Benson Kua's Blog

The Streets of Manila from Inside a Car

with 26 comments

Whatcha’ lookin’ at?”

I am not much of a street photography kind of person.

Its not that street photography does not interest me, I actually often find myself browsing through street photography websites/blogs wishing that I could take pictures as evocative as those.  I have alway had an aversion to this type of photography and I can never seem to point the camera at random people off the street and take their pictures.  I think this is mainly due to fear; I am fearful that my subjects will see me taking their pictures and react negatively and I am fearful that people will judge me because I am taking pictures of people and harassing them and invading their privacy.  Fear prevents me from doing street photography.

But during my recent trip back to the Philippines, I took a lot of street photographs.  No, the plane ride back home did not magically remove all that fear I had for street photography and I did not find myself roaming the streets, bravely pointing my camera at people and taking their pictures (This is actually not advised because if you did this, you probably would go home without a camera because you would most likely get mugged).  I had discovered a simple method of taking street photographs that relieved me of my fear of being seen by my subjects and this was to take the pictures from inside a car (preferably behind a tinted car window).  Taking pictures from behind a tinted car window completely takes away all my fears because my subject can barely see me through all that tint and no one else can see me take pictures of people outside the window (well, maybe except my mother who kept asking why I kept taking pictures out the window…. lol).

Anyways, here are some of the fruits of my “inside-the-car picture taking” exploits.

More pictures after the break.


“Early morning bonding session”

  “I think someone got confused after the number 6….”

“Heavy lifting” 


 “This does not seem very safe to me….”


 “Trash cans for sale in the middle of traffic”




 “I wonder what  he was looking at?”




Written by Benson

March 10, 2012 at 2:29 am

26 Responses

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  1. you captured some really nice shots. i know how it feels shooting in the streets (especially in manila). but stepping outside is the real thrill


    March 10, 2012 at 3:30 am

    • Thanks, Elmer! I really wish I could step out into the streets but I guess this will have to do for me in the meantime until I get over my fear of the street! lol


      March 10, 2012 at 11:05 pm

  2. I love to take pics of the streets, of what is going on in the middle of the city. But I have fear, too. I don’t have car. I can’t drive a motorbike. And it’s too hot in day to go around the streets and take pics.

    Anyway, your pics are very inspiring. they look the same as in my country.


    March 10, 2012 at 3:42 am

    • Thanks! Which country do you come from?


      March 10, 2012 at 11:06 pm

      • i come from Vietnam. Comparing with the pics you took, it looks similar to Philipines


        March 11, 2012 at 5:15 am

  3. i like the photo with numbers in it. I tried taking street photography inside the car but the thing is, the quality is not the same with the glass window of a car. When i tried to open my window, they looked at me and it felt that i’m intruding their privacy and i’m afraid that they might think i’m looking down on them. but my primary fear is being robbed or holduped. It’s quite alarming since I always watch the news on TV. How criminals now a days just stab you with a knife or shoot you. I might try bringing someone with me when i do street photography.


    March 10, 2012 at 4:28 am

    • Thanks! The quality certainly is not the same because of the glass, but I guess thats a compromise that I have to live with until I am comfortable shooting in the streets. Having someone there with you definitely will help ease your fear and is probably safer.


      March 10, 2012 at 11:08 pm

  4. […] continuation of my previous post about taking pictures of the street from inside a car. I managed to find some more pictures that I […]

  5. I like the concept in itself and for the sake of your safety. I usually shoot in small towns and barrios in the northern provinces and so have very little fear for my safety. They are less crowded and I can slow down and take my time. I’ve overcome my fear of pointing my camera at strangers by announcing my intentions. That is I make sure my camera is visible and I make myself a familiar presence by lingering in the same area until I am ignored. I don’t distance myself, when possible I will converse with the people I have intentions of taking pictures of. You’ll be surprise how many smiles and poses you will get. Posed shots are not what I am looking for but I must indulge them. When they are sure I am harmless I can go about taking candid shots.


    March 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm

  6. i like that you capture the grittiness and the reality of Manila instead of just the glossy, tourism spots. Nice use of light and colors.


    March 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    • Thanks Sam! Well, it does help that I live right in the middle of it.


      March 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm

  7. Good photographs and great captions. The second part is also great. 😀


    March 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm

  8. you have it quite right there! i did try walking the streets with a camera in hand a few times (with a companions of course, in case i do get mugged). you’d be surprised how much open these same people are if you try talking to them first. there was the occasional stare, but pointing a camera usually elicits playful smiles and even a few posing for the cam


    March 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm

  9. […]  Do you see a trend here?? I certainly have this fascination with taking pictures out of vehicles (1), (2).  Anyways, I couldn’t really talk much about the pictures in my Tumblr post because the […]

  10. I’m seeing a 3D effect on the “Early morning bonding session” pic..nice 😀

    artictern travel tales

    March 13, 2012 at 12:10 am

  11. The photo captions are really amusing..but then I had to stop beaming as I realized this was happening in my country.

    Nurse Anj

    March 13, 2012 at 12:20 am

  12. I am a Filipino and I clearly see that this is really from “Maynila” because some people refer Manila as the whole NCR region. just sayin’ 🙂 nice photos! you can see a story behind it. keep it up.


    March 13, 2012 at 4:51 am

  13. Hey! I know that guy!


    March 13, 2012 at 8:07 am

  14. If you want to be a street photographer, you need to get over your fear. Several of these images are really good, but trying to sneak them from inside your car takes away the real flavor for the place. They will look at you with suspicion if you continue to do this. Filipinos as a whole love to be photographed. And there is more to shoot in this country than photos with poverty in the background….


    March 13, 2012 at 8:46 am

  15. Spectacular photos!


    March 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

  16. I love the story in the pictures… so Raw


    March 14, 2012 at 4:20 am

  17. realy nice style
    kind of reportage, but light and interresting
    nice for the eye

    Marcin Kędzierski

    March 14, 2012 at 5:33 am

  18. Hey, Benson, really enjoying your posts! And laughed to read that you’re ‘street shooting’ shy, because hey, I’ve got the same problem! Always worried that people will get pissed off, or that they’ll want me to pay for the photograph! (I’m Fil-Am, so when I am back home people mistake me for a tourist! *ka’inis!* )
    Will try shooting from inside a car, next time I’m in Manila! Kayanin sana ng bulok kong camera! Thanks for sharing!


    March 15, 2012 at 10:57 pm

  19. […] continuation of my previous post about taking pictures of the street from inside a car. I managed to find some more pictures that I […]

  20. “The Streets of Manila from Inside a Car
    Benson Kua’s Blog” seriously enables me personally contemplate a little bit further. I personally appreciated every single part of this blog post. I appreciate it -Donnie

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