📱How to: iPhone Street Photography

What if the great Paris photographers of the 1930s had a smartphone?

According to my description on the KelbyOne.com website, I’m now a street photographer.

I never thought of myself that way before. I was always the “Tech Guy,” or “Camera Guy,” but it does make sense.

I bring people along with me for the ride when visiting great places on my “Photowalks,” travel photography series on the Tubi streaming app, and most of the time we’re out in the streets. 🏛️

Well, except for a few brief interior visits, like the peek inside the historic Casino on Catalina Island, the four tables of Paul’s Cafe on the Big Island of Hawaii and slipping inside the book store that inspired the Harry Potter books in Porto, Portugal.

The other instructors at Kelby’s online iPhone Photography Conference (6/29 and 6/30) include the esteemed travel photography Austin Mann, astrophotographer Erik Kuna, family shooter Tracey Sweeney, reps from Adobe and of course, Scott Kelby, the prolific author about all things Photoshop, and more recently a terrific book of iPhone photo tips.

I’ll be offering my tips on great smartphone street photography, so lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about just what is street photography in 2021. To most people, the definition is usually candid shots of street life, usually without people knowing that you’re snapping the shutter. That’s how the great Henri Cartier-Bresson saw it when he pioneered the form in the 1930s.

Imagine if he could run around Paris today with an iPhone instead of a Leica?

He could take way many more photos (128 GB memory card vs. 24 exposure roll of film!), not have to worry about whether to shoot in black and white or color, be able to capture video, panoramas, long exposures, time lapses and amazing portraits. Instead of his 50mm lens on his rangefinder camera, he’d have a more versatile collection of three lenses on a little phone. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 12mm, like a GoPro, 24mm wide angle and a 65mm portrait lens. Top of the line Samsung Galaxy phones have similar features and lens choices.

The great thing about smartphones is that street photography is now so much more than just taking photos of people doing strange or funny things in an urban environment.

It’s still capturing the world outside your home as you see it. That could be scenes from a Parisian cafe, showing how they live in Paris, to capturing the murder of George Floyd in a Pulitzer winning moment for a young Minneapolis teen. Or showing the magic of a summer sunset.

The fun thing is using the new tools to make amazing photos and video when you’re out and about. And I’ve got some ideas to share with you on just how to do that. I hope you’ll join me at the iPhone conference!

This week’s tech news

NEW WINDOWS: Microsoft will have an update to the Windows operating system in the fall, and what that means for you is a stylish new look that will also require you to learn new ways to use the software. I’m sure it will be great. But I can’t let this opportunity go by without making fun of the ridiculous quote from a Microsoft suit. Windows users, Panos Panay suggested in a blog post, had shifted looking at their machines from “practical and function” to something that is now “personal and emotional.” Really. I love my Mac Mini, but believe me, I don’t get all gooey about it. I just use it. Meanwhile, I ditched Windows years ago, and the only emotion that emerged from these hands back then was frustration. It’s why I switched. And no, I’m not emotional about MacOS. Anything but.

INSTAGRAM. For 11 years Instagram has been the most popular photo sharing app, one with a major flaw for us photographers. Unless we knew the workarounds, we could only upload our photos and videos to the site from the smartphone. This sucks because many of our best images are shot on cameras, and this required importing them to the computer, then e-mailing them to the phone, then downloading the file there. We wanted browser uploads! And the time is finally coming. This week Instagram said it’s testing a trial to do just that.

STEER CLEAR OF NAS: If you value your photo backup (and other data), you should be storing your stuff on local drives, not on ones that are connected to the internet. For one, they’re a pain to setup and dreadfully slow. Secondly—they’re yet another way to get hacked, as drive giant Western Digital revealed this week.

KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT: If you’re out of Los Angeles, you may have missed this, but the mayor’s chief of staff was discovered to have said really mean and embarrassing things about people on what she thought was a private Facebook group, and has since been stripped of her duties. Folks, I’ve been saying this for years—there is no privacy. A disappearing Snapchat comment can live on in a screen shot. A “private” Facebook post can be copied and pasted thousands of times. A rude comment about somebody on a phone call can be recorded. A text from me to you about another person that says something disparaging can be forwarded to that person. Want to let it all hang out without being recorded for posterity? Go out to the desert or an empty beach and say it one to one.

SPEAKING OF THE BEACH: We didn’t get that hoped for sunset on Sunday, but we had a great Photowalk meetup anyhow. Here’s some of my favorite images from the night. The next one is set for Thursday 7/22 at 6:30 p.m.

Aquarium Concert

I feel so dumb! I literally wrote the book on video production (Video Nation) so how could I do a concert on the Manhattan Beach Pier with Paul Ellis last weekend and not record it? Guess I was too busy dragging instruments back and forth!

Luckily, my friend Mitch Gladstone and wife Ruth picked up some snippets, which I’d like to share here. (And note to self—gosh, your street photography camera could have recorded the entire show!)

Thanks Jane Takagi for the publicity photo!

💙 Finally, some Blue: This has nothing to do with photography or tech, but I’ve always been a huge Joni Mitchell fan, especially her jazz period. So it was so cool this week to see Joni get her props, as 50 years of her classic Blue album was celebrated. Loved this piece in the Guardian asking musicians to name their favorite Blue song. What’s yours? Write me and I’ll tell you my choice. And can you pick a favorite Joni song of all time too?

Thanks everyone for watching, reading and listening!

Jeff