I’m still on a roll with the photography – it’s getting more and more interesting. I’ve realised that some of what I’ve done fits within the genre ‘street photography’. As a defined genre, street photography seems to focus mainly on people in situ, though not exclusively. Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren have a good definition of it here, in the excerpted introduction to their book ‘Street Photography Now’. I like this part:
“…street photographers elevate the commonplace and familiar into something mythical and even heroic. They thrive on the unexpected, seeing the street as a theatre of endless possibilities…”
I know that feeling of seeing endless possibilities! It’s actually troublesome. I can’t go more than a few feet outside my front door without wanting to photograph something. I just find it incredibly absorbing taking photos. And there is so much drama in things. Like the florist (see picture at the end of the post). The whole creation of this big bunch bouquet was a theatrical production!
The other addictive aspect to my life right now is wandering around Flickr exploring people’s photos. The mall of mild telepathy. As you enter someone’s photostream you enter their mind stream. Wooooo are shivers running up your spine?
Back to the topic. The street. The day after my first fix of Selfridges windows I went back to finish off the ‘set’. There were still some of the grand front of store windows to explore.
Then I saw the tumbling toy vendor, working on the windows – he demonstrates his toys to punters by casually throwing them at the plate glass (the toys not the punters). His name was Ali.
With a ‘proper’ camera I could have had a larger aperture and a faster shutter speed: the people to the right would have been less focused whereas Ali, the main subject would have been in focus. However, the iPhone had started this whole thing, so… Overall I was quite happy with the street vendor photos for a first go. I love the way the tumbling toys look like exotic insects. And they emphasise the surface of the glass. This is one of the first photos where I started looking at a vertical line between two versions of the world: staged and constructed versus organic and random.
Ali was a great character, I found him really fascinating as a performer in his job. He had a way of putting people at their ease whilst at the same time, distracting and enticing their kids to spend pocket money! But there was this carnival atmosphere on the street, everyone uplifted by the lights and the spangle. The vibe was so good! At the same time there was a certain resignation about Ali. He was a bit world weary. Probably ready to put his feet up with a cigar or something. So this made me more interested in him as a subject. The fixed smile of the pink stuffed toy in the centre says it all, well maybe not all but passes comment.
So Ali put me at my ease – ish. I’m still quite nervous about that one-to-one engagement with a person when I’m in the process of making something. Same thing with painting portraits. I’m uneasy with staring at someone so intently and they’re generally uneasy with being stared at. But perhaps as something of an entertainer Ali took it in his stride. I sent him a link to the pictures afterwards and he owes me a cup of tea : )
That afternoon (which turned into evening so soon!) I also took some candid shots and they turned out rather Martin Parr with their element of satire, especially the ‘crackberry’ lady. I’m not sure that the satire thing is me but I couldn’t resist, it was just there for the taking.
There’s a lot of buzz on Flickr at the moment in the street photography groups. I was introduced to the Gutter which has a tight system of 10 ‘keep’ and 10 ‘ditch’ votes with obligatory commenting from any member who wishes to add a photo to the pool. There are some good photographers in the group who are really pushing themselves and willing to share a bit of constructive criticism. Just what I need right now having made a pile of work, I need people to see it. Like or dislike is not especially helpful. I’m interested to know how people are reading the work, what they think it means, what it suggests and if they like or dislike, then why.
They say the Hardcore Street Photography group is one of the biggest and best. Well they did in the intro I linked to at the start of this article… So I checked it out and it packs a punch, it’s very dynamic. With the name, the strict rejection policy and some locker room type photos it’s got a big macho image, but it has depth.
by Maciej Dakowicz on Flickr
by Nick Turpin on Flickr
Strangely, just before seeing those, I took these. Hardcore Romance and Romantic Hardcore?!
The image above I did with the Street Photography Now Project in mind. This week’s topic, Instruction#15 is:
“Wander aimlessly most of the time.” Melanie Einzig
So I thought it should be something random. They’re calling them ‘instructions’ which I find mildly irritating as I hate working to order – my head’s already overflowing with things I want to make and photograph. But I like a bit of competition, it’s nice meeting and chatting with the others on the project and it kind of brings up surprises.
A street photography event coming up in London that sounds really good: Past to present at the Musuem of London and check out the late night ‘first night’ with bar etc. Hope they have some shop windows in there.