Let’s not beat about the bush. Let’s be crystal clear about this. There are many, many people in this world for whom daily life is a constant struggle, an epic battle. Just getting through the day is a gargantuan achievement in itself. The measure of us as human beings and as a civilised society must surely be how we treat and look after those who do not take those things that we do, for granted ? Things like walking, standing up and even breathing and so much more. Never miss out on an opportunity to show kindness.
A Twitter feed I’m following asked the question today; Should Street Photography be made illegal ? The answer my friends is an emphatic NO !
Have you ever been humming a tune, turned the radio on and the exact same tune was playing on the radio ? It happened to me once and it freaked me out, in a good way.
This week some explorer bloke got lost in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. Fortunately he was spotted and a rescue party sent to pick him up. I’ve got a couple of wonderful photography books by Stephen Dupont of his work in PNG as it’s fondly shortened too.
I admire these explorers, men and women for just going out there to some far flung place just to see what it’s like and come back again. I’d have loved to go out to PNG or similar just to come back and say to my mates “It’s a jungle out there” but at my age I’ve neither got the energy, the time or the money.
We tend to think of ‘explorers’ as these people who go off to remote places miles far from what we classify as civilisation with little or no communication and amenities though don’t we but actually this term ‘explore’ or ‘exploration’ if you like can mean so much more. I mean, how many of us can truly say we’ve fully explored our home cities and towns ? I know I haven’t. I live on the edge of the country’s first national park The Peak District and I can honestly say I don’t think I could ever fully explore it if I lived to three hundred; the hills, the valleys, the nooks the crannies. Our towns and cities; the streets, the alleyways, the neighbourhoods, the people? I very often think of my life as one of exploration. Constantly moving forward in space time continuum or whatever, exploring new thoughts, new feelings, new situations.
Photography, going out with a camera is a form of exploration isn’t it ?
We are all Explorers.
I’ve been thinking a lot this past few days about Urban Photography. I’m not one to divide photography into neat little genres and I don’t encourage my readers too either. How does urban photography differ from street photography and does it really matter anyway? The simple answer is no. What really matters in photography, what’s really important is ideas, creativity and critical enquiry. I’ll say it again …….critical enquiry !!
I’ve quickly made a few notes on what I think is worth thinking and researching about on the subject of Urban Photography;
Spaces / Contested Places
How is space occupied and who by ?
Public / Private Ownership …………. Ambiguous spaces.
Nature abhors a vacuum ?
Urban myths – Fact and Fiction
As I am continually assessing my images I’ve also realised that I’ve been documenting the urban environment, particularly my home town for years.
What is this life if full of care we have no time to sit and eat a sandwich?
Urban Photograph or Street Photograph ?
The latest issue of FLIP magazine ( for London Independent Photography) came through the door today. This issue’s theme is Urban. What the difference is between Street Photography and Urban I’m not quite sure but maybe reading this from cover to cover, which I always do, I’ll be more educated. I could also book myself onto a talk given at The Photographers Gallery on Monday 13 Nov 10.30 – 16.00
A symposium of contemporary approaches and debates within the visual and pedagogical practice of urban photography.
Symposium ? That’s a fancy word for meeting or conference. Pedagogical ? That means the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical practise. So basically this meeting is to discuss contemporary approaches and debates ‘within’ looking and the teaching of urban photography ? Strewth ! Will there be alcohol available ? Symposium and Pedagogue are favourite words of the academic photography theorists. There’s loads more.
I’ve been into town today to do a bit of my own urban photography. The image above is hot off the press. My clothes retailer didn’t have anything that took my fancy and the chap who sometimes has interesting photography books has sold the monograph he had on Chernobyl by Robert Pollidori. He got £40 for it online. I’m glad really because I was tempted and now I’m wishing I had because he offered me £30 and it’s £74 on Amazon. Ah well. Meanwhile in Oxfam there were two superb books of the work of Gilbert and George ( Artists) for £30 the pair. I might have to go back and get them tomorrow.
Definitely Urban ? or is it Street ? Oh I don’t know ! what the hell !
I think this is what you call Environmental Portraiture ? I took it two or three years ago in Sheffield while out doing some street photography. I’ve added it to my ongoing English project. A search for national identity blah blah etc. I was struck by the headline on the billboard and the way in which the lady was wrapped up against the cold. The red and the blue in the background help the colour tremendously. Personally I’d have worn a hat but I got talking to her and she allowed me to make a few images. I don’t ask my subjects to smile but I don’t ask them not too either. I say “just be yourself”. There’s nothing worse in a photo than a forced smile, it just shows as forced and if a person is just themselves then whatever mood they’re in will come through in the image.
The image below I called Joint of Ham. It was taken at Flagg Races in the Peak District, an annual horse racing event. These people saw me with my camera and invited me to take their image. They even offered me a glass of wine which was nice of them. I love the way the man is holding the knife. They were having a lovely time. English people like to have a lovely time.