1933, a maze of amazingly original architecture, flying bridges, spiral staircases, dimly lit corridors, an eerie feeling of disorientation, and a must location to challenge any aspiring photographer. I love returning to this building again and again, that primarily served as a cattle slaughterhouse after its construction in 1933 in Hongkou, later a cold storage facility, and a medicine factory among other uses; it now hosts creative spaces, restaurants and shops as well as a few bewildered photographers. The possibilities here are endless to create, dream and compose.
Very excited to be teaming up again with on of my favorite street photographers Michael Kistler for an FYITS 2-day workshop in Shanghai this coming June.
These events are unforgettable and the moments shared are packed with richness and creativity as well as healthy challenges.
We have a few spots left. Join us in the magical metropolis!
to see fairies you must first believe in them
fellowship of the hat
she had big plans
stretching the truth
inside the abacus
In the human maze
Something as simple as an obstructing the light of the sun, creates a world of wonder and a vast playground for the imagination. And shadows have a mind of their own, creating a new reality, ask Peter Pan.
time’s indelible stamp
stolen sketches of a lost theater
if I wanted your opinion I’d give it to you
softening the hard reality
who said Triad?
a controlled sea of humanity
Hidden inside the massively dense Shanghai Metropolis is a quaint, albeit crowded small world of tradition. Bridges over water, narrow old streets, a wide variety of delicious street food and a beautiful old tea house.
In the tea house, mostly old men gather to drink tea and watch story telling theaters on a stage that echoes with ancient times.
Each time I go back there, I find the same people, doing the same things, as though they are caught in a time capsule and every day must be relived as it was the day before.
Nearby are the green lanes, where door after door girls and women offer their services for a price. Tickets to their worlds are sold on the main street of the old village.
Heartbreaking, surreal and intoxicating is Qibao.
There is a great magic to seeing a place at sunrise, before the rush of day clouds it. Early in the morning, there is a bliss that relaxes the faces of early risers, as though they are reminded that there is still magic in life, how can there not be? Light colors the sky as stars give way to the great sun, and stillness can still be heard over the water.
Candid street photography is perhaps my very favorite style when I am out in the streets. Anywhere I travel, I find myself drawn to the human element in the streets and I search for a human connection to create my photograph and my story.
I am often asked about the process of candid portraits and if I were to offer 7 tips it would be these:
- Take your time. Often and if the time allows, I try not to do any photography on my first day in a new place. Instead I try to feel the place, walk around, look, listen, observe, admire and investigate.
- Slow down. When I walk, I try not to feel any anxiety about having to capture anything. I wait for the inspiration to come to me because I have discovered that it cannot be forced, like all good things in life.
- Be polite. I always try to reverse the roles and see how I would feel if someone came at me with a camera aggressively and tried to photograph me without my permission. I am most certainly going to be closed to that intrusion. Instead I smile, I make eye contact and I show genuine interest in my subjects. I back off if unwelcome.
- Be prepared. The last thing you want to be doing when seeing a moving moment is to be fiddling with your camera settings and getting flustered. I check my camera before going out, I make sure I am ready for the light conditions and the style of photography I am aiming for.
- Be open. Sometimes I might have an expectation as to what I want to photograph on a certain walk, but I am always open to whatever else my inspire me. Patterns, movement, architecture… but being open is much easier said than done and takes a lot of practice.
- Take more than one shot. In the digital age, we have the luxury of having room for experimentation. I remember back in the 90s when I was using film, how careful I was with each single frame knowing that I had a limited number of shots before I had to change film. Nowadays, you can take your shot at different angles and make multiple compositions to get the shot that you really want.
- Have fun. It is such an incredible joy to me being in the streets, around people, doing what I love doing the most. If you are not enjoying it, you might as well find something else to do🙂
These are some of my favorite street portraits that I am currently featuring on my instagram feed.
More soon on the street photography process.
Snow white and she~ Shanghai
How life etches its print on our faces~ Shanghai
the looks that haunt~ Yunnan
It has been a while after a very eventful summer, and slowly things are settling back into a routine here in Shanghai.
Michael Kistler and I are having another go at the ‘finding yourself in the streets’ workshops this Fall with one planned for November, 2015 in Doha.
Also I had a very exciting TV interview with MTV Lebanon this summer, you can watch it here. Be warned, it’s the usual Lebanese mix of Arabic and English🙂
Have you felt lately as though you keep on moving from one task to the next, from one place to another as if chased by your own shadow? It is as if we are all gripped by a fear of being caught standing still. We plan our year before it even starts and we project into our future leaving very little room for the unexpected. Our lives are preplanned and dictated in our phones that link to all our other devices that we allow to remind us that we are not free but bound inside our own self created prisons.