Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Bookie, Steel Yard & a dead pigeon

On Sunday I went down to Kempton Park race course to see if I could find a bookie to photograph. The weather was gorgeous but the course was very quiet. Simon Kingshot was standing right in the middle of the light so I decided on using him as my subject. Simon told me he was part of a dying trade, twenty years ago this place would have been heaving. He tours south of England and are on races most days but find it hard to make the money he used to. I was first really disappointed with the scene, I had expected a lot more bookies and people, I had the idea in my head that I wanted to shoot from the stand looking down at the bookies and get the crowds in the fore ground placing their bets, people drinking, it being hectic etc. But what Simon said fitted in with the scene.
I can tell I'm not watching my frame properly, there are all sorts of things sticking out of people's heads, and I shoot several frames in a sequence like that!
I tend to feel very self conscious photographing in public with lots of people around me and it always takes a while until I start to relax. I enjoyed most sitting down on the steps and using the people looking at the bookie's boards as a frame. There was a difference in the light and many of the people in the foreground became silhouettes. Many of the people that go racing fascinates me, they have real character.

On the way back from the races I found a dead pigeon next to the road side. It had to be photographed, I feel very inspired, I'm gonna start a pigeon project

I had hoped to photograph the beekeeping society in Kingston where I live but it is all quiet on the bee front this time of year(obviously), it is the same with the puppet makers, they seem to be all sitting around waiting for commissions. Perhaps not such ' big business' as I thought. Instead I went to a steel yard in Battersea to photograph person number 3. It was Carl, a Jamaican guy, he has worked in steel yards for over 20 years and came to London 7 years ago. He says it's better than sugar factories. Brian his manager had all kinds of ideas of what Carl was going to do and was determined to set up the shoot, I eventually got my point across and could actually photograph the real work.

Funnily enough, it turned out that Carl had got to London by convincing an English lady he met on a beach back home to marry him and get him a ticket out. When I worked on cruise ships that was always how the conversations went on beaches in Jamaica, I always felt really bad about the whole thing, being painfully aware of what a difference life in Europe would make but it seems that some do get lucky.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

A hairy affair

So, finally I have managed to set up this blog. I think it has taken me so long because I'm absolutely terrified about writing and usually have people checking it for me. Well, this is not going to be like that and I will just have to get on with it.

So, the course has started properly and lots of ideas came to my mind for our first assignment - people at work. I have been thinking: dog grooming, beekeeping, fish market, puppet makers/puppeteers and book makers....

I went to a dog grooming saloon in Twickenham called 'Dirty Dogs' for my first shoot and met some hairy dogs! It was good fun but sometimes difficult, every time I knelled down I had the dogs on the floor jumping on my lap, licking me and creating camera shake! I had also not anticipated that the light levels were going to be so low, but I also now that this is something I would have to work around since most grooming places would have a shop front and the activity would take place in the back rooms, I decided to use my 50mm lens and concentrate on more detailed shots as they could also look better with a more narrow depth of field.

Lorna, one of the girls working there confirmed my belief about really up market grooming saloons that are often marketed as dog spas where poodles are getting their nails done and painted pink and their fur coloured. Some places go as far as to creating 'my little pony' looks, by weaving in hair extensions! I have to say that I find this really bizarre but it would photograph absolutely brilliantly, using colour with fill in flash to give it some edge. I will definitely check this up for future project potential, there is bound to be such a place somewhere like Kensington or Chelsea.

Tomorrow morning I'm of to Billingsgate fish market to photograph some of the traders there. I'm a bit worried about the light, the market starts at 05.00 and finishes at 08.30, so I will not be able to get much of natural daylight filtering through this time of year, so I will have to see how much light I can get from the strip lights again. If not I might be able to get some good daylight shots from the traders packing up, carrying things to their vans etc.