I spent the day shooting with Rinzi Ruiz in LA. We had a great day together discussing life photography, life and shooting on the street. I learned a lot.
Rinzi is well known for his black and white street shots. He shoots a lot for commercial clients, just had a solo gallery show and comes with a strong foundation in art and design. The jewlery district in LA is a spot he has shot often so we started there are worked our way around the immediate area. Warm summer day, typical for LA. Mid day shooting with bright light.
We had in depth conversations about camera technique, portfolio review, street shooting strategy and how he approaches life overall. Here are some notes to myself as a reminder on what to work on.
1. Light is the key. Find the light, stalk the light, a slice of light. Rinzi liked the direct light that can produce the aggressive shadows he is known for. Light is the first step. Shoot on the bright side of the street. Watch where the sun light falls off faces. Similar to my studio approach. Light before composition, subject, etc.
2. Hunt the light, but Fish the shots once you find the light. Just a small patch of light really works.
3. Be relaxed, breath, stay upright when you walk and shoot. People pick up on this relaxed energy. Vertical alignment.
4. Happy energy, Smile!
5. GO SLOW
6. LET IT FLOW
7. Dance with the subject, anticipate their steps and movements
8. Pace, rhythm.
9. Don't stoop to shoot, spread legs.
10. Shot from the curb in.
11. Corners are often good. Settle in and be part of the scene.
12. Plane of the camera even, framing clear. Use practice shots.
13. Watch for too much foreground.
14. Weight of the shot.
15. Clear subject in every shot.
16. Fish vs. Hunt
17. Lean in when feeling time to move on.
18. Shoot manual to nail the exposure. We shot in direct sun with ISO 200/F8/1/500
19. Use technology (auto focus, tilt screen, etc.)
20. Find your style and then really drill and refine it vs trying some new every week,
22. No chimp, no eye contact after shot.
23. If do engage, take the time to set up a great clean portrait. Give business card.
24. Hold camera in 1/2 ready position near upper body. Slowly bring it up.
25. Cut move, and keep shooting.
26. Shoot through,
27. You can only control your self and how you respond.
28. You have a choice to wake up happy.
29. Why not choose a story about happiness vs some sad, angry story.
30. People have all sorts of issues we can't control or change.
31. Portfolio review was most helpful.
32. Shoot, download, initial edit and favorites, then let them marinate long enough where you are no longer attached.
33. Killer vs. Filler. But super honest with yourself, then ask some one you really trust.
34. If your getting one keeper a day, then move bar up to only one keeper per week.
35. Feeling is the key on keeper shots, a must have.
36. 7-12 shots for a series. Some times you just shoot and then this story comes together in the edit.
37. Don't waste time on shots that have been done before, unless trying to copy master for technique.
38. My post process is too blown out, the details are missing. And it needs to be consistent.
39. Less is more with post. Good to see the subtle shades of grey.
40. Printing helps pull all of this together.
41. Have separate portfolio for unique stories.
42. Vertical vs horizontal, based on shot first then on format.
43. Let the photos reflect who you are. Must be authentic not just a copy.
44. Look at the photos on desktop, ipad and phone to see how they are really showing up. Do that in different light, different times of day.
Pro tip: It is invaluable to have a 1x1 relationship (apprentice/master) where you can get direct immediate feedback. There is a ton of great education on the web, but for me I also need hands-on work to bump to the next level.
PS. Rinzi fits my observation on all the great photographers I know: the special shots come from special people. Jay Maisel has often been quoted "If your shots are boring, then your boring". Truth.
Rinzi is the real deal.
A few of my shots from the day. No keepers but shots that are new to me, so my starting point. I am still tweaking my post to not blow out the details, more focus needed here. Also as I look at these shots, I think I need to be lower. Best to shoot a few frames to visually see how it is looking before the subject arrives. Need to work on getting lower with out stooping or acting too aggressive with the camera. I also need to be aware of the plane of my camera as I shoot.