Once in a while you’ll hear the phrase “shooting from the hip” when talking about street photography. Some purists find this method to be dishonest, or cheap or unprofessional.

Is it really that bad?

Back in the day, when TLR’s were used by photographers like Vivian Maier, the shots were made from the hip…. is she a bad photographer now? Does it makes her work less impressive?

Vivian Maier - shooting from the hip

Vivian Maier – shooting from the hip

“Shooting from the hip” is a phrase, it doesn’t mean that you have to shoot from the actual hip… it just means – not looking through the viewfinder. If you are using the same focal length all the time, it ‘s very easy to master the coverage and composition without looking via the viewfinder.

With today’s tech that gives us live view and tilting displays,” shooting from the hip” is even easier and in a way bring us back to the TLR days.

© Street Photography by Sagi Kortler

For me, “shooting from the hip” means also fast response. sometimes you just don’t have the time to bring the camera to the eye. In many cases my shots are taken as I wander, I don’t even stop walking, just reacting to a situation in front of me, shooting by intuition.

Another aspect for me is my height, “shooting from the eye” would mean in many situations aiming down at the subject  and in many situations it won’t look good, so I shoot sometimes from the chest. I could bend a bit and I do that as well but it is not possible in many cases.

One also have to understand that my streets are different then your streets or the other guy’s streets. In each city, in each country, we need to use the techniques that work best for those streets.

© Street Photography by Sagi Kortler

On a final note – in art, only the outcome, the final work counts and have meaning, not the way, path or process. the process of creation is only important to the artist as each artist should find his own process that he is comfortable with and enables him to express himself. The process can also make a good story to help the curator to sell the artist’s work.

  1. Patti Kuche says:

    Fascinating topic and you raise so many good points. As you say, it is the final work that counts but I often wonder, if Vivian Maier, were here today, what camera/technique would she use and . . . would she bother blogging?

    Love your work!

  2. Most of my shots are made from the hip and I really don’t care what some purists have to say about it!

    I’m not looking for interaction with my subjects, I want to take pictures of people in their own natural state of being and hipshooting is ideal for that.

    Nice piece

  3. troy holden says:

    Great post. I use a small compact 35mm and often shoot from the chest while in large crowds of people. I don’t care as much about loose framing, it’s more important to capture the moment in the frame.

  4. rrosen1 says:

    This brings back memories to the days when I used to sell TLR’s when I owned a camera/photofinishing store. These are some great shots. I don’t miss getting the silver nitrate under my fingernails

  5. That last one is superb. The mix of real and psychic lines is just great ><

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