Three Street Stories - How I got the shot #2

Welcome to my eyeballs, and come and take a virtual street photography walk with me! In this series I’m going to talk you through some of my favourite photographs, sharing my thought process along with how I got the shot. You can also find shorter versions of these stories on The Photo Weekender Instagram.

We are so used to looking at photos for a second or two before moving to the next one, so before you read the story behind the picture spend a bit longer on the picture itself, and try to imagine being faced with the scene, and try and imagine what else you could or would do with it if you were there… And then when you read about it you may discover you and I are vibing in the way we construct images, or in the way we see potential in what is in front of us, or you may find there’s something new to take away.


Image © Polly Rusyn. All rights reserved.

Valencia Day in October is a national holiday in (you guessed it) Valencia, and it is quite the event. I was in the city with the aim of photographing the people in costume who took part in the official parade. The first thing I did was head into the centre, as I knew that was where the action would be. There, I found crowds listening to the official speeches, demonstrations (with crowds), crowds waiting for the parade behind railings along closed roads, oh and more crowds!

It was overwhelming, so I retreated and was lucky enough to happen upon a group of people in beautiful costumes who were on their way to take part in the main event! In their midst I saw a man carrying a fan, and there are certain things street photographers simply cannot resist, and one of them is a fan, and if you cannot resist a fan, how can you resist a man with a fan?!

I decided to switch to low continuous on my camera for this (I never shoot high), as time was short, and fan flapping was fast. I needed to give myself as high a chance as possible of catching the fan at the right angle, as I needed to think about the sun lighting it, the face that kept appearing from behind it, as well as all the other moving parts in the frame - in order to organise them somehow. I also wanted to keep the background equally divided between light and shade, so I could have two stories in one frame - as you can see there was a fair bit to keep an eye on and juggle. It was a deliberate decision to crop the owner of the arm with the fan out of the frame. Random arms are good, and it adds some mystery. (But I am a bit bothered by the elbow in the background... shhhhh!)

By the way The Photo Weekender will be back in Valencia in September!!! Bring it on!


Image © Polly Rusyn. All rights reserved.

First of all The Vatican City is a stunning location, and a wonderful place for street photography, and I literally cannot wait to run another Weekender there this September!!! Anywhere with tourists is great in my opinion, because tourists are usually too busy being tourists to even think you might be interested in photographing them rather than the sights. It was a super hot day and I desperately needed to get out of the sun, and the spot I found turned out to be the best place to stand to get a shot like this one.

Not only did I have some cooling shade, I also had a stunning view of St Peter’s, and a steady stream of people walking past me - as this was the queue to enter the Basilica. There is always an opportunity for a picture no matter where you are and sometimes especially so somewhere you hadn't considered there might be. Plus it’s always a good idea to pick an interesting spot for a rest or a cool down!

Once I set myself up, both with the background as I wanted it in my frame, and my camera settings ready for silhouettes - I waited. Crowds have a rhythm, and tend to ebb and flow, so after a while of being there I could anticipate when I might get some separation between people coming into and out of the frame from different directions. And the longer you spend in one spot your peripheral vision kicks in (keep both eyes open) and you can start to see how things will come together. Patience in these scenarios really pays off.


Image © Polly Rusyn. All rights reserved.

Whilst in Seville right at the end of a Weekender I had been running there last Autumn, I was lurking in this small square in the old town just before lunch. I was attracted to the colour of the walls and the fact that the square had a number of lanes feeding into it, which meant humans would no doubt converge there, so I stayed in the hope someone interesting would come along, and preferably do something interesting.

The tourist that I photographed here is not doing anything interesting, as all she is doing is taking snaps of the square, however, as you can see she is wearing the exact same colours as the walls, which also happen to be the colours of the Spanish flag - whaaaaaat?! As soon as I saw this connection, I had the idea that I should line everything up. But when I first saw her I was further away and she was framed against the door, so I had to reposition myself, and hope she didn’t move.

In order not to alert her to my cunning plan I walked slowly in a circle calculating in my mind where I needed to be, and at what height my camera needed to be at in order to get what I wanted - I’m sure I looked strange, but I was having a “Rain Man” moment and I was determined. Once repositioned and still moving, I walked slowly towards her making final adjustments (pretty sure I was holding my breath at this point!). I took two photos once I thought I’d got the positioning right. I used my LCD screen for this as the camera needed to be at belly button height, but it wasn't so clear with bright sunshine and sunglasses on. This is the first - the second cropped into her foot. I wish I’d been a bit further back because the frame is too tight for my liking but I did manage to line up the colours as planned!

“When you're out in the street. It is a matter of getting in a certain type of groove.” - Jeff Mermelstein

Wanna find your groove on a workshop with me? Hit this link > UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

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All photographs made with Fujifilm cameras. Polly Rusyn is the Boss at The Photo Weekender and an Official Fujifilm X-Photographer. All the pictures in this post are copyrighted. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owner.

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