Month: December 2014

Candid Strangers 100/100

If you have read this blog you’ll know that I have a photo project that I started off doing to get me thinking a bit quicker about light, exposure and forcing my hand a little with my camera settings. You’ll also know that I did not want to carry this project over into 2015.

I am pleased to say that I have now completed my 100 candid strangers project on Flickr.

I have chosen a woman in a Burka, Burkha, Burqa, (sorry but I’m not sure of the correct spelling and the dictionary I checked with has all three spellings). The reason for using this image is not to be controversial. I have no intention of making any political statement but….. But is the ‘However’ and the point you know someone is going to say something that is most likely to be the contradiction of what they have just said.

That really is not my intention. The reason for this image is two fold:

1) The project is about capturing portraits of strangers. The woman is a stranger and always will be. We do not move in the same circles and we are unlikely to.

Even if she was my neighbour I doubt I would recognise her again.

We are all affected by politics and the lady and I may have many of our personal political opinions in common but I will never know. Something else we have in common….. We breath, sleep, eat & excrete (that is the polite version).

2) This is just from personal experience that I have found on the few occasions were I have tried to photograph anyone of a middle eastern appearance, be that male or female, it is a nightmare.

Other people will stand in my way, the subjects tend to spot me quickly and either cover their face or look away. The rare moments when I was not noticed by the subject, other bystanders would draw their attention to me by shouting and pointing.

I’m not totally sure what to make of it.

It could be down to recent wars and the current paranoia of anti terror laws and actions. If it is then maybe I should have been taking pictures of the people that were so keen to make the subjects I was photographing aware of my presence?

If I’m not photographing them or people they are with why would they object so much to me taking photos. That modern saying about CCTV and carrying ID cards “if you’re doing nothing wrong you’ve nothing to worry about” crept into my head a few times even though I do think we have far too much CCTV. I’d rather have police on the streets preventing crime than CCTV that in many cases is not really that useful. It was a short lived but recurring thought.

What does strike me as odd is that I have not had this from other people, whatever their nationality, colour, religion……. It makes no odds to me who I photograph. I’m photographing the people around me. The people that look interesting or are in a nice light. If you look through the 100 images this will be pretty clear that there is no hidden agenda.

So reason two is that this particular image although could be better has made me look a bit deeper at street photography in general.

Walk along Edgware Road between the A40 flyover and Marble Arch and I stand out like a sore thumb. White, middle aged and sometimes picked out as ex-forces or a police officer. I didn’t blend into the environment and that may be the reason for the issues. I am curious about this because I have seen other people taking photos and not getting any hassle.

Maybe it is because it is a DSLR and it is just a bit bulky for street photography.

I’ve been pointed into the direction of Leica or Fuji for street portraits and general street photography.

If its an area of photography I intend on pursuing I will certainly need to look more into the costs of buying another camera kit.

After all that waffle here is 100/100.

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As always, constructive comments are welcome and thank you for visiting my blog.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Abbey Road, London.

In my quest to finish finish my 100 candid strangers project on Flickr I headed to a zebra crossing on Abbey Road in London with the intention of capturing candid stranger 99/100.

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It just a normal crossing and there are lots of them around the UK & there is nothing unusual about someone crossing the road. Think again!

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This zebra crossing at Abbey Road is kind of famous as it appears on a Beatles album cover.

I can not tell you how long I have spent sat in a car or on a motorbike waiting for tourists to take their photos. I would estimate hours and hours. Maybe even days!

Hell, it might even be a month of my life [yes thats an exaggeration] wasted sitting in traffic thanks to this rather standard british road crossing.

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As a motorist this section of road is extremely frustrating but sitting there as a photographer there was actually a palpable sense of fun. So many people were getting so much joy out of using the crossing.

If you want to get an idea of how busy this crossing can be, especially through the summer months, this link will take you to The Abbey Road Studios Camera. If you do visit the crossing why not wave into the camera and say hello to the world.

So folks, take your photo, have your fun but be sensible; if you look like you want to cross, motorists will stop.

Please also remember that people are trying to get to work, meetings, appointments or home, so think about avoiding rush hour because all you will do is get people frustrated. If you are there during rush hour try to be quick!

I have to say that after watching the little video at the start of my post and spending such a short time observing people at the crossing, I will never look at it in the same way. It definitely has a good vibe (when not sat in a car). I may even do another little project there?

Thanks for stopping.

Jim Jimmy James

Snaps

I might have said this before, if I have then I apologise for being repetitive. I don’t get architectural photography.

Thats not to say that I do not like it, I just can not get it.

Not that I have gone out of my way to read any useful hints and tips but when I look at architectural images I like, I’m just not that good at breaking down the image and figuring out what it is that I like and why they look so different from mine.

Occasionally I will just point at something and click my button just to see what I get, sometimes its just to see what sort of reflections I capture, other times it is to see what I spot in the image that I didn’t see while taking the photo.

Does that sound odd? If so, I have included a snap of reflections from two windows running along The River Thames, there is a little security tag on the brickwork where the security guard uses one of those bar code scanners. Easy to remove from the image if I wanted to but also something I hadn’t noticed until looking at the image on my laptop.

I normally just delete these pictures and only take them to force myself to look a bit harder when I’m in the position to take my time composing an image.

So its just a handful of images that I was going to delete but decided to add as a post so I can review my progress throughout next year. Yes that means I will be planning a few architectural shoots for 2015.

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Thanks for looking,

Jim Jimmy James.

Learning from seeing

No images of mine here today. Its just a little reflective diary entry.

Ages ago I wrote a small bit on fashion and how I intended to go and see the David Bailey’s Star Dust exhibition.

I discovered rather mixed opinions of him as a person but generally everyone liked his work. After attending the show I can not say that I was overly impressed.

Please don’t get me wrong, he obviously knows what he is doing with a camera. I loved some of the portraiture but I walked away not understanding how his photography stood out from any other good photographer. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

What I did notice was that he has a very definite and natural style. Maybe that is why he is so highly regarded; the ability to capture the person rather than just the public persona that person wants us to see.

I meant to blog about this ages ago and for one reason or another it didn’t happen. Maybe I felt a tad self conscious being a novice and talking about such a well known photographer….But guess what…Even us newbies have an opinion.

I discussed it at that ten week class I was attending at the time and was met by gasps all around the room, one raised eyebrow with a rye smile and what I felt was an approval to go on speaking from the lecturer.

I wasn’t trying to be controversial then and neither am I trying to be now. I explained that I rather think circumstance and luck might have had more or at least an equal weighing with his ability as a photographer.

He has produced some iconic images of people that were in his social circle.. luck, circumstances and ability. Thats a good thing and I’m not knocking that. What ever happened after that would have been down to hard work, charming his client base, putting in the hours and ultimately producing the images.

The response from the other students of varying ages and abilities was almost amusing.

Saying I thought he was talented and got some great results was totally overlooked.

I felt like some thought I’d lost the plot by speaking about such a renowned photographer… Who was I to say such a thing. Well I am me, just a person but a person entitled to an opinion whether or not I’d ever even picked up a camera.

I don’t even think it was a criticism. I’m sure as hell positive the man wouldn’t give a toss what I thought and would almost certainly agree with me about the role of luck and opportunity, along with hard work being key factors.

What you do with that opportunity once your foot is in the door is down to you. David Bailey clearly did very well.

I still chuckle to myself about that moment in class.

Anyway I didn’t mean to ramble about all of that…..The reason I went to Bailey’s star dust was to learn.

I wanted to look at his images and feel inspired. Although some of the images failed to do this, I learned a great deal.

I think exhibitions are a great way for us to learn; we get to see what we like, what we don’t like and hear opinions of others so that we can learn what is generally appealing to the masses. It really is just a matter of taste.

The reason I’m making a note of it now is because I went to the World Press Photo Expo at the CCCB in Barcelona. I walked around feeling uninspired until I caught myself say something……. It then dawned on me that I was viewing these images in completely the wrong perspective.

What I said was something along the lines of “some of these are composed so badly, how on earth did they get shortlisted”.

A little further I spotted some images I had previously seen as part of a documentary exhibition in London and then something started to niggle at me; the thought I may have been looking at the images in the wrong frame of mind.

The winning image by John Stanmeyer started to make more sense and then I came across an image by a photographer called Goran Tomasevic (Serbia, Reuters). It won first prize for spot news stories; people were sheltering from debris and shrapnel from a bomb blast.

That was when it hit home. Very different circumstances and nowhere near as dangerous but just like my photo-essay that I did with The Royal Marine Commandos, I had very limited choice with regards to composition; these were news stories! Huh!!!! The clue was in the title!!

Feeling a bit of a tit, I went back to the first image and worked my way around the gallery looking at the images with fresh eyes and a changed respect for the photographers and the lengths that people will go to for us to see images of issues affecting people around the world.

Lesson learned: look with open eyes and look at the images in context!

Thanks for stopping.

Jim Jimmy James.