Street Photography...underground

Something I hear a lot is "I went out shooting and there was nothing to see", well my honest reply is....."there is ALWAYS something to shoot", no matter where you are, there are always things to find of interest, be it people, buildings, landscapes or even subway station markings as was the case in subject for this little adventure... please mind the gapshooting in MTR

The subject of this post came about whilst we were out shooting street photography one day, we were spending a lot of time in-between our chosen locations on the Hong Kong MTR (subway/tube) then we came up with a quite random idea of shooting the station names at each stop and making a fine art print of it.  Now this is a subject that most of us in Hong Kong see every day, but somehow for me is much more interesting when seen in a collage type image because of the patterns and colours, etc.

collage of stationsrocco shooting the wall

Rocco was using his trusty new found friend the Fuji X100 (he also uses the Leica M9 and for film shooting the Leica MP) and I was using the Leica M9 which I use exclusively for all my 'non-commercial' shooting.  All these cameras are absolutely perfect for shooting 'street photography' and anywhere where you need discretion, such as the MTR, due to their low profile size which is generally not intrusive or offending to people.  This is not to say that other cameras are no good, I personally think my Canon 5D Mark II image quality is second to none,  these are just our personal choices to achieve maximum image quality with a low profile camera in these environments.

Gary & Rocco on patrol

So, technical jargon aside, we photographed all the station names along the entire Tsuen Wan line (or red line), and along the way I photographed pretty much every sign, marking and logo I could find on and off the trains that was relative to the MTR experience, with the idea to produce some quirky images of the subject as can be seen in this image below.

composite of logos from MTR

I think by the end of this day, we had shot far more images on the MTR system than we had on the street, and that's a good thing, as we shoot street photography several times a week already, so it makes a nice change.  Signs like the ones below I had never noticed before, 'no spitting'; you would think that is an obvious thing that people wouldn't need reminding to refrain from doing in an enclosed environment around other people!

no spitting please!

We spent a total of around 3 hours shooting the stations, in theory if it had been pouring down with rain outside, we could have shot this whole project without getting wet, so even on those types of days, this kind of thing would be a perfect little project to work on for something different - no excuses for not getting out taking pictures, wind, rain or shine!

At Prince Edward Stationthe route

The message in this whole post is really about 'opening your eyes' to what is around you, we all rush around too fast, especially in these big cities where life's pace often overtakes us and gives us little time to absorb what is all around, but it is really important as a photographer to take the time to step back and observe, you really will surprise yourself if you can find the time to do this a few times a week, even if its only for half an hour, its an amazing world we live in, both in black and white and colour, so get out there, find something ordinary and make it extraordinary!

Upcoming blog posts will talk about where we print and frame our images here in Hong Kong, and the software we use to very quickly put together multiple images like in the montages above.

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F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.