Sunday, August 3, 2014

Street Photography: Simple Inspiration

During the past few weeks, for one reason or another, I have been experiencing what I call "photographer's block."  Which is my version of Writer's Block.  Desperate to shake it off, I took to the streets with minimal gear and with the intention to try photographing using a different technique.  I was surprised by the results. Although most the photos are not good, what surprised me is how receptive I was to the street after this exercise. With practice, the technique used in this video could deliver great results.  But as a "warm up" exercise, it was just what I needed.

 If you've felt like me, watch this video and it may help you too.


Filmed in San Antonio, TX
Produced and Directed by Jesse Acosta.

Jesse Acosta is a street photographer based out of San Antonio, TX.  His passion for life is conveyed through photography.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Superheroes Are Among Us

"Superheroes Are Among Us" by Jesse Acosta
Tri-X | D76 | Mat 124G | San Antonio, TX | 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014


Untitled by Jesse Acosta
Tri-X | D76 | Yashica Mat 124G | San Antonio, TX | 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dark Alley Stories

This was my first time ever I shot with a Kodak Tri-X roll of 120 film.  I was using my beloved Yashica Mat 124G.  The camera is great for street photography as long as you know how to meter using the Sunny 16 rule and if you're quick to focus manually.  Once you get a few rolls in you'll master both the metering and the focusing on these quiet and fun cameras.

On this particular outing my first shot was that of a girl sitting on a concrete ledge putting on her makeup. Just a simple shot with not really much to it.  Next to the girl were a group of street performers playing hip-hop songs and making up lyrics in real time.  I decided to photograph them.  As I got up to take the photo, the singer made up some lyrics similar to "This guy taking my picture, with old-school cameras and a black hat." Except his lyrics actually rhymed.

Whenever I'm shooting film, I adjust my settings as I'm walking.  Not only is that good practice for "calibrating" my internal metering, but if something pops up I'm ready to shoot it. I walked to Travis Park which since foregoing the renovation, it's a much nicer park than before; when I used to avoid it by any means necessary. I passed by Peacock Alley on Navarro St and saw this person on their knees and I moved on.  I saw the person, but that light is what made me go back about two steps to take this photo.

Eventually I reached Travis Park and shot a few frames there but nothing too spectacular.  I knew this was going to be the first 120 film to self develop so I was trying to use all the frames on it.  I took a few architectural shots of the Tower Life building's "gargoylish" faces to finish up the roll.

Then the nightmare started.  I did not practice loading a 120 film into the developing tank's reel. Without any experience, it's a little bit harder than loading 135 (35mm) film in it.  First, I could not get the film into the reel's grooves, then it would not catch the ball bearings on the reel.  Sometime it seemed like everything was going OK but then I could feel the film mangle up so I had to start all over.  Many times I was close to opening the bag and destroying the film by making it a practice roll but this meant ruining all the photos.  By this time, I knew the film was in really bad shape, full of tears, crinkles, and definitely scratches. It should have taken about 2 min to load the film, instead I was there for about an hour.  Eventually somehow I managed to load up the film in the reel and I was ready to develop it.

I went through the entire developing process exactly as it was featured on my video Street Photography: Shooting & Developing Film.  When I pulled the film for drying, I noticed I had somehow managed to roll the entire roll into the first two grooves of the reel leaving no space for the developing chemicals to act. Some of the film's areas were not developed, and it was full of scratches and crinkles just like I had suspected. However, one frame did survive.  And my policy is that if at least one frame from an entire roll of 24, 36, or in this case 12 frames, then the process it's worth it.  After drying I decided to scan the film anyway. And as soon as I got to to scan this frame my disappointment turned into excitement.

A few days later I had another roll 120 to develop.  This time instead of using the changing back I decided to lock myself in my closet to have more room to load the film into the reel.  This made a great difference and I was able to load the film in about 10 minutes; still too long but not as long as 60 min.  I also did not have one scratch on the film.

"Dark Alley Stories" by Jesse Acosta
Tri-X 400 | Mat 124G | San Antonio, TX | 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fast Fashion

"Fast Fashion" by Jesse Acosta 
X100S | San Antonio, TX | 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Life's Warning Signs

"Life's Warning Signs" by Jesse Acosta
GF1 | San Antonio, TX | 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Life as a Street Photographer's Camera

The story between my Canonet QL17 GIII camera and myself is pretty long.  However, I've really come to enjoy shooting this camera.  About a month ago, I turned my video camera around and recorded what I call "Reverse POV" during one of my street photography outings.

It was fun to see the footage so I'd thought I'd share it with you guys.

Download the song here. (Right click on link and select Save As)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Afternoon Run

Before taking this photo, I took several others at the same spot. I must have spent about 50 min total time by combining all the times that I stood there waiting for a subject. Patience and determination pays off. Personally I'm happy with this photo.   

Location: Riverwalk next to the Tower Life Building in San Antonio, TX

Afternoon Run by Jesse Acosta, San Antonio, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

We Love To See You Smile

We Love To See You Smile
"We Love To See You Smile" by Jesse Acosta via Flickr

HP5 | Electro 35 | San Antonio | 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

Shopping Day

Shopping Day
Shopping Day by Jesse Acosta via Flickr

Location: The Vault, San Antonio, TX
HP5 | Electro 35 | San Antonio | 2014
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Saturday, May 10, 2014

In the Spolight

The Aztec Theater in San Antonio, TX photographed as the sun was setting.

In The Spotlight
"In the Spotlight" by Jesse Acosta via Flickr

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Girl with the Arm Tattoo

This is a photo taken minutes before the camera stopped working due to the shutter stuck syndrome.

After using my Canonet QL17 GIII for a few hours I notice the vertical alignment was a little bit off.  I found instructions on the internet on how to align it but in the process I managed to mangle and destroy the film advance lever along with the shutter button and everything in between.  I was very upset with myself. Eventually I was able to open the top face and make the adjustments to the alignment.  The focus was spot on but now I could not use the camera.

The camera sat on the corner of my room for three weeks before I went back to eBay to look for a replacement camera.  While doing that, I found the shutter and advance lever up for sale.  I made an offer to the seller and he agreed.  I got the parts and put the camera back together.  Then I took to the streets.  

The day was marvelous and there was a lot of stuff going in downtown San Antonio.  I started shooting a lot of stuff while enjoying this little camera.  Then all of the sudden, the shutter didn't go off.  I started fiddling with it while a panhandler asked for change.  "I don't have any money" I said in a rather rude voice which is very unlike me.  At that point, I was done for the day.  

I went home and tried to fix the issue by removing the lens elements and cleaning the shutter blades.  Again, I managed to scratch the lens housing and make a whole lot of damage to the insides of the camera but was unable to get to the last lens element because I did not have the right tool which I'm told is called a spanner.

Another three weeks passed and the little-camera-that-could stood on the corner of my room.  I finally decided that one way or another (meaning throwing it against the wall) I was going to get to the last lens element to mitigate the problem.  Without help from the wall or a hammer of any kind, I was able to remove the last element.  I used digital sensor cleaning solution on a Q-tip to free up the shutter blades from themselves.  I then started the process of gently cleaning the blades with the solution as well as the lens elements which by this time had all my finger's fingerprints.  After a few tries of putting everything together everything look OK with the exception of a few scratches that weren't there before.  

I went and got some film and started using it on my dad for his birthday.  I shot a 24 exposure role of Fujifilm Superia 400 in about 30 minutes, and I dropped it off at the neighborhood Walgreen's to get some prints. Within 45 min I had the prints.  I drove back to my dad's house and we opened the envelope together. Wow!  The photos came out great.  I had fixed the unfixable!  The photo clerk at Walgreen's told me as she handed me the photos: "This is the first roll where all the photos came out good."  That made my day. 

Since that day, I have been using the camera and so far so good.  Two days ago I got a Canolite D flash from eBay for my Canonet and I can't wait to use it.   

If you find a Canonet QL17 GIII or any of the Canonet models in working condition, don't hesitate to get it. This camera is amazing for street photography and very fun to use.  

The Girl with the Arm Tattoo
The Girl with the Arm Tattoo by Jesse Acosta via Flickr

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hooded Man

Hooded Man
Hooded Man by Jesse Acosta on Flickr
GF1 | San Antonio, TX | 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

S02EP2 | Street Photography: Approaching People (YouTube Video)

The number one question I get asked about street photography is "How do I approach people?"

Well, that's a difficult question to answer.  The answer varies depending on the person asking it. Some people have no problem approaching people and photographing them.  Others are embarrassed
or afraid to photograph someone without their permission.

Over the months, I've devised a set of questions that I ask myself while photographing people on the street.

On this video I discuss beginner techniques on approaching people while doing street photography.

Filmed in San Antonio, Texas.
Produced and Directed by Jesse Acosta.

Jesse Acosta is a street photographer based out of San Antonio, TX.  His passion for life is conveyed through photography.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Untitled by Jesse Acosta
Untitled, a photo by Jesse Acosta on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Ektar | AE-1 Program | San Antonio | 2013
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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014


Silhouette by Jesse Acosta
Silhouette, a photo by Jesse Acosta on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
HP5 | Yashica Electro 35 | San Antonio | 2013
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