Street photography with Craig Semetko
Lúz Gallery did it again. They put on a great weekend workshop. This time the leader of the workshop was L.A. based photographer Craig Semetko and the title was “UNPOSED – A street photography workshop.”
What made this so great? Craig, Quinton (the co-owner of the gallery) and the other workshop participants. Oh, and there was an international buskers festival ongoing at the time in Victoria, which meant we constantly found ourselves in the presence of photographic possibilities and a few decisive moments. And what made Craig so great? His approach to photography, life and the workshop.
I was drawn to this workshop because of Craig’s own work and his talk on Friday evening confirmed why I was there. He has a very humane approach to street photography in the manner of Elliott Erwitt: a good sense of composition coupled with a great sense of humour. The title of the workshop, UNPOSED, stems from Craig’s book of the same name and was the guiding light for the workshop. We went out on the streets looking for a spontaneous juxtaposition of subject with background and foreground that might suggest irony but should reveal something about the human condition. Well, the human condition that day was hot and very, very crowded.
In fact, it was so crowded, isolating subjects was difficult. And isolating subjects was key to creating our images as we tried to follow Craig’s advise about including three important elements in our work: Design, Information and Emotion. We spent Saturday afternoon shooting around the busker’s festival and in the streets of Victoria. Trying to include DIE in your work is one of those exercises where getting two out of three can sometimes lead to interesting results, but getting only one out of three rarely does. Hard to get all three in a photograph but it was fun trying for the afternoon. I certainly appreciated having a few hours to devote to street photography. This allowed me the luxury of staying put in anticipation of a photographic opportunity developing in front of me. For the most part, nothing notable came of these waits, but it did pay off once.
Sunday was spent reviewing participant’s past work and the best shots from the day before. The group was diverse in interest but everyone contributed a great deal of themselves and their work during the weekend. Thanks to them and to Quinton and Craig, I left the workshop wanting to DIE for my photography and to shoot more on the street.
I shot with the Epson R-D1 and 35mm Summicron (approximately 50mm equivalent). Zone focusing in most cases, with the occasional shot from the hip. Great camera/lens combination for the job.