10.26.2011

Lonely hunter. Better hunt.

 I did a trip to Paris solely to take photographs for myself back in 1992.   That sounds selfish but I didn't have any children to take care of and my wife was enmeshed in a busy career as an art director for a prosperous advertising agency.  I was approached by Agfa that year to be a tester for their line of APX films and I requested a case of their 100 speed film and another of their 400 speed film.  They asked me where I wanted to photograph and I said, "Paris."  A month later, in late October, I was there with a camera bag full of new Canon EOS lenses and a couple of camera bodies.  Oh, and a big shopping bag full of black and white film.

I have a Friend who is French and lives in Paris.  We've hosted his family and his kids here in Austin a number of times.  When I travel to Paris I stay in a small "maid's apartment" above his home in one of the central arrondissmonts.  The apartment is near the top of the building and is very spare.  Just a shower, a sink and a bed.  But what more do you need?  My friend is like a lifeguard at a pool.  When I visit he tells me what has changed and what's remained the same.  Areas to avoid and areas to visit.  While he is always busy with work and a family we make time for one really nice dinner when I visit.

On this trip I spent every day doing much the same thing:  I would get up early and have coffee and a small breakfast at the cafe around the corner.  I stood at the counter.  My order was always the same:  cafe au lait and a croissant.  Then I would put a 50mm lens on one EOS-1 (the original Canon pro AF body) and an 85mm 1.2 on the other and I'd head out into the streets just to hunt for fun images.  I'd stop for lunch at the Fauchon cafe or duck into McDonald's on the Champs Elysee when I'd get nostalgic for American haute cuisine.  In the evenings I'd connect with American friends who were temporarily living in Paris and we'd go out to neighborhood restaurants.  It was always an adventure.

On that trip I shot thru 100 rolls of ISO 100 and 100 rolls of ISO 400 APX.  When I got back to Austin I sent all of the film to BWC photo lab in Dallas and they developed it and made contact sheets, courtesy of Agfa.  I still look through the notebooks I put together, pull negatives and make scans of new favorites.

But until I did this trip on my own I had always traveled with, first my parents, then my college girl friend and finally, with my wife.  And in all those scenarios photography takes a back seat to the social appeasement of travelling with people and spending time with them.  You might want to wander aimlessly but the other person or people you are travelling with might have an agenda.  A list of museums to visit and stores to shop in.  They want to ride on the Bateaux Mouche and climb the Eiffel Tower.  Try as they might they don't really understand your desire to walk around, stop, turnaround, click the shutter, walk ten feet and then do it all over again.  Friction arises.

I must say that Belinda is the best traveling companion any photographer could ever want.  She can be totally autonomous.  I'll wake up and ask her what she wants to do when we visit a foreign city and she already has two itineraries devised.  One if I am tagging along and one if I'm not.  If it's the latter option we make plans to meet up for supper.  

But in 1992 it was up to me, continuously.  These were the days before the internet so there was no need to "check in."  No compulsive e-mail checking.  No silly/obnoxious tweets.  And no cellphone either.  I could go days without speaking to anyone I knew and that was cool because it concentrated my attention onto taking photographs or getting myself into position to take photographs.  I came to know the feel of the EOS-1 in a way that I can barely fathom now.  It was an amazing camera. (But this is certainly not a camera review!!!)

Here's what I learned:  If you want to do photography at a level that really satisfies your soul and your ego you'll need to do it alone.  Forget having the spouse or girlfriend or best friend or camera buddy tagging along.  Forget the whole sorry concept of the "photo walk" which does nothing but engender homogenization and "group think."  Leave all electronics in your hotel room.  Cut off all communications, during the day, from or to the "real world" and immerse yourself in the hunt for images.  Learn what makes your brain salivate and why.  Learn to operate that camera by braille. And make your decisions based on what your inner curator wants you to say.

Everything else is just play time bullshit. 


None of your non-photographer friends will understand, and that's okay.  Your real photographer friends will either be jealous or nodding their heads in appreciative approval because they've been there. When you see the world unfold in front of you, unencumbered by the social construct of the group, you become freed to see differently and make different decisions about what you'll photograph and why.  In the end you'll come home with intensely personal photographs.  Quirky photographs.  Powerful photographs.


Many of you will throw your hands up and complain that you have kids and obligations and can't possibly get away by yourself.  Others will whine that "their spouse would never let me go to Paris without them."  But you only get one life.  If you have a spouse like that you might think about a quick divorce.  If you have kids you might think about the example you are showing them.  That life is the adventure and you either sit at home and watch or you get up and participate.

When my son was six months old I had the opportunity to go to Rome to shoot in the streets for ten days with free film provided by Kodak.  I was out the door as soon as I could find my passport.  My wife is a strong person who doesn't need my constant presence for validation.  She was thrilled for my opportunity and again I came home with images I love.  Make the time.  Go out to shoot.

I know people who will only travel on tours or cruises.  They are missing out on so much.  It's like being guided through paradise with a blindfold on.  


My favorite story from the Paris trip in 1992 was when my friend's wife took me to lunch.  She met me somewhere near their home with her Vespa, handed me a helmet and stuck me on the back and then zoomed through the streets like something out of a movie chase scene.  I was riding "bitch" on the back and terrified.  We parked on a sidewalk and went through an ancient pedestrian corridor to a restaurant that I'd never be able to find again.  The table tops were covered with white butcher paper and the waiters would come by and ask what we wanted and then mark it in pencil on the paper.  If we ordered wine that would go on the paper.  The meal was incredible but even more incredible was the people watching in the ancient dining room.  Professional waiters addressing the kitchen.  Lovers leaning over the table to share a kiss.  Business men in dark suits sharing bottles of wine over boisterous lunches.  And me, clicking away with the 85mm.

My lunch companion asked me what I'd like to see that afternoon.  I said, "Paris."  And she kissed me on the cheek and left in a puff of smoke.  I headed out to see more.  Always just a little bit more.  


What do I do with all these images?  I look at them.  I remember my feelings of "thought" freedom from traveling unecumbered.  And I incorporate the feelings of freedom, from time to time,  in whatever work I am doing at the moment.


It's important to travel outside your usual visual space. Outside your cultural comfort zone.  Outside your social network/safety net.  It's important to learn to be comfortable by yourself.  Many psychological studies point to the power that groups have to subtly and even unconsciously push you into conforming.  Into synchronizing into the pattern of the group.  If you want to express an individual vision you have to become individual.  There's no other way to do it.

And if you want to take images just like everyone else, and tag along with everyone else, you might as well just stay at home and download some stock photography from the web.



Reject the idea of the "Photo Walk" unless it's a solo walk with your camera. 


Leave the social anchors and straight jackets at home.  There will always be another time for an inclusive family vacation.


Experience the joy of unique discovery.  More powerful in many ways than the shared experience.


And do it NOW before your life has passed you by and you regret the choices you never made.

Cameras may change but the hunt goes on, unabated.  Don't wait for all the stars to line up.
Don't wait for the lottery.  We feel richer from our experiences than from any item we buy.
It's just our human nature.






79 comments:

Daniel said...

Inspiring.

Tofuphotography said...

So true. My best photos come when I am alone and wandering around a strange city

John Taylor said...

Awesome, wonderful images and a very nice rant on getting out there and doing it! I've always maintained that my favorite passtime is getting sidetracked, its so much easier to do on your own.

Marino Mannarini said...

Kirk, you can be powerful when you strike this cord!
These film BW are just soaked with feeling and passion, and this is what makes them strong, and makes you want to look at them over and over again, '
'cause each time they speak anew.
I've been there, and again, you couldn't be more right on (as you often do!)
Thanks for sharing.
Marino

Marino Mannarini said...

BTW, if you let me, may I say that it looks like you need another Paris shooting tour, maybe with your new Hasselblad and a bag of triX?

Poagao said...

It was like that when I visited Tokyo in early 2008. Magic. My best trips have been by myself, and my friends seem to pick up on that. Unfortunately, they seem to think they can get in on the fun by coming along, blissfully unaware that they're preventing the very thing they seek. And I'm as much to blame for letting it happen, alas.

Paul said...

My technique when traveling with the family is to get up early and take photos, meet up with the family for breakfast and spend the day with them, if I'm lucky take more photos late in the day. Any photos during the middle of the day are a bonus and tend to be mostly family snapshots.
It's a real shame I don't need much sleep and the best time for photography is often early in the day.

mactheweb said...

YES!

Shrinked Immaculate said...

Inspiring is t5he word that comes to mind. It has been used before but doesnt hurt to say it again. Inspiring and beautiful.

AlexG said...

My wife walks through strange cities with me never questioning my need to take photographs. I can wander this way or that with never a wine or a moan, she only ever wants to see one or two sights and mostly they are galleries. I have the perfect traveling partner she even makes sure I have spare clothes as I would pack cameras and film but totally forget socks.

orcasmac said...

Inspirational!

Not too long ago, I started planning a solo trip for photography for next spring (not to Paris or Rome, tho). After reading this entry, I definitely feel I'm on the right track.

Thanks!

vintagedesignsmith said...

I recently took a train trip to meet my husband on a business trip (he was sick earlier in the week and no fun when he is sick and working) so I viewed it as my adventure through Union Station but decided not to shoot people as i usually do. I had fun looking for emptiness in a crowded old train station and just enjoying my interaction with the odd assortment of people on the train. http://www.flickr.com/photos/vintagedesignsmith/sets/72157627817733364/
Of course, I can only dream of Paris but how I dream!

vintagedesignsmith said...

I forgot to say how much I love these photographs and how inspiring the post is!

eoschlotz said...

Kirk, I just found your blog and I'm enjoying it. You are obviously a mature and introspective person. I related strongly to some of your comments in "Lonely Hunter". My wife is wonderful and very patient and I take a lot of photos when we are traveling, but there is an implied structure or agenda over the time. When I go out alone I feel more freedom and I give myself more "permission" to experiment and "waste time". I just did that today. We had a severe snow storm here in Colorado. I lost at least 2 trees and have limbs down all over, so I immediately grabbed my camera and went out hunting :-). It turned lemons to lemonade.

sey said...

the sense you talk is 'frightening'!!!

Dan Rosenthal said...

A wonderfully written article. Beautiful prose, gorgeous images. A perfectly inspiring way to start the day. Thank you.

cidereye said...

Superb post Kirk and bang on the money yet again. Especially when shooting street stuff a companion completely ruins your shooting and makes it impossible for the photographer to blend into the background.

My wife is quite used to being told to go off see some shops or get a coffee when we are out and about so I can roam free with camera in hand and concentrate on the mission in hand.

Saul Molloy said...

I'm intrigued by your philosophy and seemingly hard-nosed attitude to this. And your commitment. Thanks for a look at some great images, they and your approach are pretty committed, I was drawn in by the cover shot. Cheers!

Fresdy said...

Hi Kirk,
I'm French and I live in Paris since ... 1992. I didn't remember that Paris looked so "old fashion" 20 years ago.
By the way, the escalators with wooden made steps that we could meet in the subway (the first picture of your post) were all replaced years ago with more modern ones ;-)

Thanks for those nice pictures.
Freddy

Simon Lupton said...

Oh Kirk, NOW you're talking

ajnphotography said...

This last summer my wife sent me back to Newfoundland, alone.
What a journey, what a wife ! LOL

Having done it I agree with everything you said.

p4pictures said...

A great post, and something that is worth a lot of the current generation of photographers to read. The simple act of going out to explore the world through a camera is something that all of us should do regularly so that we actually see the world through our own eyes not someone elses.

Reading the post reminds me that it's been too long since I last did exactly this.

Thanks,

Brian

Kevin said...

Kirk in sports they would call it being in the zone. I think film cameras help as you are not chimping. Without chimping I find myself more engrossed in the viewfinder thinking about the next shot. Of course I have also come home with 36 lousy pictures.

John said...

Experiencing the world from the third-person omniscient perspective is rather invigorating. To remove yourself from the space you occupy and record it as it most fittingly relays itself to you, images that tell the story you all but subconsciously have written into winkles in your brain.

A damn fine feeling. :)

Jim said...

Well said. My wife is patient with my photographing when she is with me but I still work best when alone. With others I always have a subtle sense that I am the object of patience and that is enough to intrude on my connecting with what I am photographing.

Michael Meissner said...

I agree completely. I love going off on my own to photograph, particularly carrying one camera, one lens (though for me, it tends to be a zoom and not a prime), and no camera bag.

Obviously there are times when you need the 30 pound bag with multiple cameras and lenses, but I find it can get in the way. At times having too many choices can mean shuffling gear and analysis paralysis. Also for shooting street, you are much less noticed carrying a single camera and not a whole photo bag, particularly if you keep the camera down at your side or on the shoulder strap except for the few seconds when you are actively shooting.

And when you are alone, you can wait for the decisive moment in street shots. It is harder to do it when somebody is with you talking to you (though I've done it), or you are on the cell phone.

Once my daughter became old enough that we didn't have to keep her in tow on vacations, we often times each would separate and do things that interest us without having to compromise. We will do things together also to have bonding time such as between my wife and I or my daughter and I, but if I shoot, it tends to be just quick snapshots.

I don't understand families like my sisters that go everywhere in lock step (and I'm sure she doesn't understand our setup either). Last year, when my dad celebrated his 80th birthday with the whole family in Disney World, I argued that she should let her then 17 year old daughter go off on her own.

That reminds me, in 1978 I did an exchange student program in the Netherlands. I really should dig out those slides and look at them again. When I was travelling about on the trains by myself, I had somebody say to me that it was rare to see Americans travel alone, and the person thought that it was at odds with the mythos of being strong and independent that we like to claim.

I also find I talk to other people when I'm alone, while if I'm with a herd, you only talk within the herd. You meet more interesting people that way.

Finally, you mentioned in one of the previous columns about cleaning out the Element. When I bought mine, the salesman said the way to clean out the element, is just use a hose to hose it down :-)

Naomi said...

Right on.

Most people think I am nuts,because I go out alone too often for their comfort. I bring my phone, but leave it on vibrate, just to be safe if I fall down a hill or something. Like you, my spouse is quite capable of surviving without our being glued at the hip.

It is nice to go with a friend, but a fellow photographer, and one who does not need to talk or be right next to you. I've enjoyed just wandering around, and taking photos, and then meeting up at some point for a bit of review and assessment.

Totally enjoyed this post! Just wish someone would send me to Paris - je voudrais pratiquer le francais!

Orchard Light said...

Good stuff sir, good stuff.

Matt said...

Fantastic post Kirk, I'm glad you decided to keep writing.

Just for your information, for when you next visit Paris, the restaurant you refer to, that you'll never be able to find, is called Chartier. It's very famous, for the reasons you wrote about. I last ate there (lunch, with a university friend and his French girlfriend) in late 2006 can assure you it won't have changed since your visit. It's a French heritage site and, knowing the French, they won't ruin it by 'upgrading' it anytime soon.

Matt

Kman said...

your writing is an oasis in the desert of internet dribble
as this article shows

bang | Photography said...

Hi Kirk,

Thanks for that.
This is the stuff I feared the world would lose when you almost decided to stop your blog.
Some may see it as a rant but to me it's a call to action. Too many places on the internet where "photographers" congregate spout pretend originality. Where ego stroking is more important than actually saying anything with ones photographs. As you say, people serious about creating meaningful bodies of work need to work outside of these areas, unplug, switch off and remove yourself from petty distractions. Tell the stories that "you" want to tell and make photographs that say what you want them to say. Let's stop making photographs that we think others want to see and make something which may just change how they see.

Now that was a rant.

Thanks again Mr Tuck for all that you give here.

Mark Ivkovic

Ron Nabity said...

Kirk,
In addition to the well-stated ideas, this post is almost melodic. It has a wonderful flow to it, alternating between some direct comments and beautiful photographs.

I hated to see it end.

And, I think today is your birthday - if it is, have a terrific one! If it's not your birthday, then I apologize in advance for starting an internet rumor.

- Ron

Scott said...

This hits a nerve.

I dont' see your trip as "selfish" at all. I have always wanted to go to Normandy, just to be on the beaches. My wife wouldn't get it, wouldn't like it. She would be "patient", but there's no way to photograph while someone is being patient with you.

"Try as they might they don't really understand your desire to walk around, stop, turnaround, click the shutter, walk ten feet and then do it all over again. Friction arises."

No kidding.

I was in Paris last summer with my wife and another couple. I got a few good pictures, (including one of my spouse and her friend chatting and disappearing over the horizon) but we were at cross purposes, and it wasn't as much fun for anyone as it might have been.

Didn't help that it was over 90 degrees F the whole time, which I guess is unusual.

I know this post is making me sound crabby and mean, but I'm not, as a rule. Just sayin. Kirks's right.

Scott said...

Oh, I forgot: anyone who wants to buy me two cases of film and a plane ticket, my address is..................

hbernstein said...

Kirk,

Another classic post.

Brian J. Markham said...

So true in so many ways. Thank you for sharing.

Rob Grey said...

Posts like this just make me want to get out and shoot. Inspiring words and images. Thanks for sharing!

Matthew said...

Beautiful. A really beautiful post. Thank you.

James Weekes said...

Kirk,

Thank you. I no longer feel alone. My wife is a saint about my photography but even saints want to talk, share, comment and keep moving.

Ron Greer said...

Great post, I try to go to on a photo trip once a year for a week and hope to add additional yearly trips as my kids get older. Luckily my wife hates big cities.

dolan said...

Fantastic post Kirk. It's so easy to forget that you only get one go around.

I was going to suggest that the restaurant was Chartier, but another commenter beat me to it :)

Neal said...

I very much subscribe to the sentiment of this blog post.

In fact I have often "tried" to go out shooting with other people, friends, colleagues etc. My photo's always come out bland when I'm with someone else. I may stike lucky here and there but the whole social interaction seems to take away from my ability to think and see.

If I am on my own I can be truly immersed in a place or situation.

Nothing beats the feeling of being alone with only your creativity to drive you.

Jeff Damron said...

A very powerful essay and extraordinary photos.

Jim Tardio said...

Where travel is concerned, I've know several folks who put off traveling until retirement. You can guess that most of them died without ever fulfilling their travel plans.

As the late, great Edward Abbey once wrote..."seize the moment, or pay for the rest of your life in the cheap coin of regret.

Paula said...

Good advice. Several years ago I was dating another photographer and had the opportunity to go to a kewl place to shoot but he couldn't go because of work. He expected me to not go because he couldn't go. What did I do? I went because I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity. I would have regretted it if I didn't. I think I made the right decision and, we're no longer together. :)

GWC said...

one of the best and most thought-provoking posts I have read in a long time! Thank you!

Brian said...

Great article, as usual. Completely agree.

David I said...

Great story! Paris, free film, cool cameras with nice lenses, free time. Love it.

straylightdata said...

Love the images and must say I know what you talk about.. some of my best images I took while in NYC, I was there on a business trip but as happend I had almost entire day all to myself and every evening for 5 days.. besides a quick call home and speak with wifes and kids it was just me and the camera.. I probably easily walked 20miles that week, criss crossing Manhattan and even some on NJ shore side.. can't wait to do something like that again. I been to many places with kids and wife, but as you say friction can happen and to avoid it well shooting end up coming second hand.

rjacobs said...

Yes, yes, yes. A solitary passion. There are those who say I'm a crazy old man for wandering alone in the Sierras with my backpack & camera & tripod. But its the ONLY way to travel and fills the soul.

BruceK said...

Another wonderful article, filled with truth and wisdom. I'd truly like to follow what you suggest but it's always a matter of finding the time and, honestly, finding the stones to do it. And Yes, I know that if I truly wanted to I'd find the aforementioned time and stones. :-) As the ad copy goes, I just have to "Do It!".

shank said...

"thought" freedom... Yes, without that you can't see beyond the cliche and the obvious, without that you can't see the beautiful and the surreal...

Bernd said...

I just did something very similar this summer, except that I stayed a lot closer to home and I did take a photo buddy. It was a great experience. Please check it out on the lenscratch blog:

http://www.lenscratch.com/2011/09/bernd-reinhardt.html

awarewriter said...

Thank you for this post and these images Kirk. When I want inspiration I leaf through my copy of Andre Kertesz'z "On Reading." When I go out to make photographs, I go alone into the nearby nature preserve and take one or two cameras loaded with B&W film. Most days I have all 54 acres to myself and that's the way I like it.

Mikko J. Kalavainen said...

Oh wow. Just, you know... WOW. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

fbt said...

So true. Solo is for me the way to really experience a personal connection with places and people when doing photography.

gregs said...

I have enjoyed reading your posts for over six months. This post struck several responsive cords. Realized I am one of those people you are talking about who only takes pictures for other people or on other people's terms. No wonder I feel like "dead man walking" when I am out with a camera.

You have inspired me to "hunt alone". Thank you.

Greg

Trish said...

Moving and inspiring. Thanks.

Rob said...

Nicely done; just like good ol' George Thorogood: "You know when I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself."

John A. Robinson said...

Yes...I first discovered this in Athens and later Rome in 1984ish...long story...might be time for a post on my own blog...I loved APX 100....used to develop most of it myself...then print select frames at 16x20...often on fiber paper in trays...the 'old days' weren't that long ago....a lot has changed since 1984...but doing my best work when alone, that hasn't....good post, and some awesome shots...this is my first, but not my last visit.

The Lazy Aussie said...

Yes. I can never understand these group photo walks. There is a flickr group I belong to that is always organising buses of photographers to attractive locations. Can't see it working. Even 2 photographers can't walk together to shoot.

rdteasley said...

I'm so glad that you decided to come back. I only discovered your blog when Mike Johnston mentioned that you were shutting down. When I looked at your writing it felt terrible that you were quitting, and now the great joy that you're back.

My best photographic moments have come when I just throw my stuff in the car and head out without a set agenda. I have a good friend I photograph with now. We go out, find a spot and go our separate ways. Later we meet up and compare notes. It's always magical.

Josephine said...

Or, as in my case, marry a man who loves photography as much as you and you'll happily spend days, weeks, months wondering everywhere you go with your cameras round your neck. You'll wander off, come back together, wait on one another, hold equipment, etc. Cause you get it.

I love having a photo partner who is also my life partner. Its an amazing gift, and so are these images. Beautiful!

Unknown said...

I stumbled onto your blog today after reading Mike on TOP as I do most days. Wanted you to know that I have never commented on a blog before--but I had to snip this article and put it in my Evernote journal so I don't lose track of it and can read it again in the future. I've always wondered why I don't get out and take pictures more--my 2 Nikon N75's are sitting here staring at me on my desk. Your article is the answer--I always have someone with me--someone else to please--somewhere to go or something to do. I do need to get out there by myself.

John Finn said...

Excellent article. Thanks for articulating so well what I've always felt about working alone.

Harrison Cronbi said...

A fantastic post, Steve. First of all, I'd like to express my jealousy (bordering on resentment) of the opportunity to shoot 200 rolls of film at somebody else's expense, let alone in Paris.

I was in Paris a few months ago for a weekend drinking with a few mates. On the Sunday morning I woke and sneaked out before anyone else was close to waking. Those two hours spent wandering Le Marais with a 35mm lens were among the most enjoyable times shooting I've ever had. Later that day we watched the conclusion of the Tour de France, but I felt as encumbered by the presence of those friends as I did by my over-the-top lens selection for my DSLR.

The only time I've given myself pure "photo walk time" longer than half a day was a weekend in Brussels five years ago. I loved it. But I wasn't the photographer I am now. I look at those photos now with mild fondness, but mainly with the feeling of missed opportunity.

Your piece has persuaded me I deserve some quality solo photo time. When: I'm thinking in between Christmas and New Year. Film: Kodak TMAX 400. Destination: unknown.

Gino Eelen said...

A bit late for commenting probably, but I'm catching up after a short absence.

I used to try to combine photography and holidays, only to learn that it leads to double frustration: I invariably ended up with half-baked images and a less than satisfying holiday in terms of relationship quality time and genuine relaxation. I felt there hadn't been enough time to photograph, and there hadn't been enough "real holiday" time either. The results were below par on both fronts and the whole experience became a bit disappointing in the end.

I had to consciously make a decision to remedy that, so last year I took a short trip on my own to Lisbon, just walking around and photographing, and I absolutely loved it. Can't wait to do it again. And our joint holiday is now focused on relaxing and relationshipping. I still take a camera, but I resist the urge to hunt for photographs.

Frank Field said...

Ah - so true. Right on target. My wife is very supportive of my photography and when we go out together she will sit and sketch while I photograph and place absolutely zero time pressure on me. But, still, my best work is done when I am out alone and 100% focused on the images around me. Great post, Kirk.

Ravages/CC said...

Hmm
If photography does not depend on the camera but the photographer, and all you need is f/8 and be there, does it matter if you are in a group or alone?
I do both. I travel alone and with friends. It does not matter which, I take photos that I like.
I go on photowalks. I go on solo walks.
In both cases, I take photos that I like.

You, your camera and your eye. If these three work together, it does not matter if you are in a group of 30 or a group of 1.

Nicolas said...

Hello Kirk, it's a fantastic post, thank you so much. You probably already know it, but the man with the dalmatian dog has been photographed by Willy Ronis many times and he's even the subject of some good lines in the book named "Je me souviens"... ;)

Stefan said...

Hi Kirk, thank you for sharing this! I very recently lost the opportunity to wander through Tokyo alone for a day and a half on my first ever trip to Japan, and I am still kicking myself for not having fought harder for the freedom. The freedom to shoot without feeling like a "burden", or like I'm slowing someone else down- without having to hurry myself along, is a feeling that I covet. I think you're right- I need to make this happen.

John M Flores said...

Great post. Can help but think that I may be the luckiest photographer on earth. My wife takes as many photos as I do and we both understand the need to explore a place in our own space and in our own time. But you're right, unencumbered is the best way to go.

Unknown said...

Kirk, thank you for this article! Infrequently, i've gone on field trips with others, and enjoyed the friendship. But for the serious work, i'm usually alone and enjoy that freedom/lack of distraction. Your BW street photos are excellent, esp the one in the cafe and the woman enjoying the handheld treat of some kind. Bravo

Neil Partridge said...

Fantastic article. I'd always felt uncomfortable at the idea of a PhotoWalk, the thought of taking pictures with others made me feel "itchy". The only time I take pictures I'm satisfied with is when I'm alone and in the "zone" - engaging with the subject (often just a street or a tree!). I also find a lot of the pictures taken by protagonists of photo walks... look like stock photography.

Yoram Nevo said...

interresting - The beggar with the spotted dog looks the same one as in Willy Ronis photograph. I can't find this photo on the web ...

Dave said...

My favorite way to shoot is to go out and follow my nose. When I'm with a group of photographers, I'll talk shop and show off my new light or gizmo, but I don't bother to shoot. It's a social event then.

Tommy Folkesson said...

Yes!!!

Gene Trent said...

IMO, this is one of the best blogs you've written. I am hanging this in my work cubicle so I can be reminded not become complacent. Life is all too short. I have been to Paris a couple of times but always on a work assignment and never with a camera. Shame on me! Now looking to the present, it is time to correct that mistake. :-)

Anonymous said...

Just "WOW!"