“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it.”
Why are you passionate about street photography?
I am passionate about street photography because I love living in Kansas City. It wasn’t always like that. My husband and I moved to Kansas City from North Carolina in 2007. We lived downtown for the first two years, and I deeply regret that we didn’t explore. We didn’t allow it to become home. We spent our time trying to get back to where we came from. We weren’t comfortable with the change. Over time, we slowly, but surely made incredible friends and we’ve discovered what this amazing city is all about. We’ve fallen in love with Kansas City. It’s become home.
As a photographer, I’m drawn to the story of this city. The story of the building and details. The story of my fellow Kansas Citians. And the story of how my family and I interact with this city. The more I tell these stories, the more I fall in love with Kansas City.
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked street photography?
I dove in head first September 2015 by creating Cities in Color. My older two boys had gone back to school, so I decided it was time to push myself creatively and try out a new genre. I love, love, love color. I wanted to grow in my intentional use of color within a story. And I wanted an excuse to get out and explore more of Kansas City. So I merged the two together for the vision of the project and started to invite anyone I could think of to join me! Over the past year of leading this project, I really learned how to incorporate my storytelling style with my street photography and make it my own.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
- Use a wide angle lens! Including the scene adds to the story, but you will find yourself in some pretty tight spaces with no room to back up. So bust out those wide angle lenses! Most of the time, I use my 24 mm. Occasionally, I will use my 35 mm.
- Look for ways to add interest. Use light and shadows to add dimension. Let colors shine within the story. Look for details. Pay attention to patterns and breaks in pattern.
- It’s okay to ask to take pictures. If you are nervous about capturing something in a small, local business, then simply ask if it’s okay to snap some pictures. It can be intimidating to ask at first, but if they say “yes,” then you won’t be rushing a shot because you are afraid of being “caught.” Obviously you still wouldn’t want to go overboard and just keep shooting, but it gives you enough time to get your settings right and figure out the angle you want.
- Include your perspective within the story. This is THE major way I differ from traditional street photography. But if you incorporate your perspective into your street photography, I bet you will fall in love/more in love with where you live, too.
- Explore, explore, and explore some more! Act like a tourist. Google new locally owned stores, restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops to check out. Then go for a walk around the neighborhood. You’ll discover something new about where you live and find a story to tell.
What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
I was really challenged by telling the story of inanimate objects. There isn’t automatically an emotion there, so I really had to learn how to thoughtfully compose my images to tell the story I wanted to tell in a way that the viewer would connect with. I can’t even tell you how many images I’ve shot that just fell flat! But that’s where things like light, color, details, and patterns come into play.
About the photographer:
Hi! I’m Melissa! I live in Kansas City, MO with my husband and our three boys. I am always looking for a story that needs to be told and amazing light to help me tell it. Whether that’s at home, exploring Kansas City, for clients, or even with my iPhone. Be on the lookout for my e-book “Story of a City” coming to In Beauty & Chaos October 1!