‘Keep the Focus: A Meditation Guide for Street Photographers’, by Thomas Ludwig

Thomas Ludwig, CEO of camera bag maker Cosyspeed GmbH, recently released Keep the Focus, a free PDF ebook that acts as a “practical guide on how to improve your street photography with three meditation techniques”. As a documentary photographer who also photographs in the street and other urban settings, I highly recommend Keep the Focus, especially if you are new to street photography and related photographic genres. 

‘Keep the Focus’ ebook PDF viewed in Apple Preview.

Although the word meditation has religious overtones, stemming from its history as a technique used in many religions throughout history from Buddhism and Hinduism onwards, it has its non-religious uses and forms and these are the ones that inspired Mr Ludwig in writing this short, pithy ebook.

I am not a meditator, at least not in the way the author describes, but I have developed my own methods and have practised them since commencing as a child what I prefer to refer to as urban documentary.

Back then, meditating and urban documentary aka street photography, separately or in unison, were often regarded as the provinces of cranks at best and subversives at worst, sometimes attracting suspicion, even derision.

Urban documentary photography was my own personal way of coping with being taken from a place and people I loved and in which I thrived to a distant, isolated, windswept little town located at the opposite side of the country. Urban photography allowed me to begin to understand what I had been thrown into by while permitting the externalization of innermost fears, hopes and desires.

Nowadays, I practise urban documentary as a form of mental and physical exercise when not working in other forms of photography and moviemaking. It allows me to familiarize myself with other ways of seeing and depicting than my defaults at the time, affords physical exercise and relaxation and helps break through over-adherence to convention and all-too-familiar tropes.

Street photography itself, as some have pointed out, is now seeing cults, leaders, followers, stars, rules, regulations, competitions, awards, judges, dudes, bros, hipsters, clichés, cheap tricks, visual jokes and even rigid ideologies arise.

In opposition to all that, Keep the Focus serves as a reminder that photographing in the street can be something else altogether. Thomas Ludwig shares his three most relevant meditation techniques then passes reins over to eight notable contemporary street photographers, one of whom is a woman, Valerie Jardin.

Street photography continues to be dominated by men, as is the case with other genres, to the extent that one often sees articles asking where are all the female street photographers?. Right there in the middle, ignored and excluded for the most part.

But, growing numbers of women practising urban documentary aka street photography are finding their way to each other to form supportive groups online, and one day, one hopes, more will be recognized by the powers that be despite our tendency towards non-conformism in the face of all those rules, regulations, dictates, demands and rampant blokeism.

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Tech Notes:

Header aka featured image made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 lens then processed in Capture One Pro 10 with further processing in Macphun Luminar.

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