Patience really is a virtue in terms of street style photography for me, as well as the subject in front of my lens: No matter how quickly I stop someone and they’re ready to be shot, it often takes much longer for me to feel I’ve shown the subject in the best light possible (literally and figuratively) and to be 100% satisfied with the images I’ve captured. On top of that, a three hour jaunt around the city sometimes only results in finding one subject! It’s really a test of patience on both ends of the spectrum.
There’s usually something that grabs me about a person–that makes me want to look a bit longer; inspires me to shoot her. Take for example, this girl Shine. I noticed her at the end of a block in SoHo. It was the brightly patterned strap of her purse that first caught my eye–then I noticed the rest of her outfit. It was effortlessly cool: The high waisted shorts with the loose boyfriend shirt tucked in (which actually was her boyfriend’s), the chunky-heeled boots, and the brightness of her purse worn across her chest against the neutral colors of her outfit. Street style perfection.
Personally, when I shoot, I edit in my head–not a computer. If I see someone I want to shoot, I know then and there that I have to make the entire picture work. Because of this, I’d say about 99% of the time, I end up using the photos I take. When I spot someone, I only have about 3.5 seconds to stop them. Then there’s the time crunch that happens setting up and capturing the shot. Surprisingly (not!), most people are on their way somewhere and don’t have an hour to pose for me–though I sometimes wish they did! So composing the photo in my head quickly is a must.
But back to Shine. When I stopped her, the sun was shining very brightly across the street. I knew that was the spot. I initially wanted her to be backlit, so I ask her to stand in the street with the sun at her back. From there, I moved around her with my lens and took a couple of shots and decided right away that actually, the shot would work better with her standing against a brick wall. I don’t usually pose people–instead, I’ll ask that they stand in a certain spot to match the vision in my head. And that’s where the magic happens–it was all about the way Shine naturally leaned against the stone wall, the way her shirt sleeve fell over her left hand, the way the sun highlighted her hair, the folds in her oversized shirt. Those are the types of touches that personalize and make a photo you can’t plan. So when the right moment presents itself, I feel inspired to get snapping–and to inevitably ask ‘just one more?’–until I’m completely satisfied with what I’ve captured.