Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Street Photography Now #5

Why is it every week we get the brief I think 'oh, that sounds better...'  Then I try and urgh... it never is... I either complain of not living somewhere more urban, it being too quiet during the week, bla..bla..I'm boring myself just writing it. 

So this week's instruction is provided by Wolfgang Zurborn. There is an article about his work here. In summary, he views urban signage, clutter and 'noise' as colourful 'visual collages'. His instruction is:
Get lost in a thicket of signs and structures
I was very aware last week how important it is to stick to the brief and also that photographs can easily fall in to the 'documentary' category rather than street photography. To fall within the Street Photography genre, there are certain 'requirements' such as irony, juxtaposition and viewing life without a political or social agenda (see this article on 2point8).  What I have discovered this week is that sometimes you can mentally compose a shot but may have to wait for 'something' to happen. I recall Matt Stuart saying(sorry, I can't recall where) that his front cover image of Street Photography Now resulted from over half an hour of waiting for a pigeon to walk across his line of view!! Up until now, I have ambled slowly around until I see something.  Today, I spotted a location, I stopped and waited.  This was the location I chose:

I liked this location because the man on the poster is looking down at the roadworks and there are signs, disruption and 'mess'. I waited a bit...and then a bit longer... but I kept getting people passing by with no links to the roadworks or the poster. I got bored and abandoned the idea and went to find something else....

...then I looked back and saw a man inspecting the hole with great intent.  I stopped, waited...and he kept on looking down the hole. So I pegged it back to the spot where I was, hoping he wouldn't go by the time I got back... I started to snap.  I got this one...

Chuffed I was, both the poster model and the man are looking at the same thing.  I like the fact that the appearance of the man is somewhat different to the model and he is wearing a cool t-shirt (difficult to see this size).  Then I looked in the top right of the image....printed on the window is 'more choice..more sizes'. Fab. I stayed a little longer and took this...

Yikes...a man walks across my plane of view. Clearly he wasn't happy at my snapping... however, looking back at this image from the safety of my frontroom he makes a great addition to the image, although I must admit I wasn't as aware of his gaze as I am now! Gulp!

So, with the relative 'thicket' of signs, advertisements and roadworks and the dynamic between the three men I am quite triumphant with this image. The shot with just the two men is better composed and preferrable in many ways, but I submitted this last image instead as I liked the 'something' the third man contributes to the image.....

Post Edit (08.11.10):  Just found out that Wolfgang Zurborn has shortlisted this shot as one of eight favourites...pause...just picking my jaw off the floor!!!  See this link here, this is what he said:
The three characters, two real persons and one model on an advertising poster are interacting like in a theatre act of real life. There is a tension between the different kind of men in this photograph. The cut-out from the public space is very good used to support the dramaturgy of the scene.
Top Bananas!!!


  1. That is a fantastic moment captured Penny - I actually know of both of those guys in your picture too and you've really summed them both up to a tee - ha ha! I've really been out of this game too long you know, I'm struggling to seperate documentary and photo journalism (my first love)from "street photography" (the new kid on the block) and haven't been happy with anything I've taken yet, still the project has given me the impetus to keep practising.

  2. Hi Adey,

    Glad you're posting again - I was worried you'd gone AWOL and ditched the camera!!

    As you know it's all fairly new to me too. I feel I'm getting more comfortable with it, although it's all relative. And the difference between soc doc and street photography is challenging us all!! My results have a long, long way to go however I'm less self-conscious taking them which is an improvement. Don't give up, just keep getting out there - and if you work in Whitehaven centre, you can pop out in your lunch break maybe??

    It's quite nice having a new challenge every week - it stops you getting too bogged down!!

    ps. don't tell the camou-man where I live - pleeease!!

  3. I think the picture works really well Penny: all the elements come together perfectly. I have two possibles this week (none as good as this) but am just in from work and feeling a bit fed up and very tired and can't be bothered to process them. I will do eventually. I'll miss the date for submission but that's not so important really.

  4. Thank you Eileen. Looking forward to seeing your submissions for this week. It's keeping us on our toes - the cliches one I think will be much tougher than it sounds. All the best.


  5. Hey Penny - You're famous. Wolfgang chose your image as one of his favourites from instruction #5. Take a look at this link if you haven't already seen it.

  6. I know, how weird is that...chuffed to bits...not saying anything just in case he made a mistake!!!