The Austin SMUG learns about street photography!
The Austin SMUG held their meeting with discussions on street photography with local Austin photographer, Gary Gumanow. We had a record number of RSVPs and a great group of enthusiastic photographers who met at the Parish Hall of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Austin. A couple of Gary’s friends even came down from Dallas.
Gary himself started photography at the age of 8 with his Kodak Brownie. By age 10, Gary spent time in the dark room with his father developing rolls of film. But sometime later, as life got busy, Gary stopped, but in 2004, he began again. Initially lured back in by digital photography industry, Gary realized that it lacked the tactile feedback that he craved. Black and white film is his medium of choice. And although he owns a digital camera, it is his film based Leica, Rolleiflex or Hasselblad cameras that he shoots with. Today, he has his own dark room where he develops and prints all his film.
Master photographers such as Elliot Erwitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander are his influences. Gary learns by observing, studying the photographs of others, and his own contact sheets. He likes and wants to create photographs that make you think “How did that happen?” He looks for images that suspend disbelief. He asks the question “Where’s the monkey?” What is the catch, what is the hook, or what makes the image interesting? He looks for irony.
While being an “old-fashioned” film photographer, Gary loves and has embraced social media, especially Flickr. He has made friends and contacts from around the world and likes to meet them in person when he travels. And the images on Flickr have also influenced his artistic direction. Back in 2004, Gary was primary a Urban Landscape photographer, creating black and white, square images with this Rolleiflex. He likes to find and document artistry, irony, and bad design in the urban, concrete jungle. However, Gary was frustrated by the people inevitably captured in his photographs that would impede on his urban composition.
In time and with influences from his Flickr artists and the masters, Gary came to realize that people in the urban fabric were not bad and actually made for great subjects. Initially, he approached street photography in a timid way by shooting from the hip. He admits to being really nervous. Over time, and with practice, he came to realize that you need to shoot from the viewfinder. You can’t be timid with street photography. You can’t shoot from afar with a telephoto. You need to have a wide-angle and get up close to your subjects.
Gary suggests using a small, quick camera with a non-zooming wide-angle lens. He shoots with a Leica M6 and a 28mm f2.8. He does not like shooting from the back of people or shooting people with sunglasses. Seeing the person’s face and their expression is key. Shooting passing shots, shooting from far away or streets without people also don’t interest him.
Gary’s passion for photography, and the street photography genre in particular, was very enticing. The audience had a great time and they really appreciated learning about the history, the practical How-Tos and art of a well shot street scene. There was laughter and real sense of enjoyment exploring this art of capturing that perfect split second.
While Andy enjoys different types of photography, he is the most passionate about urban landscapes and architecture, especially at dusk or at night. He shoots with an assortment of Olympus Digital Pen cameras, a Sony NEX-5 and a Canon 7D.