Saturday, 19 March 2011

Assignment Four

In the style of…my response
(as per submission)

After submitting assignment three last September I knew Helen Levitt was to be the photographer I would ‘emulate’ for this assignment. It was therefore extremely fortuitous that the Street Photography Now project commenced at the same time.  Every week an established street photographer issues an instruction to an online community. Street photography was an unfamiliar genre to me prior to this so to learn from more experienced street togs and participate has really helped. I have come to realise how inordinately difficult it is to create a good street photograph.  In many ways I think the skills required are greater than with many other more contemplative genres.  You have to be able to ‘see’ the unusual and then have the aptitude, speed and bravery to capture it in a split second before the moment has evaporated.  After spending six months practicing, I have decided you really would need to spend decades at it!

My street photography portfolio I would consider to be ‘bijou’ and a ‘work in progress’. I will not stop practicing and am looking forward to the next few months when the Lakes fill with tourists, and events start to hit the calendar.  Opportunity and serendipity colliding, hopefully!

I have used several locations in putting together this series.  Several mini-breaks in Bridlington have been very fruitful.  Closer to home I have ventured to local towns, villages and tourist hotspots, but with limited success. I have reached a point where I have a rolling set of twelve images whereby I substitute the weakest as I develop and improve.  I understand this will continue indefinitely so must draw the line somewhere.

The following set includes no ‘replicas’ of Levitt’s work. They would indeed be poor imitations and we live in very different times. I have also studied the genre of street photography in depth and have been inspired by other photographers too.  However, I have tried to adopt Levitt’s ability to ‘see’ the world without cynicism or harshness. She was neither intrusive nor imposing. Her subjects appear unnerved by her presence and this is reflected in such natural, un-staged images. There is also a light humour that runs through her images which I think really captures the essence of street life.

Other aspects I have considered:

·      Levitt photographed children. I have tried to capture the youth although given our ‘paranoid’ society, children have felt somewhat ‘out of bounds’.

·      In the spirit of street photography, I have also limited any post-processing, editing or cropping.  I have tried to retain the authenticity of the image by doing this.

·      Levitt’s most famous images are in black and white although she was one of the first pioneers to use colour when it became available. I have been inspired by the colour work of photographers such as Nick Turpin, Martin Parr, Matt Roberts, Nils Jorgensen amongst others. So I have chosen the colour aesthetic for this set. I have also been reluctant to adopt the highly stylised, high contrast, black and white aesthetic that is so often seen within street photography photo-streams.

Being new to the genre I have experimented with different approaches although I have been particularly drawn to humour or slight eccentricities of human nature.  I have also toyed with juxtapositions and the flattening effect of 2d perspectives.

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