POV Street Photography Video: My First Crack At It

I first came across them a couple years ago on YouTube: so-called “POV” videos from street photographers who had mounted a small video camera (GoPro, iPhone, etc.) atop their main camera while they shot in the streets.

As someone who had never met a street photographer in person and was still a little confused about the genre, it was fascinating to get a glimpse of how someone else went about it—particularly seeing a wider, before-and-after view of the ‘raw material’ from which they were producing the end results.

So, without further ado, here’s my first crack at it.

The Setup

I purchased a Polaroid Cube for the purpose; not only is it adorably small, but it’s handily magnetic at the bottom. So, all I had to do was place it on top of the shoe mount on my Panasonic Lumix G6, and I was ready to record my prowl. Please bear with me, as this was the first time. I can definitely can get better about the technique and figuring out exactly what I want to accomplish with the end product—input appreciated!

However, I thought this was worth sharing with the objective of revealing how I go about shooting in Chicago, and also using certain events that occurred as points worth fleshing out. I’ve made a three-point list below meant as a companion piece with the video.

That said, I chose these six to highlight not so much for their inherent photographic value (I’m not sure any of these I’d share as posts to Instagram or Flickr), but for the intent of showing diverse scenarios that capture interaction and perhaps to which I could tie a point. Hope you enjoy!

POV Street Photography Video: Capturing Chicago In The Loop

#1: Don’t Take Shit

Don’t take shit from people. When I read advice for street photography, I mostly read about always smiling, giving a compliment and generally acting like your the subject’s valet. By no means am I advocating for being rude or overly aggressive as a shooter. I simply apply the same standard for myself that I do in the rest of life: be friendly and nice, but if someone isn’t in return … don’t take shit.

“That’s gonna cost you.” In fact, it won’t.

For more confrontational interactions like this, my goal is always to keep my cool, diffuse the situation while not backing down, and move along quickly to the next potential shot. This is photography, not Fight Club, after all.

You can see that he reaches out toward me. Nuh-huh. I’ve had people swing at me and push me. Once, a guy knocked my camera from my hands and seriously damaged it. I learned my lesson. I either have my camera strapped to my wrist or around my neck, and if I don’t for whatever reason (see the last situation here), I immediately do so after the shot.

Ultimately, the woman laughed and smiled at my retort. But, like I said, I always want to move along quickly, so as not to miss the next shot …

#2: Move Along

Which came literally seconds afterward. I can never remind myself enough to stay present and ready for the next shot, because you never know when opportunity will present itself.

If I had lingered at the last situation to argue or explain myself, I would have missed this guy, wonderfully bespectacled and eye-patched. Look, in a couple years, I may look back at it as sophomoric; but, right now, if you’ve got an eye patch, I’m gettin’ in there.

Pirate joke, anyone?

You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t see.@cpplunkett

I think it was Michael Jordan who said, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” (Nope, it was Wayne Gretzky. This one was MJ.) Well, you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t see because your chimping or picking your nose or both. As the All-American Rejects sang (oh God, I’m doing this reference, yep, really doing it), “move along.”

#3: Shoot Blind

It’s a technique photojournalists have long used when on the outside of a tight scrum of other photographers hounding, say, the winning quarterback after the Super Bowl. Hold your camera above your head and shoot without seeing through the viewfinder or LCD screen.

Newsboy caps never went out of style, my friend.

For news shooters, it was simply a way to get an unobstructed view of the subject. For street photography, it can used for strategic effect. In this case, it allowed me to maximize the surface area of the man’s denim cap (my point of interest), and also ensure that the shadows from said cap covered his eyes (which I think increases the dramatic tension). It’s definitely a skill that requires practice to gain the repeatable feel to ensure accuracy.

Always be ready to see the next shot .. but don’t be afraid to shoot blind!

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