Island of Tranquility

Posted on Aug 3, 2009 - 89 comments -

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Street photography has many layers.
You can look on 'street' and see "moments" just like Cartier Bresson did. You can look at it and see the most mundane things like William Eggleston did. Or maybe you can find the bizarre and somewhat ridicules like Martin Parr is doing. (By the way, does anyone knows why he is wearing a keffiyeh on that Magnum profile of his? :)
Of course, each of the names above are not fixed on one specific 'trend' but I stated the ones they are more famous for.
For the last few days/months I'm trying to find my own photo-language. I'm not trying to limit myself, of course, but to find that "flavor" to my photos that will distinct my style and make a solid body of works, and not just a random collection of photos.
I wonder how to achieve it. Is it something we find in time/with experience? Or maybe, after years and years of photography, such undertone language reveals itself from our past works? Or maybe it a 'niche' we find comfortable at (I enjoy humor+light+nuance photos, for example) and strive to perfect ourselves in it?

I don't know. Sometimes it frustrates me, but then I find that after such periods of low, times of creativity come, so I'll just wait for it to be over and learn from your blogs and comments.

As promised last week, with each post of mine I will link to a blog I enjoy. It's very tempting to start linking my friends, but I'll hold the temptation a while longer and link to a wonderful street-photo blog I found few months ago, and can't stop admiring the man's talent - "Urban Views" by Markus Hartel (@hrtl). Hope you'll enjoy as I am!

Late addition -
A very interesting read about few of my also favorite blogs - Written by Simon Hawkings (@SiHawkings) from blog. Of course, it has nothing to do with the fact that my name also appears in the post. :)

There has been 89 Responses to 'Island of Tranquility' so far

  1. WABIKOJA says:

    A fascinating, and very nicely captured, photograph.

  2. yz says:

    i like how the dark edges frame the subject

  3. Ben Simo says:

    Wonderful image! This definitely has depth.

  4. Asaf Karagila says:

    I too am trying to create my own language. In a way, I feel that with every roll of film that I finish perhaps I'm getting closer. It's probably not true, though.

    The trick is to keep that language clear enough for other people to understand as well.

    Good photo, as usually.

  5. Glenn says:

    Is this a trick question? Yeah, she does look at rest & I did a RT with your Tweet on that premise, but I have to admit, the more I look at this the more it doesn't look tranquil.

    Otherwise, it is a good capture with great exposure.

  6. Ben Lawson Photography says:

    I feel I cannot "create" my style or language, but that it develops on it's own the more I shoot. If it is forced, I believe it would be artificial & not who I really am as an artist.

    On the other hand, how do you define this photography language? How do you discover your style? Personally, I couldn't really tell you what it is, and I think it has changed and evolved over time.

  7. Anonymous

    I like the lighting that alows to see only the woman and her place and the scenery

  8. Rob says:

    I enjoy the fact that there is a feeling of unseen activity (chaos) going on around her while she appears to be having a staring off in the distance moment. The lighting really pulls you into the shot.

    I can't really answer the photography language question as I'm having difficulty with it myself. The funny thing for me is the more I experiment with coming up with my own thing the less appealing my shots appear to be with people who had previously responded well to my more common stuff. Go figure but it's not going to stop me from experimenting with my style. :)

  9. J Howe says:

    Wonderful image, I like the strong lighting in the center with the faintly lit areas on the 'outside' Nice write-up as well.

  10. Fritsch says:

    "There's a wonderful world where all you desire / And everything you've longed for is at your fingertips / Where the bittersweet taste of life is at your lips /
    Where aisles and aisles of dreams await you / And the cool promise of ecstasy fills the air / At the end of each working day she's waiting there" (Bruce Springsteen)
    Well, Ilan, let me say that I think your body of works has something very unique that I would call your language. It's your intuitive recognition of situations that allows your visitiors to create their own interpretation but at the same time tells a story that's bigger then the captured situation. Your beautiful Island of Tranquility shows a quite ruminant situation in a crowded market place. But there is no tranquility and I think the woman is just looking for the next customer. What I like about your language is the ironic always human look at these daily situations. What I like about your style is your use of natural light. It's a great shot & I like your way of story telling. All the best & safe travels, Fritsch.

  11. b michael says:

    It is the restfulness of her hands to me that signify her tranquility, and the static nature of the produce on show, and she shares that quality. I like the zoomie quality also, it creates the momentum within the shot, like the fisheye quality making it look like a fish tank, without the glass.

  12. Geir says:

    I love it! It's so much to delve into in the image. That's the kind of image I like.

  13. CraigM says:

    First I like the image, for me she has a slightly nervous edge "will they buy?"

    Second I think your own style will evolve by itself, perhaps only becoming obvious when looked back upon. Myself, my interests and influences are wide and diverse, just the way I like it :) it will take a long time to show any style at all in my work ;O)

  14. Oswegan says:

    I like looking at it I think because of its dark edges and angles. But I am also drawn to the woman and especially the basket of fish near her face.

  15. enoxisureka says:

    Love the automatic lighting and the moment of candidness that you've captured. Makes me feel like I'm standing in line. :)

  16. Snapshutter says:

    I totally understand where you're coming from. My blog seems to be a random collection of subjects and styles. Maybe that's the point of blogging on. See what one eventually might zero in on.

    Your street photography is great. Look forward to more.

  17. Liang says:

    i love the selective focus you've given to the shopkeeper here. And the colors she's wearing really stand out. bravo!

  18. Francesco Gallarotti says:

    I say: "Shoot more and think less"...
    Follow your heart, take pictures of what you like and enjoy... you are already using a language, your imagination and view of the world... leave to the critics and the viewers to find in your pictures their interpretation.

  19. Rajesh says:

    Beautiful. I liked how the focus has been retained only on the shop and not the surroundings.

  20. Ivar says:

    Very cool shot, so much to look at and take in... nice

  21. beanow says:

    Really fascinating capture...very mystery...

  22. Danne says:

    This is a very captivating moment. I really like it, cause it gives a feeling of tranquility, just as you're stating.

    Keep it up!

  23. david says:

    i think quite a bit of street photography can be terribly mundane for the sake of it; some people thinking it's enough to go out and randomly shoot anything and everything!

    fortunately you don't have that habit; this is great, a street shot with plenty for the eyes to feast on.

  24. PixeLuz says:

    Ilan, i wonder if a "random" collection of photos, made by one single photographer, does exist. There may be various kinds of themes, but anyway it does belong to a unique vision of the world. So, every one has "just" to express his unique vision of the world better and better. The style then would appear to the eyes of attentive viewers.

    Now, this shot of yours is to me clearly a shot of yours. I would have probably recognized your touch in an anonymous base.

    And thanks, Ilan, to make us think a bit about our photographing action.

  25. Darragh says:

    This is a really lovely shot. I love the lighting

  26. Doum says:

    OMG... fabulous light, portrait and candid pose! I never dare to turn on my camera and push the shutter in front of perfect stranger. I like your job.

  27. Marcie says:

    Wonderful environmental portrait. Love how all of the elements lead the eye to the center.

  28. Nicolas Beaumont says:

    Great shot, I like the way you're capturing the night lights and how you're using them to make multiple layers.

  29. Jon Rieley-Goddard says:

    Nicely anchored to a particular place. The fish are a nice touch, too. Excellent framing with woman's profile.

  30. cara says:

    I like your use of light in this photo, and also the blue color of her apron.
    I've never really explored steet photography, but it seems intriguing. I look forward to more of your shots

  31. John Maslowski says:

    Definitely like the framing and the light draws attention to the fascinating array of items and the young lady in blue. Interesting composition.

  32. bluechameleon says:

    I really like this Ilan! There is so much to look at here and I find this to be so fascinating. All the different foods and presentation. I like how her apron is so vibrant in the frame. The rest of the scene to the left, those in the shadows and the lower light is very intriguing.

  33. martie says:

    Wonderful shot! My eyes are drawn to the woman - perhaps the blue apron draws the eye. So much to look at.

  34. cako says:

    Fantastic lighting and composition. Great street photo.

  35. Rhys Baker says:

    the lighting is superb, great chiaroscuro, reminds me of a Caravaggio painting ('Supper at Emmaus' for example). Excellent work.

  36. a.h.lex says:

    a wonderful street photography shot. i like it, ilian.

  37. Faisal says:

    love the light! love the shadows... !

    faisal from

  38. HeatherCheryl says:

    Hello Ilan, it is nice to meet you too (from Twitter) I was running a photography hashtag, or was it photoblog...and your tweet let me to this wonderful street photo. I loved it! I am working my way through your photos and enjoying them! You are an artist.

  39. Marisol Risakotta/ImgSensors says:

    Interesting read. I also wonder how to define and discover my own style. I hope to find the answer someday…

    Love the image. Especially it's quality exposure wise, clarity, sharpness… it's awesome!

  40. Mohammadreza says:

    nice framing and lights ...

  41. Soe says:

    Great capture, Ilan.
    Wonderful use of available light... good write up too.. :)

  42. Alex says:

    Pues si, aqui es donde mas tranquilos estan los peces y para que nosotros los podamos degustar.

  43. sil says:

    I really love this shot, Ilan. It has a strong narrative and is very well composed. Just keep shooting what makes you push the shutter button, don't try to define something undefinable, too much thinking undermines inspiration. You have a great eye, just keep shooting and shooting... Ciao!

  44. k@ says:

    I love the colors, lighting and the whole scene + the question you ask - i'm myself in such personal questioning too. Just read a book by the french photographer Raymond Depardon, "Errance" (in french), it helped me a lot in my thoughts, I think it's a real good thing to question our own work, life is a daily change, our photos follow that path, the pictures we take are the reflections of our inner being, day after day, so it's normal they're changing too... I'll follow your own evolution, I find it very interesting to share this, Ilan ! Thanks*

  45. kurt says:

    I really like the light. Just perfect framing.

  46. Carver says:

    That's a great shot. You are so talented as a photographer.

  47. Jeaux says:

    So dramatic. A beacon of life in a sea of gloam.

  48. namaki says:

    that's really a great photo ... I don't know how you do .. I'm always a bit shy to take photos of people... do you ask them ?

  49. Elaine- says:

    just gorgeous!! looks soooo inviting! i want some of what she's got :)

  50. Marinus says:

    you see people everywere and she is not helping one...
    I had a kind of writers blok for photographers a couple years ago. there is so much i could take pictures of but there was no creative idea what i did wanna do.. I did let go that i had to build a personal style
    I think the personal style is in myself... And whatever i feel like doing is that style.... If its something that challenge me cause i never did it or something i did for the last half year. its something spiritual for me, that inner feeling in me that say i must capture it on film. I create photos but also let photos create themselves.

  51. Andy says:

    Has a great atmosphere to it! Makes me think I would like to go shopping here! Great shot.

  52. Nathan says:

    Awesome lighting and composition, great shot!

  53. Anna says:

    Hey Ilan, this is very interesting photo, especially the lady in the blue apron. BTW thanks for the links of your friends, I will definitely check it out. Anna :)

  54. One says:

    What a magnificent composition!

  55. The Factory says:

    Hi Ilan,
    Excellent frame into the frame effect, I like its diamond shape.
    As langage, I notice the same "crude" lightning as in "Together and Alone", the feeling to be "in" (lens use), the "banality" of the scene, the simplicity...
    I would like to see more about the woman's face, even if fishes and consumption products are the subject here.
    About "your" photographic langage, I strongly think you will find it in yourself, do what you really and profundly like, let you marvel, follow your instinct (instead of your mind)... This is valid for taking pictures, but also when selecting pictures and, here, time is very important.
    Take care ;)

  56. Yashar says:

    Wonderful shot..
    Really beautiful.

  57. Beat says:

    this is a real eyecatcher. perfect compostion! Bravo

  58. Anne says:

    great angle and interesting use of colours

  59. Ashish Sidapara says:

    the light is perfect, beautiful street shot.

  60. sherri says:

    An exceptional portrait. The clarity, framing, and scene just begged to be photographed. Really nice.

  61. Ginnie says:

    Interestingly, Ilan, I just watched the new movie on Julia Childs and immediately thought of her when I saw this image pop up.

  62. MiNe says:

    Interesting scene; I like the colors in this.

  63. silvermikan says:

    Great and cool shot! Love this composition!

  64. Zing says:

    Beautiful street shot, love the lighting and colours!

  65. Kamal says:

    Wow. Great light as always. I like that we can see a hint of the woman's face on the bottom left. A bit creepy too. Haha.

  66. Scott Schilling says:

    Fantastic light on this image! It creates a huge amount of visual interest on the scene! Great work!

  67. Lynda Lehmann says:

    Very interesting post and I love the photo! Good luck finding your vision of a cohesive body of work.

    I love shooting street scenes but the legal aspect gets complicated. With model releases and infringement issues...etc.

    I'm following you on twitter!

  68. Omar says:

    Very deep image, a lot to discover

  69. Tammie Lee says:

    Such a colorful and vibrant photo!


  70. lisaschaos says:

    Very nice! I love all the things in the light - very full - and I love the other stuff going on in the darker areas!

  71. Jinksee says:

    You know what I enjoy about coming to your blog? The fact that I always get a nice surprise in each of your photos. Something unexpected. Something creative. Something absolutely terrific. Love your work. :D

  72. Ken says:

    I thought I commented on this? ...great, now I will just be part of the Masses! :)

    You definelty have a style forming Mr. Bresler. In this recent image I can see others fitting in the same category like: Night Shift and Ice Cream Lady. You like the play of shadows on your subjects and the color blue is a primary force in a lot of your images. Bold colors, fleeting moments and intimate portrayals. That's what I see so far...

    On my blog, I like to have people experience the unexpected. Sure, I could just post B&W urban shots and that's all, but as a person, more things excite me from day to day. I think a person's "photo-language" is as unique as the person themselves. In a few weeks I am going to be going through a big change and thus, my scenery will be changing too. I look forward to seeing what develops.


  73. Claude says:

    Very nice framing, with the woman standing on the edge of a darker circle surrounded by bright light.

  74. jo says:

    Illuminated circle of light out of the dark, reminds me of being at the theatre, with a crowd, a stage, etc. I love how you ask questions in your blog and ponder meaning, life, etc. Martin Parr had this series of himself he did of other people (mostly professionals) taking his portrait, called autoportrait.The image of him wearing a keffiyeh was one of them. Not sure who took it/where it was.Unusual but interesting and inspiring man!

  75. Mindy | f-stopMarin says:

    Regarding your trying to find my own photo-language: perhaps the key is to stop trying. Does a child "try" when first expressing him or herself in (verbal) language? Or does it come naturally, the mere result of being?
    Our best images just happen, the result of our observation of and immersion in situations with our subjects. More about the experience than the effort, at least that what I think!
    Like the mood and 'story' in this image. Surrounded in her small space by the goods she's selling, she seems more interested in something distant. Perhaps she sees something going on or is just thinking about/wishing she were doing something else, somewhere else.

  76. aleksarus says:

    I think every photographer is looking for a language and I am sure that very many did not find, but found it already after a while enthusiastic spectators. They see that the language and handwriting. I think the most important to follow your way, shoot what you love and love in spite of everything. About this photo, very beautiful woman, she as the queen of his shop, and people came around to look at is the kingdom, color accent very well refer the mood. At the same time, it is a normal city scene, but the picture gives a somewhat different view on everyday things and this is important!

  77. emillamola says:

    Una escena excelente con una gran compòsición y sobre todo lo que me gusta mas es la mirada perdida de la vendedora.

  78. NJ & SB Photography says:

    tus fotos urbanas son cada vez mejor, expresas muy bien lo que ves!!

  79. joshi daniel says:

    i liked this image very much. the image shows the busy place yet there is a calmness when it comes to the storekeeper in focus!

  80. Marco says:

    Nice one Ilan! The woman seems so isolated from her surroundings. You keep getting drawn to her. Excellent shot.

    On the topic of finding your photo-language I would say that it will develop naturally. I do not want to limit myself, but I notice that I'm drawn to a one type of photography more than the other. It's a matter of what you love to do.

    If you really desire a style for yourself you probably should limit yourself, but I think that should be a sort of natural selection. Does that make any sence?

  81. Xavi Heredia says:

    Ilan, I like how the seller seems to be isolated from the rest of the world... yes, as if she was onto an island. Best regards!!

  82. Mario says:

    Very nice street shot.
    Love the lighting and composition.

  83. Brooks says:

    This is a great street scene. The lighting is spot on. Well seen my friend :)

  84. Sandy says:

    Great feel to this photo. I'll have to try and follow some of these links you leave in your posts!

  85. pando says:

    Fantastic scene!

  86. puglyfeet says:

    Beautiful! And, wonderful insights.

  87. nissou* says:

    excellent shot. i love the lighting in this one and the natural vignetage

  88. JMS* says:

    Voilà, là je trouve du bonheur à regarder au travers ton de objectif !

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