Todays guest is Valerie Jardin. World Renowned Street photographer with more than 20 years of experience. A born artist, her bio says "while other kids had posters of rockstars on their walls, I had framed photos from my favorite photographers" She is also the host of the popular "Hit The Streets" Podcast, Today Im excited to find out what those 20 years have taught her about shooting the streets.
In This Episode You'll Learn:
How Valerie got her start in Street photography
Why Street photography is Black and White
The hardest aspect of street photography to learn
What the job of a street photographer is
Why shoot street photography
How to study and learn street photography
the must have gear for street photographers
Premium Members Also Learn:
Is Street photography legal
The most important piece of gear a street photographer can have
What lens for street photography
When to call it quits at a location
How to build photographic intent
How to market street photography
How to sell street photography
How to make money with street photography
Did you enjoy this episode? Check out more recent interviews with other great guests!
Full Episode Transcription:
Disclaimer: The transcript was transcribed electronically and may contain errors that do not reflect accurately what the speaker said. Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.
Raymond: 00:00 Hey Raymond here from the beginning of photography podcast and I would totally go back to school if somebody offered a bachelor's in jeopardy. Trivia. What about you? Okay, let's get into today's interview.
Intro: 00:11 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfield, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raymond interviews the world's top photographers in their field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now with you as always, husband, father, home brewer, La Dodger Fan, an Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield. Welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome,
Raymond: 00:41 Welcome. It is Monday morning. If you're listening to this, that the day that it goes out and today I am, I'm fired up. I'm excited. And it's not one of those like fake excited, you know, fired up type things. It's that is that this interview is the one that I've been asked for by a bunch of people and like, it's finally in the bag. I finally found the perfect I, I feel like I'm trying to like build up some suspense, but it's all about street photography. And today I found Valerie Jardeen and I talk with her in today's chat is, is incredible. I can't wait to get into it, but first guess what street photography is definitely one of those things that is it, it can be something that you can pick up a camera and then just like get into right and just like go out on the street and start taking photos.
Raymond: 01:31 But it's the same way that it's this that you can pick up a camera and show up to a wedding and start taking pictures. Just because you can get a camera, go somewhere and take pictures does not mean that you are proficient at it. It does not mean that there is no barrier to entry. Right? There is always some sort of barrier to entry and with weddings, you know, obviously you need to, you know, know a couple of, you need to know how to use your camera in any situation. Right? And it's the same with street photography because the light changes, right? Like changes. People move fast. You got to learn how to deal with people because you know, you never know if they're going to come up to you and want to start a fight because you're taking their picture. There's a lot of things that you need to know about street photography before you really like go all in on street photography and knowing how to use your camera is, is where it starts, right?
Raymond: 02:19 You can't, you know, you can go out and shoot an auto, but the photos aren't going to come out as nearly as good as you're hoping that they will or that you can already envision in your head. So learning how to, knowing how to use your camera is the number one step, but you need to do. And if right now you're still kind of struggling with that, like trying to figure out what, you know, how, how aperture and ISO work together and what their relationship is or, or how shutter speed affects the actual photo and can potentially create motion blur. But you know, especially if you're panning. So I, if, if that's you, if you're still wondering, you know, how to put it all together, how to work your camera, I want you to come over to the beginning photography podcast and sign up for our two free two day photography boot camp.
Raymond: 03:07 It's free. It's an online video course. So what's gonna happen is you go to the beginning photography podcast.com you sign up for the course and with your email address, that's it. I don't need a name. I don't need social security. I need nothing like that. Just your email. That's, you know, I'm not trying to do anything crazy. I will send you videos, two days worth of videos, right, that are just jam packed full of information about your camera, about settings, about composition, about how to use aperture and how it affects your photos and even about like interacting with people and, and you know, trying to make them feel more comfortable with you. So if that is something that you want to do, if you want to learn how to master your camera, you've got to start somewhere. And this is it. The beginning of photography podcast free two day video bootcamp.
Raymond: 03:52 So go ahead and if you want to, I invite you to come over to the beginner photography podcast.com sign up for the free two day boot camp and then come back and re listen to this episode because I know that you're going to listen to this episode right now and listen to today's episode because today's guest, Valerie has been shooting for 20 plus years, right? And she's been shooting street for a majority of that and she knows her stuff, right? She knows that street photography isn't just going out and snapping a few photos that were on the street and now technically at street photography, she has put in the work to master her craft and it shows in her photos. And today I ask a ton of questions that I know we're going to help you that you know that don't always have to do with the technical side of photography.
Raymond: 04:37 And as always, there is a break where I cut out the most valuable portion of this interview just for premium members who are more interested in the photography in the, in the business side of things, right? So I'm going to ask questions that free listeners can hear that are about photography, right? Like you know, what is the job description of a street photographer? What do you look for when you're shooting street photography? And then the premium section covers more of the business side of things, right? Like what sorts of legalities do you have to deal with when shooting people out on the street? So like I said, premium members are going to hear obviously all about the legalities of street photography, when and where you can shoot and who you can photograph a what to call it, quits at a location, because that's, that's honestly really important as to know when to call it quits.
Raymond: 05:23 And, and if you're just starting out, that's, you know, you just call it quits when you call it quits, but when you're trying to mass or that photo, that's a little bit more important. What being more photographically inclined is and how to take, how to, how to see the world through that Lens. Also how to get paid for being a street photographer, how street photographers make money, right? And those are all things that are really important if you're trying to become a street photographer, a known street photographer, a paid street photographer, a working street photography. So that is why I save that just for the premium members. And then after the break we come back and you are going to hear more questions from Valerie. Like why is street photography always black and white? So I remember a stick around after the break so you can hear a great questions like Vat. Okay, we're going to get into this interview right now with Valerie Jardin. She, it, this is, this is a great interview that I know you're going to pick up a lot of information on that I picked up even just as a wedding photographer not trying to do street photography. So without any further ado, let's get into it with Valerie Jardin.
Raymond: 06:29 Today's guest is Valerie Jardin, a street photographer with more than 20 years of experience, a born artist. Her bio says, while other kids had posters of rock stars on their walls, I framed photos for my favorite photographers. She's also the host of the popular hit the streets podcast. And today I'm excited to find out what those 20 years have taught her about shooting the streets. Valerie, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Valerie Jardin: 06:54 Hi, thank you for having me. Let's not 20 years of street photography. It's 20 years or photography experience. So they go a lot before.
Raymond: 07:04 And that's kind of one thing that I definitely want to get into a first. But as I mentioned there in the, in the bio, you said that you had posters from professional or photo frame photos of professional photographers on your wall. But you also say that you weren't really into photography at the time.
Valerie Jardin: 07:21 No, not at all.
Raymond: 07:23 I know when you were, I want to know why those photos were, were drawn to you to put them on your wall and when did you realize that you were in the photography?
Valerie Jardin: 07:33 Okay. Yeah, I started really late for me. But growing up in France, you have whole bell. Do I know? And [inaudible] as inspiration. You kind of grew up with those pictures anyways. And I always had prints, not original prints unfortunately, but prints of their famous photographs, whether it was a prince that I would cut from a calendar that would have of, do I know or something. And that's what, that's how I decorated my room. So they, they haven't an on me early on possibly, but I was added to photography at the time, but I loved street photography and documentary photography so that I didn't become a photographer till my twenties so, yeah.
Raymond: 08:13 Now you said that you were interested in street photography at the time. What specifically do you think at a young age drew you to this style of photography?
Valerie Jardin: 08:22 Oh, I think it was just very romantic. You know, the, the, the lovers in Paris and so, and I know a lot of my friends, I mean, I wasn't like an oddball or anything. It was kind of a normal thing as a young French woman to be drawn to that kind of art. And a lot of my friends also had those type of photographs in their, in their homes. So I guess it's more a cultural thing. Yeah.
Raymond: 08:47 Oh, right, right, right. So when was it that the photography really stuck with you if you, if you weren't into photography at such a young [inaudible]?
Valerie Jardin: 08:54 Well, I was exposed to it, so my dad,
Raymond: 08:56 When I was growing up was a pretty avid nature and wildlife photographer hobbyists. But, you know, nevertheless, I would, I, there are many mornings where I'd get up super early to go with him and, and wait for the Fox to come out in the den to photograph him. I wasn't interested in the photography aspect of it, but I liked the, that hunting part of photography. And it's not until I moved to the states in my mid twenties that I actually started looking into it. And I was actually first drawn to nature and wildlife because I'm in Minnesota. And the photographer that inspired me when I moved here was Jim Brandenburg, the famous National Geographic Wolf very famous for his wolf photography Northwoods. And and that's the photography that just stuck with me at first. I said, Whoa, I'm in, I mean the best place to do wildlife because we have wolves with bears, we have so much wildlife here in Minnesota. And I thought I could do that. Yeah, I could accept them then I had kids and, and it's not easy to do wildlife photography with two young kids with you. So I did a little bit, but quickly, quickly shifted gear into other things that I could do with the family and toe for my early years as a photographer. So in the beginning, you, you just started pursuing photography once you moved to Minnesota, purely as a hobby Canada to bring back feeling back of you and your dad together.
Valerie Jardin: 10:31 Well maybe, but it quickly, I mean within a year actually, I, I was making money with my photography, so it went really, really quickly. I was photographing children and friends, a children's or friends, you know, and in the end going through the prairie grass, that really natural photo documentary type of portraiture, that was very new back then. I mean the, the, the portraits at the time, it was like sitting on a fake log or big Crayon at JC Penney or you know,
Raymond: 11:06 Crayons and get me every time. Oh, I got photos. Yeah, I was there. Yeah.
Valerie Jardin: 11:11 So so then having, so when I photograph my, my friend's children and they put the pictures on their walls, it was, it was film, you know, at the time. And I would give them, I would give them the, the, the prints. Then people started noticing, cause I thought this is really cool. It was a picture of your family, but it, it looks like art doesn't look like a family picture. And at the time nobody else did that. So then I started getting a lot of requests from friends of friends and I said, oh, sure I can, I can charge you for that. And and it worked. So I worked as a portrait photographer doing that kind of work for, for a few years. Even opened a studio a while and decided I didn't like to photograph kids in studio because it's like bringing them into a, a dentist office or a doctor's office.
Valerie Jardin: 12:02 And, and then and I, I had unlimited patients with my own children, but not so much with other people's children that I decided that yeah, doing family portraits and children portraiture was only going to be a short lived thing. And I actually converted my studio into a product studio. So I did a lot of product photography and, and shift it to the commercial side of photography pretty quickly doing products. And then and one thing led to another and I was shooting interiors for big hotels and things like that. So I pretty much shot it all except for fashion. I think I've pretty much tried everything, which I think is awesome because you learn so much and and you can't say, no, I don't want to do this unless you tried. So I tried a lot of things. I was pretty good at most of it, but I didn't like a lot of it. So I kind of, I only did what I love to do cause I really believe that to be good at something you have to love it. And if it's a chore or a job as an artist and if it feels like a chore, you're not gonna, you're not gonna do it with your heart. So
Raymond: 13:08 Yeah, I try to stress that a lot on the podcast as well. Especially when you're starting out, you should really try to shoot everything possible because there are photographers out there, and I use this as an example, but I know a photographer who kind of I knew when I, when I first started in photography who only shot clear liquids. Like that was his thing. It was only clear liquids like see-through, not, not like clear green, clear liquids, water vodka. Like those types of liquids, if that's all that he did. And I thought to myself when I first figured that out or when I, when I first learned of him was like, how do you even get into that? Surely you don't like grow up as a kid thinking like, gosh, I could, I could just shoot water and vodka like all day long. You know, it's one of those things that progresses you, you shoot a a range of things and then suddenly it sticks for you. But I kinda want to go back to your story here. You said that you picked up a camera there and then within a year you were, you were photographing kids and stuff. When you first picked up that camera, were you already competent with a camera or did you have to learn?
Valerie Jardin: 14:13 I was a full outro for a long time because, and, and yet, you know, that's why the vision is so much more important because you can, if you have, if you have, if you know how to see photographically, you can get by with a phone and still do a fantastic work. Whereas if you're very technical but you have no vision, you're going to have a technically perfect photograph of a boring, of something really boring. So so anyone can learn the technical aspect of photography. That's the easy part. And I always tell my students, you know, don't so much about the technical aspect cause that's easy to learn, just learn to see. And, and I think some of it is innate, but you can learn. I mean, I've, I've seen some of my students over the years that produced some pretty phenomenal work now and I saw them at their early stages. So you can learn, even if it's not something that you're born with, you can certainly learn to become a better photographer. But the technical part is the easy part. And surprisingly enough, that's what, that's what intimidates a lot of people from jumping into that field. [inaudible]
Raymond: 15:23 Sure. It's a lot of numbers. I mean, I get it. It can be intimidating. Yeah. How did, how did you do it? Was it books? Was it just trial and error? Trial and error. Yeah. I love it. I love it. Yeah. Okay. So, so we're kind of at this point to where now you have this, a commercial photography studio right in the it was it in the early two thousands?
Valerie Jardin: 15:43 Yeah.
Raymond: 15:44 Okay. So you had this commercial photography studio and now today you're, you're, you're very well known for your street photography. Where did the transition happen and what was it that inspired you to, to go in that direction?
Valerie Jardin: 15:57 Well I was, I was shooting personal projects throughout because I really feel that, I know I've written a lot about that actually. I really feel that you need to feed your creative soul and, and not work for clients all the time. So, especially when you work for client, that's even more important to just work on personal projects where you don't have to produce work for somebody else, you know, and follow somebody else's direction. So it was really important for me to keep shooting and, and I was traveling back and forth since I was born and raised in France and I'm a French citizen. I was traveling back and forth to France a lot, even with the kids. And actually Ari's with the kids for 17 years straight. And so, but I always did photography there and that's when I actually discovered street photography.
Valerie Jardin: 16:53 I started photographing candid scenes of everyday life with my, with my camera when I was traveling, but never here in Minneapolis. I didn't think there was anything interesting here. I didn't see anything interesting. And so and I, I guess I'd developed it not knowing I was developing my street photographer skills over the years. And then one day actually someone said, why don't you teach this? You're really good at it. I'm like, oh, I don't know. I don't really want to teach it. I was thinking teaching like in a classroom, it's like I know, I mean you have to be on the street. And then, and then I thought, well why not? After all I could bring people to Paris and, and teach them the skills to be better photographers on the streets were straight photography was born. And so that's how I started.
Valerie Jardin: 17:43 So that was eight years ago. I, I did one full and it was all inclusive at the time. I didn't start with one day here locally. I started with a full week all inclusive workshop accommodations and luxury recommendations and everything. And it's sold at the time where most of my colleagues who had been doing that for a while were telling me, no, no, no, we're not selling right now. It's not selling. Don't start now cause you're gonna get discouraged if it doesn't fill up. It filled up. I actually, I had a bunch of people on the waiting list, so it was a good start. And so I went to Paris, did the one a week workshop was a big success and learned a lot. So the following year I had nine workshops and they all sold. So and that was it. That year I quit all my clients.
Valerie Jardin: 18:30 I, I left all my commercial clients and decided this is what I'm going to do. And no more working for clients no more compromising. I'm shooting just for me and go to build my brand that way. So I and it was word of mouth and repeat customers and word of mouth. And now I'm eight years later, I, I think I had 13 workshops in 2018 I think I have 11 right now for sale in 2019. A lot of them are sold out and then and I may add one or two. I just go where I want to go. And then people, people comment, meet me in Paris from Australia or South Africa or England for a week or a weekend sometime it's just a weekend. I have a lot of weekends in the U S and I love every minute of it cause that is a not an easy way to make a living. It's really, really hard. I mean you're, it's intense. Sometime I have nine straight days of workshop and, and not only you have to love to teach you, you wear a lot of hats when you're doing workshops and a, it's extremely difficult and you really have to love it. It's kind of like wedding photography. You have to love it or you're gonna be miserable.
Raymond: 19:48 You got to have the right intentions for sure. Yeah.
Valerie Jardin: 19:51 Yeah. So so that's, that's how it started. And and I'm still doing it. Love it, love it, love it. I would never do it if I didn't love it as much as I do. And then I write books. I been podcasting for four and a half years, almost five years now. And I speak at conferences and teach webinars. So it's all photography. Goodness.
Raymond: 20:13 Yeah. If you had to take a, a just a ballpark guess, how many people do you think have been through your workshop?
Valerie Jardin: 20:23 Oh, it's gotta be close to a thousand. Out of those
Raymond: 20:26 A thousand people, what do you think is the biggest misconception they have when they show up to your workshops? About street photography.
Valerie Jardin: 20:35 Oh, a lot of people don't realize how difficult it is. And how are addicting a lot of people and the way the workshop is designed that it doesn't, what your level is, it's really about seeing a, so they have to come with a certain knowledge of their camera to be able to take control. I mean, if it's minor, I can, you know, they don't have to come and know how to shoot panning on the street that I'll teach in the field. It's not something you can learn from a book, but they have to have good knowledge of the camera. Although a lot of time people come with a brand new camera, although I tell them, please don't bring a brand new camera on the workshop. Know how to use it. Yeah. It has to become an extension of you. And and the, the idea sometime the idea that a street photography means being in people's faces when it does not.
Valerie Jardin: 21:28 That's one way to do it, but it's not for everyone. And I totally discouraged people who don't feel comfortable getting super close on people's face to do it because they're going to ruin the whole shower for everybody else. Everybody does that. So it's not for everyone. Some people prefer an interaction with their subjects. Some people prefer a little more minimalist approach. So I think there is a way to approach it that's going to fit the student's personality to start and then then yes, they will get, want to get closer, they will want to try new things and but they don't have to jump into being in people's faces right away. Cause that has to be done well and respectfully. And it's usually not something you want to do if you don't feel comfortable doing.
Raymond: 22:13 Right. Right. So if there's, like you said, kind of several different types of street photography that you can practice getting up close in somebody's face or taking a much more candid approach. What would you say overall though is the job description of a street photographer?
Valerie Jardin: 22:30 Well, it's really recording everyday life and, and it's not just, there is also the misconception of what's, it's just people walking across the street. No, it's not. You have to be really discerning. I have to be extremely discerning. And that's one thing that most street photographers at first and not discerning. It's like, okay, there's somebody moving. There's a street, there's a subject and like, and it all, it's like, well, what was interesting about that person? I mean, no offense, but there is nothing there. You know, it's a boring subject wearing boring clothes in a boring, with a boring backdrop. I mean, you have to have a lot of elements come together. That's why it's so difficult because you only have control over your vision and your gear. You have control over nothing that's happening on the street. I never stage anything. I mean, it's always 100% candid.
Valerie Jardin: 23:19 I, I do I sometimes, and I always explain to my students, you know, you, you, you always have to go for a story. First of the, the backdrop may not be the best. The light may not be the best, but if you have a beautiful moment, a beautiful story, you have something. If you have a great background and you ruin it with a boring subject, you have nothing. So sometimes all, all the elements will come together, but that happens a few times in a lifetime of a photographer. So I think it's always resetting their expectations, especially if they've, they're, they've been photography, they've been doing others hours of photography such as landscape where they actually can take their time. They have one, they own a tripod, they, they can come back here. You have a fraction of a second to Ma Ma immortalize something that's never happened and will never happen again. That's it. That's all you have. So you have to move really, really quickly. You have to think quickly. And and you have to let go of the notion of perfection which is difficult for a lot of photographers who've done others who've, who've are experienced in other genres or photography is that notion of perfection. Because in the street photography, it's usually the imperfection that creates an emotional response.
Raymond: 24:43 Wow. That's going to be a memorable quote from this episode. So I'm still trying to kinda grasp, kind of wrap my head. Excuse me, kind of wrap my head around street photography a little bit. As, as a wedding photographer and somebody who doesn't shoot street can you walk me through how you go about shooting straight? You said that you don't, you don't, you don't plan anything out. You don't, you don't create anything, you don't interact with it. So when you decide to go out, do you walk out of the House with a specific photo in mind or is it all up to just being in the right place at the right time and hoping that you get something? And if you don't, well at least you weren't behind the desk all day.
Valerie Jardin: 25:28 That's right. No, actually, so first if you have a specific picture in mind, that's somebody else's shot. So it's about yours. That's you would, if you have a specific image in mind that you've seen parolees, something you've seen, then it's not yours. And so I try not to. But then once I'm on a location, I usually hit the street with if depends on the light. So I'll follow the light if I have some interesting light, like a a lot of light and shadows. So that will probably be what I'm going to follow first. If it's an overcast day, I'm going to have to get closer to people and, and, and be more in tune with expressions and gesture because I have nothing in the light that's going to be exciting. So it's a little more difficult. When you have light, harsh light, you're gonna make more exciting photographs no matter what.
Valerie Jardin: 26:22 It's easier than if you have a overcast condition and you don't have the, the spectacular, dramatic light to, to save you like harsh shadows and harsh and, and light sheriffs and so forth, then you're going to have to work a little harder. So I like to be, that said, I do have several projects that are always have in the back of my mind. I have a project about street dogs. I have a project about a stories of hands, which is only getting close to people's hands. So I'm always looking for hands that are doing something different. You know, I shoot with an inches from people. So if I am at a market or a busy area, I'll focus on that because I'm more of a minimalist photographer. So if it's crowded, I'll probably focus on something specific and work on a project.
Valerie Jardin: 27:12 But I don't go with a picture in mind. But once I'm at our location, for example, I find this really amazing shaft of light and, and I know I only have minutes because that light is going to disappear. Then I will visualize what would make the strongest possible shot. And it may or may not happen, but I'm not going to settle. If the, the perfect subject doesn't come through that light before that light disappears, I'm not going to get the shot. I prefer not get the shot that got a mediocre shot. And that's something that takes a long time to discipline yourself to do. A lot of time there's this amazing backdrop and then I see my students, you know, I pointed out the backdrop and they'll see them. I'll see, usually work with them one on one or two of them at a time when we're in a an interesting area.
Valerie Jardin: 28:02 And I go back and forth to them and point things out and they see this amazing backdrop and then they grab a picture and I said, well wait, what did you take a picture of? So, well, yeah, look, there was, somebody came through, I'm like, okay, this is a person with uninteresting clothes, with a backpack, you know, all the, which creates kind of a, not a very elegant subject and, and really nothing. The light is if the light hits their face, it doesn't hit the face. I'll hit the back of their head or something. So it's like, it's, the light was good, the background is good, but you settled for an interesting subject. I said, no, you stay longer. You have 10 more minutes of that light here in 10 minutes. Somebody much better, much more fitting for that environment may come through. If you're in Paris or Rome, you're not going to photograph a tourist, right?
Valerie Jardin: 28:50 You're going to photograph somebody who belongs in that spot. So it's really about being discerning. That's why your rate of success is so low. But but I prefer coming home with, you know, 10 pictures on my card that actually 10 pictures that I want to look at. Then 500 and then trash 490 of them because that's pretty much what it's going to be on a, on a, on a good day. If you come back with one picture you actually want to keep, that's really good. And people have, have have to be comfortable with that. And that's difficult for photographers. I mean, some of my colleagues actually asked their students to delete 90 to take 100 pictures and delete 99 of them and, and, and be that specific. It's is a good exercise actually. So. Wow.
Raymond: 29:42 So like, wait until you get home to delete those 99 photos.
Valerie Jardin: 29:46 So I don't know. I don't ask my students to do that, but I, I, I tell them, you know, there is nothing, if there is nothing there, just delete. Yeah, you didn't, you didn't, you didn't catch the moment. And sometimes they say, oh, I saw something. I saw something. I said, good, that's half the work right there. You didn't catch it. That's okay. You learn because you saw it. And that's more than 99% of the people out there can say, cause people look, but they don't see. And when you see that special moment, that special gesture, that's special expression in somebody's face, the light that just hits the, the face of a beautiful woman sitting at a cafe. If you see that, even if you don't capture it and it, but you saw it, that's you learned something. And, and no matter what, you're better equipped at catching it the next time. Something like that happens. It's never been, it's never going to be that moment. But there will be other moments with that, with a similar situation and just learning what you could have done better that day to get it. We'll teach you how to get it next time.
Raymond: 30:51 Yeah, I can imagine. Practice makes perfect. That's what they say. So it's at least better, at least better. And, and at the end of the day, that's all that matters. That's all.
Valerie Jardin: 30:59 That's right. And it's okay. You know, to come back empty, I think it's better to come back empty. But knowing that you learned something, you saw something that you miss, right? Or the come back with a bunch of mediocre shots.
Raymond: 31:10 Right. So it sounds like there is a lot of downtime when you go out to to shoot street photos. When you go out, art is the first thing that you're looking for, like you mentioned, is it the light and then just waiting for something to happen in front of you.
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Raymond: 32:00 I think that sometimes can be you know like this lofty idea, you know what I mean? Like if you shoot it, they will come, you know? Yeah, and I, I like the approach that you're taking. Is it like, don't, don't shoot for anybody else, don't you, for an audience. You're for yourself. And if they like it then then they will come essentially. But that's right. Yeah. When it comes to street photography, you know, as, as a wedding photographer, I show up to every wedding with quite a bit of gear. You know, it's, it's very heavy. You know, I bring an assistant with me to take care of some of that gear. As a street photographer, this is one thing that I get questions about in the begin of photography podcast, Facebook group. What sorts of gear, and we don't really talk a lot about gear on this podcast is as I'm sure you know, it's not as important as as, as a lot of beginners put the weight on it. But what sorts of gear are you showing up with? How, how much do you need and how little can you get away with
Valerie Jardin: 32:53 Go out with your phone? I mean, honestly I actually have some workshop students that will come with a DSLR cause that's what they've been shooting with and that's all they have. And then they see the advantage of having something smaller and less conspicuous and they will go out with their phone for a day and then they get, they get the best shots because they could get a little closer and, and it's an extension of them. I mean, that's talk about limitations, you know, although they're getting fancier and fancier, but I shoot with one camera when Lez sexually arranged find a type camera with a 23 millimeter lens, I can't change the lens. I, that camera is an extension of me. And that's the best case scenario. I used to shoot with a DSLR. I mean, I, I started with a five d mark too, but then I would use like a, a 40 millimeter, like the pancake line, something that would make my camera the smallest, the smallest possible.
Valerie Jardin: 33:47 And now I have the, we have the advantage of having cameras that are amazing. I mean, really amazing. Better than my fight. I mean, my ex 100 F is better than my 50 mark two was. And and amazing cameras are completely silent that look like old cameras that nobody's going to feel threatened by or even pay attention to. And so we have gear that makes our life a lot easier on the streets for sure. But whatever you have, if it's not broken, don't fix it, right? Start with whatever you have. But soon you'll realize that if you really want to get into this, lighter is going to be better because you're going to be out there for so long. You never bring extra lenses on the street. Really, the only thing you should worry about is extra batteries. And and maybe an extra card, but like for me, I should jpeg. So 32 gig will last me several months.
Raymond: 34:44 So you talked there about the, the lens that you bring a, it's just a 23 mil lens that's attached to the camera. And we're talking Fuji, you're a Fuji photographer like myself. And that 23 millimeter lens is the equivalent to a 35 millimeter on a, on a full frame sensor. And some beginners have questions about is that too wide? Should they go with something maybe like a 50 or an 85. Can you just kind of talk about,
Valerie Jardin: 35:11 It's actually 35 millimeter. Th the 23 that I have is 35 equivalent. As you said, it's really an, an ideal street lens. It's not too wide, but you can still get some pretty cool portraits too with it. If anything, I'll go wider. If I go any closer and I have a 35 which is a 50 equivalent and I'm always too close, I have to step back cause I'm so used to my focal length and it's really, there are things that you need to, to decide before you press the shutter. First of all, whether it's going to be black and white or color. Well even if I make the decision in camera before I press the shutter, but that is an important creative decision that you shouldn't wait till you see the picture on in light room to make. You should always make the decision before you press the shutter.
Valerie Jardin: 35:59 Even if you should practice making the decision. Why is that a stronger black and white? Why would it be stronger in color and knowing your focal length so that you can move quickly. I'm so familiar with that focal length that I don't have to even think I won't have to crop because I know exactly why I need to stand to get exactly the frame the way I want the final image to be. I mean sometime I'll have to crop because I can't, there is something that prevents me from getting closer, you know, if if somebody up a window or something. But but usually I do very, very little cropping if anything else straightened the verticals and that set. So so that's the advantage of working with a fixed focal length and the consistency and the focal length and also in a body of work, it's nice to have that consistency.
Valerie Jardin: 36:45 If you jump from, you know, 23 to 35 to 80 and back it, it it looks, it looks a little odd in a body of work or in a series. So it's good to keep that consistency. But to challenge myself, actually I'm working on my personal project, the artists in the space with a 35 millimeter on my explore to, to really fast lance the 1.2, because sometime I'm 1.4 I'm in a really dark studio, so I needed the fastest prime. And and it's challenging for me because again, it feels really tight, but it's also good to mix it up and not get stuck. You need to to be flexible. But for street it's 23 and I do have a 23 for my expert too, which is my water proof kit, but it's the same focal length. So it's basically a different camera, but the exact same focal length. And I think that's important.
Raymond: 37:37 How often are you a, with a range finder camera? I know when you get really comfortable with it, oftentimes you don't even need to look through the view finder. Now this question isn't gonna apply to a lot of the listeners, but it's, it's, it's interesting me is how often are you are looking through to get the perfect composition compared to how often are you in, in a situation where you are involved in that moment as well, that you just know where to point your camera and take that photo?
Valerie Jardin: 38:06 Actually I'd never looked through the viewfinder. I look, I use live view. And because I think if, although this one doesn't have a tilt screen, I think if you look through the viewfinder all the time, you tend to shoot everything at eye level. Although yes, you can go down on your knees and so forth. But I sh I never look at the viewfinder. So my, my photographs are much more dynamic that way. Cause I can shoot lower or higher. I can have more reach too because I'm shooting wide. So just that arm's couldn't get me closer to, to what I want. So that also helps without your body, without physically getting closer. And now wait your, your question was if I got the question, so I'm getting so yeah, going back to the, the, the big familiar with the phone call.
Valerie Jardin: 38:59 My is, is important because, and I'm looking through the view finder. That's what the question was. Sorry. I often, you're right because I know that focal length so well, I don't need to look at the few, find her half the time because I know exactly what I'm going to get with, because it's, again, it's more of an extension of me and sometime you are, you're in a situation where, for example, you're sitting across somebody's really interesting in the subway in New York. You don't want them to know that you're taking a picture of them because if they don't, as you, whatever caught your attention in the first place is going to be gone. So then why take the picture? It won't make any sense. So just to really be more invisible to shooting completely blind is, is good. Did that answer your question? You're muted.
Raymond: 39:52 Oops. Yeah, no, it absolutely made sense for sure. And like you said, if you're sitting across from somebody on the subway, that's why it makes sense to, to know your settings so you don't have to hold up the camera, do that test.
Valerie Jardin: 40:06 But that said, if you're shooting with a camera that you have to bring it to your eye, then just be completely open. Don't try to sneak the shot. Just, you know, I used to shoot it. Yeah, I know. But I used to shoot people on the subway or in the metro in Paris with a DSLR. It's noisy. I had to bring it to my, I never use it on live view and you know, I just, I just went for it. Oh, don't try. Don't try to sneak the shot.
Raymond: 40:31 So we mentioned black and whites there as, that's one of the big things that you should make that decision before you press the shutter. No. Whether or not a photo should be black and white. When I think of street photography, I think of black and white photography. Can you tell me why that is? I have no idea what,
Valerie Jardin: 40:50 Ah, it's easier first of all. And I think it's because you think of the, the classics, but black and white is a little a little bit easier because you have less distractions. So and sometimes that timeless quality of the black and white photographs, so black and white as also a mood that works well with street photography. So those are really important things to consider in your choice. But sometimes it's all about the color and, and and a lot of street photographers will only shoot color or only shoot black and white. I do a lot of both because I let the subject make that decision. If the, it's all about color wa it would make no sense to shoot it in black and white. But on the other hand, if a, there's this amazing subject, but then there's the awful colorful distraction, then of course it's going to be stronger in black and white. So I make those decisions. If I can't make the decision on the spot, then my camera will be on film simulation bracketing, we're actually have up the options. But I think it's really important. It's very, very rare that you'll ever hesitate between one or the other and post-processing. It, it's very rare that the photograph would be equally strong in color or in black and white. Very aware.
Raymond: 42:13 Another side question as as a Fuji Fan Myself, what are your favorite color and black and white Fujifilm simulations?
Valerie Jardin: 42:20 I only should act I only should classic chrome in color only. And I have, I've, I've shot a lot of colors since they came up with classic chrome because I think classic chrome has that, that timeless quality to it. And it just fits my style of photography. So I should classic chrome and then across and black and white. And for example, I was just in Havana and I shot more black and white than color because, and there was room for both. Definitely. I just, I just published a youtube video with a selection of 70, some of my, my photographs from Havana and they start with color and they go into black and white. But, but those were decisions that I mostly made on the spot sometime I was in film simulation. So actually had both at the end of the day. But sometimes the color will distract from the mood or from the expression. And, and a place like Havana is so colorful. That's what I was just too colorful. And then you fuck it doesn't, it doesn't translate that emotion like a black and white. Well if you remove color distraction, your, your viewer will stay on the subject a lot longer. If you have so much, it's so busy around your subject, the the viewer will go to the human face and then we'll look all around and, and not stay on the human face long enough. So
Raymond: 43:42 I'm glad that you covered that. That was my exact question. I've never been to Cuba, but from every photo I've seen, it seems so colorful and I'm, I'm glad that you gave an explanation as to why black and white works better in a very colorful situation like that. So this is, this is my last question. I think I'm really excited for this episode, but I know that we've gone over our time together. So I got this one last question for you. And that is, if you had to go back to when you bought that first film camera, you moved to Minneapolis, you bought that first camera, that's been 20 years now, after 20 years of knowledge, what do you wish that you could go back and tell a young 1998 Valerie about photography that would help her today?
Valerie Jardin: 44:27 You know, I think, I think I pretty much learn as I was doing it, you know, not, not to get stuck and not to like, I mean I even shot weddings back then, you know, you have to try everything. Well you don't know what you want to do and and I didn't pursue that because I really didn't enjoy them and so, but a lot of people stay stuck in something and they feel all while that's all I can do. But no, you, you're never stuck in. And and Ariz that's one thing. Ari's work on personal projects. Cause at one point, early on in my career of working for clients, it became a job and it took me a little while to realize why it's because I was not working on personal projects so I wasn't feeding my creative soul. I was only working for other people.
Valerie Jardin: 45:23 And so it took me a little while, but I finally realized what was happening and I started working on a personal project and sharing that work, the personal work, share that work separately from your commercial work if need be, but share that work on a blog or something. But continued to work on personal project because at one point I was this close to quitting photography altogether because it had become a job. I was working for clients. There is no way I was going to bring that camera out on weekends if I didn't have to and I didn't want to post process any more pictures, certainly not pictures that I would do on my own time. And that's when I realized that you run into that risk whenever you turn your passion into a profession. And if you can stay a hobby photographer forever, if you can afford it, stay a hobbyist photographer. I feel like I'm back to being a hobbyist now because I, I sell my vision. I don't, I don't shoot for clients anymore, so I'm shooting 100% from me and there's no better place for a photographer to be.
Raymond: 46:31 Wow. That is definitely a something that I know is going to resonate with a lot of photographers as now is definitely a time where a lot of people feel like they have like if they hell, if they're holding a camera, they have to go into business for themselves. A lot of people don't want to do that and I, I'm glad you shared that. I'm glad that you shared that perspective. For sure.
Valerie Jardin: 46:49 Professional photographer doesn't mean that they're better than the hobbyist photographer.
Raymond: 46:52 That's very true. I look at some of the members in the beginning, photography podcast, Facebook group and think like, what am I doing? I'm like, look at these photos. They're great. Well, Valerie, again, thank you so much for your time coming on the show. Before I let you go, can you let the listeners know where they can find you online and keep up with you?
Valerie Jardin: 47:10 Oh, well everything is under Valerie Jardin, v, a. L e r. I. E. J. A. R. D. I. N. and I rank pretty high on Google, so a search will probably, you'll have everything, but everything is on my website, [inaudible] dot com, whether it's the books, the Webinars, the podcast hit the streets on, on iTunes and and everything else I do. So the blogs and so forth.
Raymond: 47:35 All right, wonderful. Valerie, again, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, sharing everything that you did and I, I appreciate your time today.
Valerie Jardin: 47:43 Thank you. Bye Bye.
Raymond: 47:46 There was so much fun. That was so exciting. It was, it was truly a pleasure to talk to somebody who has been in working street photographer for as many years as Valerie has. And Valerie, if you're listening right now, I can't thank you enough for coming on, on, on, you know, the podcast and sharing with the listeners a wealth of information that you've learned over the 20 years that you have spent shooting. So, Valerie, again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming on the podcast and, and sharing everything that you did. If you're listening and you want to get more industry photography, please check out her podcast, check out Valerie's podcast, hit the streets. It is a it is a podcast for street photographers, you know, or where you going tag them more to the in depth things. And, and it's really important if you do want to get into street photography.
Raymond: 48:30 One of my biggest takeaways today was, you know, wrongfully so when you think about street photography, you think that it's more okay, let me, let me reframe this. When I show up to a wedding, I know that I am working, I have a job and I am doing something specific that day for somebody. And I put I put a serious weight into that, right? So I do my job to the best of my abilities and I try to capture it as much as humanly possible, but when I'm at home, when I'm with the kids and you know, I see something interesting happen, I think like, Oh wow, there's like a really good moment. I'll just take a picture of like with my phone or something like that. And I just don't take it as seriously as I do my, my wedding photography because it feels like work.
Raymond: 49:12 Right. Valerie takes that same pride. She takes that same work ethic to the streets. If, no, I think she, I think she has a much stronger work ethic than I do at weddings while she's on the street at a wedding. Like I'll walk around all day, but I don't think that I walked 10 miles and if I did, man, my feet would be killing me. And she does this stuff for fun, you know what I mean? Because she made it important to her to document everyday life. And that is, you know, there, there's a lot to be said for that and I commend her for that. So I really want to know what your biggest takeaway was. Come into the beginning photography podcast, Facebook group and share what it was. I would love to hear it and I'm sure Valerie would as well.
Raymond: 49:58 So remember if this episode gets you excited, gets you fired up and you really want to get out there on the streets, go out there and start shooting, you know, start shooting. But if you come back and feel like you still need a little more time behind the camera before you can proficiently go out there on the streets, highly encourage you to check out the beginner photography podcast. Two day photography boot camp, which you can find over on the website at beginner photography, podcast.com you could scroll all the way to the bottom of the page is a big sign up form and I will send it to right away. So that is it for this week's episode. Until next week, get out there, keep shooting, maybe hit the streets. All right, focus on yourself and I will see you next time. Love you all.
Outro: 50:40 If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.