Looking at My Photos for More Sustained Interest in the Frame

Brownie

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The crop of the guy drinking a beer makes a dull photo much better as it draws attention and more importantly it eliminates distractions
I'm going to be odd-man out. Here's what I see:

Original version; there's a guy drinking beer. He's at an outdoor eatery that has fish tacos, an oyster bar, and a smokehouse. There's a family sitting behind him and the man is eating what I would assume is a fish taco. This man appears to be either having a conversation with beer guy, or perhaps calling him out based on his hand gesture. There are others nearby at another table and a couple eating inside. I want to see more of what's there, and I think this area is a hub of activity.

Cropped version; A guy drinking beer. Yes, a good part of what I mentioned above still exists, but I see a guy drinking beer because he dominates the frame. My eye doesn't wander like it did in the other photo.

If you're looking for more sustained interest, the original is the better of the two.
 

agentlossing

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I'm going to be odd-man out. Here's what I see:

Original version; there's a guy drinking beer. He's at an outdoor eatery that has fish tacos, an oyster bar, and a smokehouse. There's a family sitting behind him and the man is eating what I would assume is a fish taco. This man appears to be either having a conversation with beer guy, or perhaps calling him out based on his hand gesture. There are others nearby at another table and a couple eating inside. I want to see more of what's there, and I think this area is a hub of activity.

Cropped version; A guy drinking beer. Yes, a good part of what I mentioned above still exists, but I see a guy drinking beer because he dominates the frame. My eye doesn't wander like it did in the other photo.

If you're looking for more sustained interest, the original is the better of the two.
Thanks Tim, that is the thinking I was going for in that photo as well. I remember reading something Joel Meyerowitz had said, something along the lines that it is preferable to him to take a photo where there might be numerous parts of everyday life playing out that might be individual focal points for the viewer. One person might get something completely different than another person might. I should try to find that quote.
 
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So I've been refining some of my photos lately, both in my backlog (my photos tend to sit around for a while before I do anything with them, including editing and culling) and on public spots like Flickr (which is pretty much it, except for a weakly attempted VSCO profile), and in particular rethinking the way I approached street photography. In the past, I have used shooting from the hip and the tilt LCD on my Panasonic cameras to try and get close, and the result has been some shots where people are figured pretty directly as subjects. As time has gone on and I have been able to study those shots, I've realized something about how they were motivated: I was a newcomer, so understandably kind of scared to be "caught" taking street photos of people. I'm an introvert, so confrontation is not something I enjoy (though working in various brick and mortar, including currently banking, I've gotten fairly comfortable with handling the occasional upset member of the public - so it's not the end of the world, but still not my idea of relaxing). I was using alternate means of composing to avoid discomfort, but at the same time trying to overcome the basic fear I had of photographing strangers. So my technique centered around getting people framed prominently and shot from the front so their faces are visible, so as to avoid the infamous timid street photos of the backs of people.

I got maybe a couple interesting ones this way, see these:

View attachment 846030 P1040512-2 by Andrew Lossing, on Flickr

View attachment 846031 emphatic by Andrew Lossing, on Flickr

But I also got quite a few where the characters aren't interesting, or not enough is going on. In addition, I've found the focus on shooting individual subjects candidly doesn't interest me enough in the moment. I'm looking for a way to get my photos to have more sustained interest, through more to study and uncover in the frame. When I look at photographers like Garry Winogrand, that's what draws me to a lot of his work. While I love the simplicity of a lot of Cartier-Bresson's stuff, I feel like his composition stayed with the fifties, and the more complicated scenes of Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz are more modern. They're what I should be more expectant of finding nowadays, at least when there isn't a global pandemic emptying the streets.

To that end, I've been trending more towards slightly more visually complex scenes. Those are a lot harder to handle, but I think pushing myself into some added difficulty is helping refine my attempts at street, plus having the added benefit of not featuring individuals isolated in such a way that I am solely taking their photo. Incidentally, I'm shooting most of the time either with the Ricoh GR or a film rangefinder these days. With the GR, I hold it out a little from myself, and the motion is more recognizably taking a photograph in people's direction - but, being a wide angle, I can include people in a scene without them feeling like they are being singled out by where I'm pointing the camera. The rangefinder is even more obvious, but I've yet to have anyone really seem to care if I have the camera to my eye pointed at them. I chalk that up to how "retro" the Voigtlander Bessa T looks with a small lens. It elicits interest from people much more often than it seems threatening. I definitely see that as a plus.

Below I'm including some of the images I consider to be what I'm after. To some extent this may be armchair philosophizing, rather than a disciplined modus operandi when I'm out taking photos. But I can tell I'm drifting more in this direction; these are more recent, and they're the sort of things I'm "seeing" more often now.

View attachment 846032 R0004989-3 by Andrew Lossing, on Flickr

View attachment 846033 R0001124 by Andrew Lossing, on Flickr

View attachment 846034 untitled by Andrew Lossing, on Flickr

View attachment 846035 R0002213 by Andrew Lossing, on Flickr

What do you guys think? Do the more individual shots have more somehow, or are the more complicated photos more interesting? Is one more "street" than the other in your opinion? Are they both garbage? I've been mulling over my back catalog so much lately what with the limited opportunities to get out and shoot, I'm interested to hear any thoughts that other folks come up with, no matter what they are.


I like your thinking and it's good to evolve but I really like that first picture on the train with the bike!
 
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