The lack of posting on here over the last ten days hasn’t been due to a lack of activity, or reflection.
By the beginning of last week I felt that everything had ‘stalled’ on ‘People Unaware’. There wasn’t a suitable ‘Comfortable Situation’ to kick-start the projects. I had been trying to get out and take some photographs anyway but, useful as that had been, I didn’t feel much of a sense of direction, as the last few posts have indicated. Several factors behind all that – busy with work; time of year; genuine indecision about how I wanted to go about things; lack of opportunity in the local towns to try out some ‘street’ work; and so on. I had no desire to get bogged down, though, and decided to find some time to go into Manchester in the hope and expectation that there would be more opportunities there.
My plan was to visit the city in the middle part of the day when there would be more people around – arrive mid-morning; research one or two likely locations; then go back a do some shooting during the lunchtime period. I chose lunchtime for two reasons – more activity; and a notion that I might start to look at images of people eating in the street/public space for Assignment 2. I gave some thought to equipment and decided that I would ‘travel light’ – either my DSLR and a couple of lenses (one in my pocket), or the Ricoh compact.
Part of my preparation was to go back to the ‘Street Photography Now’ book for inspiration and ideas. I particularly read the first section – Walker Evans’ advice ‘Stare, pry, listen and eavesdrop. Die knowing something’; street photographers’ ‘spontaneous and often subconscious reaction to the fecundity of public life’; ‘... a good street photograph is remarkable because it makes something very ordinary seem extraordinary’; and a paragraph that emphasises that street photographers have lots of failures to get to the outstanding image – ‘What the strongest street photographers possess, in addition to patience and persistence, is the ability to edit’. Also interesting in that first chapter is the notion that many street photographers are shy and sneaky by nature – finding a way of working that suits them. Then there are some comparisons – Cartier-Bresson’s ‘velvet hand and hawk’s eye’; William Klein ‘thriving on confrontation’; Elliott Erwitt and Matt Stuart’s visual fun; Trent Parke’s ‘maverick technical methods’. I also took on board the statement that – ‘By far the majority of street photographers like to blend into the crowd, being as invisible and unobtrusive as possible ...’.