Monday, 24 February 2014

Street Photography Techniques

Colour features in a lot street photography, since the colour medium began in the early 1930s, photographers were not quick to accept that quickly, however three main photographers began to use this medium and lead the way as pioneers of that format. 

©Saul Leiter
Photographers like of those pioneering the medium, William Eggleston, Fred Herzog and Saul Leiter. Yes, there were others too that would eventually follow in their footsteps. However these main three were pushing the envelope on composition, that would incorporate abstract, linear, shapes, texture and in the case of Eggleston the subject matter itself, would become his landmark identifier. 

In the case of Leiter, we see a lot of the subject matter being a singularity, a single colour influence such as his work ‘Pink Umbrella’ one of a series of works centred on an inanimate object sometimes within a pattern perspective or as a stand-alone piece. Leiter went on to produce some of his outstanding works from an abstract perspective, they really are inspiring works of art, that make you feel connected to the subject matter.

Looking at a person standing outside a steamy window during the rainfall, or a traffic signal or even a person sitting in a car, as Eggleston has also captured someone in that similar style.
All three photographers have created profound timeless pieces, one such piece I wanted to share with you was this incredible mass of colour created by Fred Herzog. 

The reason for this is simply because to me, the work is like no other photographer I have seen before, the colour and the layering involved really does make you think, laterally. The works are like puzzles, the reason for this during this era; 1950s, 60s most photographers who were shooting models were still using monochromatic film, for advertising purposes. 

Colour features in magazines were quite pricey, and if this was not in your budget then black and white photography was still the way to go unless, colour was called for. Hence the style of photography of Eggleston, the subjects may not have been composed in such a dramatic aspect like a typical model shoot. 

These were undoubtedly the reasons why these colour aficionados were truly inspiring, masters of colour photography, they quite literally saturated you in colour.
©Fred Herzog / Equinox Gallery
The layers of orange in this composition are resplendent of a sunburst that is so striking, the colour literally jumps out at you. The other aspect to the photograph is how Herzog leads your eye into the photograph, the anchor point is the orange store point and the triangle imposed using the windows, then your eyes move down and towards the fore of the photograph. 

The blue store front, forces your eyes to the left, incredible viewing but this is how Herzog wants you to view the photograph. 

Intelligent composition, I am sure you'll agree. Though the photograph does not depict every colour of the rainbow, it does cover a broad range, and this is what keeps your interest in the work. 

It takes me back to those early days of colour flip charts you remember as a child with the numbers, this is how I perceive the work. 

It is well worth remembering that point too, it is important to know how a photograph makes you or others feel. Eggleston is known taking or rather making photographs of the banal. Most of his photographs have a deep understanding of his origin, his place of being and his very existence. 

For an outsider such as myself or you who is not native to the area of Memphis, then the place may seem rather boring, that is obvious. However for someone who thrives on the unoriginal style of photography, then photographing the obvious is beautifully banal

What I mean by that statement is be mindful of your own style and technique, develop your own style; and do so with the utmost confidence. After all we are all on a learning curve, there are no rosettes for following someone elses' style, so work on your own, be influenced by these past masters and create something anew which is original in execution, as it is with the passion you have to create it. 

©David Rothwell Photography
The image here is something which has been photographed by myself and yet done with the passion, and influence of all three afore mentioned photographers. That is to say it has been captured with the belief that this is art.  The photograph shows a damp day, road works, vibrant colour of red, and amidst the dark and dank interior of the truck, we see the lush green colour of artificial turf and then the punctum in all of this is the yellow glow of the petals of the Daffodils placed atop the artificial turf. 

Why was this? I spotted this scene walking down towards another objective, and from the corner of my peripheral vision; I glanced this deep yellow of those petals. Whilst the empty fluid container mirrors the white graffiti signage in the deep red wall, this was a mass of beautiful colour. 

I had learned that when exclusively shooting in black and white, then when you begin to notice that certain colours, will make for a better monochromatic photograph, the colours begin to 'pop'.  I shot this on digital using my Canon EOS 60D not my usual camera for shooting street photography granted, though I was happy to get the shot by all accounts. 

I feel this photograph makes a bold statement to probably many critics out there, it looks like a boring photograph, yet it is quite banal, and by that definition it is original in its concept, I took one shot of this scene, no more was needed. 

That being said was there any other way of improving this photograph? Not from my perspective, the vehicle was about to move, I only had one chance to get this right, the photograph is very much in focus, the exposure is maybe half a stop under for what it should be. 

That works for me though, otherwise the dark and dank truck interior being too bright, may detract from the bright yellow petals, and thus the emphasis on those flowers is lost. 

So whenever you are out walking the street, keep your eyes open for the less exciting, banal shots. They may seem like a boring photograph, but you never know, that is what the art world may be crying out for. 

Until the next time...