The Streets of Hanoi.
As you might know, Hanoi is a major city and the capital of Vietnam. Like many large southeast Asian cities, it is crowded with much traffic. We stayed in the heart of the “old city”, perhaps the most crowded area of Vietnam. What is usually difficult for us to deal with (crowds) becomes a perfect location for some street photography. Both of us are fairly accomplished as landscape photographers but somewhat new to the street. Luckily, we have with us, our guide and friend and fellow WorldPix affiliate, Alessandro Vannucci, who is quite the street photographer. You may remember Ale’ from our visit to Cambodia last year: The Italian. He hasn’t changed much since then – he still doesn’t drink, smoke or chase women. And now I find out he doesn’t drink coffee.
So, what is street photography? I showed Ale’ some of my photos from Myanmar last year, photos I consider my best attempts at street photography, photos that have garnered prominent awards. He says they are reportage and not street photography. My feeling is, if I am walking down a street and taking photos, it is street photography. I say tomato, he says potato. After a lengthy discussion over dinner and then breakfast, I have come to understand that his definition of street photography is: chasing interesting light with people in their natural surroundings. OK, I can live with it. Potato it is.
Now that we had this settled, we moved onto another topic: photographic style. “What is your style,” he asks me? This topic has been troubling me for quite awhile. I paused a bit, thinking about my style and realized I do not have one. Ale’s is easy. His photos are dark and moody. Mine? Mostly they are technically accurate. Is this my style? Maybe I’d prefer to be dark and moody.
Back to the question, “What is my style?” Knowing I was struggling to answer, Ale’ poses some questions for me that he says will help define my style. What is your favorite music? Favorite movies? Favorite books? From these answers you can start to garner your style. OK, these questions are easy for me to answer: The Beatles, The Doors, Billy Joel. Casablanca, Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones. And, Ken Follett, Fredrick Forsyth, Philip Kerr, Daniel Silva, Michael Crichton, Nelson DeMille, and Ellery Queen!
Some themes quickly become apparent. War, 1960s, Intrigue, and Adventure. Now, how do I fold these themes into my street photography? I haven’t a clue, but I do have another two weeks with Ale’ to try and figure it out.
Here are some of my street photos from Hanoi, trying to get the mood and the activity of the city. Do you see my “style” in these photos? I’m not sure I do.
This is my Hanoi, how I felt walking the streets. What so you think? And, remember, it’s all about the light!