Tom Waits sang "...traveling abroad in the continental style,
It's my belief one must attempt to be discreet,
And subsequently bear in mind your transient position
Allows you a perspective that's unique."
As far as I know, street photography is not something Tom has dabbled in - I'm fairly sure he'd be amazing with his unforgiving eye for detail - though these words could well describe the foreign street photographer's view of a new place. A perspective that's unique. I'm just back from a few days away in Prague - capital of the Czech Republic. For me, it was a first time visit and I have to confess to not only knowing very little about the city but also to not really having done my homework. Tish tish.
A new place is always exciting - for me, with my street photographer hat on (very fetching), it seems to bring fresh impetus and an opportunity to marvel at the everyday things that the locals don't even notice. In Prague it was cobbles and trams, street signs and narrow lanes (especially in the wet), and the beauty of being in a city at night (happens all too rarely for this country based boy).
This time I found that it took me a goodly while to get my eye in - something I hadn't expected. The centre (we were staying in the centuries old New Town - not the Old Town) is remarkably untouched by war and unscathed by business. It's small too, making it easy to visit the key sites in a few days break. All lovely. I don't know whether it was the lack of concrete, steel and reflective glass or the abundance of cobbles, stone and age blackened statues that somehow switched off my street photography goggles. Perhaps it just takes time to adjust to a new place.
My first piece of real street shooting was the photo above - Taking the Strain. I suppose it shows that wherever you go some things remain the same - the sanctity of the worker's playtime, tea break or sneaky gasper - while others take the strain.