Street Photo Tip: Stick With an Interesting Subject 2

We see them a lot on the street, don’t we? Interesting subjects. Not just interesting subjects, but a continuing series of interesting moments and interactions between those interesting subjects. Normally, we take a quick photo, perhaps pausing a bit to get the right moment, and move on. How often do we stick with a particular subject looking for something more complex?

Okay, yeah…sounds kind of stalkish-creepy, I know.

That’s not my intention. Just like in the 5 Street Photography Tips: be respectful and not obnoxious.

So I was at the main train terminal in Hualien, central Taiwan when one of those perfect subjects appeared right next to me. It was a grandmother feeding fast noodles (that’s Cup ‘O Noodles to us “Western” folk) to her infant grandson.

This was my first photo, taken right after I noticed her. Honestly, as a street shot it’s okay. Even the eye contact (I was right next to her…a 6’2″ foreigner like me stands out like a sore thumb.) didn’t ruin the shot for me. But I knew that she had just started feeding her grandson and so there would be more opportunities to capture something better.

Here’s the 2nd photo, taken as she set the fast noodles down on the chair next to me. Still an okay image and the overall composition is definitely improved, but I could still do better with them.

Here’s the next photo, taken after she sat down across from me. I really, really don’t like this one. I was so focused on the infant that I didn’t pay attention to the edges and ended up getting a half-person on the left side of the frame. Yes, I know I can crop it in post, but I firmly believe that post-processing should be used to make a good photo better, not a mediocre photo okay. In other words, I don’t want to get into the habit of using Photoshop as an emergency bandaid. I prefer it as a complimentary tool. Plus, I also nipped off the grandmother’s toes and you can’t crop those in. 😉

Now to the final photo and the one that made me feel that I had achieved what I was after. Not only is the grandmother interacting with her grandchild through feeding, but she is also interacting strongly with other components in the environment. Specifically, she is staring suspiciously at the back of a man standing near her. Overall, the composition feels well-balanced and there is some complexity to it.

What do you think is the best of the series? On which one would you have stopped and why?

About Brian

Brian Q. Webb is a photography enthusiast from Los Angeles, California who spends most of his time in Taipei, Taiwan. He is especially interested in street photography as well as large format portraiture and pinhole photography. He also likes to shoot lifestyle portraiture and occasionally acts as an agent for foreign newspapers wanting event coverage in Taipei. He was also on the staff of deviantArt and is co-founder of PhotoMalaysia, the largest photography community in that country.

  • Poagao

    I like the third one best. The half-person doesn’t bother me in the slightest; if the person were fully captured in the frame it would be more of a distraction. The line over her head bothers me a bit more, though. The last one’s ok as well, but the white blank space is strange, to me at least.

  • Brian

    In the last one, that white blank space (I’m assuming you mean the column?) helps to frame/segregate 2 major components of the image: the grandmother and the man. That’s one of the reasons I felt it to be more compositionally balanced.

    Yeah, that line is annoying, too.