Whats The Plan ?

As another year of Street Photography gets underway , its time to make plans for the months ahead, the flat lighting and lower temperatures might not be motivating you at the moment but its time to establish a few aims and objectives 

Review the past year , use the "WHY" question to analyse your successes, motivations and failures , establish in your mind what success is, success comes in different shapes and sizes and can only be measured on a personal level . The pictures and activities that make you happiest are the ones that you should consider to be the most successful, , my Street Photography is undertaken with a smile on my face , sometimes I actually laugh out loud at the things I see and shoot on the streets.  I hope this shows in my pictures.

Remember a bad days Street Photography is better than a good day at work !

Plan to shoot a few events this year or challenge yourself to shoot a few different cities . While on the subject of shooting cities, try to establish a street photography route in the city you shoot most , you'll be surprised by how much a established route changes once you start looking deeper on a regular basis, you will also become aware of how the light changes throughout the day, allowing you to predict and exploit the best light. 

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Plan to shoot different , try long exposures, blur, flash, high view points and low view points, embrace alternative techniques, this will help you to grow and learn as a photographer.

Decide what you want to achieve this year and take action to make it happen , if you fail to get "the" shot you want, return again and again until you get what you want , the picture below might look like a casual capture however it did not give itself up easily ! Eventually (3 Years later) I got it !

 

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I tried to shoot this scene in a rain storm without success, the bottom line is that all weather conditions can be the right conditions if you have a few ideas put aside, ready to be used on , dare I say it "a rainy day" !

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I hope this piece has inspired you to set aside a few dates in your diary, to do something different this year or even revisit a location that did not deliver for you last time. 

Although most of us embrace a spontaneous photographic approach on the streets this does not exclude us from being organised and making plans, setting time aside for your street photography will help you to achieve more, it will also give you something relaxing to plan around and look forward too  , 

Persperation or Inspiration ?

 

Keep it real !

 

Hello 2018 !

Ready or not the new year is here !                                                                                                                                                                                     The fireworks have gone, so its important that your hangover from 2017 doesn't last for the next twelve months, its time to initiate new projects, bin the stuff that didn't work out in 2017 and  develop your ideas, this is not a rehearsal !  

How can you move your Street Photography forward this year ?

My search for change and progress is not based on dissatisfaction of my current practice, my search is  based on a journey of change and inquiry.  I may not be moving forward but I know I am not standing still, visual questions need to be asked and answered ?                                        Doing things how you have always done them will create the results you have always had !        Embrace and seek change, change your mindset ,  change your focal length , change the locations, change, change, change, change and don't fear failure , failure is the food of creativity, learning and progress.

Think like a student no matter how long you've been shooting "Street" !  Photographic technique is becoming easier to learn , don't spend your time pixel peeping, instead show a active interest in Art , the cubists, surrealists and impressionists have many lessons for photographers with curious minds.

Look deeper , shoot  sets of pictures . Notice I used the word set not series , I understand that many photographers feel that the idea of shooting in series is pretentious and conflicts with purest principles of the "Street Photography Moment" !   Don't get caught up with the semantics , sets of images allow the author to develop a deeper narrative that can engage viewers on a different level to the sublime one off captures we usually crave. Shoot a set this year, just five or six pix, keep shooting it until it develops a rhythm and flow that works.

Care less about what others think , these are your images, this is your journey and this is your life . Should you wish to become a sheep become a black one, better still become a wolf, the world has enough sheep !    Be cautious of wolves dressed as shepherds !!!

The best advice I can give for 2018 is to stop taking pictures when your not feeling it, too many photographers create unsustainable workloads for themselves,  a dedicated street photography commitment is a huge undertaking especially when it is  combined with work and family commitments. Remember what is important to you and yours .

Ensure your photography is created on your terms and for the best of reasons . The greatest reward a photographer can / should expect is the thrill of a meaningful capture, everything else is just window dressing. 

Taking my own advice I'm going stop writing this now as I have some other stuff to do, best wishes for the next twelve months.

Keep it real in 2018 !

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Bye , Bye 2017 !

As this year draws to its end I thought I would review the year and some of the captures I made, this year started like any other , I had few expectations as is my default position, however 2017 delivered a few very welcome photographic surprises !

The year started with the acquisition of a large blue mirror from a charity shop, this was the beginning of The Blue Frames project , this project was full of visual surprises and was great fun to shoot, sadly I failed to maintain it for the full 52 weeks that I intended , I am quite proud of this set of pictures especially as one from this new series was to be selected for exhibition in a leading UK photo festival before the year was out.

 

Blue Frame No 2.

Blue Frame No 2.

I was delighted to have 3 of my Durham Miners Gala pictures included in the Reclaim Photography Exhibition ,which is a free event hosted in the West Midlands annually. This show is open to all photographers, I was fortunate enough to view the 2017 festival in the company of my friends Peter Barton and Stephen Curry, it was a memorable day.     

The 2018 Reclaim Photography Festival Exhibition is open for entries now , the theme is "Reclaiming The Future" , the show welcomes entries in all styles including "Street " !

 

Durham Miners Gala, part of the 2017 Reclaim Exhibition.

Durham Miners Gala, part of the 2017 Reclaim Exhibition.

As the year progressed I picked up a few shots for The State Of Britain project although I became aware that I had not really managed anything that gave me the "Buzz" that feeds my search for Street Photography. That was until June 19th when the elements aligned and conspired to confront me with a very unusual  view of a young woman carrying a head under her arm, this image went on to become a finalist in the Lensculture Street Photography awards and was exhibited in San Francisco .

 

While All Around Are Losing Theirs, 2017

While All Around Are Losing Theirs, 2017

One of the Blue Frames series was selected for exhibition as part of the PhotoOxford festival open call . This selection process was done via Photo Crowd , which is the strangest photo community I have ever been part of , I won't go into how it works here, but will never forget or repeat the "experience" !

This Blue Frame made it to the Oxford photo festival..

This Blue Frame made it to the Oxford photo festival..

 

My involvement in the Oxford festival earned me a invitation to Martin Parrs, Oxford opening night exhibition , sadly I was unable to attend due to other commitments, apologies to Mr Parr !

Looking back, this year has been very kind to me .I have already shot my set of images for the Reclaim Festival entitled, There Are No Launderettes In Outer Space , which could be the craziest set of pix I've ever made and have discovered a set of pix that I had created over time that appear to live well alongside each other , they were never intended to be a series  (Tomorrow Was Created Yesterday).

The take away point of all this for me is that you never know when or where your best images are going to turn up or how these pictures will be received by others , the secret is to stay optimistic and have fun with your photography, create for yourself with few expectations, this creates a win  win mentality and enhances your feelings of independence and creative freedom. 

I hope you create loads of happy memories and great pictures during the next year , best wishes for the remainder of 2017 and the new year ahead..

Keep it real in 2018 !

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

When the turkeys in the oven & the Christmas presents are bought and Santa's in his module he's an American Astronaut.. 

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TOMORROW was created yesterday

                                                                                                                                        

This is the story of how a building site helped me discover a new way of seeing how times past relate to now, !

On first inspection this photographic series might appear to be the product of digital manipulation , however ,  the collisions of time & coincidence seen here are created by a unlikely serendipitous reality, which is a bi-product of numerous mundane parking, security and public safety requirements !

All of the views here are as found and captured without my intervention.

These simple photographs show how a unremarkable demolition / construction site became the subject of my photographic attentions for more than a year due to the way a historically themed fence appeared to relate, evolve and juxtapose with life today.    The more I looked at the historic photographic representations on this perimeter fence the more I noticed the surprising visual insights and contrasts that existed between modernity and nostalgia. .  

 The story starts in November 2016 when I capture a image of a modern hi-tech jogger running past what was then a demolition site, at first glance the runner appears to be in a a 100 year old street scene, however, the scene behind the runner is monochrome, while the runner enjoys full-colour representation ?   This image was the first image that suggested a form of visual time travel to me that was worthy of further investigation !

Following this capture I revisited the site over the following year, at first I thought these images were a bit of fun, but eventually it dawned  on me  that these images were offering interesting interactions that displayed elements of wit and social comment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I adopted this location as part of my Street Photography route but I did not plan for these individual captures to be seen collectively , slowly I was getting drawn into how the saturated high visibility of the 21st century looked displaced against the nostalgic monochromatic streets of earlier times. . I eventually learned that these pictures possess a deeper significance as a body of work . 

This unique perspective shows how a small part of a evolving British city can reveal a unexpected narrative of how scenes from the past maintain a surprising connection with life today !

These pictures document how our urban environments will always be unfinished work's in progress. They also reveal how the past , present and future can conspire to create a contradictry reality we refer to as now ! 

 

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Quote ..

A quote from Stuart Paton , taken from a Arek Rataj interview. 

 I think we have to be aware that certain visual criteria that may land you popularity can also lead you astray if you overly adapt to those criteria when they’re not genuinely your own. The perverse effect of subliminally incorporating visual click-bait into your method. Best to stay humble and hungry. Otherwise, like Icarus, you fly too close to the sunshine of popularity, the wax melts and you lose the wings that elevated you there in the first place.

 

More at Lensculture .

Never Mind The Bollocks !

Are comparisons between 21st century Street Photography and 1970's Punk rock worthy of consideration ? (see christopherjwilson.com ) . As a current Street Photographer who experienced and survived the musical uprising 40 years ago while attending Newcastle Collage Of Art I feel qualified to comment.

I see many similarities between the late 1970's and our pre-brexit Britain, the lack of optimism within society is quite reminiscent of the social conditions that inspired the anti-establishment musical response of Punk Rock to a country that was failing and offered little hope , especially to the young.

The country was divided in many ways back then just as it is now, both the political and musical establishment were perceived to be out of touch and motivated only to maintain the failing status quo, .  They gave no voice to social discord, there was no appetite for change. 

Nevertheless musical anarchy emerged !

One of the greatest legacies of this period was the idea of independent production of music and records and the realisation that those in positions to influence did not act in our best interests, if we wanted change we would have to drive it.

I love the idea of Street Photography being the new social response to political and cultural failure , the thought of the "X factor" generation finding a collective visual voice capable of protest at the very least and maybe even effecting social change at its best is refreshing.

                     Sadly , I see little evidence of main stream Street Photography ever being used in ways that portray a narrative of anger or even dissent in Britain . The pursuit of shadowy generic pictorial bollocks appears to occupy the visual sensitivities of today's new Togs , excellent technique is valued above a meaningful connection with the urban environment. 

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I'm very sorry to have to report that today's Street Photographers fall short when compared to the so called "Punks" of the 1970's, the "X factor" generation appears to be anaesthnastised by the digital gluttony and Simon Cowals "taste" in music , they appear to believe that a few "Likes" & "Retweets" on social media can change the world , it will not !

The Rock against Racism movement grew out of Punk Rock , I believe it played a major part in making this country a better place to be , real change requires real interaction with the real world,  as photographers we should have a louder visual voice and much more to say about how things are in the UK.

Punk Rock and New Wave music changed the mindset of many of my generation at a time when all looked grey, the Punks had something to say , most Street Photographers appear to have little of value to say about their neighborhood or country. But will fiercely defend the merits of Japanese digital camera brands ?

Anarchy in the UK has turned to Apathy in the UK !

Keep it real , rebel a little, you might like it  !

Survive Street Photography !

It would appear to be that time of year again, when Street Photography gets its annual mauling , on this occasion I'm not going to wade in and deliver another kicking to our beleaguered art form as the fictitious Street photography "community" appears to be doing a fine job of self destruction with its communal delusions of avarice and grandeur . 

Michael Sweet says he's no longer a Street Photographer , that's a shame because I always enjoyed reading his ramblings but I have to be honest and confess that his pictures do not occupy a large space in my memory !  I wish him well as his overview of all things SP always struck me as honest and accurate even if his views were delivered without sugar coating..

The only way to survive this Street Photography shenanigans is to maintain realistic expectations and be motivated only by the thrill of creating and sharing your Street photographs . The day you cease to be thrilled by a successful capture , . . . STOP ! 

Street Photography becomes more difficult for me each year as I become more selective of the images and ideas I pursue , my photography is created by me for me which is just as well as I'm (like most Street Photographers) not being killed in the rush by those wanting to own and purchase my best efforts.

The desire to create "Street" images ebbs and flows with me , I know I must work when I'm "feeling" it and have also learned that pushing against the tide of low mojo rarely delivers .The challenge of this Art form is to develop your own ethos, approach and visual manifesto that not only creates the photographs you crave but enriches you as a person and a photographer.

The personal development is infinitely more important than the photographic growth.

In my opinion the Street Photography journey is one that is best undertaken alone although that's not to say that fellow travelers should not be embraced along the way as these folk will add value to your journey, beware of those pilgrims that demand payment from you along the way as they maybe selling you no more than your own creativity, one shot at a time ?

You do not need permission to create , get out there with your camera and discover who you are, prepare to fail and prepare to learn.                Shoot more and post less !

Remember the pictures are the prizes !

Keep it real !

 

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Stop Looking & Relax ?

 The State of Britain and UK Closed doors projects have helped me  realise that I have been taking things too seriously, I have not shot a proper feel good "Street" pic for a while . this week I decided to go in search of a pic or two that might put a smile on my face, the weather was great , my mindset was right and more importantly I was feeling lucky !

I soon discovered that the reality of the situation did not match my optimism, as the heat and lack of picture opportunities evaporated my optimism and reminded me of how challenging SP is when your on the front line .  I shot a few frames that I knew were not going to make the cut as I tried to make something happen,  in order to maintain what optimism remained I decided to take a break and rethink my approach.

Armed with my favorite sandwich and soft drink I found a quiet spot and watched the world go by, to be honest it was the best part of the day, I did not rethink anything I just relaxed , my peace was shattered when I noticed a young woman walking past carrying a very unusual item, I could not believe my eyes !

The next few minutes are probably  best described as "How not to take a street pic"  !

Thankfully my camera was already around my neck , with my part consumed sandwich and soft drink in my left hand and my camera in my right I jumped to my feet and pursued the view that I knew would put a smile on my face . I already knew how I wanted to frame this shot as I moved into position and shot 3 frames !  Got it !

It turns out that the subject of this pic is a student of Beauty at the local college and the item under her arm is her model head , strange how this picture only revealed itself to me once I had stopped looking !

Keep it surreal ...

The State Of Britain

When I embarked on my State Of Britain series I knew that 2017 was going to be a year of political significance , the Brexit vote and political change in the US lead me to believe that a year of uncertainty and political upheaval was inevitable.

What interested me most was how these changes would manifest themselves into the day to day live's of the UK population , in some ways the challenge for me was to interpret what I saw around me and try to create a series of images that represent everyday scenes during these unusual times .

One of my concerns has been the way that Britain's adoption of Americana appears to be growing into a increasing appetite for the "American Dream" which to my mind at least is the creation of a society that believes in the survival of the fittest and accepts food banks and homelessness as acceptable solutions to a under funded welfare state.

The only great certainty is that things are about to change in the UK , the changes will be much more subtle than the dismantling of Britain's industrial landscape that came to represent the Thatcher era and feature greater pressure on disadvantaged individuals who rely on state support.

Where and when the pictures for this series will reveal themselves to me is as yet unclear, however I will be viewing this country of mine with a more cynical eye than ever before and suggest that you do the same and try to record how your community changes.

Keep it real !