Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Street Photography Now #7

Oooh, struggling this week and lacking lustre. I find to carry out this weekly instruction I really have to step up in to the zone, a good deal out of my comfortable milieu. Just didn't feel like it today. It's been absolutely piddling it down and blowing a hoolie all day too.  And I'm tiring of not finding enough people and therefore interesting compositions, but I'm now convinced this has to be good training.  I'm hoping instruction #8 might be different as I have two or three things going on this weekend that might give me some more interesting opportunities.

The instruction this week is as follows:

"When you have to shoot: shoot! Don't talk!" - Il Brutto
Make a picture containing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Jens Olof Lasthein

This instruction feels like two different briefs. Again, there has been a number of literal interpretations of the brief in the pool with many photographing a 'trio' of people, things or a combination of the two.  I too have some in my shortlist like that.  Others have considered the Bruce Gilden 'up close', 'in your face' approach to be what Lasthein is after.

I was not familiar with Jans Olof Lasthein before this instruction.  His website is
 here and there is a good interview on blackdogcollective.  There is an interesting quote taken from this interview here:

This was one of the first pictures I remember making me realize the fantastic possibilities of photography to combine realism with imagination, everyday with adventure. Caught in the right moment a situation can contain the heaviest and the lightest in life. I always try to keep that in mind.
I think this gives a good indication of how he approaches his own photography. You could argue that the large body of his work falls within the social documentary genre as he addresses his work with political and environmental issues at the fore.  However, his approach is more akin to a street photographer:
I work rather much in the tradition of street photography meaning I walk a lot, meeting people, photographing them, staying together with them, sometimes 10 minutes, other times days. The most difficult thing working this way is to keep alert, and maintain the belief that just what I´m doing right now is the most important thing to do ever. 
The way I have approached this instruction lacks the gravity much of his work has. There are no social, political or environmental issues inherent at all - it is blatantly shallow I'm afraid. I have taken the shot, not talked or asked permission as suggested. And I have gone for a subtle aesthetic, possibly too subtle but I sort of like it - just don't know if others will too!  Here it is:

Eh? That's the response I got at home.  Yes, should have gone to specsavers!!!  My interpretation is this: The shop frontages take up half the frame each, like ying and yang. Black and white shop frontages - the white bridal shop frontage being the good, the black shop frontage signifying the 'dark-side' or bad and the lady's jacket, flamboyant as it is, is a fusion of black and white, a metaphor of the good and bad that is the human condition. And the jacket, dare I say is, questionably ugly??  Not sure if this take on the brief is too oblique or crap. Best I could do... 


  1. I didn't like this week's theme - I found the second one too literal and the first just didn't make sense as a theme for me.

    I didn't get the yin/yang black/white point in your picture I admit, but I spotted the contrast between the gown and her clothes and wondered if the top was possibly 'ugly'. Looking at the picture makes me think also about the contrast between the idealised perfect bridal dress and a real woman, and that worn but nevertheless resonant concern about the effect being surrounded by idealised perfect female images has on us women. So I think that the picture does communicate some of the messages you were considering.

    I have one that I took while out looking for street signs that is my contribution to the exercise. I'm so backed up with other work that I haven't processed it but I will do a catch-up blog sometime soon. Even though I'm not always entering in time I do find this a useful way to help me look more closely at what's around me and see things I might otherwise have missed.

  2. Thank you Eileen for this. In flickr I choose not to given any description or explanation on the images, which I think sometimes isn't helpful and put my thoughts down here. However, I am really interested in your interpretation of this image which is far more interesting and relevant than where I started, lol!! The black/white is/was too subtle but it is interesting how we all see things slightly differently in an image.

    I look forward to seeing how you tackle these instructions too. They are always trickier than anticipated!!

    Thanks for commenting Eileen