Recommended Article: Henri Cartier-Bresson (from Adam Marelli’s Blog)


Recommended Article: Henri Cartier-Bresson (from Adam Marelli's Blog)

Adam Marelli ( has some amazing articles on street shooting, but one series that I learned from– and has helped me to rethink how I frame my photos– is his Surrealist Manifesto series. Learn about the geometry and optical reframing that Adam points out through his analyses of HCB’s photographs.

Read more here:

‘Waiting for the Subway’


'Waiting for the Subway'

“A story in photographs about Paris – the Paris of the young men and girls who haunt the Left Bank. They dine on half a loaf, smoke hashish, sleep in parked cars or on benches under the plane trees, sometimes borrowing a hotel room from a luckier friend to shelter their love. Some of them write,or paint, or dance. Ed van der Elsken, a young Dutch photographer, stalked his prey for many months along the boulevards, in the cafés and under the shadow of prison walls. Whatever may happen in real life to Ann and her Mexican lover, their strange youth will be preserved ‘alive’ in this book for many years.”
-Ed van der Elsken, “Love on the Left Bank”

Korea: nightfire



Boy is Korea dark.

And I don’t mean that in a metaphorical, meta-critical sort of way. I mean literally, it’s too dark for street photography. By 4pm, my Summarit (f/2.5) was struggling to expose, and in about 30 minutes I had to change to my Summilux (f/1.4). I was struggling to keep up with the shadows that crept up so unexpectedly and so inconveniently. And the moment I was in a building or underground I had no chance with my Summarit. In fact, half the photos I took in Korea came out severely underexposed, and it was one of the few times I had to actually go into Lightroom and fix up the exposures.


“citizen”- This man stared at me for a fraction of a second before I noped my way out of the subway

Having lived there 6 years of my life, by returning to Korea I would have thought I’d know the place front to back. But through the eyes of my Leica, I discovered a whole new world. But the more I paid attention to my surroundings, the more I looked from the third-person point of view, the world I thought no longer was there.



I was left with a stark reality. Poverty, stench of vomit, voracious lust in the alleyways, and the light pollution that are neon signs.


From this trip, I came back more discouraged than any other trip. I had hoped I would rediscover the awe in the city of Seoul like I had in Tenerife, but instead I unrooted the festering pools of the society so desperately ignorant of their surroundings and perversely obsessed with status.


“squared off” – at the COEX Intercontinental

Don’t get be wrong though– there are moments of genuine innocence and a general sense of “everything’s going to be OK”, if you look close enough. Korea is an interesting mix of the past traditions of its former glory and the modernity that it has so quickly embraced. This makes for interesting juxtapositions, especially in places where new buildings are being torn down to replace old ones. Colors and fabrics of many kinds are abound, and it’s an interesting social mixing bowl if you’re shooting in colour.





Despite my sense of disillusionment, don’t let me discourage you– the beauty of the city is still there, just don’t be too eager to dig beneath the gilded surface.


Watch for a photo book coming very soon…


I am excited to announce that I’m now on more social channels. Talk to me about photography, street photography, Leicas, Canons, Nikons, cooking… anything! As always, you can also leave a comment below!

Google Plus:
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Top 10 Things to do Before Street Photography (or, the top 10 mistakes I used to make)


stars and striped by Phillipe Han (phantasy)) on

(Inspired in part by Two Cute dogs‘ top 10 series.)

A lot of this may be familiar for the veterans, but for the new and upcoming shooters these tips have saved my life.

Here goes. Take them with a grain of salt.

1. Take a photo before you go out. Assuming you’re using digital of course. If you can take a picture correctly, it shows that the lens is attached correctly, that the battery is in, CF card is in, and the camera innards are working correctly.

2. If you’re using digital, pack 2 CF cards. This is to avoid complications if one CF card decides to bug out on you. This happened when I was shooting my Fuji X100 on a beach, where sand somehow got into the card. In fact, invest in a CF card holder while you’re at it.

3. If you’re using film, load your camera with 1 roll, and bring 2 others. I never shoot more than 3 rolls in one day, despite Winogrand’s tendency to shoot one roll a block. Unless you’re an investment banker, I seriously doubt you can afford to shoot more than 4 Tri-X films per day. In fact, since they’re almost a precious $5 a pop, you might as well invest in a Japan Camera Hunter film case while you’re at it.

4. If film, Decide B&W or color. If you’re bringing both, you haven’t thought this through. Quick rule of thumb- Monochrome is for the silence and sincerity of the subject, color is for atmosphere & loudness of color in the frame.

 Hurricane by Phillipe Han (phantasy)) on

5. Do not bring a camera bag. Unless you shoot flash, then I understand. I use a camera bag to store my equipment when I travel. Unless you have no jean/jacket/coat pockets/purse/man-purse to store film in, you have no excuse. Invest in a good strap. Trust me, you get weighed down after about 70 minutes of shooting. Water you say? Buy a bottle outside if you’re thirsty, for goodness sake. Which leads me to six…

6. 1 camera, 1 lens. At least for the purposes of street, I’m going to assume you’re going to be shooting until dinnertime (if yes, then okay, stuff in a f/1.4 lens somewhere for night shots). If so, one body, one lens is all you need. I’ve lost on average 2~3 shots while foolishly changing my lens from 50mm to 28mm, an idiot’s quick path to mediocrity. Landscape and commercial portrait photographers also know this very well, since every second counts.

7. Read. In the words of Jon Stewart, “Yeah go read a f**king book.” A street blog, a photo book, I don’t care. (don’t whine about photo books being expensive, libraries still exist). If you need suggestions check out this comprehensive list.

untitled by Phillipe Han (phantasy)) on

8. Meditate. Just kidding. Though it might heighten your sense of achievement, lol.

9. Decide on a subject, if possible. What are you going to shoot today? The color red? Halloween costumes? Feet? Ladders? The Mission in San Francisco?

10. Wear your sneakers. Or whatever comfortable shoes you have. No seriously, your feet are going to hurt after an hour of shooting.

I shall return for part 2- top 10 things to do during street photography. What are your top tips for before going out to shoot street photography?

Don’t forget to stay updated on facebook, twitter, or check out my most recent work on 500px.


Sandy’s wake: The Destruction Seen through Instagram


“Jane’s carousel is basically an island now. Poor horses.” – Instagram user

Normally I wouldn’t write about Instagram posts, but this one in particular is devastating, disheartening, and shocking.

Have a look at the impact of Hurricane Sandy in this WSJ article, and in its wake.

I won’t say much, except to say that the images are stunning and surreal. I’m glad photographers were able to share the hurricane from their perspective– cell phone camera haters can go kick themselves.

I can’t express just how powerful these images are too me– the humans getting together to form a community (see the starbucks photo), and the lack thereof (empty neighborhoods); almost reminds me of a post-apocalyptic world.

Hope everyone is now safe.


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The Shadow Photographers #9: Josh Bulriss


Josh Bulriss is a fellow street photographer I admire for several reasons. He has an eye for composition. Although he has wonderful content in his photos as well, the form is what really stands out in his works. You’ll see what I mean when you see the photos below. He recently did some work in Nepal that was simply breathtaking. Here is Josh Bulriss:

Q. Tell us how you got into photography.

A. When I first started traveling to Hawaii from NY, about 8 years ago, I owned a small point and shoot camera that I would take pictures of anything I saw as beautiful. When I would post them online just to show the beauty in Hawaii or showing my friends and family back home. People would always say…. “They look like Postcards” And I realized then I had a natural eye for composition. I just needed to learn the basic elements to create a great photo. That is when my journey began.

Q. How do you define with street photography as a genre? How do you identify with it (or not), and what are your thoughts on how the “genre” has evolved over the past few years?

A. I think that street photography is such a RAW and powerful genre of photography. It’s every day simplicity of beauty that most people don’t even acknowledge. When you understand lighting, composition and emotion you can make the most simple moment spectacular. So I think that street photography is taking everyday life of people doing everyday routines and capturing that moment forever. I wouldn’t really say that I am a street photographer but more of a person that likes to document moments that I enjoy. I feel that the reason why street photography is growing as a whole is because digital cameras are growing, like how photography is growing and becoming more trendy.

Q. Your single most valuable tip for budding street photographers is:
A. Take photos of what you see as beautiful, and don’t worry about what others think.

Q. Your blog has quite a variety of content. What got you started and what has it become today?

A. To be honest, I just started my blog about 2 months ago. So I am really still in the learning phase. I just try to post things that I find interesting and others may as well. I like it be something people can learn from and maybe keep them interested enough to come back.

Q. Projects: yes or no? And why?

A. At the moment, no not really. But trying to come up with some ideas for the near future.

Q. Name your three greatest inspirations (3 and only 3, not necessarily photographers/photographs).

A. Steve McCurry, Henri Cartier-Bresson, James Nachtwey

Q. What gear do you use?

A. Canon 7D, Canon 18-200 EFS lens. I travel light.

Q. What do you think is a great photograph? Content or form? Or something else?

A. I can’t think of just one photograph, so I would have to go with Magnum Photos. The most powerful photography in the world.

Q. You are part of revisedMEDIA, the same photography collective that I am in. Can you explain about what it is and what you envision it achieving? What is your opinion on what we should achieve?

A. I think as team we will get much more accomplished than being independent. RevisedMEDIA is such a great group of a photographers that I think we can all learn from, and grow as a team. I would love for revisedMEDIA to be the BIG Photography group that people really get inspired by, and young photographers look up to. It will take a lot of time and work but I can see it’s potential. We can be the Leaders of tomorrow.

Q. Shameless promotion! Go!


Are you a street photographer? Want to feature your works to a weekly audience of 500+ people?  If you want to be featured on the Shadow Photographers segment, Like my Facebook page, and write me a request! Or if you don’t have a Facebook, you can tweet me, too. But let’s say you’re not so hot about social media, just shoot me a mail.

As always, talk to me in comments below, Facebook, or Twitter!


I’ve been revised: revisedMEDIA


I’ve been revised: revisedMEDIA.

So I’ve been dropping hints that I am now part of a photography collective, revisedMEDIA. What is it you ask?

Well, what is a photography collective to begin with? A photography collective seeks to promote the works of artists, help with promotion of events, workshops, and exposure to more people in general. revisedMEDIA also happens to work with many different artists based out of Los Angeles, CA including designers and artists. The example you’re probably acquainted with is Magnum Photos, and if you’re street-smart, probably Burn My Eye.

Allow me to introduce our members:

Oracio Alvarado, convinced me to join. I agreed for several reasons:

  1. One person can only have so much influence. No matter how many followers one may have, their opinion is just one of many. Because adding voices helps amplify our work even more, we can reach out and resonate with more people.
  2. In the genre of street photography, where trademarking is discouraged, it’s hard to gain recognition and much too easy to be lost among the flood of talent. By consolidating and collectively working on exhibitions and projects, we as a whole can associate ourselves with a brand that will represent us appropriately.
  3. Last but most important! I can meet some amazing people and have a chance to work on

So how do I hope to revise myself? I feel like an abject centrality these days: feeling neglected but simultaneously having a lot I want to say. Through this collective I hope to grow as a photographer, and evolve my works of art.

Stay tuned for our first project.

&& Phil

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Photokina 2012 Aftermath- What does this mean for Street Photographers? My thoughts.


So the dust left in the wake of the tornado that is Photokina 2012 is still settling down. DPreview is even calling it “arguably one of the most exciting show for years.” But what does that mean for us street photographers?

Full Frame is Here to Stay. And more are coming.

The above pictures Leica M, along with the Leica M-E are just two examples of dedication to the full frame. Others include the Sony RX1 and the a99, since DSLRs are still relevant. Companies have fought out the Megapixel wars long enough, and consumers are now smart enough to realize that cramming a sh*tload of Megapixels doesn’t mean anything anymore (ahem, I’m talking to you Nokia).

See this video by the Verge:

As the Leica representative mentioned, bigger sensors mean shallower depths of field. This means that you won’t have to resort to a f/1.4~1.8 lens in order to achieve that shallow depth. More importantly, at our common apertures (f/8~11), depth of field will be more noticeable and combined with new technologies, we will be able to get ever so closer to the 35mm film’s dynamic range (millions of shades of grey, and hundreds of thousands of more colors).

The Sony RX1 in its miniaturized, Full-Frame glory. Would you drop $2799 for it?

Companies are Fighting to Be More Accessible than Ever to Us. More options than ever.

The prototype of the planned Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens.

More and more, street photography is being recognized as a niche. That’s both good and bad. Bad because it’s becoming more and more a colloquial and common term, leaving more room for misinterpretation of the category (I’ve seen some very poorly so-called “street photography” groups with nothing but landscape photos). But the good is that companies are catering more and more to the segment of street photographers. Take the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens that’s in production: it’s a clear understanding that photojournalists and street photographers clamor for the 35mm equivalent.

Fuji introduced the X-E1 and released firmware to speed up the X-Pro 1:

Fujifilm as a company is setting a great example by listening to the feedback of their customers. Granted, their company is still recovering from a decade of obsolescence, as their execution still is a bit shabby (release a half-complete product, then fix: as evidenced by the X100, X10, and X-S1), but they make it right. They understood the speed of the X-Pro 1 was not suited for street photography, but fixed it to be suitable enough for street photography. That is the power of the consumer and photographer, we who choose the tools in this competitive brand landscape.

The OM-D E-M5, my current primary camera, also is a model of response. Having heard the call for a better sensor, faster AF, and a retro styled camera. In fact, it’s become one of the best cameras on the market for street photography because of this smart, targeted response to photographers.

Those who ignore our demands are quickly becoming obsolete.

I won’t say much. Hasselblad tried to defend its Lunar system,  a repackaged NEX system for the price of a cool $5k.

Those who try to market their way to photographers who demand a specific set of features won’t work anymore.

The same goes for companies who decide not to innovate, or create new things as excuses to claim they’re innovating. Samsung, in the Verge video above on larger sensors, argue that they want to optimize for their smaller sensors. On one hand it’s great that they’re to perfect what they do, but that’s evolutionary, not revolutionary. Being stuck with smaller sensors, they will never appeal beyond the amateur photographer. If that’s their target segment, that makes business sense. But innovation is all about breaking the barrier and trying something that doesn’t seem to be possible technologically.

Even Pentax, who is struggling to understand consumer needs with their infamously (and somewhat uselessly) tiny Q system, is trying hard to re-position their products by the needs of the consumer. This is what we need to see in the photo industry.

In the words of Louis C.K, “Everything’s Amazing and No One is Happy.” For us street photographers who demand depth in our photos, quick function and focus in our cameras, it’s an exciting time for us in this world.

&& Phil

Talk to me and follow me on Twitter @philhanphoto. (<-hey isn’t that a new username?!)

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And as always, comments below. Disagree? Agree with my thoughts? Let me know!

P.S. I’ve also joined a photo collective, revisedMEDIA. Check it out! Inspiring photos abound!