‘Street’ Photography – Portobello Road

For this assignment we were instructed to ‘take to the streets’. The brief was to find three scenes, situations or locations and to photograph them with a view to building a better shot each time; through positioning oneself differently in  terms of distance, negotiating a better angle or simply playing the waiting game and hoping for a set of shapes, emotions or events to unfold in the frame. Its difficult, and one needs to be ready to take a lot of photographs to obtain perhaps one or two good ones. Maybe, through a combination of luck and skill, one will get a great one!!

Thoughts on the process: This set shows a series from Portobello Road, close to where I live. This advertising hoarding is interesting to me for its strong graphic shapes and their relation to the actual feet and legs of people passing beforenthem. I shot this series on film, using a Lecia M6 and Bronica 645. Film camera are fun to use on the street, people chat more and are interested in what you are doing, one woman looked at my Bronica and asked me, “Does it still work?” – considering that I had been standing shooting in the freezing cold for an hour, I certainly hoped so! It was very useful to use the college darkroom on the monday to develop these rolls of film and scan in readiness for the tutorial on Thursday. The advertising hoarding scene is one that I have returned to a number of times and will try to do so before the shop actually opens. A note on the film shoot: Looking at the negs laid out in order on a lightbox is certainly the way to come to desicions about editing; and the worth of a single shot or series. The problem with digital files is that it is very easy to get them out of order and to delete several frames without really thinking about it. This facilitated deletion can happen at the capture stage also; far too much time is spent glancing at the screen after each shot, (a photographers nervous tic) rather than being comfortable with an exposure and knowing your camera well enough to adjust. Some photographers (and educators) suggest taping up the back of the camera to preclude this activity) Once the images have finally got to the computer files are often opened and viewed singularly and not seen as a sequence. Yes, it is easy to view these together in an editing programme such as Lightroom or Aperture, and even to view them as a potential contact print (and to print as such) but I wonder how many go to the ‘bother’. For my next assignment I will attempt this “analogue viewing of the digital files” and make a contact print for editing in coloured pencil. It may well be refreshing to get away from the computer and its dominating backlit screen.

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