Title: The High Street
Exercise: Find a street that particularly interests you. Shoot 30 colour and 30 black and white images in a street photography style. Reflect on your experience and work.
Approach: I thought about where I wanted to go for some time. I thought about somewhere very ordinary, a town high street that could be anywhere or an area that looks tired and neglected. So, did I go somewhere with obvious character or see how I might work with a place with a less obvious identity. Added to which street photography is not a field I have worked in other than covering some big public events. I was not particularly comfortable about taking my camera out in public and despite reading around the subject still felt unsure about what the ‘rules of the game’ both socially and legally were about photographing people as they go about their daily lives.
Reflections on ‘The High Street’
This was an exercise I enjoyed more than I imagined I would. It was not an area I visit regularly and when I do I tend to be driving through so it is not somewhere I have spent much time observing. I was not at all comfortable about stepping into the High Street with my camera, it felt obtrusive, particularly as most of the time I work with still life and food.
I had decided before I went I would try and avoid shooting people and focus on capturing the essence of the High Street. Inevitably, I did capture people but those shots were generally from behind. Once I got started I began to notice things I had never seen before. I was absorbed by my surroundings and while there were some longer shots that were interesting it was the points of details that increasingly caught my attention.
I did not have a specific plan in relation to shooting in both black and white and colour; in fact part of me thought I might shoot everything in colour and then change some in PS. However, once I got started I saw more and more in terms of colour or black and white, different aspects seemed to lend themselves to different treatment. I also became interested in the ‘traces’ that people leave; in ways to capture everyday life without necessarily having people in the frame. This has perhaps been influenced by looking at the work of the other photographers included in the course.
Colour leant itself to the more everyday, to aspects of action and daily life. The black and white seemed to add drama and emotion. It is not a case for me of whether I preferred one set or the other, they achieved different things. I am pleased with some of the results I got from both. It seems to be a matter of appropriateness – of context and narrative!