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Photographing in public places – street photography and more…

Fokko Muller

Fokko Muller

Last weekend I travelled to Rotterdam to take part in a street photography workshop lead by the famous Dutch street photographer Fokko Muller*.

I took part in two of his ‘Street Photography Fundamental’ workshops a couple of years ago, but this time I upped the game and decided to register for Fokko’s ‘Advanced’ workshop. Unfortunately, all of his Advanced workshops were fully booked, so I asked to be put on the waiting list.

I never expected to be invited, but to my surprise I received a message from Fokko a couple of days before the event, asking me if I was still interested to join his workshop. Yes off course I was!!!

The day before, I gathered all my gear, charged all my camera batteries and packed my bag. The weather forecast was looking good, so I packed light.

Unfortunately the weather forecasts got it all wrong. The day was filled with heavy rain showers, so I purchased a rain coat – which proved out to be very useful – on Rotterdam Central Station and quickly ate the sandwiches I brought with me.

I walked to the place where we agreed to meet and saw a group of people eagerly awaiting the arrival of Fokko. It was instantly clear to me that these were nice people that were fun to spend the day with.
Then Fokko seemed to appear out of nowhere with a big smile on his face. A lot of the participants of the workshop had taken part in one or more of his workshops in the past, so this felt a bit like a reunion to him.

When the group was complete, we went to a conference room where Fokko gave an introduction to the workshop and explained all of the assignments in brief. After that, we were ready to go.

We started with a panning assignment, which is a technique where the subject of the photo should end up being relatively sharp, whereas the background is motion blurred. This proved to be the most demanding task of the day for me. I did get some of the subjects in focus, but I realized too late that I chose the wrong background. As you can see in the picture below, the background is blurred, but because it’s so clean and sterile, you don’t really notice the background blur.

Panning Technique

Panning technique, 1/30th of a second

I’ll definitely use the panning technique more in my street photography, but I’ll pay special attention to the background (as one always should).

After the panning assignment we went to the tram stops to photograph people behind the tram windows. This was especially fun. Wet clothing, umbrella’s, raincoats and even shower caps made interesting subjects. I particularly liked the raindrops on the tram windows.

Another assignment I really enjoyed was to focus on details. This is something I hardly ever do, but it was great fun. It teaches you to look at your surroundings very differently. I was very pleased to be able to take a photo of a very impressive moustache. This photo will surely be part of my Majestic Moustache Project.

A majestic moustache

A majestic moustache

But I also like this photo of a seemingly golden watch. All in all, this assignment was great fun.

Bling Bling!

Bling Bling!

Just a little joke

Just a little joke

I won’t spill the beans on the whole workshop, but the last assignment I would like to mention is the one where we would follow someone on the market place and shoot multiple photos to make a little ‘story’. I thought that this would be the hardest assignment, because we would have to shoot more than one photo and remain unnoticed the whole time.

Luckily I was able to take a series of 7 photos of this couple buying a typical Dutch treat, stroopwafels:

The day after the workshop I found out that one of the other participants, Cathelijne Hornstra, made a series of the same couple right after I finished my series. We agreed to join our photos and make one mega-series, so stay tuned for that!

Of course there were more assignments that I could mention, but if you’d like to learn more about street photography, why not take part in one of Fokko’s workshops yourself? I really enjoyed myself that day and I look forward to attending one of Fokko’s Advanced workshops next year.

 

Sander

 

 

* Fokko is a Dutch street photographer with years of experience. He is an official Olympus Visionary – a kind of ambassador for the Olympus camera brand – and owner of straatfotografie.nl, a Dutch street photography website. Although we share the same surname, we are not related.

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