This is the third in this new series called These Three Photographs, where I share three photographs on a similar theme and talk about what they mean to me.
This time around, street strangers.
As a brief background, I hardly ever take any photographs of people outside of my immediate family.
I love the IDEA of “street photography””, as in photographs of people in the streets, but actually embarking on it I find intimidating and more than a little scary.
This first photograph is probably an expression of my own reluctance to photograph people in any way that they might realise I’m doing so, rather than anything sinister.
Looking at it now, as with most photographs, I tend to reduce it down to two things – first the feelings I had taking it (nervous, wary) and second the physical elements, in this case the contrast of the lovely curves of the right side of the woman in comparison with hard straight edge of the fence on the opposite side.
In a way then, this picture is an expression of why the female form is so appealing, which to those who know me is no shocking secret.
This image was taken five years, a time when I did occasionally crop photographs – these days it’s one of my golden rules to not crop.
At the time again I was quite nervous and my heart was racing (almost the polar opposite of the feelings I seek and find in photography nowadays), though I do love the end result.
The look of the women reminds me of my earliest memories of Top Of The Pops and bands like Spandau Ballet and The Human League (you need only watch the first 10 seconds of this classic to see the exquisitely early 80s look I’m talking about).
My positioning opposite a cafe calls Hells Kitchen was intentional, and the attitude in the expression of the women suggests that’s where they’d like me to go.
Ironically, aesthetically the photograph (taken with a Minox 35 and AfgaPhoto APX100) is actually quite similar to the moody, inky black and whites I’ve been taking with my Ricoh digital compacts in the last couple of months.
This image makes me feel happy, nostalgic and about 17. Again these were complete strangers but the scene suggested a slightly awkward geeky boy gently trying to impress the quintessential girl next door with her pale English skin, lithe wrists, vintage 50s-ish patterned dress and quirky glasses.
I remember being like him, always taken with the perfectly imperfect girls far more than the obviously beautiful ones that where well aware of there charms and who everyone cooed around. And how, by simply listening to girls and taking an interest, I befriended a good many, far more than if I’d have tried a more macho and showy approach like most boys.
It makes me wonder what happened with this couple, where they are now, and if he was ever able to develop the relationship in the way he hoped, or if he resigned himself to them dwelling happy ever after in the “friend zone”.
I realise just from how much I’ve been able to write/ramble in this post, that photographing strangers in the street can lead to some interesting (for me at least!) and thought and emotion provoking images.
It’s still something that terrifies me, and, as I said, the opposite of what I want from photography today (to escape from people!) so I can’t see myself returning to the streets any time soon. Well, maybe to photograph the leaves in the gutter or a few weathered doors and half derelict buildings…
How often do you photograph strangers, and how do you feel about it? Please let us know in the comments below.
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