Inspiration comes from many sources; the sculpture in my last post has been nagging at me to photograph it for months, and I’d thought that was it for this blog entries this week. Then, when I was waiting at the hairdressers this morning, a surprise came my way. I’d replied to a couple of txt messages, checked my emails, and read the BBC news website. Still waiting. Any messages on the dating website? No, and so I turned to my blogging app to see what was published under the “freshly pressed” category.
I scrolled down until I came to a photographer’s post. I’ve never read Jasonikon’s blog before, but here was his account of doing some street photography on Putney High Street. What’s more, he very helpfully detailed the technique that he used as well as the settings for his camera. Well if that wasn’t a gauntlet thrown down, I don’t know what was. I was due to have lunch with my beautiful daughters in Newcastle today, so I knew I’d have an opportunity to give it a go, or rather give my version a go.
Jason details how he shoots with his Nikon hanging at waist level to make it less obtrusive and therefore remain largely unnoticed by his subjects. I don’t know what model he is using, but my Canon 5d Mk III doesn’t do unobtrusive, no matter what I hang it from! When I’ve shot candids in town previously, I’ve tended to work from a distance with a long lens so that I’m able to raise the camera to my eye without being so close to my subject that they will notice and react. Jason works much closer and with a wider angle lens. I don’t have a 35mm prime but used my 24-70 and mimicked his settings as best as I could. My addition was that I held the camera in my left hand, with no fingers anywhere near the shutter button. To the casual observer I was no threat!
In my jacket pocket, enclosed in my right hand, was my secret weapon. I sometimes use pocket wizards to trigger speedlite flash units remotely with radio signals, but today I wired one up to the camera and I was set to go. What’s more the Mk III’s ability to shoot almost silently was a great help here. A couple of test shots and then off I went.
As Jason states in his article, street photography comes into its own when viewed through the lens of history, we take note of changes to cityscapes, hairstyles and fashions. The reportage shots of yesterday fascinate us, but of course they all begin as candid street photography.
Shooting today, most of my images fell into two categories, those showing the incredible honesty of expression that you get from shooting people unawares, expressions that you would never get if someone sees your lens moving in their direction. Today there is a subset in there; the various attitudes of men being taken shopping by their respective partners!
The second category is those that are less expressive, but nonetheless capture the spirit of the time through the fashions and attitudes of those pictured. (See if you can spot Tyger Drew-Honey from Outnumbered amongst these)
Of course for me there was a third category today; shot on the street, but with two very conscious subjects. You didn’t expect that I’d ignore my girls did you?