Change of direction?

Today I am reduced to posting the kind of image that inspires within me self loathing; a hipsteresque image of coffee and my camera (the only thing I despise more is the horrible ice cream glass some chains insist on for lattes).

I lost my bottle. I tried to take an image of a guy on a BMX, lost confidence so asked, and was told to beat it (in more colourful language).

I should have carried on shooting elsewhere, but instead gave up for a while. The reality is there is very little conflict in street photography. Yet, when it happens, it makes me want to give up. I listen to John Free tell me that street photography is a noble endeavour. But sometimes it seems to be perceived as less than honourable.

It is a fairly mainstream activity. Today I listened to part of the fascinating story of Vanley Burke documenting the experience of the African-Caribbean community in England. This was a Radio 4 programme. Hardly an underground or especially edgy source. The story told the response of some of his subjects discovering his candid shots. In the main they sounded ok with it and some sounded pleased.

However, with some of the present anxiety over GDPR (which will hopefully turn out to be unwarranted) and the potential for conflict, I wonder if it’s time for a change of direction. ¬†Or at least until I get my bottle back.

In these circumstances I enjoy doing something different. For example, occassionally I get the opportunity to photograph events. It gives me the chance to plug in the flash and take some non-candid shots and portraits. I find that mft cameras can generally deal well enough with the light conditions and my little Nissin i40 flash does a brilliant job with the problem situations.

Serendipity too

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 This image was not the best shot from a half hour photo dash yesterday. But as I reviewed the shots today I was delighted.

Ideally, this blog would showcase some incredible craftsmanship, but clearly there are technical issues with the shot; it’s blurred, his feet are cut off, etc. Instead, I like this shot because it highlights the funny, serendipitous and even surreal wold of street photography.

I took the shot because I liked the look; sunglasses with masked face.  But I couldn’t have anticipated that at the ‘decisive moment’ the bus would pass and create both a colourful background and more importantly a great subtext!  That’s what makes street photography such a humbling exercise. Some of the best shots work not due to great skill and composition but as a happy accident.

Street Chic

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Today, I found myself listening to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. Feeling suitably confident in my masculinity, and because there was no one else in the car to laugh, I left it on. The discussion was about fashion in your 80s and 90s.

Believe it or not, it was actually pretty interesting listening to a 95 year old lady talk about how important her clothes were to her; being all she had left in terms of self-expression, and that she still dressed with the opposite sex in mind.

Later as I walked through town I passed the lady in the shot above, standing at a bus stop. I doubt she falls into the age category discussed in Woman’s Hour, but I couldn’t help notice how much effort she had made with her appearance.

I asked to take her picture, as I didn’t want to be intimidating. She seemed hesitant at first but I explained that I like to photograph interesting people and I thought she looked very glamorous. This is shot is from after the street portraits once she had relaxed a little.

 

Shooting from the hip in the 21st Century

   

I read recently about someone using the touch screen shutter release function on an OM-D em5 for shooting from the hip (In my bag – Neenad Arul).  

Helpfully, the articulating screen on this and similar cameras, allows you to look down to shoot, as if using an older style medium format camera. 

But even better is the ability to touch the screen both to choose the autofocus point and to release the shutter. For some reason I hadn’t thought of this before. 

At least one criticism of shooting from the hip is that you can’t frame the shot. Instead you rely on luck or experience to make a good image (Eg Eric Kim – Learn from the masters series).  

But with articulating touchscreens you can now frame the shot, select your focal point and release the shutter instantaneously. 

Of course there are other reasons not to shoot from the hip. But I find the ability to frame and shoot via the screen a real bonus on the street.