Today, I took the (inevitably delayed) train to London to do some work. As such a busy and buzzing place, I had great expectations for what I could acheive and was very excited to be going. But when I arrived I felt a bit overwhelmed. Some of the popular areas, such as China Town and Piccadily Circus, were absolutely rammed with people, street entertainers creating dams of people watching who were then blocking the thoroughfare of others, including myself. The crowds were so dense that a lot of the time it was difficult to get many sucessfull images in my normal style.
Narratives, characters and quirks were hidden amongst scores of people marching shoulder to shoulder through the streets. The obvious subjects for me tended to be tourists who took the time to stop and 'tourist' giving me the opportunity to move around them into a position that I wanted to shoot from. But largely the day consisted of me looking for areas that could proffer an opportunity of someone enagaging within the space in an intrinsic way. Naturally I was rewarded with such opportunities, but mostly I felt stunted by the volume of people and unprepared to work even faster than I previously thought i was!
The final results from the day were that I found I took a lot less images than before, spent a lot more money in doing so, and got 8-10 images that could make the final edit.
I took the camera out today, very much wanting to shoot in a more obviously surveillance manner - using parts of the car to block or blure out certain aspects of my image, or shooting into my subjects cars - peeking at them through windows or bars and becuase of the, the style of work feels very different to my other shots. Some of these may appear visually truer to my initial objective, but to me they dont have such an interesting narrative - they lack enthusiasm, life, colour (drained away by shooting through dirty car windows etc) some of them have worked really well, for example I really like the people crossing the road with two people in wheelchairs - theres a lot going on in the photo - lots of intersting lines and forms created by the multiple directions of all the people points of view contained in the frame.
What I love abut these few images by Mark Neville is the disconnection between the subjects and the camera. I'm sure the people new all too well of Nevilles presence, but these shots were captured candidly and without the subjects knowledge. This allows me as a viewer to delve in deeper, look closer and 'see' better without the distraction of direct contact made by the subject looking back at me. I can survey the whole scene almost segmented by the framing and composition like a Hockney. There are obvious points that my eye is drawn to initially, but soon after I am able to gaze over other areas corner to corner and see - really see!
"Born in Paris in 1953, controversial artist Sophie Calle employs any means necessary to find adequate methods of self-expression. Famous for her unique observational tactics and outright invasion of her subjects’ privacy, Calle has pushed past the social and formal boundaries of photography in order to fully explore identity."
I have always felt compelled to Sophie Calle, her work is significant to me in that I admire her eccentricity, concepts and frankly her somewhat cavalier approach to making work. Unbound by the usual constraints of ethic and morality, Calle doggedly persues her work/theme often putting herself at great risk in order to not only create images but to fully immerse herself in the sensation of the concept. Calles work is very much about herself in this sense, she explores her ideas at a greater personal depth than her contemporaries and as such, for me, she becomes the embodiment of the work. Her actual finished photos are really not as important to me as her character and style of working.
In this photobook conceived and edited by Stephen Gill, mail carriers from the Royal Mail share their unique views on British society and culture along their postal routes.
Photographs by The Royal Mail, conceived and edited by Stephen Gill
"In this age when many famous fine art photographers and photojournalists strive to capture the mundane, the banal, the everyday reality of our existence, it is like a breath of fresh air to come upon this unique collection of inexpensive snapshots taken by inexperienced camera operators.
These are truly delightful photos of ordinary day-in-the life experiences taken by the men and women who deliver the mail throughout Great Britain.
This project — conceived, managed and edited by the young photographer Stephen Gill — offered the free use of disposable cameras to every member of the Royal Mail. Hundreds took him up on the offer, and as a result, Gill painstakingly reviewed over 30,000 images to end up with the best of the best. It is apparent that everyone had fun in the process.
The goal was to create intimate documentary views of the UK that are rarely seen except by postal carriers, utility workers, garbage collectors, and so on.
Why? Because it might be interesting to see a country, more or less in real-time, from such a privileged vantage point.
How to get everyone on board with the idea? Promise to publish a tightly edited book and sell lots of copies to benefit a charitable organization.
In addition to a wonderful collection of photos (printed and sequenced beautifully), the reader is rewarded by thoughtful essays, and hilarious, heart-warming hand-written notes that accompanied the cameras on their return to the organizers of the event. You can (and should) buy it online from the Royal Mail."
— Jim Casper
I like how the adults in the pictures are not looking at the camera, seemingly unaware of their participation in the project. The use of cheap, colour film cameras add an appealing colourful and high contrast aesthetic finish to the work, which in itself adds credibility to the 'truth' of the images. The fact that the adults are not looking, allows for the viewer to become more voyeuristic, it is less confrontational you can REALLY look, surveying the scene, make judgements or simply observe. It allows you to sympathise, empathise or place yourself socially in comparison to the subject. I think this is very powerful and definitely something I can keen to adopt in my own practice.
So today I found myself with a spare hour so I decided to sit in my car in a public car park in Tewkesbury with the 120-400mm lens and my Nikon d810 and see if I could get much - and be brave enough to do this in my home town. After wasting 15-20 minutes of time not having the courage to start, I finally got on with it an am rather pleased with my results. These are a selection from about 80 images shot - I particularly like the middle bottom one of the two guys, the top row with the man in a hi-vis vest talking to someone in a car and the chap in red with the gingerbreadman in the shot - i think these are the strongest images as they carry a lot of narrative due to the subjects body language, position within their frames and the crop of the photos.
“The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
I feel there are some very successful shots taken amongst this batch. Interesting dichotomies, tensions and dialects between some of the characters and the way they unintentionally interact with their backgrounds. However, I do feel the 'in car shots' are getting more 'samey' and i am not enjoying the process of making them as much as i had previously thought. Instead I am enjoying a more 'Henri Cartier Bresson approach' of the 'Decisive Moment', in that I take delight in finding an interesting background and then waiting until such a time that someone interacts unknowingly within the space and background; creating narrative, being watched - consumed with inner thoughts or outward tasks oblivious to the incidental and many digital reproductions of themselves and for what purpose or by whom they are harvested.