Studium, Punctum, and Street Photography
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
2y ago
In his 1980 book, Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes introduces two concepts for understanding a photograph: studium and punctum. In this article, I would like to explain my personal interpretation of these ideas and how I apply them to my own photography, and street photography in particular. It is not my intention to summarize Barthes’ book. If you’d like a deep understanding of his ideas, I highly recommend reading it! Think of this article as a personal digest of that material. I emphasize that my ideas here are very much a mutated interpretation of the original. This is intentional! We should ..read more
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Photography and Ikigai
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
2y ago
Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese word that can be read literally as a “life’s worth” but can be more appropriately translated as the “purpose of one’s life.” The term seems to have been popularized in Japan in the mid-twentieth century, eventually making its way onto pop-science blogs and whatnot throughout the internet. Somewhere along the way it was broken down into four basic components that are often presented in a clever Venn diagram. In our various pursuits and activities in life, there are four aspects that we can consider, and when all four are present they form an ikigai. An ikigai is so ..read more
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Not the Tokyo I Once Knew
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
2y ago
I first set foot in Japan in 2007 and I was immediately swept away by a seemingly endless metropolis packed with hidden lanes, decrepit corridors, and a patina of decay splashed with vivid neon light. I know I romanticize it. That can’t be helped—Tokyo is a romantic place! Rationally, I can understand that I may be looking at the Tokyo of my past through rose-tinted glasses, and my early experiences of it are most likely exaggerated in my memories. But I also know Tokyo has changed losing so much of its charm in the process, and I have photographic evidence to prove it. Before I go on, I cann ..read more
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The Ethics of Street Photography
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
2y ago
In many places around the world, street photography is legal and permissible by society. I know street photography is legal in Japan, where I live, and in the US, where I grew up. However, my understanding is that in some countries it’s not legal. So, the legality of something is not really a helpful indicator to determine if something is ethical or not. I hope to apply my personal ethics universally, and since the legality varies, it is of no use to determine the ethics of street photography one way or the other. I believe that there is no on-size-fits-all answer to the question of ethics in ..read more
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Is Street Photography Legal in Japan?
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
3y ago
After years of teaching photography workshops in Tokyo, many of them focusing on street photography, some of the most common questions I get are about the legality of conducting street photography in Japan. Of course, I’ve researched this many times over the years to make sure I am up to date on the rules in case the law has changed, so I want to share my findings. I need to stress that I am NOT A LAWYER, and this is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. I am only sharing my own personal understanding of this issue in Japan. I operate under assumptions that I’ve made based on my research, but I do not recommend ..read more
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How I Get My Colors — Tips for Editing Color Photos
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
3y ago
Maybe a better question is: “how should you get your colors?” But more on that later. First, I have to explain my thought process when it comes to color, as it underscores my entire approach. If you just want to jump into the specific things that I do, just watch this video: 7 Tips for Editing Color Photos. Edited in Adobe Camera Raw. Straight from the camera (Nikon D4) How I Started - Color vs. Monochrome When I was just getting into photography I was overwhelmed with the creative options. One of those, was the seemingly simple choice of color or monochrome. I quickly came to realize that ..read more
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Street Photography, Mindfulness, Zen, and Flow
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
3y ago
Have you ever lost yourself in the act of artistic creation? When I am out shooting in the city, sometimes the hours flow like minutes. Street photography can be so engrossing that it can be a shame to snap out of it—to come back to regular life—after being ‘one with the street’ for hours on end. For me, in the beginning, I couldn’t count on entering this mindful state. At times it happened, and at others I could not get myself there. It was like slipping into a dream, and just at the moment of lucidness I would wake up. This was disappointing, because I find that I do my best work in this me ..read more
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Learning How to See
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
3y ago
When we get better at photography, particularly street photography, what is the core skill that we are actually building? Certainly, we need to learn how to use the photographer’s tools: the camera, the lens, lighting, the usage of film or application of digital editing, and so on. And of course, the exact tools of the trade vary. What is crucial for one photographer is useless for another. However, I would argue there is one universal skill that comprises the foundation of photography: perception. The fundamental aspect of what we do is simply put as seeing. It is this ability which we need ..read more
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The Content Diet for Creativity
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
3y ago
Astronauts work in a vacuum. Most artists don’t. We are always surrounded and influenced by the media and feedback from our peers. Of course, it is possible to exist as a hermit, pursuing a singular creative journey that springs purely from within. But even then, is such creativity truly without influence? Surely, the hermit in the woods is influenced by the very woods in which he finds himself. Anyway, the point is moot—most of us are fully entrenched in society and so we are constantly bombarded by the creative output of others. Creative input is like food. We all have to eat. but what exac ..read more
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10 Photographic Fallacies
Lkaz Photo Blog
by Lukasz Palka
3y ago
Over the years, I’ve encountered some ideas about photography—call them ‘beliefs’—that I find hold little truth. In some cases, it might be too strong to call them outright fallacies, as they come from a place of good intentions. However, they can lead to misunderstanding of the details because these fallacious beliefs lack nuance. They are traps for newbie and experienced photographers alike because they limit critical thinking and sound decision-making. And so, I would like to explore these fallacies one by one, and present alternative lines of reasoning to help you avoid the traps! In the ..read more
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