Captain Shutter

Street Photography by Pete Ansara

Archive for the tag “#1 street photography blog”

On the 4th of July

Each year I shoot fourth of July pictures on a local reservation where rules do not matter. I see children from 3 to teenage years blowing off fireworks unsupervised. As crazy as it sounds I love taking pictures of the scenes in “Firecracker Alley”. I am writing about this because it makes me happy and gets me away from reading too many blogs and magazines about technical photographic nonsense.

Speaking for myself, I read lots of blogs that provide lots of advice. I see people, me included, get so enamored by all the technical gibberish that is out there. What we forget is what gives us happiness and peace when we are off with nature or shooting on the street. We forget what the camera is about and how it makes images. We forget that the camera is not with a darn. It isn’t about good gear, great gear, fast gear, the gear with the most ISO, pixels, etc. It’s about you the photographer and how you connect with your yourself and your environment and not the ISO, speed and pixels!

A camera allows you to go at your speed, at your pace…no matter your level of expertise. What you snap is a moment in time that is gone forever but etched for a life time. All the technical gibberish and whether or not you machine has super natural powers is irrelevant. Remember that!

Imagine for a moment what Henri Cartier-Bresson shot with in the 30s and 40s. He said, “The only thing which completely was an amazement to me and brought me to photography was the work of Munkacsi. When I saw the photograph of Munkacsi of the black kids running in a wave I couldn’t believe such a thing could be caught with the camera. I said damn it, I took my camera and went out into the street.” He then went on an acquired the Leica camera with 50 mm lens in Marseilles that would accompany him for many years. He described the Leica as an extension of his eye. I truly wonder what he would say today? I think he would not care and would be shooting with an iPhone. While this is debatable, I am sure you get the point.

Take a deep breath and quit squabbling about useless nonsense. Use something that feels right to you. Shoot anything and everything. Have fun, smile and enjoy life a little! Start or reconnect on a new journey and become inspired by photos. Don’t let nonsense diminish your passion. If you get overloaded with tech talk and bar room experts run away, go somewhere peaceful and quite. Get grandpa’s old film camera or that old 3 mega pixel in a box under the bed and be at peace. Look in that old shoe box, take out those old picture…be inspired…and say…if it is to be it is up to me!

Our nations birthday is coming..get those cameras ready!


Photographing Street Performers

Just your average day…

We have all have seen niffty images of street performers. Seattle is an excellent place to see some of the best performers in action. The City of Seattle regulates street performers. You are free to perform so long as you have a permit. Given this, I believe it provides for an orderly and fair system. It weeds out bad actors and provides a safe place to visitors. If you want to shoot street performers, Pikes Place Market is no doubt the place to go!

In previous blog entries, I have expressed on more than one occasion that the equipment does not matter when you are expressing yourself through street photography. More and more I am seeing folks walk around with an iPad mostly shooting movies. Most folks now that one of the downsides to the iPad and iPod is that photo resolution down right SUCKS! Does this mean you still can’t have fun with iy…no! It just means that you can’t blow up billboard size images. My iPad and I presume all iPads come loaded with the app Photo Booth. If you have an iPad and have used it you know that you are in for some of the most hilarious moments of your life. This app unfortunately is not available on the iPhone or iPod. I wish it was.

So, yesterday, I set out on a journey with iPad in tow to focus solely on taking images of street performers. I have taken 100s of street performer images but, after a while they all look the same…yep that guy singing with his guitar and his mouth wide open…sure its expressive but whether you’re in London, Boston or Seattle, they all look the same! So, how can you make it different? How can your images stand out? How can you make these performers look like real super stars? Simple…use your iPad…I hope you like them!

Soulful Singer


Ya’ll Come Back Now!

F for Facebook…A for Apple

Know Your Alphabet

F is for….

F for what and A for what? Alright, I could not resist. I anticipated correctly that the Facebook IPO release would be a failure. Why do I think that? Because! Just think about it, the FB model is to sell advertising. Advertising on FB is doomed for failure. Yeah I have a FB account…only because my wife and son forced me into it. I am trying desperately to introduce myself through FB through my photography. Thus far its been a big fn dud! Yeah, I have a couple oh hundred friends. My son got almost all of the for me. I see all the click advertising on the right. I haven’t clicked once, nor do I have a desire to do so. I see ads for an Alaskan Cruise and Boston Celtic attire. There is no way I am clicking…there is no way that most of you are clicking. GM and other big advertisers have already bailed. They bailed on the eve of the IPO release. Smart move. Dumb asses on Wall Street created a bunch of hype. What they created was mass foolery. They faked people into thinking that FB is the next Google. Well it’s not. FB will die just like My Space and we will all be looking for the next social bug.

A is for….

Apple on the other hand is doing well. I have no iPhone but I have an iPad and iPod. They make me happy. The stock is good and solid and it does not show me drama like my daughters FB page. I went to the fair not long ago equipped with only my iPod…no DSLR, no point and shoot…just my simple iPod loaded with crazy photo apps. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and remember the old instamatic camera, Polaroid, the 110, the 126, etc. iTunes has all my childhood memories  from free to $1.99.  For $1.99 I purchased my Hipstamatic and a variety of films. It also comes with a few lenses. There is the John S, lens, the Jimmy, and Kaimal Mark II lenses that come standard. You can purchase others too. I purchased all  the films: Blanko, Ina’s 1969, Kodot Verichrome, Blackeys B+W, Blackeys Super Grain and a few others. Off I went to the fair to take a few snaps with my trusty iPod at the Puyallup Fair:


Weight Restriction

Baby on Board


Wax on Wax off

I didn’t do it

Coke Meets Hardrock

Batman Jr.

Dippitty Doo

My Finger Got in the Way

Cotton Candy Man

Cotton Candy Lady


Hammer Down


What you looking at?


Step Right Up


Go west my young man….


Flower Child



Look Up


Baby Boots

Taking it in…

The Wheel

A Dream You Had

Hoop Shots

Coaster, et. al.

Space Oddysey

Ying and Yang



Kentucky Derby

Brokeback Mountain





So, how do we end this…Use what works…have fun doing it…blurry is OK…iPod today…something else tomorrow…Facebook dies…Apple lives…Get rid of the hoodie Zuckerberg…Ok, you finish it the way you want…



Street Photography…A Few Tips for the Photographer in Training (PIT)

Starting out in street photography for most is a difficult proposition. Let’s face it shooting bugs and flowers is a much easier task that dealing head on with a 300 pound guy in the middle of your lens. Bugs and flowers don’t talk back. On occasion people do. So, here are a few tips:

1. Get a simple camera

You do not need some big fancy DSLR with a 200 mm zoom! Start with a simple point and shoot or an old film camera with a fixed lens or even your iPhone or camera phone. This will force you to engage Shooting people from 1 block away is not street photography. You need to get up close and personal with your subject.  Standing in front of a crowd with a big camera and lens will give you away. You will stand out like a big dork wearing pink undies on the 50 yard line at a football game. Small, compact and simple is the key!

Alley Girl

2.  Get in range

What? Get in range? At first, most are trying to overcome the fear of taking a picture of a human on the street at close range. I could tell you that in order to catch the perfect shot you have to be within 6 feet of the subject. At first, try to get within 20 feet of your subject, then 15 and to be the ultimate master of overcoming your fear of entering one’s personal space shoot for 6 feet or less. There are artful ways of doing this which I will discuss later in another post.

Cowboy (6 feet or less)

Pikes Place Market (100 feet away)

3. Don’t worry about assholes…

I think it would be foolish to think  that everyone on the street is a nice guy. From time to time you will get an idiot! How you handle dealing with the idiot is another thing. There are strategies, like ignore him, look the other way, keep walking, tell them that you were taking a picture of something behind them or….whatever fits your fancy. There are no rules on the street. There are no laws here in the US that I know of that say you can’t take a picture on the street. Just be aware of your surroundings. There is no doubt that you will misjudge people. For example, I saw this “Hells Angel” biker sitting on the edge of a park bench in Seattle. I took an image of him from the rear. What appeared to be an elder woman ( I assume his mother) motioned him to say I was taking a picture. He turned around and said “hey!”. I said “WHAT!”. He didn’t say anything in return. I am pretty good on my feet. I am not a meek or small person, so I can get away with a bit of a bark every now and then. The bottom-line is beware!


 4. When in doubt ask…

In open spaces my general rule is “just shoot it”. When in a more intimate space like a walk up window where the guy is selling pastry, ask. It does not have to be candid to be good. I have found that for the most part people like to have their portrait taken. There is a general sense of honor that goes with it. If they say no, just say thanks and move on. I have never had an ugly moment by asking.

Pastry Man

 5.  Have fun…relax

Street photography is a hobby. It is supposed to be fun. Take your time and challenge yourself. For example, stand on a corner and just observe. The fact is that most people are not necessarily aware of what’s around them. They are generally on a mission to get something, buy something, meet somebody, go to a meeting, etc. They have no sense of the baby strolling buy or the pigeon eating crumbs off the ground. When you are aware and observe, you become a better photographer. Pick a location and wait for something to walk into YOUR scene. Get ready, pre focus and shoot at the moment you make it. Patience does pay off!

Miss Daisy

Rocky Balboa and Family

West Bank in Seattle

Snoozing in Seattle

The Look

The Dog

About Pete Ansara: Pete is a world recognized photographer based in Seattle, Washington.

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