Six in sixty and one-twenty


Pictures are made, not found.

I’m a street snapper. Nothing is more perfect than going out on a busy street and catching those special moments.

The other day I read a piece by a writer trashing famous photographers. Most of his targets were deserving victims – the cruel and exploitative Dianne Arbus, the execrable Gary Winogrand and (no adjectives needed) Ansel Adams. But one inclusion on his list said he does not get street snapping. That photographer was HC-B. The writer castigated the genre claiming that no one in the modern world has time any more to wait around for hours for the subject to ‘present itself’. Which is why he does not get it. Busy checking his iPhone, no doubt.

This is simply not consonant with the working method for street snappers.

When I take to the streets it’s with a single minded focus on nothing but taking pictures. If I’m distracted or not totally concentrated on the task in hand the results are invariably garbage. Focus must be total. The world’s problems do not so much fade as they completely disappear. Do two things at once and you will do them badly, which is why there are no successful multi-taskers. Confusing motion with action is not a winning formula.

While hurry in this genre is never an issue – words like stroll, meander, ramble, dawdle, linger, and contemplate come to mind – when the moment ‘presents itself’ you have to be there and ready. The quick and the dead.

So here are six snaps taken in sixty yards and twice as many seconds the other day on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco. The result of much moseying and savoring and intense focus.







All snapped on the Nikon D700 with the 20mm f/3.5 Ai-S MF lens at f/8. In 120 seconds. Or less.