Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One of the things that gives me most pleasure when taking pictures is street photography, a vague and amorphous term which covers any number of situations. Basically, it means taking photographs of people you don't know in public settings. It's kind of scary as pointing a camera at strangers can generate any number of reactions, not all of them pleasant. Still, I enjoy the idea of capturing just a taste of everyday life and, if I'm really lucky capturing what the brilliant photographer, Cartier-Bresson famously called "the decisive moment", a gorgeous slice of exquisite reality.

May Day 2007, Thessaloniki

But for me an even greater challenge is street portraiture, i.e taking a close up shot of a complete stranger whose features are compelling. It's not something I do lightly as you have to be bold and up front. No furtive paparazzi shots taken with a telephoto lens at 300m. No, this means walking up to complete strangers and asking to take their photo. It goes against all my inner instincts and gives me no end of worry, yet the pay off is that I've been able to take some wonderful images of people.

Street portrait

The other good point about such an approach is that you avoid treating people as if they were some exotic yet dangerous animal in a safari park. It's a chance to depict another person's humanity, no matter what their circumstances.


In this I've been inspired by the work of Don McCullin who photographed some of the world's most violent conflicts. whenever I feel apprehensive about approaching someone I just say to be myself,

"What are you risking? "

In essence, nothing. Certainly nothing compared with the risks McMcullin took in order to get his images.

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