Of all the things I have done and experimented on the streets, the ones that really get the kick out of me, and I enjoyed the most doing would be shooting portraits of strangers. Like, really, really close up portraits, headshots, with their eyes gazing straight into my lens. Perhaps some people may find these shots to be overly simple and straightforward, with no additional meaning or message whatsoever, but I find the simplicity and straightforwardness extremely compelling. It was that brief moment of connection between me and the stranger, it was that window of unspoken communication when my shutter button clicked. The stranger's presence was acknowledged, and the trust of having their photograph taken by another complete stranger was also evident.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens
As strange as this sounds, I do think that those posed photographs looked more natural than many other candid or untouched moment shots. What is there not natural about humans looking each other in the eye? A conversation is ever more engaging with proper eye-contact. What is not natural having the stranger knowing the presence of the photographer? Is photographer not another human being that deserves recognition and respect as well? Why do we (photographers) have to be invisible? If you want to have that connection in your photograph with your subjects, do what you have to do, as you would without a camera, as you connect to them. If I were to talk to them, blend myself into the environment, I would be another person standing aside the stranger, possibly starting a conversation. Making connections is a very human thing to do. I want my photographs to show that, no matter how unrefined my definition of connection may be for now. Getting close, and still being able to get their "accepting and natural" facial expression is not an easy thing to do.
Sometimes I question myself and the many philosophies put forth by the forefathers of street photography. Well, if the rules stay stagnant and we just obey whatever we read from the books, I think photography would become boring, and at some point, dead. To keep things interesting and exciting at the same time, we can recreate the vision and redefine the genre through our own experimentation. A refreshed view on what works for our own photography may not necessarily agree with what everyone else is doing.
Street portraits may not be widely accepted as street photography? I choose to disagree. I think street portraiture is one of the most powerful forms of street photographs, ever.