I was fortunate to attend a slide show and lecture recently by photographer Jay Maisel.
Jay is the consumate street photographer, following in the footsteps of Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, and Garry Winogrand. His use of color, gesture, light, shadow, negative space, and the ability to capture life in a way you haven't seen before is nearly unparalleled, and his photographs are frequently breathtaking.
Jay's home is in New York, and he shared many slides from his book Jay Maisel's New York. What was more memorable, though, was his steady stream of photographic knowledge, inspiration and wit, and, of course, his incredible photographs!
I can't begin to list all of the tips and advice he gave, but I'll list a few of my favorites:
Look for Gesture, that which makes a person unique or a photo come alive.
Go enjoy yourself! Photography should be enjoyable!
Always check your background.
Move around, don't be satisfied with an ordinary shot.
A pattern is interesting, an interrupted pattern is much more interesting.
At sunset, turn away from the sunset and you may see something incredible.
"If it doesn't excite you, why should it excite me?"
Go to art museums.
Always carry your camera.
And my favorite: "I don't even believe in inspiration."
An audience member asked Jay if there were any exercises that could train the eye to see the way Jay sees: "You don't really believe that s... do you?" He replied.
If Jay Maisel is ever in your neighborhood, go see him! If he's not, well, buy one of his books!
An excellent interview with Jay with some of his more famous photos is available here.