Nathan Philips Square. Toronto, ON, Canada. June 2014.
Eric Kim is a controversial figure in the street photography world, isn’t he? Whatever your opinion of him may be, if you’re a street photographer today, you’ve likely seen one of his videos of him and/or his group of workshop-goers in various locations around the world.
I’m going to be honest with you, basically every such video of his makes me incredibly anxious. He can be very in your face and unapologetic, which isn’t a bad thing per se; he clearly gets results this way, but as a bystander to his videos, all that runs through my head is, “what the hell are you doing?”
Because of his at times aggressive shooting style, I anxiously await people to react. But of course they rarely, if ever, do, because Eric knows what he’s doing (or at least gives off that impression). Still, viewing his videos gives me insight into probably how most people seeing street photographers out and about view us.
Or maybe it’s just me. I come from the school of being unobtrusive in street photography so as to preserve candid moments as often as possible. But this photo here was my “Eric Kim moment,” so to speak. I saw this couple canoodling in front of the fountains at Nathan Philips Square from behind and proceeded to snap a couple shots, slowly inching closer, until the girl noticed me and I got in front of them.
I have no idea what was going on in my head because it defies my normal shooting style, but I asked them to kiss again, and they did and I took as many photos as I could in that short spurt. I thanked them and bid them adieu. If I had someone filming me during that outing, I’m sure the scene would’ve made me anxious just like the Eric Kim videos.
For some reason, I liked this shot the most. They aren’t kissing, but there’s something to his gaze and her smile that I find really intriguing. They seemed happy together and although a bit startled at first, seemed happy to accommodate me.
Whatever happened in my head to decide to directly approach this couple, both going against the grain of my unobtrusive preferences and my introverted slants, paid off, at least personally. I’m very happy with this photo and it’s one of my favourite photos from Toronto.
For the so-called purists, though, this photo may not be up to snuff. After all, they did notice me and I did disturb the scene. Some scoff at posed or otherwise interrupted material, which is utter bullshit, because really, a good photo is a good photo. If it is evocative of something, anything, to the photographer and to audiences, then does it really matter? Not all posed material is of people simply smiling at the camera, though even that works at times.
A good photo is a good photo. Don’t be afraid to insert yourself into a photo at times because sometimes it pays off. It is your work, after all, so you should be in there from time to time.