San francisco photography
February 22, 2012 11:34 AM   Subscribe

I used to take pictures a ton, but I'm working all the time now. I want to try and go out and shoot photos during my lunch break & after work (near Montgomery St. Station). I'm looking for suggestions of good photogenic or interesting places in San Francisco to go that would help me jumpstart my old hobby.

As a secondary, photo books based on San Francisco and the bay area, be it street photography or architectural or whatever that could potentially inspire would be helpful also.

Thanks so much!
posted by ejfox to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're looking for interesting...I really think it doesn't get more interesting than the Mission...I know I am always fascinated by everything I see there.
posted by AlliKat75 at 11:37 AM on February 22, 2012

Whenever I'm setting out to photograph a new place, my first stop is Flickr. See what other people have photographed and go from there!
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:48 AM on February 22, 2012

I always found the alleys South of Market are a great source of material for the lunchtime street photographer. Stevenson, Jessie, Minna, Natoma, Tehama, Clementina... When I worked at Fifth and Market I would regularly shoot along these small streets during the lunch hour. FWIW, I focused on architecture, building details, and the like rather than people. Some of the alleys Southwest of Fifth are generally considered "sketchy" or "marginal" but I never had any problems with the street life.
posted by gyusan at 11:52 AM on February 22, 2012

OMG are you kidding? Start at Coit Tower. The museums. The Embarcadero. The neighborhood around AT&T Park. The Golden Gate Bridge. Chinatown. Sheesh. The City is your oyster!
posted by Lynsey at 11:59 AM on February 22, 2012

You might take a look at Thomas Hawk's Flickr feed for inspiration. Thomas is often strident to the point of being grating, but he's greatly talented and has done a ton of excellent photography around Market and Embarcardero in San Francisco.
posted by cnc at 12:01 PM on February 22, 2012

Go check out some stairways.
posted by theodolite at 12:18 PM on February 22, 2012

Take a look at your neighborhood with OldSF and see/document how it's evolved.
posted by judith at 12:18 PM on February 22, 2012

Maybe try photographing all the privately owned public spaces? map1 map2. If you can get your coworkers to join you for lunch they could be your human scenery (if the cityscape isn't what you're looking for). The park along the Embarcadero near the bridge is also nice, and not too long a walk.
posted by Phredward at 12:28 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Lots of very photogenic stuff right there at the Montgomery station. Off the top of my head:

The Palace Hotel
The Mechanics Monument
The Mechanics Library
The Shell Building
The Mills Building
The Russ Building
posted by trip and a half at 12:36 PM on February 22, 2012

You could try exploring the Flickr map for that location - here's a link - and zoom in and out, trying both the "interesting" and "recent" options (and clicking the little green "refresh" symbol button after zooming). I frequently use that kind of map to find interesting spots I didn't know about, so that I can go try to take my own photo of the spot.
posted by dreamyshade at 12:53 PM on February 22, 2012

So I felt I used to take a ton of pictures but wasn't any more. My answer was to do this "100days" project - where I have to take, process, and post a photo every day for 100 days. Make the rules what work for you, (e.g., I am a night owl, so 7:00am is my deadline, not midnight) but the way to make yourself take more photos is to just ... make yourself take more photos.

I'm 21% through my fourth run of this now - and since I live very close to where you work, I can say I have been over that area with a camera literally hundreds of times. There is a ton of great shapes and textures and patterns and stuff within a 15 minute walk of Montgomery station. But it's not all in one place, it's everywhere. You just have to take your camera and explore, and each time, don't go back until you've got something.
posted by aubilenon at 12:55 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh also, the PacBell Building at 140 New Montgomery Street is probably my favorite building in San Francisco - it's gorgeous (more, more, mine) and completely vacant, making it a really interesting building to look at and think about.
posted by dreamyshade at 12:57 PM on February 22, 2012

I took a great photography class and found one of the assignments particularly helpful: Choose any block and just walk around that block one time, shooting as you go. It can be any block, special or normal, but the restraint of limiting yourself to just that space and one time around can really make you LOOK in a way you might not otherwise do.

This was back in the olden days so the goal was to shoot an entire roll. I know shooting digital makes things different but if it was me I'd set a goal of say, 50 frames.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:04 PM on February 22, 2012

Cover the waterfront...head down to the Bay. You've got buildings and distance and water and birds and people and a very nice bridge to photograph. Plus it's about to go through a lot of change with the damn America's Cup, so it's not going to look the same for long.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:23 PM on February 22, 2012

I like the Flood Building for historical, architectural and literary value. Bonus adjacent location: John's Grill
posted by JDC8 at 4:04 PM on February 22, 2012

The farmer's market at the Ferry Building. The street people (Consent is an issue-- if you want to photograph them, talk to them. Engage with them as human beings. If you are not comfortable doing these things, this subject is out.). The BART stations themselves. The spiral elevators in the mall you come up in at the Powell St. Station. Union Square. Seconding Coit Tower. The Moraga Steps if you feel like going farther afield. The Sutro Baths, for that matter. San Francisco begs to be photographed! :)
posted by Temeraria at 10:25 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The roof of the Wells Fargo at Montgomery and Post has a roof garden that is open to the public during business hours. Great views of the hustle and bustle on the sidewalks, the traffic on New Montgomery, and the enormity of the Palace Hotel. Access from the top level of the Stockton Galleria (near the burrito place, IIRC), or the elevator in the tiny lobby with the marble steps and the tired-looking security guard.
posted by clorox at 7:04 PM on February 24, 2012

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