Documenting life on the streets as it is

Here is an article about the workshop that took place in AltCity on 27th of July, 2011 as a part of the AlMedia Experience week. I would like to point out that there is a big difference between “Citizen Journalism Photography” and “Street Photography” but a lot of people confuse them. The workshop was about Street Photography.

Documenting life on the streets as it is is a post written by Nicholas. A. Heras.

Beirut Street Photographers Rita Kamel and Imad Haddad discuss the fun and social impact of street photography.

On Wednesday, July 27, Beirut Street Photographers members Rita Kamel and Imad Haddad led a workshop entitled “Citizen Journalism Photography From A to Z,” at AltCity. The workshop taught participants how to become effective street photographers who take pictures with a powerful message.

The workshop began with a simple question: What is street photography? “Documenting life on the streets as it is,” answered Kamel. Elaborating her point further, Kamel explained that “if we didn’t have street photography, we wouldn’t have an archive of how life was in Beirut in thepast.” Street photography, according to the presenters, is an all-encompassing lifestyle that teaches would-be street photographer to take time to slow down, and observe patiently and precisely the life of the city around them. Most importantly, street photography is not “staged” or planned ahead of time; it requires street photographers to look at every little detail in their daily life, pick an aspect of it they want to focus on, and take a photo of it. Haddad asserted this point strongly to the workshop participants, stating: “There are no rules in street photography. Go out, live the street, smell the street as you take your pictures. You should live the photo.”

The workshop also discussed two very important concerns to street photographers: the ethical and legal issues regarding taking street photos, and some tips and tricks in order to be the best street photographer possible. In Lebanon, according to the presenters, it is not illegal to conduct street photography so long as the photos are taken in a public place, do not invade the inner spaces of private homes, and are not focused on military, diplomatic, or forbidden photography areas clearly marked by signs. By its nature street photography is meant to be a candid art, capturing daily street life naturally, as it occurs. Referring to possible ethical problems with taking photos of people on the street without their permission, Kamel informed the participants, “It is up to your conscience; whatever you feel comfortable with [in order] to handle the situation, you should do it.”

At the close of the workshop, the presenters gave the participants a lively lesson on how to be better street photographers, taking them out onto Hamra Street for a hands-on lesson in street photography. Beforehand, they gave a few words of helpful wisdom to the would-be street photographers gathered before them. They stressed preparedness and a well-trained eye for the perfect picture opportunity. Emphasizing this point, Haddad explained: “Street photography is the moment you set. Once the opportunity comes, just grab it. The eye is the most important tool before the camera.”

AltMedia workshops and events continue at AltCity till Saturday July 30th.

To see pictures from the AltMedia week, check out our flickr set today!

More photos of the workshop from

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