street photography

Post Fools Day!

So April the 2nd got me out of Saturday’s ‘Monday morning blues’.

No banana for brunch!! I had a fab breakfast in bed up & out to shoot some rehearsal images for a mates band, out for dinner with the wife & a quick catch up with some friends. All in all a much better day, as were the third and today.

A little bit of axe playing at home, some reading, some photography and I’m almost ready to go back to work tomorrow. Its been nice to have some time off and even have a good nosy around the world wide web looking for a bit of inspiration for my 365 project. Its tough to do. Really tough and I have struggled.

I think it was on flickr or somewhere that I got directed to a blog of a fella that was doing a 365 of selfies. If you know me or follow my flickr, instagram or on here, you’ll know I hate being on the lens side of the camera so when I had a look at this blog here: Idiot with a camera. I did my norm and headed to the beginning. Why? Well I like to look at the images at the beginning and then see how their photographic style and content may have changed. It just makes sense to me, in fact the only reason I have a blog page is primarily so that I can look back over the pages and see how I have grown as a photographer, if at all…….

Anyhow I ended up getting drawn into the above blog partly because the selfies were not the kind that scream Hey! Look at me.

They also appear to be mostly normal day-to-day images and not the elaborately planned style found here. Again, great photographs but for different reasons.

One thing that is very clear reading his blog is that Australia and the UK appear to be worlds apart.

Another person whose life is worlds apart from mine is that of Sir Elton John. I went to see an exhibition at the Tate Modern today The Radical Eye.

Hells teeth he has a lot of important photographs and it was great to see some of these in this format rather than published in a book.

So, hopefully if you followed the links you are not all photo’d out for the day because here is one of mine from today:

DSCF7621

These people had become art as they walked around a smoke/dry ice installation. It was really interesting to see how different people behaved while we observed them.

As always, thanks for stopping.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

 

 

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.

img_2497

©2017 jimjimmyjamesphotography.com

img_2496

©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

10 of 365photo project.

To see the album please follow the link: My 365 photo project on Flickr.

These following images are just three random photos taken on the way home.

dscf6307-edit

dscf6312

dscf6324

Images all taken on a Fuji XT2. Thanks for stopping and looking.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Book Review #10

Well I wasn’t expecting to do a single book review so its a bit of a surprise to be sitting here typing review number 10.

The New Street Photographer’s Manifesto by Tanya Nagar: ILEX Publishing. Okay its not a new book. It was first published in 2012 but I’ve only just discovered it as I plan a street photography project.

This little book is small enough to almost be a field guide. Very handy size for reading on the tube (London Underground) and also just sitting in a little coffee shop. That might sound obvious but some photography books are just a bit too big and bulky when commuting.

The book is well laid out in bite sized sections with good advice that some will say is just common sense but to the more novice photographer and those inexperienced with the genre of street photography, this book is really informative and is going to give you the-heads-up.

There are good examples on composition as well as other hints and tips along with a handful of suggested street photographers for the reader to review. In doing so, Nagar introduces the reader to the serious nature of street photography and photojournalism as-well-as the odd and humorous.

After reading this book I’ve felt inspired in ways that I wasn’t expecting and have ideas for a couple of additional projects. (Bonus!).

Was it worth the £9.99 that it cost me? Yes & it is one of those books that I will keep for future reference.

I do have one criticism & I hope, if the author sees this review, they take note for any reprints….

There is a suggestion that you, the photographer may want to wear headphones as this might make people less likely to approach or confront you when they suspect you have taken photos of them. This may well be true and it may well give you some confidence to take those awkward shots that everyone starting out feels uncomfortable taking. However, this is not necessarily the best thing to do in London.

We Brits drive on the correct side of the road, while much of the world thinks they are in the right because the drive on the right, they’re wrong! (But thats for another blog or conversation).

Our roads are busy and it is my personal opinion that driving standards are not what they used to be. Vehicles are also quieter than they used to be and many collisions between buses and pedestrians involve tourists that have looked in the wrong direction before they go stepping out into the road… Best not to stick headphones over or in your ears because even without playing music, they will reduce your awareness of your surroundings.

Now we are talking about your surroundings, as a Londoner I am going to tell you that I live in a fantastic city. I would love to visit London as a tourist. Its beautiful and it has so so so much to see and do.

In London we have a lot of CCTV to help solve crime but unfortunately this does not necessarily prevent crime!

The metropolitan police service does a great job at keeping Londoners and visitors safe but the police officers cannot be everywhere.

In busy tourist areas there will be a number of undercover officers looking pickpockets, distraction thefts and old fashioned muggers but as I said, they cannot be everywhere.

That said, London is a safe city; its a very safe city. Really, you should feel comfortable walking around any part of London BUT I want you to be aware of this: If you are walking around with headphones on, you may well look distracted. As with any city a distracted person is more likely to be a victim of crime compared to someone who appears alert to their surroundings. Common sense?! But sometimes the obvious needs to be pointed out.

If you are planning a street photography project buy this book but scrub the suggestion of wearing headphones. Even somewhere as safe as London.

If you’re a street photographer why not share some hints and tips or even feel free to post a link to your site in the comments.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Ps. The usual disclaimer: I have nothing to do with the publishers or Author Tanya Nagar.

 

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

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.

IMG_0044

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

IMG_0046

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

IMG_0048-Edit

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

IMG_0029

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.

A Portrait

I wrote about a class outing to Leicester Square in London and spotting Mr. Warwick Davis.

Ordinarily if I spot celebs doing their thang I will just leave them be.

However, on this occasion Mr. Davis looked like he was just heading from A to B and happy to share a few seconds with people.

I asked if I could take a quick portrait and the intention was to ask if I could add him to my 100 strangers project on Flickr.

He was happy to stop and pose briefly but I didn’t get the chance to ask about my Flickr project because others started asking for selfies with him.

I’m fairly certain he would have no concerns about sharing the image on Flickr but the group rules are very clear, permission must be granted to post on their page. So for the time being my Warwick Davis portrait will not appear as one of my 100 strangers.

I actually wasn’t going to post the image here either but two people have asked to see it.

The story behind this image was a college trip to Leicester Square. I was struggling a little until I spied Warwick Davis and had taken his portrait.

He seemed a bit taken aback when I asked to take his portrait but he is probably used to just being papped.

Regular readers will know that is not how I do things.

Although I say he did not seem in a great hurry, he clearly was heading somewhere and I knew I would only have a few seconds with him.

I decided there was not going to be time to fart-arse around changing my lens.

The class project also had to be shot in landscape view so my head was not thinking in terms of portraits and bumping into Mr. Davis was totally unexpected.

IMG_5840-Edit12015-04-16-2

As a quick shot I’m actually reasonably pleased with this portrait. Had I felt I had a couple of minutes I would have considered the background a little more. (As it is I photoshopped out a sign that was at the side of his head).

I would have considered using a slightly shallower depth of field and I should have used the camera in portrait view. I also could have changed the focal length of 35mm by zooming to 70mm.

My personal criticism is that I didn’t notice and take a second to ask him to move his jacket a smidgen so that I could get the full slogan on his shirt.

That said, I certainly wouldn’t consider the portrait a failure.

As always the unexpected opportunity presented itself and has been a valuable lesson in my development.

Constructive comments are welcome.

I’d like to thank Mr. Davis for his time and thank you for reading my blog.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James

Framed

Twenty-three days ago I wrote Book review #4 about The Photographers Eye by Michael Freeman. I was left with mixed opinions about whether or not the information was going to be of any use to me.

Well it has, I think?

Our class were taken to Leicester Square in London. We were told to go and take lots of photos and then try to focus on one subject so that we could produce and print a small photo-book.

I’ve known Leicester Sq. since my teenage years (that was some time ago!). For me it is nothing more than an overcrowded tourist trap with its bright lights. It has very average restaurants, a couple of bars & the M&Ms store!

There are pick-pockets, drug dealers, people looking for alcohol fuelled punch-ups and some other people milling around that are intoxicated on other substances.

That said there is an obvious uniformed police presence and no doubt a number of police officers in civilian clothing. It is certainly a lot safer than it used to be and as is the case in most big cities, tourists just need be aware of their surroundings and not to leave personal belongings unattended.

So, our class with nice cameras is wondering around this small area that I personally find hugely uninspiring and we are expected to produce a themed set of images.

I suspected we’d all end up with something very similar but I was wrong. I was really pleased to see that we all had very different ideas and everyone had fantastic sets of images.

I’m not overly keen on the images I took but I am going to share a few with you.

I wasn’t doing very well until I spotted Warwick Davis and thought its a good job he had people with him… I’m not a big chap, a little heavier than I should be but pretty average as far as height goes. I get annoyed at being walked into and barged by people not looking where they are going or those that are just too stoned to care who they are walking into; the ditzy, the oblivious and the nonchalant.

I couldn’t stand the thought of being in such a busy area if I was shorter, I think it would feel frustrating and claustrophobic.

I asked Mr. Davis if I could take his portrait. That is probably more annoying for him?! Especially when he is trying to get somewhere. Anyway, he very kindly stopped and posed for a moment.

On one knee I was at his eye level and then I wondered what the view would be like if Warwick Davies had the camera….

Most of the images looking ahead were not interesting and did feel crowded with people but one image I took was framed. Framed looks good I thought to myself, where did I read about framing images with surroundings. Yep you’ve guessed it; The Photographers Eye.

So I had a theme, get low and look for frames. I also opted to keep the focal length at 35mm.

I guess my images were inspired by Michael Freeman & Warwick Davis. IMG_607742015-04-23IMG_606752015-04-23IMG_602932015-04-22IMG_585522015-04-16IMG_584812015-04-16

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and view my images.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.

Its all about the light. Again!

Playing with light, well actually understanding light rather than playing with it will take my photography into another level. I like natural light but haven’t really learned a massive amount about how to use it to my benefit. Although I’m not doing to badly at getting reasonable portraits. I did the candid strangers project to get me thinking quickly on my feet about the ever changing light situations from walking on the sunny side of the road to suddenly wanting to take a photo on the side that was shady or just about to take a candid image of a stranger and the cloud would clear and change everything. It was a good experience, often it was just simply changing my shutter speed, sometimes altering the ISO and on the odd occasion having to think about the exposure triangle in its entirety. I can hear people now saying ‘thats not complicated’. If you are one of those then all I will ask is that you take yourself back to when you started out. Yes once it is explained the concept is easy to understand but putting it into practice and feeling comfortable with it is one thing, its another thing when you need to do it quickly to get candid street portraits. However this was simply a project to get me thinking about exposure. Now I’m moving on and thinking about light modeling. Using light to add interest and another dimension to my images rather than relying on depth of field. When it comes to taking portraits of total strangers I am sure that I will feel like a total wally when I pull out my newly acquired reflector. However, I am following a couple of photographers on flickr that use reflectors and it seems like an easy way to sculpt light, lift shadows and even block out some harsh light. I just need to get over the fear of whipping it out in public. The reflector! Any regular reader will know I joined a flickr group to capture portraits of 100 strangers but this time with their permission and posed. This is majorly stressful for me, I like to do my own thing and just blend into the background. None the less I joined the group as a personal challenge and in the hope of improving my portraiture. Here are a couple of the photographers that I have started to follow…Iain BlakeTerry Lok,  Al Fed,  Barbara Asboth and Arnab Ghosal.  They’ve all given me a warm welcome to the online group and importantly for me, feed back on my images. I’m sure I will learn more from them as I progress through the challenge. If you have time please have a look at their work. They might even inspire you to join in and I hope an old friend that has been supportive throughout my learning might even fancy a go and dust off his camera. So….. learning about light also means learning artificial lighting. There is a huge amount to learn and I have jumped in head first with regards to using flash. My camera does not have a pop up flash built in to the body but I did that was intentional. I knew I would want to use more interesting lighting. Another group on flickr is where I plan on learning about lights. I think however I might have dive-bombed into flash photography when I should have perhaps dipped my toes in first. I have been using the flash on manual when I might have been better starting with the automatic side of things and looking at flash exposure compensation. I need to have a good look at this and once I get that under my belt I can start to think about looking at flash in more depth. Also the joy & expense of buying light modifiers. Anyway, enough waffle from me. Here are some images taken in Camden recently and one has been added to my new 100 strangers album.

At an event in Camden I introduced myself to Dennis and asked if he would sit for his portrait to be taken.

At an event in Camden I introduced myself to Dennis and asked if he would sit for his portrait to be taken.

IMG_0249-2

Dennis was more than happy to have Norman Jay MBE gate crash the photo shoot.

Dennis was more than happy to have Norman Jay MBE gate crash the photo shoot.

IMG_0243

I think the first image is pretty cool in black and white. It needed some work on the sun glasses to remove the flash reflection and the scooter reflection. Image two I will probably submit as part of my city and guilds work. Image three was very rushed, the light had been moved and I was concentrating on that more than changing my aperture. That said, I think the slight softness, although not ideal, is acceptable. If its good enough for Pierre Bresson (I recently viewed some of his work in Piccadilly) then it is good enough for me. In image four I like the point of view but knew the mannequin behind my subject would be a problem. I wish I had the balls to just move it or at least have asked the stall holder to shift it for a couple of minutes. If I was using the image for anything I would naturally try to deal with the flash in the glasses and remove the few rain spots on Dennis’ parker. Thank you Dennis for being a patient model and thank you Norman Jay (MBE) for the guest appearance. As always, thank you for visiting my blog. Jim Jimmy James

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.

IMG_4644

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

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James