Thursday, 28 October 2010

Street Photography Now #4

I am aware there is a certain amount of debate about the book and this project.  I don't really want to comment on this as the book has yet to arrive and I am still enthusiastically participating in the project four weeks in. I am learning so much in a field I previously was not at all interested in. It slots neatly within the context of my social documentary course and I'm finding it really helpful having a weekly project. 

And also, it is really useful to be among others who are also doing the same thing, seeing how they have interpretated the brief.  It can be quite a solitary occupation normally. This week, due largely to the unusual brief, there has been even more interesting discussion, opinion and diverse interpretation of the brief. This debate is really helping me define the genre of street photography and also the importance of adhering to a brief. 

So the brief provided by Michael Wolf is:

"Document some evidence of human ingenuity that would otherwise go unnoticed. Do it without including any humans in the picture"
There has been quite a lot of discussion as to whether Wolf's work falls within the 'street photography' genre, what should be considered human ingenuity and what then is unnoticed.  From my limited knowledge street photography does seem to be less 'project-led' than other genres.  Whereas Wolf's portfolio on the other hand works by theme with distinct pieces of work. I haven't seen this with other street photographers the same. Work such as Hong Kong Back Door does sit neatly under the SP umbrella whereas some of his other transparent cityscape work less so.

Whilst his portfolio is interesting, bold and varied, I also find it somehow remote - I guess this is probably to do more with geography and subject. It also has a different humour to previous photographer portfolios. I may be wrong but I am sensing that the quintessentially British trait of self-effacing humour is a seam that runs through its street photography too.

In addition, the brief has been tricky this week (well, they all have in their own way).  The dilemma is, if the subject (non-human) is ingenious, you tend to know about it such as a wheel, phone, umbrella and if you haven't noticed it, it tends to be rather unphotogenic such as drains, pipes, telecommunications!! And as soon as you photograph it, it becomes noticed!! Then take out humans and put in the human element and make sure it is comfortable within the street photography genre and suddenly you have a very a tricky brief, a lot of boxes to tick and tough challenge on your hands.

So I haven't had dedicated time this week as it is half term.  But I have three options:

Attempt 1
...ingenious, probably a matter of opinion...unnoticed, probably by many...quirky, yes... humourous, a the brief, sort of...

Or this, attempt 2
...unnoticed by day, ingenious by night... could be considered 'street' photography... more invention probably than the brief, only just... bit of dull pic though!

Oh, I sacked the third...too random!!

I went for attempt one as the image I think is quirky and a bit more fun than the second. It aroused questions with me.


  1. I agree with you - the first picture works really well. I think it's a brilliant visual pun.

    It is nice to see how others get on with the project.

  2. Thanks Eileen. I thought instruction #4 was challenging and was hoping #5 would be more straightforward yet I'm surprised by how few 'thickets' we have over here!!! moan, moan....I'm still enjoying the weekly challenges however!!