Brenda’s A Photo Study: Ian MacDonald’s creative composition in street photography

This is my submission for Brenda’s A Photo Study: Ian MacDonald’s creative composition in street photography. Here is the link to Ian MacDonald’s creative composition in street photography- Part One.

Ian’s article has 5 parts. Even though most of things in his article aren’t new to me, I like how he organizes the points and provides plenty photos so it’s easy to understand. Detail Shots (part 5) is the only part that I haven’t heard often. Although once in a while I would be attracted by some details in a scene and decide to take a photo, I don’t usually look for those amazing details. In this area, I have a huge room to improve for sure. 😉

Ian talks about two different approaches for his candid street photography: (1) Set the stage first and then bring different elements together (2) React spontaneously to a moment. He considers himself to be more of a deliberate photographer than a reactionary one. I, on the other hand, consider myself a reactionary one 😉 I guess the difference is that they (serious photographers) are trying to create a piece of art, and I am trying to create something I like.

Setting the Stage

Occasionally, I, too, would take time to wait for something to happen…
The first photo was taken at Salzburg. I don’t know why I wanted a photo of that bridge since I didn’t see anything (light, shadow, subject…) special. I waited for a couple of minutes for her to show up while the rest of the traveling group was stopping at the traffic light.

Reacting to the Moment

Ian also talks two different street photography approaches that is more interactive: (1) Street portraits – he enjoy meeting new friends, and making portraits of them (2) Detail shots – he says, “Purposely cutting off part of a building, or part of a person for that matter, may create tension or mystery in the photograph. Creative use of light and shadow to hide certain elements of a photograph may also have the same effect. “ (I don’t quite understand why “Detail Shots” is interactive. I left a comment asking this question, and will give an update when I find the answer. Brenda, do you know?)

Street Portrait

Like many people, I have a hard time to approach people when I have camera in hands. (I don’t have problem when I don’t carry a camera.) 😉 And that is only one part of the problem. The other part is that no matter how relaxes the person is, his expression changes when he knows someone is taking his photo, and I often like his original expression better. So, talking to a person after taking his photo seems working better for me 😉

Detail Shots

I want to thank Brenda for another great photo-study. Looking forward to seeing the next one.

Thank you for visiting my blog.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in photo, photo and thoughts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Brenda’s A Photo Study: Ian MacDonald’s creative composition in street photography

  1. neihtn2012 says:

    I read from Tim Allen’s blog that the way to get a natural shot is to have your camera all set and ready at your hip. Then press the shutter discretely without your subject noticing it. Shoot from the hip, Tim says.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Hien. Thanks for your comment. I like Allen’s photo!
      A couple of years ago, LD at Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera ( also mentioned this technique. I tried a couple of times back then. It definitely requires a lot of practices. Also, I think it would work better with a smaller camera. Then, I have to carry two cameras… As you can see, I haven’t figured it out yet 😉
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great captures Helen!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loisajay says:

    You were panning that first shot? I like it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. brenda says:

    Good day Helen. I think the silhouettes within your second image create a dynamic contrast to the geometric shapes and muted colors nudge your photograph into art. In the two images of “reacting to the moment,” my eyes went to the individual in the lower third…they seem unique in comparison to the others in the photo. I find it interesting to try and identify how a particular movie character stands out in a crowd…color of clothes, something unique about them, familiarity, etc. I read Ian’s response to your question re: interactive…brought about clarity and a internal response, “well, of course.” In your last image, I really like how the upper right third is dark and the lower left is in shadow with the strip of blue sky…again, for me, a nudge into art. Thank you for joining me. I do hope you are having fun along side me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Brenda.
      For this particular study, if I had fun, it was not obvious. I think it is more of “seriously thinking, seriously study” type of study and at the end, I felt satisfied and happy. Maybe there is more important gain than having fun?
      I asked myself why this time I didn’t have as much fun as before. I think it was because I didn’t take any new photo for the study; I selected photos from my previous trip and that’s all. I found out that the action of taking photos, particularly when you have a theme in your mind, is one for-sure source of having fun.
      I always think that your photos are much “deeper”. Each one gives me a lot to think about. And, to be honest, every time I saw your photo, I was pulled toward that direction. But I am lazy… ha.
      Have a wonderful day.


  5. I have never asked any strangers for photography, I should try that next time I am on street with my camera.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sarah says:

    Love your shots, especially the one with the laughing woman on the bike! Just started yesterday to give it a shot at street photography (pun not intended;) ) and it was really fun, though I too struggled at approaching people and simply shot from afar. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Sarah. I still shoot from afar most of the time 😉 Once in a while people came to us asking us to take a photo of them — that made us feel great.
      But there are also people who let you take their photo but after you take their photo, they want you to pay some money. When I was in Cambodia, one woman came to me asking me to take her photo, so I did. She then extended her hand expecting me to pay. I thought she was kidding; I laughed (I thought I was laughing with her) and walked away. That was many years ago. I was a tourist; I wasn’t serious about photographing at all.
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such super images … I wish I had more opportunity for street photography. Although I find it difficult to take photos of people .. great work Helen! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Julie. I think street photography is easier to do in a big city. We live in a smaller town. Not many interesting subjects on the street ;-( That’s why I took most of my street photos when traveling.
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

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