Google Glass – Future of Street Photography?

We’ve all heard of Google Glass, and probably seen features which comment on these devices, but on Time Lightbox, Richard Koci Hernandez talks about his experience of actually using this wearable camera.

He says: “It is jaw-dropping as a photographer to walk out with a wearable camera that’s almost physically and literally attached to your eye. Believe it or not, it’s just like wearing a pair of sunglasses, and it’s a lot less intimidating for subjects. Nobody has objected. Every now and then I’ll hear somebody whisper, ‘Oh, he’s got Google Glass.’ But nobody has stopped me or said ‘don’t do that.’”

Of course there are other glasses with cameras, though the image size and quality is generally low and a quick search on eBay or elsewhere will soon find slightly less obvious ‘spy camera glasses‘ than Google Glass for a relatively modest price, giving – according to the ads – high quality 1280 x 720 pixels video or 5Mp images. Of course you can’t talk to them and have to kind of scratch your ear to take a picture.

Google Glass is more than a camera as a TechRadar feature makes clear. But as a camera system its specifications are modest, 5Mp and 720p – just like the cheaper ‘spy’ glasses. So if you want to try this kind of thing out, you can probably do so now on the cheap.

6 Responses to “Google Glass – Future of Street Photography?”

  1. Verichrome says:

    Funny, when I do street photography no one really notices so they don’t have the opportunity to be ‘intimidated.’ (shakes head).

    Hernandez is a photojournalist, a multimedia shooter with a press pass who is pretty conspicuous when he shoots on the street. I don’t think that makes him a ‘street photographer’ per se. I know people who have shot street with big cameras like the Pentax 67 and Mamiya 6×7. When it comes to street photography, if you have people objecting and being intimidated you’re just doing it wrong.

  2. I think there are plenty of occasions when one can work without being noticed, but there are others where it just isn’t possible. GG and similar do I think enlarge the situations where photographers can work without being noticed.

    I don’t think photographers generally are ‘intimidating’ with a few exceptions – at least one very well known ‘street photographer’ almost pushes his camera and flash into the faces of those he is photographing, and the pictures are often about their reactions to being almost assaulted on the street. Most of us don’t work in that way.

  3. Verichrome says:

    My point is that Hernandez using the term ‘street photography’ when he is actually producing video and photo reportage. If he or anyone else thinks they need to sneak around wearing GG just to get street photos they’re misinformed or badly trained.

    I used to see Gilden down by Wall St and the South Street Seaport all the time in the mid 80s, probably before he joined Magnum. He’s pretty much an oultier, an exception when it comes to street photography. Besides, if some delicate flower gets upset because Gilden (or anyone else) gets in their face for half a second while in public then – in the USA at least – it’s too bad, just something to be put up with.

    If a professional photojournalist doesn’t want to go for a good shot in public it’s his business, but if he gives up enough shots (especially if other photogs take them) it will affect his career. But if he’s speaking only as a street photographer making photos for their own sake, he’s free to not take the shot (or skulk around wearing GGs) as he sees fit. But I can say, having shot street photos in the late 80s with a Bronica S2a (probably the loudest camera I ever heard, whose instant return made an incredible slam-bang followed by a second slam-bang) that discretion (and tiptoeing around the presumed feelings of people going about their business) is overrated.

  4. Well, I find it generally find it healthier not to take pictures when I come across guys dealing on the street so perhaps I’m a delicate flower. And although I have photographed quite a few drunken hooligans, there are times when even the sight of a camera will inflame them. So though I’ve often gone into situations where other photographers have stood back, I still often have to make careful judgments. No point in getting beaten up or getting your camera smashed.

    But I think GG etc are just another tool that we now have at our disposal, and its a matter of how we choose to use it. It will perhaps open up new areas and just might be as significant as the introduction of the ‘miniature cameras’ such as Leica and Contax in the 20s and 30s. Though of course 99+% of what is taken will be of little interest, but that was probably true back then.

    I took a whole project inside London buses over 20 years ago using mainly the Minolta CLE, and looking back I would have loved to have had something like GG to work with. I only had one real problem, with a guy travelling on a bus wearing only shorts and a large snake. When he objected to being photographed (I think on the third frame) two elderly ladies told him very firmly that if he dressed like that on a bus he should expect to be photographed.

  5. Verichrome says:

    Sneaking a shot is sneaking a shot – whether you’re using GG or doing point-and-shoot hipshots like a lot of Daido wannabes. Hernandez writes about street photography but there’s no evidence he’s actually doing street photography, and I don’t know of many PJs who routinely, successfully work with sneak shots.

    I’ve photographed around plenty of aggressive drunks throughout NYC without problems, and people from Bruce Davidson in the 50s to Bruce Gilden to Boogie (incidentally all of whom are in EVERYBODY STREET) in the 90s have photographed dangerous, gun-toting gangmembers. And they never hid the camera or sneaked around, or had to.

    • There are times and places, and unless you are there it isn’t possible to judge. I’ve photographed in places that others have told me I was mad to do so, but there are still times when I’d decide not to take pictures. And I’m fairly sure that had tried to do so on several occasions I would have ended up in casualty or worse. Quite a few colleagues have been injured and many more had equipment smashed or stolen. I’ve been lucky (or careful) and only suffered minor assaults. A couple of times been saved by the police.

      Quite often these days I’m taking pictures in places which although not dangerous photography is not allowed. Several times I’ve been escorted off private property – and more and more areas of our cities are now private property. I’m happy going in there and taking pictures – and have a good public interest defence, but that isn’t a great deal of use when several burly security men and or police are insisting you leave. Something like GG would be very useful both in avoiding such confrontations and also recording them as they take place.

      As for sneaking, I’m unclear how that might be defined and whether it would be useful to try to do so. Were all those photographers who used Rolleiflexes and other cameras with waist-level viewfinders ‘sneaking’ when they looked down at an image rather than at their subjects? Was HCB sneaking when he hid behind people to photograph others, raising his camera to his eye only for a fraction of a second to take a picture? Are photographers who use telephoto lenses to work unobserved ‘sneaking?

      In the end I think what matters are the photographer’s intentions and the results they get. And that is largely about being in the right place at the right time and not about the type of camera or how you use them.

      The things I’ve seen so far don’t really work well enough especially in low light, but

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