Final Project – Return to London

The task for the tenth and final session of my photography class was for each of us to prepare and present either a sequence or a series of images, demonstrating the skills that we had learnt in the previous nine sessions. My first project, presented at week five – the interaction between street entertainers and their audience – had gone well but there was a lot of room for improvement, so I decided to develop some of those ideas for the final project.

As I have mentioned in other posts, street photography has been a completely new experience for me.  On the whole, I have loved it – there is an energy and a constant newness about it that is really exciting – but it has also raised a number of challenges and questions.  Initially I had to overcome my anxiety about taking photos of strangers and decide where, for me, the boundaries lay.  I felt okay about taking images of street performers, for whom that could be considered an occupational hazard, and was most comfortable if I was sticking around for their whole show and putting a contribution in their hat at the end.  But I was cautious about taking photos of children and others where, for one reason or another, to do so felt exploitative. The complication came when the performers pulled kids into their shows – a popular technique. In these situations I decided to continue taking photos because, after all, parents had allowed their children to take part and were aware that many members of the audience had cameras. A couple of those images made it in to my final project but I will not be sharing them on this blog, even though they tend to be my favourites, because that seems to cross a line.

The other challenges were more technical; choosing the right camera settings, making decisions about depth of field and shutter speed, and working quickly but carefully to frame the images I wanted in situations that were constantly changing and from vantage points that were not always quite what I would have wished. I had to find the balance between thinking about each shot, working out what I was trying to achieve, and relying on instinct, knowing that the results were often better if I stopped overanalysing (something I need to remember in life in general, not just photography!!).

My images seemed to fall into two categories; those that were very busy and full of activity, and others that were much simpler, focusing on one or two subjects.  Seeing pros and cons in both, but wanting the series to show some coherence, I decided to go with the latter.  My theme remained the street performers and their audiences – interacting, failing to interact, entertaining, watching…  If you have the time and are interested, please do click on the images so they re-open in a separate window and at a larger size; there are some details that might not be immediately obvious otherwise.   🙂

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