Though visiting Chinatown in the USA is somewhat ironic for a person from Asia (we do have Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur too; it’s just not that different from the rest of town); I did find it to be quite photographically rich – especially with San Francisco’s inclined streets. Between the Cantonese and interesting side alleys, it felt a lot more like Hong Kong than anywhere else – which is perhaps a consequence of the origin of the immigrants. More than that though, something about the atmosphere was rather conducive to the cinematic style, though it could also be because both times I arrived at the end of the day as the sun was setting and pouring down the east-west streets in a gloriously saturated manner. I sent my workshop students off to explore style with a few different assignments, mounted the Leica 50/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH on my OM-D via an adaptor and set off to grab a few frames from a movie.
Had the chance to process some of my files from the first few days in San Francisco – in the first six days on the ground, I shot over 3,500 images…let’s just say that it’s an extremely photographically rich city; or perhaps it’s the allure of the unfamiliar and the new (the last time I was in the USA was on a family holiday before the time I was interested in photography). I do know that my keeper rate on the first day was nearly zero, but I put that down to jetlag. I tend to find there’s an ideal point between cultural oversaturation and being jaded with a city – and that tends to be the most productive period for me photographically. It typically happens after four to five days; I’ve learned to go with the flow and not worry too much about not producing anything in the early days simply because the stream-of-consciousness type ‘seeing’ will come, and with it, an enormous task in the curation…more to come once I get a chance to edit and process.