I never expected this theme to run over three posts, but as I considered my self-posed questions, the stream of consciousness flowed and could so easily have continued to more. But I’m going to close with this post where I find myself wondering if anything I do can be considered “street”.
As someone who finds it exceptionally hard to photograph people, even people I know, street photography, in its widely accepted guise as (mostly) candid observations of people in public situations, is perhaps a challenge too far. So, back to my earlier question: how do you define street photography? Can I remain close to my people-free comfort zone and still be a street photographer? Or must I step outside my comfort zone and take a more people based approach?
In the last post, I began by pondering, “how do you define street photography?” Since then, I’ve considered at length but have only been left with more questions.
I considered whether street photography is an evolution of documentary, but I don’t think it is. Not all street is documentary, and not all documentary is street, they converge and diverge like overlapping oscillatory wave patterns. If I were to photograph people at a demonstration marching through the city, I’d like to think I was making documentary photographs, but if I turned my back on the marchers to find images of people sitting in a pavement café watching the goings-on, then perhaps I might be indulging in some street photography.
Street photography… It’s a genre that’s become very popular. Search “street photography” in youTube and you’ll be spoilt for choice. The good, the bad and the ugly of street photography will be paraded before you to delight and disgust in equal measure, but it’s a genre that I confess to being a little perplexed by. Now, forgive me for lapsing into a middle-aged film-shooter stereotype, but I grew up with film photography. I’ve probably devoured thousands of magazine articles over the years, and have been fascinated by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tony Ray-Jones, Elliott Erwitt, Fan Ho, and many others… and I don’t think I ever heard any of them referred to as a “street photographer”. Reportage, yes… Documentary, yes… but street, no… not ever. At least, not until recently, when they may have been retrospectively labelled thus.
“What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare”
With apologies for opening a post with a repeated quote, but I think it’s entirely appropriate.
The last year or so, in an attempt to escape the various lockdowns, we’ve taken to walking. Not just walking, you understand, I mean, we’ve been walking ever since we moved on from the toddling stage, but proper boots-on, follow-a-map type walking.
“What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”
It seems that for many, time to stand and stare is now plentiful, but maybe there’s precious little to stare at. Social distancing and isolation may be entirely necessary at this time, but it can feel, well, isolating… even for those of us lucky enough to have a garden, standing and staring at the same familiar surroundings as the days draw into weeks can be frustrating to the creative mind.
The internet is awash with articles listing “things to do” during the lock-down to keep busy, creative and prevent the dreaded cabin-fever, so I don’t think I have much to add… I’m sure you’re all intelligent people and have your own ideas on how to pass the time.
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” ― Robert Hughes
I imagine many of us occasionally have those feelings that we’re out of our depth, that we don’t know what we’re doing, or we’re out of control and being carried along against our will or judgement. Most of the time these feelings are momentary. We attempt to regain control and move on, but what happens to our creativity during these periods of doubt? And what if those periods are not fleeting, but consistent, long term and debilitating? Following on from the previous post which described the darkness that Don McCullin feels from his years of bearing witness to the worst of humanity, and how those dark feelings are alleviated, just a little, by photographing the land, or creating classical still life compositions, I wanted to explore a little more the idea of how our mental state might affect, and be affected by, our photography.
I’m a big fan of square photos, it’s long been my favourite format, but I’m increasingly finding that there’s something about the panoramic format that appeals to me.
You may have read my earlier post about my first foray into pinhole photography. It’s no accident that my self-built pinhole camera utilises the panoramic format.
I’ve long fancied getting my hands on a nice Hasselblad x-pan and a couple of lenses, but my wallet just won’t stretch to that, so my little wooden “x-pin” is as close as I’ll get for the foreseeable future.
Now, I know that digital technology makes creating big panoramas relatively easy by stitching multiple images together, but really, if you’ve read anything on this blog you’ll know that’s just not me. The mere thought of spending that long at a computer screen puts me in a cold sweat. It’s not a facet of photography that I will ever enjoy, so I’ll leave it to those who do. I will concede though, to a brief dalliance with panoramic cropping. It’s quick and easy, and can sometimes throw up an intriguing composition.Continue reading “playing with panoramas”
Were it not for the fact that 2018 is designated a “fallow year”, this weekend just passed would have been the Glastonbury Festival, so it seems an appropriate point in the year for this post…
Back to June 2010 then, and the 40th anniversary Glastonbury Festival. A conversation with some friends ended with four of us deciding we’d like to experience it, and if it turned out not to be to our liking, well at least we’d know not to do it again. Beginners luck maybe, but tickets seemed easy enough to procure, sadly not a statement I’ve felt able to repeat since!Continue reading “my happy place”