Today I’m pleased to introduce to you Oracio Alvarado. A street photographer-based out of LA, Oracio has been both a fellow photo-talk buddy and street photography enthusiast. I first met Oracio through a Google hangout and through the exchange of facebook information, we were both acquainted. Since then he has provided a lot of advice and has reviewed a lot of the content I’ve posted up here. Oracio doesn’t heavily edit or process his photos, but leaves much of the work to the camera. Rather, he focuses on interesting subjects and depends on them to make (or break) the photo. Without further ado, I introduce Oracio Alvarado.
Q. What got you into photography?
Ever since I was young I have always been interested in painting, drawing, sculpting, but photography always seemed to call to me more. When I was around six years old I got my hands on my first camera, a Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic Camera, that was the point I realized I really enjoyed getting out of the house and just shooting photographs.
Film photography, at the time, gave me a sense of surprise since you wouldn’t be able to see the results of what you photographed for sometimes weeks at a time. Not having a quick view at the photograph I took helped me to develop an eye for composition and a “feel” about when to take the shot. Learning to shoot on film has definitely helped me out in the long run. I am by no means an expert and still have a lot to learn.
Q. How would you classify your style?
My style of street photography would be considered, “Classic.” I’m not an in your face type of photographer. I tend to stand back and look at a situation or scene. My goal is to capture a moment in time that speaks to me. The main factor about being a classic street photographer is about being able to take a scene and use composition to make the shot amazing.
Q. What’s your philosophy of street photography?
I’m not sure if I really have a philosophy regarding street photography, but I have a quote I created to explain what I do.
“I move like a ghost, in and out of peoples lives, capturing fleeting moments with my camera.”
Q. As an avid user of the Fuji X100 and the iPhone, what do you feel are different advantages and disadvantages of each platform?
As photographer Chase Jarvis says, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”
That being said, the Fuji X100 is a decent camera for street photography, but one the disadvantages that camera is the auto focus speed is terrible. While zone focusing is an option, I prefer to let the camera focus for me so I don’t have to think about it. Since the X100 is so slow at focusing, there have been many lost shots. Auto focus aside, the camera takes excellent photos. It’s also nice to carry around and shoot people with since it’s such a retro and small camera, it doesn’t scare people when you point it at them. The X100 is also great in low light situations. You can crank up the ISO and you will get nice shots with hardly any noise.
As far as the iPhone camera goes, it’s just great having a device with you all the time that can take some amazing photographs. The pros about using an iPhone is that you can use countless mobile photography applications to help you take a good shot, process it and share it on the fly. One has to remember that the iPhone is still a phone and the camera is not great in low light situations, nor capturing scenes with a lot of movement; pictures tend to come out blurry.
Q. What was the most interesting project/photo shoot you’ve had?
There really haven’t been any interesting projects or photo shoots that I’ve had yet. I’m ready and willing to take on something that will leave a lasting impression.
Q. Any interesting episodes from street shooting? (doesn’t have to be photography related)
One of the most interesting things to come out of shooting street photography is meeting so many new people; from other photographers to random people on the street. There is definitely a nice community of street photographers all around the globe. Having the ability to talk to them, compare our work, and most importantly getting feedback from them has been incredible.
Q. I saw your occupy LA shots. What was it like shooting in that atmosphere? Do you feel like your photos do it justice?
Shooting at Occupy LA was definitely a great experience. It’s one thing to listen to the media portray the Occupy movement, but it’s a whole different thing to actually go to the protest site and see what’s really going on. Occupy LA was a very peaceful event compared to other cities around the US. There were different classes about politics, money, agriculture, etc. going on around the protest site. It was great to see that people weren’t just there to waste time, but to make a change.
When I first arrived at Occupy LA I thought that people would be bothered by someone taking their photo, but that wasn’t the case. The photos I took at Occupy LA were just a way to document what was going on inside the protest site. I think as far as that goes the photos did it justice, but I’m sure there could have been more that could have been photographed.
Q. You shoot mostly in black and white for your street photography (X100), is there a reason for that?
I actually shoot all my photos with the FujiFilm X100 in color and during the post-process I decide if I am going to keep the photograph in color or convert it to black and white. I will usually leave a photoraph in color if there’s some story that is being told by the color in the photo.
As far as the reason why I convert my photographs into black and while it’s all about feel. I love the look and feel of black and white images. They tend to have a more classic/vintage look to them. There are also amazing black and grey tones that can be brought out in a photograph that help it tell a better story.
Q. What gear do you use?
I’m currently using the FujiFilm X100, Nikon D7000 and my trusty iPhone. For street photography I stick to the FujiFilm X100 because it’s less intimidating to the people I photography than the larger Nikon D7000.
Q. What advice would you give budding photographers?
Take your camera with you everywhere you go. Shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot. Lean how to use your camera (read that manual). Also, learn to compose your shots and eventually you will do it without even thinking. Once you get that down, you can focus on learning everything else.
You can find all my social media links at http://about.me/oracio.