walks down the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, she’s armed with either her Rolleiflex camera or her iPhone. “I use the Rolleiflex to make posed street portraits, where I introduce myself and talk to people,” she explained via email. With her phone, she takes candid snaps, “where we usually don’t exchange a word.”
Touchette has taken street photos around her home city, as well as in Mexico, Italy, Vietnam, Japan, and the American South, among many other places; they’ve been published by the New York Times, the New York Observer, and BuzzFeed. She enjoys both the “slow, deliberate experience” of shooting with the medium-format Rolleiflex, which only has 12 frames per roll, as well as the “cavalier” abandon of shooting with a camera phone. Touchette’s film images make up several bodies of work, including “The Young Series,” portraits of teenagers in New York City, O’ahu, Hawaii, and Tokyo, which will be on view at Purdue University from February 18th to March 22nd. Meanwhile, her mobile images are part of an ongoing Instagram series, “Street Dailies,” which she began in 2012 around New York City, and which highlights the universality of the human experience.
, Touchette asserted, can be like a form of therapy. “Dwelling on what connects us, or just entering someone else’s story in the way that photography allows, forces you to get out of your own head,” she offered. “It’s a way of creating order out of chaos.”
Touchette also shares her nearly two decades’ worth of experience with burgeoning photographers through workshops. Street photography is a unique genre, she stressed, because it’s less about photographic skill and more about how one sees the world and experiences it. “[It’s about being] more open to change and accepting of what you didn’t expect; to be inquisitive and engaged with life,” she mused. A street photographer is not just a passive observer, but an active participant in the shoot. “A sculptor adds water to clay to make it more malleable. A painter adds linseed oil to paint to make it move across the canvas more smoothly. What does the street photographer add to make photographing easier? They add themselves,” Touchette wrote. “Like
famously said, ‘It’s the photographer, not the camera, that’s the instrument.’”
Below, Touchette shares 11 tips on how to improve your street photography skills.