My ambition to take photograph to represent every square on the monopoly board has ramped up a notch in the last few weeks. I have managed to capture a few more images that I am pleased with. The problem now though, is that I am left with the more challenging locations.Read More
I am, like many Fuji users, a member of the FujiLove Facebook Group. All manner of photographic talent can be seen there. At the start of the year a photo popped up on the timeline from Malcolm Smith, which made me smile. Malcolm is doing the 365 Photo A Day Project, but has put a fantastically creative twist on it… He has created a story line using Lego Star Wars characters.Read More
About this time last year I took delivery of my new Fuji X100F, and The Delightful Mr F and I headed off to London to put it through its paces. A not so original idea struck us, why not try to take a photo in each of the locations on the UK edition of the Monopoly board?Read More
Following on from my first trip out to take street portraits in my town, I have been out and about once again. The people of Fleet didn't let me down, either.
First up I met this lovely lady, Face #5 waiting for a bus. She had moved to the town a few years ago and was preparing for her 80th birthday the following weekend. All her family were coming to visit to celebrate with her.
Across the road was Face #6. This gentleman was collecting for the Salvation Army. I had a wonderful chat with him about my grandfather who was also in the Salvation Army. We talked about the choir and how they would be singing in the town at Christmas, so I promised I would keep an eye out for them. He then sent me down the road to his wife, who was also collecting. Again, a lovely chat ensued and portraits were taken.
Finally I spotted a man having a break from work in the sunshine. I approached and explained my project and told him that I would like to take his portrait. He was immediately enthusiastic and suggest that I go over to his shop and shoot there. It turned out he works at the local barber's shop, so in I went and took many photos of the barbers and customers. I asked if I could come back and do some more, so I have held those photos back until I have taken some more so I can release them as a batch.
I think I am over my fear of asking strangers for portraits now. My hands have at least stopped shaking, which is a bonus if you want clear photos!
If you live in Fleet, I hope to see you soon!
Sometimes it is good to do something a little bit different. It stretches the creative muscles and can give you a new way of seeing the world. I am a big fan of the Humans of New York project, where photographer Brandon Stanton set out to take street portraits of 10,000 people living and working in New York. He chats to each person and gets their story before taking their photograph. The results are gorgeous, human, joyful, touching and a reminder of reality.
I will admit it straight off, I am not a natural portrait photographer, but I had been itching for a while to document my home town in some way. This seemed like a good way of capturing the people who live in the area. I mulled this over for several weeks. The idea excited me, but the thought of walking up to complete strangers and being able to make enough of a connection that they would let me take their portrait terrified the living daylights of me. I am not sure what happened, but one Wednesday afternoon, shortly after lunch I was overcome by a strange sense of recklessness/courage and headed out armed with my Fuji XT1. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the town centre from Fennell Towers and by the time I had reached the high street my bravado and ebbed somewhat. I then spent the next 45 minutes walking up and down trying to muster enough courage to speak to someone.
Finally I found Faces #1 and #2 sat on a bench outside M&S. They looked friendly, and kind, so I reasoned, even if they said no, they weren't likely to punch me in the face. They didn't say no! They looked slightly shocked that I had asked, but were up for it. They were lovely, and gave me much needed confidence to go ahead and ask other people. I don't know who you are, but thank you!
Emboldened, I headed off to find more friendly looking residents of Fleet. Next I chatted to Face #3, a lovely lady who sells jewellery in the shopping centre. She hand makes and mends all sorts of beautiful things. The lighting was shocking*, but I took a portrait to add to the collection. After that it was time to go home, and I was almost back at the gates of Fennell Towers when I met Face #4. This lady was delivering building materials to a house, and was driving one of those big trucks with a crane on the back**. She was rocking a powerful "This Girl Can" vibe, and I desperately wanted to take her photo. I hesitated a little bit as she was working, but decided to ask anyway. We had a little chat, I took the shot and then she went on her way.
I got home feeling pretty good. I had overcome my major fear of taking street portraits, and as an added bonus I had had some lovely conversations with people I would never have met otherwise. Some people said no, fewer than I would have thought, and that was nice it it's own way too. People had the choice, and even when they declined they were nice about it and we had a chat anyway. All in all it was a great experience. I am going to continue to take street portraits, and add them to the gallery on this site. I hope to build up a collection of portraits which represent Fleet and the people that live here.
* Note to self, lighting in shopping centres is horrible...
** It probably has a proper name, does anyone know?
I'm a big fan of the photography project. The problem is that it all sounds very grandiose and consequently potentially off-putting. Photography has so many aspects to it and you can read all the books in the world, and study the greatest photographers that have ever lived, but until you get off your rear end and actually practise your are unlikely to get any better. Projects can help get you off the sofa, find inspiration and develop your skills. For me, I am starting to discover my preferred style (more on that in another post).
A project can help practise specific skills as well as bring skills together. I typically have two or three long term projects on the go, and by long term I mean months, or in one case, years. You can of course set the scope and duration of your own project to be whatever you want it to be. Here are a few ideas which I have used in the past which I have found really useful.
A Photo A Day (#PAD) - This does exactly what it says on the tin. You take a photo every day for a year. Search Flickr, Instagram and Facebook and you will find thousands of people doing this. There are many variations on this too. Some people go for Photo 52, one photo per week, and several years ago I did the 100 Day Photo Challenge. I did this simply with my iPhone. I took a shot every day for 100 days. None of the photos are particularly award winning, but my ability to see a shot in the most mundane of places increased by order of magnitude. I likened it to an artist doodling, simply to practise.
Pick a Theme - Any theme! Pablo Strong is particularly handy with a thematic, short and sharp project. He shoots mostly in London, and has a range of themes, such as ties and jewellery. He stops strangers on the street with interesting attire and photographs them, often learning something really interesting in the process. His YouTube videos are a joy. There are all sorts of themes you could concentrate on. Perhaps only shoot things which are a particular colour, or only shoot in square format. Anything which is different to what you would normally do.
Pick a Piece of Kit - Let's face it, we all have lots of kit, and some of it languishes in our camera bags, never seeing the light of day. Perhaps extract that lens you never really use and shoot for a whole day, week or month on it. Shoot exclusively on a wide angle lens, or a prime lens, or anything which makes you think differently.
Photograph a Whole Day - It is a bit of a marathon this one, but why not take a photo every hour for 12 hours, 18 hours, or if you are feeling really perky (or full of coffee), a whole 24 hours? Pick a camera and a lens, and use it for the whole day.
The 30 Minute Project - I use this to get me out of a photographic rut. I go to a place I know reasonably well, and challenge myself to take 30 completely different shots in 30 minutes. No repeats, just take a shot and then on to the next one. Often what you get are 30 meh shots, but... you will start to see familiar places in different ways, and you may find a shot which has the potential to be a winner if the light was better. Store that idea away and come back to it when the conditions are more suitable.
As for my projects... well, I shall be unveiling those in the next few months, but for now, I'd love to hear about your projects.