Bournemouth – Boscombe Beach

Not a project, just a day trip to the beach, I love the sea, rivers, lakes etc generally being outside. I camp, even though my back doesn’t appreciate it, and I walk. We walked 9 miles on the day I took these, I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I did taking them.

I’ll split them into groups, firstly the out of focus group, out of focus foreground or background, either works.

Next up, building, objects, lamp posts, what’s the focus of the image? Stuff.

And last, but never least, people. People near, people far, people in focus etc. In case you were wondering, I’m still not sure the person by the lamppost doesn’t belong here, but I’m not moving them now.

A World of Your Own

I’m never one to do a single project, whether it’s writing, photography or anything else. I tend to run several things alongside each other and this project is no exception.

As a red head, a ginger if you will, I had a reasonable amount of hassle at school, I know as an adult that my hair colour was not the reason, just the thing they focused on. That, however, doesn’t remove the negative emotions and difficulties I experienced because of it. Because this affected my confidence, I became a bit of a wallflower at times, isolated to one side, not by being excluded so much as excluding myself because I felt out of place. The concept of feeling alone in a busy place is an empty, lonely one.

Being isolated from others isn’t always a negative thing though, with age came a greater appreciation of my own company, plugging ear phones in and ignoring the world. Putting on your best stomping soundtrack (NIN was a favourite) and marching to your planned location not having to even notice those around you other than to step out of the way. My first mp3 player was a god send.

This series will be using my telephoto lens to try and capture people in those moments, it will be up to you to determine of their isolation is a conscious effort, a momentary distraction or something deeper.

New Project – Background Distraction – Alternative Focus

A project on alternative focus, not focusing on the object of interest but an alternative item or person. Pushing you to look beyond at the out of focus distractions in the background.

I’m still working on a name for the project, I tend to forget names easily. I was the kid who named their toys a new one every week because I’d forgotten the name I chose before. That means picking a name for this is a challenge, it’s got to be able to stick, I need to remember it. Alterative Focus? Or Background Distractions? Or both? I mean I am likely to do other sets that fit the category of Alternative Focus. Who knows.

The project is, as I mentioned, using candid photography to present an image that doesn’t fit the “rules” of street photography, the faces may not point at the camera, they may not be in focus, but I think that’s okay. I’ve done it before, not as an intentional design but just out of preference to a view or look. Whether it will be mono or colour, and what kind of colour remains undecided at present, but you’ll find examples below. Lets see where this project takes us…

Portraits – Ann Marie

This is the first of a series of portrait shoots that I’m trying out. I’m aiming for candid, relaxed in style but I’m still working out an editing style so I may change these yet.

The mono shots are a bit more limited, just because I felt like the colour held more character. I’m keen to do more shoots, with an aim to fit the style of the person but that will likely take some practice.

Winchester Light Festival

I had a brief wander around part of the area of the Guildhall and Abbey Gardens, I didn’t get as far as the Cathedral or the Great Hall, but I hope to get out there before they’re turned off on February 6th.

I’ve broken these down into two, the semi-generic shots, just to show you the set-up, and then the ones where I was playing with angles because I love to play with angles.

Whole

Angles

Photography Influences – Saul Leiter

This is sort of a contradiction, this individual’s work feels like it has influenced my style yet I have no recollection of seeing his work before today. So while he’s not technically an influence up until now, I feel an appreciation of his work and am encouraged to continue my own style thanks to his work. The photographer in question is Saul Leiter. I should warn you, this post is not a critique, it’s more “oh wow, I love his work…”

Saul’s work covers various genres, looking at the world through various perspectives, through doors and windows between railings etc. His portrait shots are taken from non-standard angles, seeing people in a more natural state, not posed, not even in focus in the typical way.

Saul’s work talks to me in a way I can’t really describe, he was suggested to me by another photographer, she felt my work was similar and that I’d like his work, she was more than correct. It reminds me of how I see the world and the direction I hope to see my photography going, I’ve included a link to his site below, if you enjoy my work, I wholeheartedly recommend you check out his.

https://www.saulleiterfoundation.org/

A Project of Hands – Book Crafting

My first set of hands are of Mr Q, he doesn’t bind books professionally, but he prefers paper to PDF and had a book that didn’t come in a physical version, I simply took advantage.

As he worked he explained to me, not so much what he was doing but why, as an avid reader he expressed a dislike for digital books, appreciating the use of them but stating he felt like they had no soul.

Hand pinning page in place

Having decided he wanted a physical copy of this book he spent an amazing amount of time watching videos on book binding, I’ll see if I can get the links for anyone interested in doing it themselves. We had printed sheets all over as he worked out making sure they were printed correctly in small sets, and now, under the new light I’d bought he worked diligently to stitch it all together.

He had never bound a book, but as often happens with Stuart, he loves to learn (his ambition is to be a career scholar, to learn new things forever, shame you can’t get paid for that these days). He decided he was going to learn how to do this and that is exactly what he’s done.

I’ve made them mono because the colour version just didn’t show the texture of his hands to the degree I wanted. I may try colour with increased contrast in future attempts.

On a side note, he commented that he didn’t realise his hands were as marked as they were, he may work in IT now but these hands have worked hard in his life time.

For anyone curious, this is where the book is currently. Excuse the amazon box he’s using to make the cover….

Photographing Body Parts – a Project of Hands

Maybe not the most original concept when it comes to photographing body parts, a little cliché perhaps, but it seems like a good starting point. I took a few snapshots of my own hands, a little chubby and very pale, but it shows me that photographing hands is not as simple as it sounds, even if mine were done with my phone camera.

Hands

They’re not very good shots, the lighting is too harsh and I’m very pale so I just reflect light, it’s made for some excellent pictures of me, but I’ve had a few photographers comment on how pale I am because in bright sunshine it is a ball ache, if you’ll excuse the choice of words.

I’m fascinated by other people’s abilities, watching them type, or paint, creating something, their hands moving as if they know what to do and could manage the task all by themselves even if they weren’t attached. I have ideas and I’ve searched many, you can see my mood board on Pinterest (I am a little hooked on mood boards, I won’t lie, my ideas are not overly original – those are set to private, but otherwise have a nosy). The downside of searching Pinterest for photos of hands for my inspiration is that the vast majority of shots are clearly staged, in fact I think the ones pinned, all have been staged in some way, they aren’t natural shots of hands working and you can feel it in the image. How do you make a photo of hands, working hard, and still feel like they’re a natural shot? Even a search on Google Images showed a wide range of photos of hands, but the vast majority were staged, for some reason Trump popped up in the feed, but those are not the hands I’m looking for either.

I’ve gone back through old photographs and found images of hands, in relaxed positions, each of these from unposed shots, as much as is possible. These are to give me some ideas on how I want to progress with this project.

I guess what I’m looking for is the natural beauty in working hands, whatever it is they’re doing, whatever they look like, young/old/somewhere in between, soft or rough, or just ordinary hands, with or without marks, doing what they do. I’ll post back here, once I’ve started, so you can see what I’m trying to create, assuming I succeed in creating it, otherwise you can see what I ended up with.

What is Street Photography?

You’re probably thinking this is a daft question, surely that’s obvious, but if you’ve seen the winning entries from last years Lens Culture Street photography awards, you might understand why I’m asking.

I’ve recently joined a Facebook group for street photography, I’m not sure what they define as good street photography, but they won’t accept anything that doesn’t have a person in it. They accepted my first picture but I suspect that was out of politeness rather than considering it overly good, as they haven’t accepted anything since. I’m still learning street photography and I want express my view of it in more than one way, as I think it encompasses more than just the active person central to a shot, perhaps it’s an array of people or maybe just their absence. In fact I’d quite like to do a set on part of a person in the shot, not focusing on the person as a whole at all, but I’m not sure how to begin with such a project or what that would look like. They comment on how the photos have to meet the groups quality, but some of the most renowned photographers wouldn’t make the cut in their group as their images sometimes involved out of focus shots and you won’t find those here.

So what makes something street photography? Is it people, or does it just have to be in the street? According to Wikipedia street photography is “sometimes called candid photography, is photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents[1] within public places.” It goes on to state that there is a different between candid photography and street photography but that there is a lot of overlap, that it doesn’t necessitate the presence of a street or even an urban setting. I noted that some felt this was a more than adequate description of street photography (rather adamantly in some cases) but I did note that further down the same description it also went on to state that it did not require the presence of people either; that a facsimile or decidedly human characteristic in an object would also qualify.

The thing that makes Wikipedia so interesting to use and look through, is also at times it’s greatest flaw, it isn’t really a reliable source, open to inappropriate edits, inaccuracies and omissions. It can lead you to more reliable and accurate sources through the references found at the bottom of pages, but I personally don’t take everything it states as fact.

While puzzling over this I decided to ask that question, I asked it in the photography groups I’m in, but I also did a poll on Twitter, just to see what the responses looked like. While the poll may have expired before you read this, if you have a comment, you’re welcome to post it, even if years have passed – assuming Twitter is still a thing lol.

When asking in the local photography group I’m in I got a few responses but generally the members of the group kept quiet, either through disinterest or perhaps being unsure themselves as to what they consider street photography, one individual was rigid with what they deemed to be street photography, solid in their answer, suggesting there is only really one correct definition. I’m not going to say they’re wrong, indeed they are allowed that opinion, just as others are allowed to disagree even if they are in turn told they are wrong.

A few directed me to definitions elsewhere, such as Wiki or other such sites, but my real interest is in where people’s opinions lie, because to me photography is a form of art, more than just the act of documenting a moment. To me photography is about setting a scene, showing a moment in time that interests me, and potentially interests my viewer, I don’t always succeed but it’s a learning curve and I’m still working my way around it.

Twitter generated much more open and varied responses, or maybe, more relaxed responses? I hope my responders don’t mind me quoting them here, but I wanted to share the varied views that I’ve had so far.

The Wild Images@TheWildImages stated that to them it was about the feel of the images, with moodier images being more street photography, while images focusing on the aesthetics and beauty of the scenes were more urban, that either can involve or not involve people.

Greta Macedonio | Potography@GretaMacedonio seemed to agree with this in part, that the image could focus on the street itself, the people, even the buildings.

AJ Deane@aj_deane again suggested it was more about the image than the contents, referring to ‘informal’ shots, taking us back to that idea of the images being candid, not posed or manipulated as such, again supporting the idea that the images weren’t required to contain people but rather aspects of street life. AJ I hope I interpreted your response accurately.

In contrast Rebecca Tun@rebeccatun felt that the images did require the presence people to be considered street photography, indeed there are plenty of world renowned photographers who always include people in their shots, with 4 votes agreeing with Rebecca, they may not be commenting but she’s clearly not alone in that opinion.

What do I think? Honestly I’m not sure, I like the idea of a difference in urban and street, but could I define a difference? Not yet, probably not to everyone’s agreement, that’s one thing we can guarantee. I do know that I want to add a softer edge to my images, and focus in more closes on people, not necessarily as a whole. I’m still a little uncomfortable taking pictures of strangers, but I take my time and plan to put more thought into each image, not just because it interests me, but why does it interest me. One comment from the photography group really felt like it explained my own interest in street photography (let’s call them KM as they’ve not stated they’re happy to have their name posted), KM stated “the success of the genre I believe is because unlike in real life where it would be at best (usually) impolite (at worst dangerous) the photographs give us permission to stare, as long as we like, at all the details and to consider the questions raised.”

So what’s your opinion on this? Does it matter if the images portray people, or just the mark of their presence?