Bargain Depot Chinatown. San Francisco, California. September 5, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Man with guitar walks past a Chinatown souvenir shop at night.
When photographing in the “street” you never quite know what will show up, when it will happen, or how quickly it will appear and disappear. And you have very, very little control over the elements that might make a photograph — you can sometimes pick your point of view, perhaps create a composition out of the static elements, watch a person approaching who might put a point of focus in the scene… but they you simply have to work with whatever happens. I think this can be even a bit trickier at night, since not all of the interesting things take place in light that can easily be photographed.
Here the first focus for me was the gaudy, colorful, and well-lit interior of this open front store in San Francisco’s Chinatown district. There is some interest in that subject alone, but frankly it can be a pretty static thing when not populated by people. As I looked at this storefront and pondered how to make a photograph out of it I noticed a man wandering up the sidewalk with a guitar, a literal strolling minstrel. At that point, he became the important element, and as he passed I attempted to time several exposures that placed him in interesting places in the composition.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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