You’ll already know my current situation with regards time, in short I haven’t got any. It’s not a bad thing I suppose, keeping busy is good, idle hands and all that. Time waits for no man and ironically with Street/Life Photography that’s exactly what you need to be doing. Waiting, actually making a photograph, that’s the lesson we learnt from Sam Abell and the more I follow this passion for Street the more his words ring true. Of course, as a person with no time I can’t be waiting around for that moment, the one that I thought and hoped might happen if I stayed in a place for long enough. Instead I have to do exactly what I know doesn’t work so well and walk about on my errands, simply grabbing a shot wherever I can. If I’m with my wife I let her go about the shopping whilst I quickly linger about outside looking suspicious and raising a few eyebrows from shoppers and shop assistants. I don’t blame them, it must look a bit weird, me with a camera, crouching down or moving uncomfortably close to innocent bystanders! Oh well, that’s the nature of the beast that is Street Photography. Here’s some examples I took in a shop doorway whilst Sam was inside browsing, I need to make clear that this was my wife Sam and not Sam Abell doing the browsing, otherwise I’d be in the shop and he’d be outside taking some proper photographs!
Lots tried to get out of that shop doorway I was blocking, of course I’d apologise and explain that I was a photographer and so on, generally the response was “yeah, whatever mate”.
My friend Jeff Chane-Mouye has recently been talking about not relying on light and shadows, strong contrast and the like. Meaningless is his point and I have to partly agree with him. We collaborated and both wrote a piece on Form vs Content a while back. It seemed a few didn’t quite ‘get’ what I was attempting to say. I understand that, because quite frankly I rarely understand myself. The photos above and most of the ones that follow show more clearly that if a photo is all about Form then it’s pretty boring. There needs to be content. Yes, pretty light and shadows, geometry, composition, camera setting choice all come into it and have their place, but the image won’t be saying much else unless there’s some emotion, gestures, some content. To achieve that all important content your eye needs to be trained to see it. My lack of practice is causing me for the most part to rely on form. This quick session in Bath the other day was interesting because we had that low winter sunshine and it saved me, had it been a dull dreary day then I don’t think I would have had anything to show for it. A few examples;
I tried a couple with colour in mind and at least got a gesture from the workmen, I say workmen they could have been those ‘Yellow Vests’ over from France for all I know. In fact I saw a long crocodile of around 30 handholding pre-school children with their nursery teachers all dressed in yellow hi-vis jackets walking through Bath and I asked one of the teachers what it was they were protesting about. She got the joke thankfully and said “these lot protest about everything!”.
See what I mean, I took that shot of the guy walking along with his coffee outside of the Abbey, something must have appealed to me, but essentially that’s all it is, someone walking along albeit in front of a nice building with good light.
I’ll finish with some that at least had a little more than just light and shadow about them. Not much more it must be said. Gestures, one with some emotion and another I included purely because I felt John Lennon was looking at me! As beautiful as that play with light is, I still want to see more in my Street Photography. I will of course continue to grab it whilst I can. I’m happy just to take photos currently, hopefully I start ‘making’ them soon.
As a sidenote Sam (not Abell, my wife) just walked into my study and asked what I was doing…’Writing my blog’ I said. ‘You haven’t done anything’ she replied. Perhaps she has a point!
As always my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read this blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with Summicron 35mm Lens fitted.
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