Mark Johns Does Street Photography With a GoPro

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All images by Mark Johns. Used with permission

Photographer Mark Johns usually does street photography with a Nikon 1 series camera, but every now and then he decided to try it with a GoPro. Originally hailing from Adelaide, Australia, Mark quit his day job in 2010 to turn to his passion of Photography/Digital Art. In the last 18 months, photography became the main focus.

We chatted with Mark about Street Photography with a GoPro and about how it helps him get the shots that can otherwise be tough to get.

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Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into street photography.

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Mark: Originally it was through an article about Street Photographers that got me interested. Youtube has many great small clips, if you simply search ‘street photography’. These clips offer hints and tips which gave me the courage to give it a go. I have a passion for characters and observation. Street photography to me is like capturing a scene with a character in a movie, except it’s a real life ‘moment’. Hitting the streets to capture a split second moment/scene/character and going home and looking at the captured image is exciting. Looking through images at home on my computer, after a long day of Street Photography, and finding an image that looks good and that other people like too, is a real buzz.

Phoblographer: Why choose the GoPro? It’s a camera typically reserved for extreme stuff.

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Mark: Anonymity! Big chunky cameras change the way people react to you as a photographer. The compact and tiny shape of a GoPro allows me to get close to people, without a big camera and without a big lens pointing at them. Street photography for me is a fly on the wall art form and the GoPro is ideal.

Phoblographer: What attracted you to the specific scenes that you shot?

Mark: The CBD and a beach/street strip appealed to me. The locations both get people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions. Once I’m walking the chosen scene with GoPro to capture an image, its all about being in flow and following the energy of the people. ie: A specific example was a time I found a side alley with some interesting graffiti. The scene was the alley shot from the street with an interesting character walking past the graffiti. After one image was taken, I waited around for the right character and captured a nice Street Photograph.

Phoblographer: How did you go about doing this? Did you just shoot and pray for the best?

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Mark: There is a lot of thought and planning, but that’s mainly prior to beginning a street session. Once I’m there I wear GoPro attached at chest height, or hat height. The camera has an Interval Timer in-built, so I set it to automatically take a photo every one second. This allows me to walk around and think of what I want to capture, with the luxury of not having to manually use the camera.

“The best Street Photographs are generally taken when the camera does not catch the subjects attention.”

Phoblographer: Do you feel that the GoPro inhibited you from shooting street photos? Usually some folks feel held back by certain pieces of gear.

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Mark: Yes and no. Yes, the GoPro inhibits the quality of the photo. The camera is really designed for action film/photos. It does not offer many traditional photography settings, ie: Flash, zoom, focus, ISO. But even with the limited settings, it can still capture a more intimate street portrait/photograph, due to how accessible and transparent the GoPro is. The best Street Photographs are generally taken when the camera does not catch the subjects attention.