One of the great fears of any photographer is 'missing the shot'. You're at the right time, right place when all the components of the next great Cartier-Bresson 'decisive moment' unfold in front of you ... but you don't have your camera ready to capture it. You've left the camera behind, or you have it with you but you don't have the right lens for the situation. Seconds later the 'moment' has become another opportunity lost.
This was certainly a fear I had when heading off to Japan recently with my new small camera. Not only is the camera small, but it has a fixed lens with a fairly limited zoom range of just 24 to 70mm.
In the past I've always travelled with – and used quite a lot – a telephoto zoom out to 450mm. And I've captured some of my favourite pictures with that zoom. There was no way I would be getting most of those shots with the new camera.
I recently returned from a three-week family trip to Japan. Our approach to travel is to cover a fair bit of ground, spend most time out of big cities and try to stay a least a couple of nights in most places. On this trip (check out my travelog if you're interested) we combined a lot of walking in Tokyo with Shinkansen (bullet train) and local train travelling, car hire and even a couple of days of cycling.
I could write at length about the trip and the enjoyment of travel in Japan but that's not the job of this blog. What I will do is use this recent trip as a prompt to write in this and future posts about how I go about my travel photography.
For me, travel and photography are inseparable. I see the world through my lens and make no apology for having a camera with me almost all the time. My family are well used to this and I have strategies for avoiding being too much of a pain about it (for a future post).
In this post I want to talk gear* and discuss the one big change I made to my photography on this trip. I went small.
Henri Cartier-Bresson is one of the most famous photographers of all time. His images, taken during a period when photography was still a rare thing, provide us with incredible insights into ordinary life during the first half of the 20th century.
Another more recently famous photographer is Vivian Maier who took pictures on the streets of Chicago in the mid-20th century. What both Cartier-Bresson and Maier have in common is that they were street photographers. They took candid pictures of people in the street, usually without their subject's knowledge. In doing so they created bodies of work that provide us with lasting insights into society in their times.
Street photography has a history as long as the history of the camera. However, in more recent times it is increasingly frowned upon.
When I decided on 'classic' Melbourne as the theme for my 2017 calendar, the challenge was never going to be finding subjects. Melbourne is brim full of classic buildings, sites and events.
The bigger challenge, as with any photographic assignment, was always going to be to find a different way to represent my 'subjects', most of which have been photographed hundreds of thousands of times. The famous water wall at NGV International is a case in point.
I've been making a wall calendar featuring my photography for the last half-dozen years or so. Originally I had a small number printed and gave them as gifts to my clients. Last year I took another step by printing a couple of hundred copies and actively marketing them in various ways (more on that another day).
The whole exercise involves a bit of effort, and a bit of cost, but in my book it's well worth it, for several reasons – both artistic and commercial.
There aren't many occasions more colourful than a great sporting final, and the AFL Grand Final is right up there with the best of them. Which creates a challenge when you're compiling a calendar of black-and-white photographs and you want to include a picture from the big day.
So what to do?
I was lucky enough to have an excellent seat at this year's final. Obviously I couldn't get as close to the action as the press photographers when it came to the presentations at the end. However, with my longer lens on (a 70–200mm zoom), I was still able to get close enough to take some pictures with nice detail.