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Hitting The Streets With a Light Kit & Camera: Envigado, Colombia

(Left) Sebastian and Gabriel (Right)

This last week I had an old friend from Medellin, Colombia hit me up that I hadn’t talk to in a long while.  I haven’t seen Sebastian much since I have been back in Colombia and we both felt bad for that, so we decided to meet up at his house this last week.  He’s been busy with college but he had taken a class at university on photography and had some questions about how I go about taking street photos.

I used to live just a block away from his house in Envigado and I always love photographing there.  The people in this area of Medellin are laid back, friendly and fun, not to mention it’s really safe and I’ve never had an issue with my camera being out there.  It’s the one place in all of Medellin I just feel comfortable/safe at all times and the kicker is this was where Pablo Escobar grew up.  It used to be the murder capital of the world 25 years ago but now it’s one of the safest places in all of Medellin.  So I was excited to see an old friend and visit a favorite spot!

I decided instead of just telling him about what I do, that we would just go out and photograph together so he could see first-hand my style of photography and how I get those photos you see on this website.  I wanted to keep things simple and not over complicate it, so I took with me my: Canon 5DII with a 24-70mm lens, a Westcott 28″ softbox on a collapsible stand, one Canon 580EX II flash and a PocketWizard Plus II trigger to fire it.

Street Photography Speedlight Westcott PocketWizard Plus

He had a friend, Gabriel who I met last year at a party, that wanted to come as well.  Gabriel had emailed me last year for camera advise so thought it would be great to catch up with him to and see how things had been going with him photography wise.  Before we went out I gave them both a 5min class on my camera on how to lock focus and compose a shot.  Then showed them both the light set-up and explained a few points about why off camera flash rocks for street portraits.  They got the gist of it easily and we made a plan that I would start and show them a few examples while they took turns holding the light, then I would turn the camera over to one of them and we’d all take turns while out-and-about.

The hardest thing that most people think when it comes to street portraits is the technical part of the camera and flash.  Truth be told it’s not, that’s actually the easiest part.  The hardest part is getting the courage up to ask a complete stranger if you can have a minute of their time for a photograph.  Sounds easier then it is but it’s not.  Hell I still get stage fright sometimes to and I have been doing this for the last several years… it’s normal for everyone as no one likes to be rejected.

I set up the camera and flash and we really didn’t adjust it much when out.  I was rather proud of these guys who had never done off camera flash before as almost all their shots were tact sharp.  The only real problem they had was asking people for permission but that was what I was there for, to push them to ask and not give up.  Sebastian was the one more confident in asking people and Gabriel did the best composing people for shots but was the shiest of the two.

Looking at the photos afterwards I found it hard to tell which shots were mine and which one’s were theirs and I had to smile as couldn’t have been more proud of them.  Look through the photos below and try to figure out which photos I took and which ones they took.  If you need help, you can click on my Facebook Fanpage and see who took what (I bet you would be surprised at which ones they took), plus I put a description about each photo their.

So look through them all and leave a comment on which one is your favorite photo and why.  I know the guys would love to hear feed back about what they did besides just from me.

Medellin Street Photography

Maggie Sopas

Medellin Classic Automobile

Medellin Old man senior

women hot girl

Police man

Jogger Runner

Medellin boys Men

Old man gringo


Medellin Phone seller

Medellin Colombia Produce Vendor

Medellin men

Medellin Colombia Meat Man

Medellin people boys girls

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  • Brendan van Son

    Great shots man.  I wish I had the will to pack around all the off camera light gear.  You’re work is brilliant!

  • Andi Perullo

    These pictures are amazing!

  • Alan Malarkey

    nice shots thanks – am here in Medellin for another month with D90 and 18-105, would love to be able to take shots like yours. If I can invite you for a coffee or lunch some time it would be fantastic to chat and hear about your ways of working. Good wishes, Alan

  • foggodyssey

    Hit me up through my contact page man and let’s try and meet up for an afternoon of shooting photos or something.  I am leaving Medellin in a few weeks so don’t have much time left but always done to go take photos with like minded people. :)

  • foggodyssey

    hahaha, some days I don’t either man and believe me there’s been a few times when I almost just threw the whole lot over a bridge.  My mouth waters at people who only travel with a small backpack… i’m still trying to perfect the perfect system to lite travel and great portraits, sadly still not their yet :(

  • Dean Wickham

    Beautiful portraits. I certainly can’t tell the difference between who took the photos. Great job by all.

  • Pingback: Street Photography in Ferdonia, Colombia... with Billy the Goat!()

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