Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

I spent the weekend at Leica Ginza attending the Bruce Gilden Workshop.   Bruce is an amazing Magnum Photographer who has an agressive style of street photography that produces some pretty amazing images.   He will judge your photographers in the same ‘Brooklyn style’ in which he rates his own.   If you haven’t been to Brooklyn or New York City then you are probably in for a surprise.  I am fairly thick skinned and direct conversations and feedback don’t really bother me.   If you want to know if you are thick sinned Bruce’s workshop is a good place to find out.

My good friend Pieter Franken took this shot of me on the street…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

The format of the workshop is to go out shooting until late in the day and then we all met up at Leica Ginza for photo reviews and critiques.   A lot of Day 1  for me was getting comfortable with shooting off camera flash on the street.

Here were my first day submissions:

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

This was Bruce’s favoriate of mine from Day 1…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

We also spent a lot of time talking about this one… I really liked how this one came out.

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

For the technically inclined my settings were (about); F/16, 1/180 per second, at ISO 400 with a flash ~1/8 to 1/16 power.   You really need to experiment to make sure you are getting the look you want.  Day 1 was about getting control of the settings and getting comfortable shooting in this setup.    You are prefocusing and pre exposing so you need to make sure you are in consistent lighting conditions and shooting from an equal distance.   My biggest shortfall was needing to close the gap and become more comfortable shooting closer…and I mean shooting within a few feet.   The challenge is really to get a shot before you get a reaction from someone if you are trying to take a candid shot.

After the day of shooting we would meet for reviews.  One good piece of advice was to bring prints for review as it is easy to move them around and group them while reviewing.

I think my Day 2 images improved quite a lot… I was technically stronger and quicker to frame my images up close.

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

I have actually bumped into this guy before… it his blond wig and baby blue and white Alice in Wonderland outfit!

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

I was very surprised to see he was also carrying an M6!

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

This is one of my personal favorites…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

One of my biggest fears of shooting flash on the street was how people would react.  Honestly you are working so close that people aren’t even sure that you are taking a photo of them.   Most people just smiled, laughed or waved when you took their photo.  I also said ‘Thanks’ or ‘Arigato’ always.   Often I would stop and talk to them and show them the photo.   This was one of the only people I bumped into that wasn’t amused…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

For me the most fun of the weekend was getting out with my friends and shooting…

Meet Pieter…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Meet Stefan…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Here are some of the outtakes that didn’t make it into the daily submissions…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

It must have been ‘men in customs with cameras weekend’ in Ginza…  This guy was in his full blown space commander suit and a bright red wig.  He had an old film camera set up on a trip pod.  When I snapped this picture he was taking a reading from his light meter.

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Telephone TV…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Too slow Dave…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Men with cameras…

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

Bruce Gilden Tokyo Workshop

All in all it was a great workshop.  Thanks for stopping by today…

 

  • http://www.matthewmaber.com matthew

    I love all these photos, really well done – but especially your second of day to with the lady in sunglasses peering over the sheet of paper.

  • http://www.benbeechphoto.com Ben Beech

    These are some of the best shots I’ve seen of yours, in my opinion. Really great set of portraits! I’d be interested to know how many were candid shots…

  • Marcus

    I have been waiting for your post on the Bruce Gilden worshop. Well done and I am sure you learned a lot :) My favourite is the first one. I really hope to see more shots with off camera flash.

  • http://www.flickr.com/charleskoh Charles KOH

    Hi Dave – very thick skinned results indeed. lovely !! the first 2 on day 1 are pretty .. maybe i like pretty girls as subjects :)

    Hope to see you soon. I’m in Shanghai till Nov 5.

    Shoot More !

  • Logan

    Rude chick flipping the bird could use some “Brooklyn Style” attitude adjustment.

  • John
  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Awesome. Love the ‘new’ costume.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Matthew. That was one of my favorites…mostly as I was fast enough to frame in well.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Ben. They were all candid shots…except for the few of my friends. All of my submissions on Day 1 and Day 2 were candid. You can see on Day 1 that people were reacting to me more but on Day 2 I was a bit faster.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Marcus. I like the first one as well. He expression was pretty funny…

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Enjoy Shanghai Charles… I’ll ping you when I come to Singapore next. Not sure when that will be.

  • http://yokosukamike.blogspot.jp/ Mike

    Methinks the chick flipping the bird has already had the “Brooklyn Style” attitude adjustment. She cracks me up! Dave, great shots; was focusing the camera while holding the flash a problem? It seems to me you have to nail the focus on the first shot because you must only get one shot. Keep up the good work.

  • Strucky

    Hi Dave,

    nice shots. What is the type of the cord you use to get the flash off camera?

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Strucky – Not sure of the brand. It was just a long 6 foot generic one I ordered from B&H.

  • Jim Donahue

    Really Great images Dave, some of your Best. The Lady (if I may) who show her displeasure might have really been saying, “your #1, Glad you enjoyed your workshop, Personally I don’t care for Mr Gilden’s Street demeanor at all, he can be quite a jerk, but as a mutual aquaintence once said, he’s from Brooklyn and thats the way they are.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nokton Pieter Franken

    Hi Dave – looking back, it was a great weekend and got some good shots out of it. You did well on Day 2 for sure. And, we’re all now very well prepared to do some “candid verticals” in Brooklin 😉

  • Kevin

    Love this series of shots! I especially like the shot of you by Pieter Franken!

    Hopefully, I will see you Sunday in Tokyo for some great shooting!!!!

  • http://Liusvia.com Nathan

    Good series Dave. Like the one with the finger.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Pieter. Let’s plan to do this style shooting again together…it was a lot of fun.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Kevin – Thanks! I dropped you a mail. Let’s see if we can figure out a time to meet up while you are in Tokyo.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Nathan… me too!

  • http://monochrome.me.uk/blog/ Hans ter Horst

    Wow, that really is “in your face” street photography, I don’t think I would be able to do that although I found it easy to talk to people and then photograph them in certain parts of Tokyo (like Yoyogi Park or Ueno Park)

  • Alex

    i believe tokyo is one of the few remaining places where you can do that kind of photography. i live in Paris and even at a few meters away, people get angry really fast when they notice you took their picture. Even if i’m completly in my right to do so.

  • Matthew Humphreys

    Love, love, love. Great work as always.

  • IamJacksBrain

    Some really good workshop photos, but don’t you think they’re looking a bit like Charlie Kirk?

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Jack. I think they look like black and white flash street photography. Charlie is much better at this than me.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Matthew. It was a fun workshop. Not sure I would shoot this style all of the time but it was fun for a day.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Alex – I think it is all in your approach. I shoot photos on the street all the time but usually without a flash. I always get people saying that Tokyo is the only city you can do that but as I have I have done this extensively in Tokyo and Singapore, Sydney, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Boston, San Francisco and NYC and I was typically met with the same reaction. I have actually gotten better reactions outside of Tokyo. NYC for example was probably the easiest place I have ever shot. Extremely accommodating. I really believe it all boils down to approach.

  • Aaron

    Hi Dave,

    Great and interesting images. Bruce’s workshop must be intense. Some of your pictures seem like you were really close to your subject (Maybe around 1 ft). I don’t think I have the guts to flash and shoot someone that close.

  • Kurt

    The lady in the kimono took my breath away. I was in awe when I saw it. I don’t know why, it’s just a great photo!!

  • Hidehiko Sakashita

    Very nice set. I really wanna buy my remote flash light and try this.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    You should Hidehiko-san… it is a lot of fun.

  • John

    Awesome! Who knew when you describing to me the depth of Morrissey’s depression – that you would become a world famous photographer! So happy for you!

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Dr. John. If only this was my real job…but it is a fun hobby. I just put ‘How soon is now?‘ on…

  • http://www.kevshot.com Kevin

    Can’t believe I shot the same person on Halloween in Shibuya as your “guy” with the M6. See my Facebook post from my visit to Tokyo.

  • Jason

    I’m wondering technically? How close did you get? like 1 metre with the 35mm? to get the lady with the newspaper?

    The reason i’m asking i’m trying to pre-visualize the process myself. This style of shooting is something i’ve always tried but never realy got to grips with. Something like, (1) see a potential target (2) prefocus to 1 metre or 1.5m (3) adjust flash power accordingly,(1/32 or 1/64 on a similar flash like yours) like two stops from 2 meters. (4) approach target subtlely (5) let it rip. (6) say thank you and get out of there before anything bad happens?

  • http://www.colincorneau.com Colin Corneau

    Ha! That 4th shot is a guy, I’m sure of it.

    I pretty much dug almost every shot you had — it seems that you really took to this style of shooting very quickly. Certainly a lot quicker than I would, I bet…my compliments.

  • WIll

    I agree with Alex, and wonder if B.G. even does this workshop anywhere else? Even then gaijin are the only people shooting like this in Tokyo, as Japanese are polite enough to know better. Mr. Gilden even admits that one of the reasons why he got away with this technique is because he is a large man. My buddy who is really small got a black eye in Yoyogi for taking up close photos, and that wasn’t even with a flash.

    Not trying to discount this type of photography. It certainly has its place: in the ’80 from original artists like B.G.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Colin. I really like it Not sure I would shoot that way all the time but I didn’t enjoy going out and shooting with some friends that way.

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  • http://blog.duanepandorf.com Duane Pandorf

    I don’t think I could get comfortable shooting this close to complete strangers. But I can see with the help of someone like Bruce then one may learn to overcome those fears.

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Duane – You would be surprised. It was much easier than I expected.

  • robertalbot

    What camera and lens were these photos taken with?

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Robert – It was a Leica M Monochrom and a Summicron 28mm f/2.0

  • http://www.harrywhophotography.com Harry Who

    Great pictures. Makes me want to take my camera out and visit a big city. :)

  • http://www.leicalicious.de Dario

    Dave, thanks for the nice report and the very goos images. Much enjoyed. I had a short two day workshop with Bruce Gilden. He is such a great guy. And I have to confess he definitely changed my viewpoint making images.
    Rock on!

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Thanks Dario.

  • http://www.thepassportlifestyle.com Stephanie

    Really great shots Dave! I found this post actually because I searched for “Bruce Gilden workshop” and your post came up. If you don’t mind, I have a few questions about your experience with his workshop.

    I got into to the Magnum sponsored workshop in Tokyo and for five days Bruce Gilden will be my instructor. I have a few more days to decide whether or not to attend this workshop. I want to go a new direction with my street photography and really getting up close to people is something I need to improve upon if I hope to expand my documentary photography. I actually really like his images a lot, although it’s quite amazing how many people dislike his method.

    That said, I’m kinda scared to death about taking his workshop for 5 days!! It sounds fascinating yet I’ve also read that he can be quite intimidating and is not afraid to tell you your images suck in workshops. Although I feel like this kind of blunt honesty and critique is what’s missing from my images today….It seems you really enjoyed this workshop though. And how much did it help your photography?

  • http://www.shoottokyo.com Dave

    Stephanie

    I enjoyed the workshop from the perspective that I could shoot with and spend time with my friends. Bruce is very blunt and straight forward which I like. There was more criticism than constructive criticism and advice for my taste. I probably won’t take his workshop again.

    The one I would recommend from another very straight talking New Yorker is Jay Maisel‘s workshop. It was amazing. He will rip you apart but I left there a very different photographer than when I went in. The feedback and discussions were amazing.

  • Stephanie

    Thanks Dave, this helped a lot. I think at this stage, constructive criticism will be most useful to me. I worry it will be too critical and I’ll emerge somewhat scathed and feel like giving up photography lol. I’ll check out Jay Maisel and hopefully I can at least take a one day workshop with Bruce sometime in the future. I think though his advice in moderation will be quite useful as I respect the heck out of him. I generally agree with a lot of his perceptions. But yea, the workshop is kinda a lot of money.

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