can collector in street scene in Venice, California in late afternoon golden light - street photography


Street Photography in Venice California is an endless inspiration if you overlook the fake crazies like the guitar player on roller skates. They are just for the tourists, including a credit card swipe machine for those who want an authentic picture of a Venice crazy. What you see is that is real. Nothing counts but your impression and how the elements suddenly blend together into a coherent image like the flash of an idea.


mannequins in a store in Venice California


Fake and Real in Venice, California

Key attitude: do not look for the real Venice, California. Real is what happens before your eyes. It’s how matter of factly you see it without distorting it through common perceptions, also called kitsch.

The real crazies don’t often advertise their slant and they rise out of the crowds and sink back into them like a message in a bottle in the Pacific Waves pushing the latest oil spill on Venice beach. Street photography can be risky with the amount of drugs floating around in the intersecting blood streams of Venice beach. Have your pepper spray ready. Be sure to have a strong posture. And possibly not use a wide angle lens so you can smell the breath of the photographed.


Insane man in plastic mask and plastic bag in Street scene in Venice, California, photography by Robert Wilde


Photography in the Street – Combat and Cage Fighting and Poetry

I am not a true street photographer. I am not one of those who fly in the faces of people and get images of an absurd beauty. Maybe I am too private to do that. But I love to photograph the street for inspiration and I like to stay more unnoticed, not going in for the clinch like the cage fighters of street photography like Bruce Gilden. Looking at his work I wonder how he stayed alive all those years. In the close combat form of street photography the potential for conflict is great and you cannot get a good picture without basically attacking your subjects and move them out of their masked comfort zone to get that realism you see in Gilden’s work.

I guess the poetry of Henri Cartier-Bresson as a less brutal form of street photography suits me better. The poet always goes farther away from his subjects and leaves their reality untouched by creating an additional layer of reality on them. Hard street photography claims: this is what really is. Poetry street photography says: this could be if you can see it.

There are as many styles of street photography as there are photographers. No matter what style, what is inspiring is that you have to react quickly and you cannot be seen by your subject too soon or they will  immediately put a wall of fake just like most people who know they are going to be photographed and want to put in their own image version. As non-actors can’t act those are always terrible so if you get to that acting stage you lost that image. It all comes together in a very brief moment. Mind and camera have to go together without questioning.


men talking in the street in Venice California - street photography


I also go out at night when the people have disappeared and just a few druggies and potheads are dragging themselves along, electric bike riders shot up with anything you can buy illegally try to run you over on the boardwalk if the hour is late so you walk the side streets which they do not frequent as they are too scared to miss the space between the houses and end up with a broken neck in a trash can. I will publish another story over Venice Beach at night in the coming weeks.

Here is another post on Venice Beach, but this time without people

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