photo essay

Citizen Photojournalism

So we all know that the Television broadcasting agencies in the UK ask for viewers to share their videos of news stories as I am sure happens around the world and the term ‘Citizen Journalist’ has been bounded around for some time.

A while ago I signed up to the Demotix Agency for photographers. I didn’t really use it. To be honest I only put one item on there from an attack on Coca Cola’s head office in Berlin, Germany. It was part of the lead up to the Mayday protests. Some windows had been smashed and I obtained images after the building had been vandalised.

 

Demotix now seems to have sold up and closed. I found this out yesterday (15/02/2017) when I wanted to upload a couple of images of a protest in Paddington.

French employees of Marks and Spencers had come to The M&S head offices in Merchant Square, Paddington, London.

They were protesting against the closures of a number of stores in France. It would appear that M&S claim that they are not making sufficient profits to keep the stores open and the protestors indicated that they do not believe this is the case.

One protestor that I spoke with stated that M&S are making people redundant so they can re-employ people on zero-hours contracts and removal of current employee benefits.

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©2017 jimjimmyjamesphotography.com

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©2017 jimjimmyjamesphotography.com

Please feel free to comment on images on the proviso that it is constructive. If you know more about the French M&S situation please also feel free to fill in the gaps using the comments / reply tab and if you want to suggest a ‘citizen photojournalist’ site for me to look at, that would also be welcomed.

As always, thanks for stopping.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Street photography project

I am about to start a street photography project. While I have shot strangers in the past, this will be different.

In the past I have felt a safe distance away from the subjects in candid shots and those that I have taken portraits of, I’d approached and sought permission.

Street photography is going to take me right out of my comfort zone, candid shots up close and personal. I have a great deal of anxiety about doing this.

Partly because I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I wouldn’t say I’m a handsome chap and I’m not the ugliest creature to walk this earth. I’m not tall or particularly short. I’m a little over weight but I carry it reasonably well… With the exception of sometimes looking like I am stuck in the ’70s & ’80s I think look really very average. so why do I think I stand out..

I’m using a DSLR that is big and unsubtle. Even in soho and the west end of London people do notice the larger more pro looking cameras.

On top of this is body language. This is my Achillies heel.  I have watched a few videos and observed a couple of street photographers and for the most part I am the polar opposite. The photographers that who produce the images I like are almost anonymous in the crowd, even when they are the subject and the photographer are the only two people in the street. They have a way about them; their body language is relaxed, they look non confrontational, they don’t make eye contact, they are quick and agile leaving the subject wondering if they had just had their photo taken and then thinking nothing of it.

Conversely I often get asked if I was in the military and on occasions get asked if I am a police officer. I’m always the person that gets asked for directions; even when out with a group of friends, the baffled looking person that is holding their mobile phone or an A-Z makes their way directly to me.

I think I am observant and aware of my surroundings but I put that down to where I grew up as a kid. I do tend to make eye contact and I can’t help that, I come into contact with a lot of people in my working day, eye contact, facial expression & body language are important. The visual clue is an important part of communication and because I rely on this I may hold eye contact longer than the average person.

Even wearing “normal clothes” I’m just the sort of person that does not blend into my surroundings. So, the reason I have chosen street photography is the challenge. As a genre of photography I have a huge range of options open to me.

I want to shoot soho life, the buildings, the people, the characters, the transient population and the resident community.

My big question at this point, and it really isn’t something I should be concerned with at the moment, is whether to shoot in black & white or colour.

Naturally as I go through the images I will get an idea of any theme in the content but here is the thing:

Lots of street photos are in black and white, often high contrast.

Some say the colour should be as seen and the image processed in a way to reflect the reality.

I personally like slightly desaturated images and this is likely to be my preference for the project but I’m just not sure it will show the grim or vibrance, the poverty, the glamour or the undercurrent of the area.

There seems to be no obvious consensus and it is really just a matter of taste.

If any readers can point me in the direction of any street photographers that use desaturated colour that would be extremely useful but I’d also like your opinion. What is your preference?

Black & white, Coulour: Desaturated or realistic?

No need for postcards, you can answer below…

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy or James

Christmas Magic

Ingredients: Soft pink marshmallows & white tic-tacs.

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Its christmas eve and I am off to work but before I head off I need to do a few things.

Find someone that believes in the magic of christmas.

Have them place some marshmallows onto a plate.

Then plant the the tic-tacs into the marshmallows.

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Leave over night & if that person truly believes in christmas magic, this happens….. They grow into candy canes!!

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Folks.

Jim Jimmy James

Faulty Camera (Part 2)

A while ago I wrote ‘Faulty Camera (Part 1)’. The short version of the story is that I had a camera that I though was too clever for itself and that made it slow.

I started to look for another compact camera (just because of their convenience of being carried day to day). I had pretty much decided on The Canon S120 as the reviews suggested this camera would meet my needs & the other Canon products I have (6D & L-series lenses) are excellent.

However, I had the S100 purchased for me as a present on the back of reviews. Yep you guessed correctly, it was the faulty camera mentioned above & I had some concerns that the S120 would not meet my expectations.

Looking further into this I discovered that there was a fault with my S100 camera……… Lots of emails backwards and forwards with Canon and a little research, along with some helpful advice from the Canon Community forum, led to Canon very kindly offering to carry out a repair at a greatly reduced price. They also provided me with some valuable UK consumer advice.

On the back of this advice the camera was returned to John Lewis.

I’ve always had a positive shopping experience with John Lewis and found the staff knowledgable within their working area, they have also been incredibly polite and helpful. So it was a bit of a shock when I visited a department to discuss the camera and any options for obtaining a repair or upgrade. If I was typing this within an hour of leaving the store it would be full of expletives. The air would be as blue as a blue thing could be!

So it began, a few emails, then they wanted to “send the camera to Canon to get their own report”. Not a problem and finally some movement.

A phone call was received asking me to pick up my S120, then my lap-top! It was very clear that I was not getting any form of  customer service that anyone would expect from John Lewis who really do have a good reputation.

Eventually a qoute was received…… funny thing was that it was to fix something completely different and the camera never went to Canon.

I again had some correspondence with Canon who kindly confirmed that the company that John Lewis had sent the camera to, are not associated with Canon and are not a recognised repair agent for Canon and were wanting to charge for repairs that were not required. Tut Tut!!

John Lewis did end up sending the camera back to Canon to have it repaired at full cost and at the expense of the department.

The ridiculous thing is that I would have been happy to pay the difference between the Canon quote and the cost of the S120. As far as I was concerned this would have been a win win for all involved.

One member of staff not taking two minutes to engage in a polite conversation resulted in what has been a long old, totally avoidable kerfuffle.

I’m pleased to say that I do have the camera back and it is everything I had hoped it would be.

I would point out that Canon were extremely helpful and John Lewis has a good reputation for good reason & I believe my experience was out of the ordinary.

The one bit of advice I would offer to anyone in a similar situation is to make sure you get the right consumer advice for your country/state/provence. Keep accurate records of events, take down names and contact details of people you deal with. Especially if they are helpful. This way you can send a letter/email of thanks rather than just being a moaning mini.

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Taken with a Canon S100. Kaleidoscope telescope inside John Lewis.

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John Lewis shopfront window linked in with their christmas advert.       “Man on the Moon”

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The Canon S100 is convenient & great for ad-hoc composition practice.

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As if by magic and a little reminder that despite a thundery rainy moment, the sun comes out in the end! Looking east along Oxford Street, my beautiful city…. London.

The John Lewis advert “Man on the Moon” supports age UK.

All images taken with a Canon S100.

Thank you for stopping, thank you for reading, thank you for looking at the images. Feel free to comment and do come back again.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

Love locks

Love locks create some debate; some hate them and some love them.

The idea is to symbolise a couples eternal love. Some don’t like the idea and would argue that they find it a symbol of oppression.

My personal opinion is that these love locks are simply a modern version of carving yours and your lovers initials or name into a tree or an old park bench. Is that romantic or just a simple act of vandalism?

Some cities remove the love locks and others just leave them alone. There are arguments that they are a form of vandalism and I have read articles suggesting the extra weight causes structural problems to these fences and bridges.

I can definitely understand removing locks if they are causing damage or weakness to structures and also when they are placed on beautiful or ornate bridges but on a recent visit to Köln (Cologne) we walked across a love lock bridge that crossed The Rhine; I think they added to the aesthetics of what would be a boring mesh pale green fence.

Love locks on a pedestrian and rail bridge in Köln crossing The River Rhine.

Love locks on a pedestrian and rail bridge in Köln crossing The River Rhine.

Spotted a young couple attaching a lock as I approached.

Spotted a young couple attaching a lock as I approached.

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Young couple throwing love lock keys into The River Rhine. Cologne. November 2014.

Young couple throwing love lock keys into The River Rhine. Cologne. November 2014.

All images taken candidly at a much higher ISO than I would have preferred but using a flash would have alerted the couple that they were being photographed. I did approach them after and emailed them the images yesterday evening.

I wish them luck for their future.

Thanks for stopping.

Jim Jimmy James

Commando 999 – Speed March 2014

There is very little I can tell you about The Royal Marines other than they are part of The British Armed Forces and that they have one of the toughest training and selection processes.

I can also tell you that they address one another as ‘Royal’, say “Hoofing” an awful lot and have a tradition of ‘Port Fines’ for minor misbehavior and breeches of etiquette at the dinning table.

I spent a day and evening with some Royal Marines that are current serving, ex-serving, reservists and cadets.

What I witnessed was a sense of fun, respect, camaraderie, love and warmth that is only found in the closest of families and those friends that we hold dear.

I was fortunate to be in the company of these extremely humble people at a time when I had to produce ten images for a photo essay. Commando 999 is a charity that organised this current event where the serving and ex Marines (One was 77 years old) undertook a thirteen mile speed march through London with the cadets joining them for the last three miles.

Distinguished guests included The Prime Minister and high ranking officers within the admiralty and the MOD.

The Military housewives Choir performed on The Mall and at The Regimental Dinner.

The Royal Marines Band also performed their duties at The Graspan Memorial and again at The Regimental Dinner that evening. I managed to take a number of images throughout the day however I was not there in the capacity of a photographer and thus was greatly limited with regards to positioning myself and therefore restricted in composing my images.

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I hope you enjoyed the images that I have selected to share with you. It was a great privilege to follow the event and enjoy their company in the evening.

Thankfully as a civilian I escaped the port fine for not having a self tie dickie bow.

A huge thank you to the organisers of Commando 999 and those taking part for allowing me this opportunity.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James