San Francisco – Photographic Impressions from the Past and the Present

It was 10:30pm on a Friday night, and the streets of San Francisco were hopping.  We just arrived in Union Square and were walking up Powell Street dragging our suitcases to our hotel.  How fun to be in such a vibrant American City with such an almost funky European vibe.  To me it’s home.


If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time at all, you know that I’m not a city girl.  I put up with the city when I have to, and sometimes not even then.  I’m one of those people that needs fresh air, space and beautiful scenery to feel whole.  But San Francisco has a special appeal to me, and I’ll take the long lazy train ride up from Southern California at a moment’s notice.  Why do I feel at home here with my nature girl sensibility and my camera?

One reason is that I grew up in the Bay Area and every weekend, rain or shine, we would take the 45 minute car ride up the the 101 to experience this beautiful city.  Many times our itinerary would be the same.  We’d travel to Union Square and have lunch at Lefty O’Douls and then ride the cable car up the hill to the famous Fairmont Hotel.  Once we were there, we would ride the glass elevator up to the top, (not getting out of the elevator) and back down again.  We’d then hop back on the cable car and ride it back down the street.  What a thrill that was for me!  I never grew tired of it.

I come with my camera and my workshop participants to experience San Francisco in a unique way, from behind the lens.

So guess what the first thing I do when I arrive in San Francisco?  You guessed it.  Have our meal at Lefty O’Douls and head on up to the Fairmont.  That glass elevator is no longer in service, but the beautiful patio and scenery is still there.  Here’s the view from the mid-60’s and here’s the view now.  Not so different is it? I’ve changed a bit though.


These days, my goals are a little different when I come to the city.  I come with my camera and my workshop participants to experience San Francisco in a unique way, from behind the lens. As a native of the Bay Area, I know the city pretty well, and can bring a whole new perspective of this dynamic city.  The point of the street photography workshops is to bring out the personality of the town and showcase it’s people, it’s architecture and its heart.  And it has a lot of heart.


San Francisco Photography Workshop

It’s always fun walking the city and capturing unexpected surprises

Some people are a little nervous when they hear the term “Street Photography”.  It really started as a genre of photography that became popular with the greats like Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Frank and Alfred Stieglitz.  On our street photography workshop, we introduce you to the 50mm and 35mm lenses which are the classics used by many street photographer pros for their low profile and quick captures. These lenses force you to step out of your comfort zone of the zoom lens and work a little for the shot! You will be moving into the action with your feet rather than zooming with the lens, and you get the excitement of getting in close, while anticipating an event  or waiting for “The decisive moment”. The subjects can be people on the street, people interacting with each other, or creative photographs of the sites and architecture. It’s always fun walking the city and capturing unexpected surprises with your camera.

During our San Francisco street photography workshop, we expose you to all techniques necessary to achieve the most compelling imagery possible using these fun and fast focusing lenses.

Our next street photography workshop in San Francisco is Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27, and we will teach you to see San Francisco from behind the lens in a whole new way.

Jansen Photo Expeditions provides quality multi-day photography workshops and tours throughout the American West and beyond. The workshops are fun, educational and inspirational.  We work with each client on an individual basis to be sure their needs are met and their goals for the workshop are set ahead of time. We have intimate knowledge and years of experience shooting in each of our workshop locations which allows us to know when and where to go based on changing weather and light, so our clients can be in the right spot at the right time.

A few key locations scheduled for 2014 – 2015 include Iceland, Africa, Paris, Zion National Park, Columbia River Gorge and many more. Sign up for our email to get regular updates on our schedule.

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Holly Higbee-Jansen

Co-Owner and Workshop Leader at Jansen Photo Expeditions
I am a passionate photographer and workshop leader, and I have been exploring my fascination with light since I was a young child. As a co-owner and guide for, I love taking our small groups of clients to beautiful places to help them explore their photographic creativity. Join us on one of our photographic workshops in the American West, Iceland and Central America: or take one of our online photography classes.  Live life creatively!  Reach me by email at:
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  • Gloria Miele, Ph.D.

    Love the before and after photos. Love SF too. I was across the street at the Top of the Mark not long ago. Next time I’ll have to head to the top of the Fairmont instead.