"Strangers On Buses", iPhone Street Photography Series | Boston Street Photography

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Turbulence"

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Turbulence"

Back in 2012 I wrote a blog post about my burgeoning iPhone Street Photography Series on my Instagram feed called "Strangers On Buses". In that post I talk about how this series came to be. I also talk a bit about how my photography obsession began, about how I am self-taught and how I learned the basics of photography while doing street photography. You can see that post here.

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Alone Together"

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Alone Together"

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Lone Child"

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Lone Child"

I'm still plugging away at this series and still only using my iPhone. When I started "Strangers On Buses", I intentionally used mostly monochrome images. I felt that full-color images could be too distracting, diverting focus away from the content. The use of monochrome also gives the images a sort of "timeless" feel, which I like. 

But then, a few months into this year, I allowed myself to play with color in this series. I think this was because I'd seen some old street photography photos from the 1940's that were originally shot in black & white, but that had been expertly colorized...and I was stunned at the new life the color gave them. You see, I've always loved gazing at and studying old photos, especially street photography. I could spend hours upon hours looking at street photography from different decades. I get so much pleasure out of seeing what life was like back in (you name it!) decade/century. I'm absolutely fascinated by what the fashion was like, and how people related to each other in public, how children played. I guess those colorized old photos stunned me because suddenly the people in them didn't seem so different and far away. I felt a deeper connection with the people in those photos. The times they were living in and the rules of society were, for sure, very different than the present, of course. But it reminded me that people are people, and though technology, fashion and social graces may change over the years, we never really change. 

Also new this year: I started giving titles to many of the new images in this series. 

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Seeing Green"  

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Seeing Green"
 

 © 2104 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Graphic Novel Love"

© 2104 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Graphic Novel Love"

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Stuck in Traffic"

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Stuck in Traffic"

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Case of the Mondays"

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Case of the Mondays"

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Tax Break"

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Tax Break"

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Day After Labor Day Morning Commute"

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Day After Labor Day Morning Commute"

 @ 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Days End on a Friday"

@ 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses: Days End on a Friday"

Whenever my parents pull out old photos of me as a teenager during the early to mid 1990's (I guess I'm outing myself with my age, here!), I'm always so surprised at what I was wearing back then and how my hair was styled (or NOT styled - I was a grunge kid Generation X-er, after all). I remember the turbulence and emotional drama of my teenage years, but it's so funny that I don't remember how I actually looked! When I'm in my sixties, will I remember how I look and feel now, in my 30's? Probably not, judging from the past. But photography - even the crude snap shot that has been lovingly printed out and kept for others to see - is so, so important. 

 © 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses:  Strangers NOT on Buses"

© 2014 Sarahmica Photography - "Strangers On Buses:  Strangers NOT on Buses"

Street photography is special. It documents actual, real moments of life. I think of future generations who, like me, are curious and want to gaze at and study and ask questions about what it was like in 2014. It's a sort of anthropology. If done well, it's considered "art". I always strive to be artful in each of my street photography images, of course. But if they fall short of being considered art I know that, at the very least, they are Life, Documented. And I take immense pleasure in that.  

Strangers, iPhone Street Photography | Boston Street Photography

In the early days of my photography obsession (which only began a few years ago, actually), I did a lot of street photography. I was heavily influenced by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson at the time. Nearly every weekend I'd go on self-assigned photo adventures in different parts of Boston. It was great fun and I learned quite a lot about the basics of photography (shutter speed, aperture, ISO). I'm a self-taught photographer, and back then I had just acquired a little Canon Rebel and a 50mm lens. I didn't know how to operate my new DSLR, as I was coming straight from a cheap pocket point-and-shoot. However, I was absolutely determined to learn photography, so I figured I'd just dive in head first. I skipped the auto settings and went straight into manual mode. I assumed I'd learn faster that way and I believe I did. The streets of Boston were my training ground. When I couldn't figure out why a particular image sucked ("Why is the subject not in focus?", "Why is there motion blur when I don't want there to be?", "Why is this image over/under exposed?", etc.), I'd get on photography forums and ask the more advanced shooters questions. Then I'd go back out and try to correct my mistakes. And that's how I learned, by trial and error...and pure obsession. 

Eventually, though, I became bored with street photography. I wanted to be involved in the process of ORCHESTRATING and CREATING a beautiful image, instead of waiting, hunting, scanning the crowded streets of Boston until I found someone doing something interesting. So, naturally, I began the work of learning about portrait photography...fast forward a few years, and here I am now.

I completely forgot about street photography and how amazing it can be. The rush of capturing a moment that is real and true, capturing people just being people, human and un-posed, and documenting it when they don't know you're watching...is truly cool. I forgot about all of that until I got my first iPhone in October of last year. I'd been hearing of this app called Instagram, but I didn't get what all the fuss was about. I installed the app anyway. Initially, I just saw a lot of people taking photos of themselves making the "duck face", and tons of parents snapping mundane, uninteresting shots of their kids. And food, lots of plates of food. But then I started searching specific photography hash tags, especially the street photography, and WOW. I mean, the talent that is out there is stupifying. Intimidating. And so inspiring.

So I got inspired again by street photography and I became again the silent observer waiting for the perfect moment, but ONLY using my iPhone. It's so inconspicuous, a perfect tool for this type of photography. I can't bring myself to lug my big 5D Mark II and lenses around for this genre. Perhaps I'm simply not as fearless on the streets as I used to be. Or not as hungry. Or maybe I'm just lazy. But this is alright, because I don't mind the challenge of the constraints of the iPhone camera. The images from the iPhone will probably never be as clean and beautiful as the images from a full frame, gazillion pixel DSLR, of course. But there is beauty in the noise, in the grit and grain, in the imperfection. 

I started an iPhoneography series called "Strangers On Buses" on my Instagram feed. I ride a lot of buses!

Here are some of my favorites over the past several months: