Photography, photojournalism

Some thoughts on street photography

Assignment no.2 has been dispensed, and the theme is street photography/the moment. Two very different things, yet very similar. Over the past two years I’ve spent a lot of time looking at photographs, probably way too much time.

I now have a vast record of street/moment images stored in my head. Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Bruce Gilden, Tony Ray Jones, Joel Meyerowitz, and Trent Parke, to name but a few. What good is this mental library of images? Will they help  improve my photography?

Looking at all of those images has helped me somewhat to recognise what makes a good photograph, the preparation, and sometimes, luck involved. The time has come to put these images in the background and try let my voice, my viewpoint, emerge in my photographs; to try and develop some kind of recognisable personal style.

I am reminded of a quote which came to me via Bruce Parry’s Arctic series. The words came from a Siberian shaman, and somehow, at this moment, they feel relevant:

“try to think less and feel more, try to ignore the endless barrage of information”

Photography, photojournalism

The Potters Yard photo-shoot

Today I got to visit The Potters Yard in Rathangan, Duncormick, County Wexford. Owner Patricia Howard was very generous with her time and offered to do a demonstration throwing specifically for my photojournalism practice.  Ive always been interested in pottery, and not just after watching Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze getting down and dirty in Ghost.

This was my third photo-shoot for the Photojournalism practice, and I realised that i have been drawn to the individual at work; rugmaker, tattoo artist, clay potter: All traditional Irish crafts.

The photos were made indoors. The light was a bit brighter than the previous shoots, where, restricted to 400 ISO, i was forced to use wide apertures; mostly 1.4, 1.8, and 2.0. With the potters wheel against the wall I was somewhat restricted with shooting angles. However, I made the most of it and had a good ‘ol chat with Patricia while we both worked. I got a little distracted at times and should have paid more attention to what i was doing rather than discussing the state of the nation.

Photography, photojournalism

Photoshoot at Wexford Tattoo_Photojournalism Practice

Today I spent an hour or so shooting Kevin Killeen, master tattooist, at work in his Wexford Tattoo studio. A real professional, and good taste in music too; Hank Williams just got a new fan.

I felt a bit like a mosquito buzzing round the relatively small studio trying to land in the right places to get the best shots. At times i found myself wanting a 35mm lens; sometimes the 50mm is just not wide enough. I sold my 24-105mm last year; it was big and slow, and, besides, my photography improved using only one focal length; the 50mm.

After shooting off approx 100 frames, I thanks the lads and said my goodbyes. I knew i had got a few good shots, but i felt that somehow i didn’t get THE shot. did you ever get that feeling? Its important to know when to stop shooting, and when to hang around that little bit longer, just in case….


Photoshoot at Ceadogan Rugs

After a two-and-a-half hour photoshoot, I’m engaged in a struggle with Photoshop to do some batch processing on 250 RAW files. Turns out – after much hair tearing and swearing at the monitor – I need to create an action to custom process the files to low res monochrome to make them suitable for uploading to photoshelter for review on Friday.  Something is happening with the program as i speak but i have yet to see the finished result. fingers crossed….

Dennis Kenny of Ceadogan Rugs, Bannow, County Wexford, was kind enough to allow me to photoshoot the rugmaking process, or part of, and gave me a great tour and introduction to the world of Rug making.  He was very generous with his time and took me through the whole process so that i might better understand, and thus make better photos.

The project brief calls for monochrome images. Pity, as the colours at Ceadogan Rugs are magnificent.


Blue Monday

Monday morning and i haven’t yet done any photoshoots for the PAW assignment: Photographing Hanna (wife) cutting Noah’s (son) hair doesn’t really count does it? I did get some nice images from the session.

I’m putting as lot of pressure on myself. To follow in the footsteps of great photojournalists like W. Eugene Smith, Philip Jones Griffith, James Nachtewy, Don McCullin, is very daunting. All great photographers. Heroes of photography.

Of course I don’t plan on becoming a war photographer. I live in the countryside with my wife and two kids, and the pace of life here is pretty slow. most people I know are now out of work, at least in the architecture/construction industry.  I want to photograph something relevant to today, and something relevant to the area in which i live.

The only digital camera i have is a canon 5d and the only lens i have for this is a 50mm f/1.4. a great lens and very useful. when used the right, it can produce images that look like they have been made with a 35mm lens.  The battery is charged, the memory card empty, so here i go. watch this space….