Jeremiah Rogers

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Photography tip: Street Photos from a Vantage Point

Hanoi, Vietnam

I have this theory about photography: as you take more and more pictures your idea of a novel photograph develops. Initially just taking a picture is thrilling, but over time you learn to take good shots, learn to take portraits, and then follow the line of what’s novel further and further out.

When I got to Asia it was novel just to take pictures of people, see what people are doing and how they live. But after 2.5 months here Asia feels more like home than I expected. Not much of it feels truly novel now. Our minds are remarkably adaptable and even landing in a new country has become somewhat routine: get some cash, get a SIM card, find a hostel or a hotel, and hit the street walking around learning about the place.

I’ve learned not to be afraid. As a friend of mine said “In Asia someone will take your wallet but not shoot you, in the United States someone will shoot you and not even take your wallet. Where would be more afraid?”

Asia has a remarkable intersection of old, new, and chaos. The easiest place for me to find that is in the street. But just taking street photos is losing some of its thrill. I’ll keep doing it but now I am more interested in unique perspectives and composition rather than just the content.

One of my new favorite perspectives is to find a high vantage point and look down on everything. Last week I found a 3rd floor cafe in Hanoi and sat outside for a few hours in the sun taking pictures of the street below. In Hanoi the traffic flows like water, there are slow movers and fast movers and they seamlessly mix with each other causing few accidents. Hanoi streets are also a mix of old and new: taxi cabs, women in conical hats, men moving amazingly large freight on their motorbikes, and pedestrians slowly wandering through the mix as bikes move around them.

Here are a few shots from that day in the cafe. Initially I only published two of these but they got fantastic reception so I thought you might be interested in seeing the rest.