Saturday, 16 February 2008

No aimless wanderings...

Street photography is hard!!! I got so excited about this assignment but got so disappointed with my results! I had lots of tries, it was hard not wander along aimlessly, I am really good at the aimless bit, I indulge in it and usually get lost but also find things along the way.

I liked the idea of trying to find a topic that could fit in to a bigger story, maybe this could keep me on track (?) I came up with some ideas. Binge drinking - Britain being a nation full of drunks first came to mind. I got really excited about this and thought I would have a go, using a mobile phone. Test shots showed dreadful quality so I binned the idea for time being. Instead I went in search for people drinking coffee. I got this really interesting documentary for Christmas called Black Gold, about the coffee business and how the big corporations of the western world are sucking poor coffee producing countries dry. Two billion cups are drank everyday in the west for which most of it the farmer has not been paid a fair price. I had a few goes and realised quite quickly that it was almost impossible to see the coffee cups in the pictures, I quite liked the idea of photographing through windows... I had some luck yesterday, a big ad in Metro stated that it was 'coffee day' and Starbucks was giving away free coffee in the afternoon. I got pics of sum guys in Mexican hats handing out coffee. Apparently Starbucks is going fair trade all the way. I just red an article saying only about 20% of fair trade is fair.

My other topic was shopping, consumerism, which meant I went to Oxford Street, a street I absolutely hate, I first tried to shoot the shopping area in Kingston, where I live but the bigger street worked a lot better.

Last out was Trafalgar square, I wanted to photograph the last surviving pigeons, relating to the feeding ban that has been in place for a few years. I got a bit side tracked and ended up photographing down from the National Gallery. I didn't realise at the time but it all looks terribly boring.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Bridge players

Yesterday I photographed bridge players at Esher Bridge Club. They meet every Tuesday evening. I also went to one of the members house and took some shots earlier in the afternoon. I was worried as usal about the light being to low and thought I might just as well use the invitation. So it was bridge all day and all I can say I know about bridge now is that it is very complicated and even though most of the players have played for years they need to look at their notes at times.
The light in the club was OK, so they are the pictures I have uploaded on to the DR site. I found the shoot quite difficult even though the players remain pretty much in the same position throughout. I looked for small details, like hand movement, concentration on face and eye contact as well as finding a good position to shoot from. I was trying to use the players shoulders to look over, to frame the image, lead the viewer in to the image and create a more exciting perspective. This did not quite work out, I would have to move in closer for such effect but then I was loosing faces. I think this would perhaps work out with a 24mm.

I really enjoyed last week's lecture. Though, being familar with all three photographers work I have never looked at them together and compared their practice. I was in to photography for a long time before I came across The Americans by Frank but it is one of the most amazing books I have ever seen. Every image, the sequence has that certain feeling, a distance to the world it observes, often very melancholic and I can indulge in this feeling forever.....and it just seems to speak volumes about the state of America and its politics at that time.
Winogrand's colour image was incredible, so graphic and unreal! I'm trying to find more of his colour stuff.

Sunday, 3 February 2008


Thinking about relationships, twins imediatley came to mind. I find the relationships between siblings fascinating and twins even more so. It is only 15 months between me and my sister and even though we are very close it is also a very complicated one. I managed to find two five year olds: Holly and Rosie and their older sister Ellie. I was able to photograph them after lots of rescheduling due to one of them being sick and later I lost my voice due to cold and flu. But on Saturday morning I had a few hours with them. Thinking about it, I have never really photographed kids to any extent, luckily they were very willing to welcome me in to their lives, this also included me taking part in all their activities.

It was hard to get the twins both in the same frame or directly interacting, it was as if they did not want to be compared, often I noticed that it was always on of them playing with or sitting next to their older sister Ellie. The slightly older twin, Holly was often determined to pose infront of the camera when the other two were playing in the back of the frame, a lot less aware, I found it all really fascinating but was to focused on talking pictures to be able to make any sense of what was going on until later. When I photographed her sisters I could feel Holly pulling at me for attention, I think my presence there my also have changed the way they interacted. After taking the camera of me several times to take pictures of me and each other, they found some of their parent's cameras and started to click away, so we all ended up taking pictures. It was a lot of running around and I didn't have control over my exposures all the time and have got some classic burn outs for digital infront of a very bright window as well focus on the wrong things. All in all I think the shoot went quite well but I would have liked to capture more of the tension between the twins but I really need to spend more time to get such moments.
I had also hoped to photograph two 18 year old twins that I found through asking lots of people, they looked really good, very punky and specific way of dressing. They agreed to pictures but later changed their mind. I think I might have freaked them out a bit by saying a could come and do some pictures when they were hanging out with their friends in Camden.... I also tried a housing project for teenage mums in my area but soon realised that I would need more time to get access, the social worker was really nice but said that understandably these girls are very vulnerable and it would take me along time gain their trust.
Instead I decided to settle for a more straight forward mother & baby relationship. I found Ania and her baby Ruby and they readily agreed to pictures. I find myself often shooting with the lens right open and on as slow shutterspeed as I can get away with and often getting things out of focus or blurred by movement. I'm not used to working on these settings and it is really intersting to see the results, quite often the shallow depth of field and most of the frame out of foccus creates more feeling in the image.
I am going to photograph a group of bridge players tomorrow and are just hoping that the continous cough I have draged around for days will miraciously dissapear!