Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Leica File: The Xiàngqí Players

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

This Saturday, I walked over to Chinatown's Columbus Park, where literally hundreds of Chinese were spending their week end under the New York City bright sun. As is customary, the xiàngqí players were out in force...more so than usual, while traditional Chinese music and songs by two groups of performers wafted through the air.

I am not going to repeat most of what I wrote in earlier posts on Columbus Park, but the above photograph (click on it for a larger version) is one that I made from the hip. I was using the M9 with the Elmarit 28mm and standing within inches from the man on the right. He never heard the shutter, and yet the camera was almost level to his ear. I have others which are even closer than that, but this one has motion from the fellows on the left, who were getting animated during a particular move.

Shooting from the hip is a technique frequently used by street photographers, and wasn't really needed in this instance, except that I wanted to try it out in this particular setting. Had I stood there with my camera to my eye, would the players been as "natural" as they seem to be in this frame? At first, they probably wouldn't, but if I kept at it, they would've forgotten about me and gone about their game.

So is shooting from the hip photography as we know it?