Street Photographer view of Road America

For years my wife and I travelled to Road America, in Elkhart Lake, WI, during July, to watch her dad, Bob Wismer, race his vintage Triumph TR-4 and Tornado Thunderbolt on the historic track. The race weekends were celebrated much the same way other families come together for Thanksgiving. Truth be told, family attendance for Bob’s July race rivaled only Christmas for family attendance. Unfortunately that family tradition came to an end after Bob raced his last race ever in July 2013 at Road America, a month before being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Long before Bob started racing his own car, the Wismer family attended races at Road America. Many of my wife’s favorite childhood memories revolve around those family trips to Elkhart Lake. She and her siblings got to watch some of the kings of racing in the late 60’s and 70’s from their blanket on the hill at Corner 5. So the return of IndyCar to Road America, for the first time since 2007, offered some of us an opportunity to start a new/old tradition in the wake of Bob’s passing in 2014.

During Bob’s race weekends I documented the event much the same way I would tell the story for work. But for the new tradition I wanted to take a new visual approach. I brought some DSLR gear to shoot the race but my visual focus, for the Kohler Grand Prix weekend, was to make ‘street photography’ style pictures with my iPhone 6 and the Hipstamatic app. The unique road track and the diverse crowd offered me a target rich environment to stretch myself visually. The following is a collection of my favorite ‘street style’ shots from the race weekend.

Black Friday – Hipstamatic street photography

Black Friday 2012 was perfect for some late night street photography. I didn’t really have any intention of heading out into the fray but this year’s early start made it a little easier for me to be convinced to participate. Over the last few years my nephews and I have maintained a Black Friday tradition of shopping together at a few select stores. I thought we were going skip it this year when we couldn’t find any thing to buy in the newspaper circulars but they were not to be deterred. So in the name of tradition we headed out to Target and Best Buy in Moline, Ill.

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Once we arrived at Target I became focused on photographing the madness. The line outside the neighboring Kohl’s was too good to pass up. After shooting the long line at Kohl’s I headed into Target to find my nephews and checkout the craziness. I made a few nice frames there and then we were off to Best Buy.

At Best Buy, where Jeff was kinda looking for a good deal on a 40-inch TV, we got in the back of the growing line of shoppers. It was cold and I could not believe how many people brought their small children out at midnight to shop. The following in a collection of images from our 2 1/2 hour adventure. Oh by the way our purchases consisted of Matt buying a game at full price, I bought a 32GB SD card for no good reason and Jeff never did find that 40-inch tv.

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Street photography in my backyard

I haven’t had much opportunity to do any street photography in the last year so I decided today that the annual Coal Valley Community Garage Sale might be a good opportunity to get back into the game. In the past I have shot with either my Canon G-10 or Nikon P700 but today I broke out the vaunted iPhone. I shot from my right hip using the Hipstamatic app. To make things even more challenging I brought Ivy, my chocolate lab, with me.

Most street photography is practiced in urban settings but today’s adventure was strictly suburban. The village-wide garage sale attracts a unique blend of folks all furiously looking for a bargain. The streets of our sub-division quickly morph into a bizzare flea market for the day. It can be treacherous walking, especially when you are taking pictures and walking a dog.

The fun thing about this kind of photography is that you take aim without taking aim. I hold the camera, mostly to my side, and point it in the direction of what I think might be an interesting photo. Sometimes I walk and shoot and other times I stop and wait for a moment to come to me. I wasn’t sure anyone else approached street photography in the same way until Scott Strazzante, the award winning photographer from the Chicago Tribune, started his blog Shooting from the Hip. Scott is the current master of this art form and his blog is well worth bookmarking.

Since you point and shoot without the aide of looking through the ‘viewfinder’ sometimes you strike gold and sometimes all you get is knee caps and asses. You shoot a lot and sometimes you capture a nice moment. The art of street photography is a well worn photographic art form. More examples of current street photography can be found at www.street-photographers.com/ and www.lfph.org/what-is-street-photography

If I had to pick one image from today that I was really satisfied with it would be this one of a little boy in the $2 “Thing” mask. I saw it developing as a walked up the street and was able to get to him in time before he took it off. I missed the shot of his brother trying on the “Thing” shoes.

One of the other freeing things about this kind of photography is that it is photography for photography’s sake. My newspaper photojournalism requires me to get names and talk to my subjects. When you shoot like this on the street you are just a fly on the wall. In a few of my shots the subjects are reacting to Ivy which adds a unique spin to the aesthetic.

Here is the rest of my edit. It could be tighter but it’s Saturday and I am enjoying a glass of wine while I type. – Todd