Today’s image is another made with the Fuji XF 56mm F/1.2 that doesn’t really have any components that are unique to the X-T2, so I’d like to continue my temporary deviation from “reviewing” the X-T2 to discussing longer focal lengths in street photography.
I subscribe to the excellent FujiLove Magazine, and one article in the June edition stopped me in my tracks: Searching for Saul – The Street @ 90 and Other Thoughts by Patrick La Roque. In this article, La Roque writes the following about his discovery of Saul Leiter’s work:
Some encounters are like bolts of lightning, electrifying our core, while others comfort us, reassuring us we’re on a path that may actually lead to a destination. For me this was both.
La Roque goes on to discuss his experiences shooting street photography with a long lens (the Fuji XF 90mm F/2) and muted colors (Classic Chrome) in the style of the legendary Leiter. And in a way, my discovery of La Roque’s article had a similar effect on me as his discovery of Leiter’s work had on him.
I struggle a lot with shooting on the streets. I come from a background of landscape photography, where scouting the location and being willing to leave for an 8 mile hike at 2AM at freezing temperatures is the majority of the battle. Taking the picture itself does require some skill, but determining the subject is relatively easy. Shooting on the streets is completely different. No amount of preparation is sufficient, and simply showing up doesn’t come anywhere close to guaranteeing success.
On the streets, I often come back to the question: What is my subject? Answering that is hard enough, but if I’m lucky enough to find an answer, I’m often stumped by the follow-up question: How do I tell the story of this subject when there’s all this other crap in the way?
Saul Leiter’s work transcends these questions. He’s at home translating the complexities of our 3D world – its depth, its shapes, its colors – into two-dimensional artistic masterpieces. For evidence of this, one need look no further than this image.
Seeing La Roque emulate Leiter and produce his own magnificent work inspired me to undertake my urban minimalism project. I’m still fleshing out what exactly I’m trying to do with this project, but at its core I’m trying to find my own way to answer those two maddening street photography questions above. Right now, I’m answering these questions in a basic way by literally isolating my subjects. Some day, however, I hope to answer those questions using more sophisticated techniques in the spirit of Leiter and La Roque.
If any of the above comments piqued your interest, I’d encourage you to try to pick up a copy of Patrick La Roque’s article in the June edition of FujiLove. La Roque’s website is also worth checking out, as is anything by Saul Leiter.