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Thursday, 22 August 2013


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Polka in French primarily means the same thing as in English: the dance from central Europe. There is a stonemason tool named polka, but almost nobody ever use that meaning.

I was appalled when I first heard of this law, but in my experience over a number of trips to Paris and rural Brittany in the last couple of years it seems to have had no effect whatsoever. I was never questioned, stopped or even looked at askance while shooting people in the street.

Whereas in the UK, with much more legal freedom for photographers, I've found bringing a camera out in public to be an increasingly stressful experience. The public attitude is general negative - and, if there is a child within 500 yards - positively hostile.

I do hope article 9 is revoked, as no one likes to feel they are breaking the law, but the French seem to have a fairly relaxed, common sense attitude to the law and I've not found it has made any practical difference. However, I should say I don't publish in the French media, so maybe the experience of local photographers differs to mine.



I hardly post here, but I want to honor the man who is the patron saint of what I call the "decisive moment in street photography". Besides Elliot Erwitt, Sebastiao Salgado and Daido Moriyama, no other photographer has impacted the direction and spirit of my photography than Henri Cartier Bresson himself.

I blogged a little tribute to HCB today, with my on-going street work on the streets of Tokyo

If I may be allowed to share it here, here's the link....



My camera goes everywhere with me. It doesn't have to go to France.

OK, I'm game. This afternoon I walked out into the middle of the street (maybe I'm taking this too literally?) and snapped this one.

Disclaimer: I am a beginner street photographer, at best.

I have a different take on Paris than Colin Work.

I went to Paris in October 2010. Using a 24-104mm zoom on an APS-C body, I did my best impression of a street photographer. As a shy type, I tended toward the longer end of the zoom, even though shots on the wider end clearly had much more interest and appeal. Despite using a dSLR, I was never questioned by passers-by and/or subjects on this trip.

Fast forward to April 2013. This time I did a join trip to Amsterdam/Paris and was armed with a Fuji X100s. The people in Amsterdam were, in a word, mellow. No one approached me about being the obvious tourist with a camera.

Paris was a different story this time. I was accosted twice, both times by people who were annoyed at having their picture taken. I speak a little French so I could understand when they asked, in an accusatory tone, "Did you just take a picture of me?"

Playing the part of the dopey tourist, I innocently said, "Non." That didn't satisfy them, but they stalked off and the situation didn't escalate further. Possibly because of the nearly silent shutter of the x100s. (How could they prove I had taken a picture?) Possibly because, really, who wants to argue with a clueless tourist?

Granted, I was using a focal length equivalent to 35mm on my second Paris trip. But I strongly felt that Parisians seemed much more aware, and unhappy, about being photographed. There has been a great leap in the social technology realm from 2010 to 2013. My seat-of-the-pants estimation is that due to the rapid rise of Facebook and Instagram, people are somewhat ironically more defensive of what can be captured in a public setting.

My favorites from the trips:

Rue Madame, Paris 2010:

Smoking bicyclist, Amsterdam 2013:

Woman in leopard print, Paris 2013:

Since you had told me what day it is, I went out with the camera, and got some shots. Mostly of things, but I went up to a bloke in a parked car whose dog was leaning right out of the window. I wouldn't let myself talk me out of going and asking him first, and took three pictures.

I suppose that photos of things are just photos of places and objects that someone has changed, so it's about people in the end.

I don't know about anyone else, but I got out today. Brought my DSLR to work, my favorite lens, a fresh card, and double checked that I had a battery in the body before walking out the door.

Didn't check if the battery had any juice in it, though.

Spent the lunch hour street-shooting with my phone. It was a different street photography experience. Not altogether better, but different. :)

HT - obviously your experience differs to mine, but I wonder if it was the law that was to blame? I find Parisians are not fond of tourists taking over their city! The attitude towards visitors across the board is quite different in April compared to out of season months.


Fortunately we have no such nutty law in Chicago. We shoot anyone (and, sadly, not always with cameras).

My annual offering in commemoration of the day, captured during a walk past one of our many famous bascule-type bridges that span the Chicago River through the heart of downtown.

Happy Birthday, HCB!

Happy Birthday, HCB

A strolling couple raises a glass to street photography (and two street photographers) in Seattle (taken on the evening before ISPD).

Click the image to see the original on Flickr.

Well.. I think its not the country but whether its rural vs urban area. People in urban area tend to be more hostile in general. Few years ago I did a trip to Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. Being Asian and having a huge DSLR hanging from neck, anyone would notice that I was not from around the area.
While I was lurking in the village taking pictures, two middle aged ladies saw me, and politely greet me good morning. Few months later, thanks to News of the World scandal, I learnt that its the place for the rich and famous. And also where a Top Gear presenter lives.

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