdam, I discovered that it is actually quite hard. The biggest problem is trying to be discreet when you’re 6ft 4 and carrying a fairly chunky DSLR camera.
Most of the time I tried communicating that I wanted to take a picture by pointing at my camera, then pointing at the proposed subject and then giving a thumbs up or down. This tactic didn’t go down too well. Some google advice and a coffee later I found out that a lot of street photographers just point and shoot without the worry of having to attain some form of permission. What the blogs hadn’t told me was how to deal with threatening situations.
Picture this scene (pun intended), a typically beautiful canal with some great sunlight, the buzz of a crowd nearby, rows of bikes and boats floating by; as I raise my camera to try and capture something interesting, just behind me I hear “OYE, OYEH!! YOU! YOU! YOU!! HERE NOW.” in an incredibly thick (I’m guessing now) greek accent. I turn around to see a man on a red bike, who is now dismounting and heading in my direction; I ignore him and continue to take some pictures.
“SHOW ME. NOW!”, he says. I replied with a very calm “ok”. As he’s scrolling through the images on my camera I’m asking him what he’s looking for; “WHERE ME?” he repeats over and over again (I’m writing his dialogue in capitals as he is genuinely shouting everything). I don’t know why he thought I’d taken a picture of him, especially as he was directly behind me but he seemed adamant that he’d find something. After plenty more scrolling the man starts shouting “MY TOWN, MY TOWN; YOU CAN’T TAKE PICTURE IN MY TOWN”.
Now I’m really irate, I start to clench my fist and sling my camera over my shoulder just in case; I responded with “Don’t be so bloody daft..” which couldn’t have sounded any more posh if I had tried. As we have a mini staring competition, he finally says “YOU GET OUT OF HERE, NOW!”. I slowly walk away and glance back occasionally to check he’s not following me.
Barring that one incident, I found Amsterdam an amazing city; there’s a fair bit going on, and it isn’t short of gorgeous backdrops so you’re bound to take some good pictures. You can find some of my attempts below. I’ve started to adopt a heavily desaturated character in my images, sometimes editing them to create an almost hazy or dreamy like quality; I think I might make that my ‘thing’.
I’m not sure if the street style is for me yet, I feel like I still need a bit more control and have the ability to engineer a situation rather than try to catch one instantaneously. Maybe this will improve given time, and maybe it’s also an excuse to buy a slightly more sleek or mirrorless camera body; but I’ll have to start earning some serious wedge before that sort of investment.
Hope you enjoy the images!
All images are copyrighted © by Karandeep Singh Bhogal. The use or reprinting of any image from this site is prohibited unless prior written permission from the artist is obtained.