Street Portraits

mickyatesCandid, Coursework, Critical Research Journal, Event, Photography, Portrait, Reportage, SSWeek4, Street, SurfacesStrategies 2 Comments

This past weekend there was a major protest march in London – The People’s Vote March. I was there, for myself and as photographer for the Bath for Europe Group.

I created a couple of albums for them – Speakers and Streets.

However, I also saw this as a way to continue to work on my candid / street portraiture skills. In a few weeks, I will be in Cambodia during the National elections, where I expect to get more practice!

Of course, when people see you taking photographs, the reaction is either to turn away or be up for a picture.

Sometimes, the pose seems right.

And sometimes it’s take it or miss it.

Occasionally, a newsworthy subject pops by. Faux Bojo, Drew Galdron

And occasionally you turn the lens back on the photographer.

Pure class.

And the inevitable …

Four ‘hard’ boys came through, right at the end, calling people names. ‘You can’t take my picture’. It’s a free country, and street photos are legal.

‘You don’t belong here, go home’. Family been here since 1565, you? ‘Well give me £10’. No, but if you like I can ask that Copper to come over and sort this out …

‘F*** you, remoaner’. Have a nice day.

A decent crop of pictures, and a genre that doesn’t hold too many fears for me, these days, thanks to some great tuition from people like Sarah Lee and Justin Sutcliffe.

Critically, l feel I am observing, not participating. Should I?

I admire the early work of Bruce Gilden, on the streets of New York – totally candid, unexpected, fearless – yet oddly respectful of the subjects. There is also much power in his use of Black & White, which I occasionally shoot, though am more drawn to colour.

USA. New York City. 1989. Man, dog, cart.

I have less admiration for his recent work, which seems to go out of his way to make people look ugly. It is not just the ultra-closeness and detailing, but the super-saturated colour. That said, there is something to be learnt in the processing, as my images here tend to look ‘natural’, which might not be the most appropriate way for me to build an aesthetic. I have experimented with various styles, over the years, so more experimentation required.

USA. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 2013. Chris, worker at the state fair.

Perhaps I need to be less ‘respectful’, and get my artistic vision flowing through the image. I was clearly shooting ‘reportage style’, rather than seeking ‘environmental portraits’. Food for thought, in future.

But I do not want to exploit, which I fear Gilden maybe doing.


Note: Bruce Gilden’s images from his website, all rights his, used as part of an accredited education program.

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