Photography on the Streets of Tulum, Mexico

I’ve always been drawn to candid photography.

Sure, posed portraits are also fun to envision and create, but candid photography has always seemed like a more authentic expression of life.

For me, photography is a way to capture a moment – to put a slice of time into a bottle so that it can be pulled out and admired later. The more intricacies you can capture in that moment to entrance the senses, the more clarity you will have when you revisit the image again later.
Given all of that, it would have made sense for me to explore street photography a long time ago. After all, there isn’t exactly a long list of requirements required to try it out. Not equipment to lug around. You don’t need full-frame. Etc, etc.

It’s really easy to settle into the “grass is always greener on the other side” frame of mind with photography. I’d love to photograph sherpas with loaded backpacks in Nepal – but all I have available is the Walmart parking lot.

Well, maybe there’s beauty in the Walmart parking lot.

But in this circumstance, I was in Mexico – a country that is remarkably colourful when compared to my relatively drab hometown. Every street corner oozes vivid personality.

“For me, photography is a way to capture a moment – to put a slice of time into a bottle so that it can be pulled out and admired later. ”
Almost immediately I realized that I would need to simultaneously be more subtle and more confident if I wanted to capture anything worth keeping.

Subtle in terms of my approach and what I was wearing. I was rocking the full out tourist outfit, complete with large camera bag. I stood out.

But I had to be confident in order to actually put myself in the positions where I could get the shot. That’s a challenge that is both fun and terrifying.

The second people see a camera pointed at them, they change. Some people can beam a radiant smile that exudes natural confidence and charm. Some people almost slip on a mask and you wonder if you’re looking at a completely different person. Some people freeze or almost involuntarily grimace.

Regardless, what the photo captures is no longer the person in their natural state. And I think that’s a shame.

To be clear, my goal isn’t to capture people at their worst. It’s to capture people as they are. Everyday normality in all its fleeting beauty.

But there’s fear. Fear of being caught in the act of taking a picture. Fear of being yelled at. Fear of being accused.

I certainly let a number of excellent opportunities pass simply because I would have been too exposed by taking the picture. Shots where a low angle would have been best but there is no subtle way to crouch in the middle of a busy city sidewalk.

Much to learn.

Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed trying my hand at street photography right from the start. And it’s on my list to keep it going.

We’ll see what happens.

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