Shooting life on the street

Victoria ‘street shooter’ documents daily life

Victoria Camera Club member Don Peterson stands in Chinatown

Victoria Camera Club member Don Peterson stands in Chinatown

With his camera hanging unobtrusively around his neck and his thumb positioned over his camera’s shutter button, Don Peterson goes looking for beauty and art in life’s everyday moments.

As he walked the streets of New York City last fall, he snapped raw and timeless black-and-white shots that documented people in simple yet powerful moments.

“That’s the power of the street photographer,” said Peterson. “You capture people as they are.”

This documentary-style street photography will be the focus of a workshop he is teaching on March 21 through the Victoria Camera Club. The club, which has about 150 novice to master members, hosts regular meetings, workshops, field trips and competitions for people to improve their skills.

Some shutter bugs have made street photography their life’s work, specializing in snaping moments in which their subjects don’t realize someone is there with camera in hand.

“The photographer doesn’t manipulate the subject,” said Peterson.

“With street photography, it’s a completely different mindset. You get out there and keep your mind completely open without preconceived ideas.”

Subjects aren’t asked to pose and artificial lighting isn’t used. As a result, the pictures reveal a compelling snippet at “the decisive moment.”

“You press the shutter at a moment that tells the story about society or the human condition or something about ourselves,” said Peterson, adding that the photo can also reveal surprises.

“You find something else in the photo that just makes it,” he said.

To capture these moments, he uses a Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot camera, but many street photographers today prefer the 35-millimetre Leica. The invention of the first-ever portable, quiet rangefinder camera in 1929 is said to have revolutionized popular photography, and helped birth street photography.

But even young people today, with their smartphone cameras at the ready, may be engaging in this type of photography but don’t realize there’s a name for it.

“A younger audience could be fascinated with street photography,” Peterson noted.

The workshop is March 21, followed by two field trips on March 22 and 26, and a presentation in April. The session is open to members of the Victoria Camera Club, but new members are welcome. Yearly memberships are $65 for individuals or $85 for families.

For more information, please visit www.victoriacameraclub.org or e-mail president@victoriacameraclub.org.

emccracken@vicnews.com