Using a Ricoh GRD III and a Nikon DSLR to photograph streets, people, architecture and anything else that catches my eye.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

City of London - Part 3

I have recently been reappraising my work. I have often considered my images of people in the street, to be 'street photography'.  Now after reading countless websites, books and discussion forums, I have to say here and now that I am NOT a street photographer.  There are many amazing 'street photographers' out there, who take far more intelligent and artistic images. Their artwork involves meaning, thought provoking imagery, humour, amazing insight, and a whole deeper level of photography than my images.

Having recently been to a few exhibitions of street photography, I can now see that my images fall way short of the expected and acceptable level of photography within the street photography genre.  At first, I felt a little down hearted at the fact that my images are actually considered slightly clichéd and obvious. But I have since thought about this, and have realized that I like what I do. I may not be a 'street photographer', but I do take photographs in the street.

I was quite amused and shocked when I read the list of 10 street photography clichés at the brilliant Shutterfinger photography blog. I think I have fallen into many of those on the list. Maybe just owning a camera is a cliché in itself now.  I just can't win.  

My photographs are not just random snaps though. I do compose the vast majority of my photographs using the following criteria:
  • The background (on the most part) has to be interesting and have a connection to the main subject. This is down to the fact that I have as much interest in the surroundings and the area as the subject itself. This is the case whether it is a poor housing estate, a modern city environment, or a bustling market. 
  • The subject has to be reasonably interesting, and compliment the backdrop mentioned above. I like to capture a broad cross section of our society, and present them in an interesting and sometimes flattering way. I try to capture singles or pairs, sometimes more; but generally I avoid random crowd scenes. 
  • I like to get as close to the subject as possible. From 5 metres down to 1 metre if possible. I like a large depth of field and a wide angle to draw in the whole scene.  I am not a fan of DSLR isolated images, taken from a distance with a zoom lens.  
  • Other criteria may exist but are made up as I go along.

So there we are.  Although my images are NOT street photography, they ARE images of people in the street. I don't consider them to be street portraits though, as I have taken them candidly, and they are not really centred on the face.

I just love people, society and architecture.  I like the combination of place and person.

That is what I do, and that is what I will probably continue to do.

So anyway...

My rail journey into London terminates at Liverpool Street Station, which is in the heart of the financial district of London. The whole area is in a rate of rapid development, with new architecture rising up all around. I took all of these around the commercial and public spaces in the station's immediate vicinity.


Michael Gatton said...

"Top 10 Clichés" lists are at the top of my list of clichés. As the author suggests, in the end it's not what you shoot but how you shoot it, and even then, when you think about how many photographers are out there, there's virtually nothing new under the sun - so what?

I still think "people photography" (street or otherwise) is the most compelling kind of photography. Every person is unique and every moment in which you capture them is also unique - in a non-trivial way.

I really like the images above where the people are an integral part of the environment - whether you call it "street photography" or not seems a trivial matter in the end.

s.c said...

Great pictures Bill and thank you for showing the shutter finger link for the top 10 clichés of street photography . Its just like a higgs particle you get the information but now what?

George McKay said...

I agree with Michael and his sentiments regarding "people photography". I certainly feel more compelled to take people pictures and have a profound appreciation for those who do it well. Even when you think you know what constitutes a successful "street photo" and convince yourself you have the requisite qualities (the right mix of chutzpah, vigilance, sense of humor and irony) AND the technical skills to operate the camera AND compose it all adequately - it's still no mean feat. So, for me anyway, the fun is in the effort.

Bill Wellham said...

Guys... Thanks for all those comments. Encouraging too. 'People photography' is certainly not easy. But I enjoy the challenge. Also, as George points out, it's also fun to at least try. (it gets me out of the house at least)