Sunday, December 29, 2013

Strangers in a Park: The Universal Tale of all Cities

Strangers in a Park by Pauls-Pictures
Strangers in a Park, a photo by Pauls-Pictures on Flickr.
I've been back in Perth for a week or so and have managed to get out on the streets a couple of times already. It's a lovely city: great architecture (ranging from Victorian colonial to postmodern skyscrapers advertising for all to see the brashness and go ahead nature of the place), nice parks, friendly people and overall it's a nice place to spend time in.
But, a city is a city. And a city can be a lonely place as many of us know. This one doesn't appear to bre an exception: it seems to have its share of people alone, maybe even more than its share. Still, being on the western edge of the continent, I think it is a place of last and sometimes lost hope for many. The end of the line. There is no further you can go.
Now, in this image, we can't say that these two people have reached any kind of low point of loneliness. All we can say for sure, is that they are alone in a park. One appears to be a tourist looking at her map or brochure. The other is simply sitting on a bench. More than that we can't say.
However, coming across the scene I was struck by the lonely "feel" of the situation. Two people alone in a small park near the city CBD. Perhaps they are lonely; perhaps they are perfectly content just as they are and simply enjoying the heat and sunshine on a lovely day in the park.
That is the mystery and the beauty of street photography. The viewer will take away from a photo what they will. We resonate with a scene and it reminds us of something or somewhere, or invokes for us a feeling of loneliness or an emotion. A reaction of some kind at least.
A photo is supposed to tell stories. For me, this one does. Many different stories in fact.
Just as I like it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Couple Lunching: Just Another Ordinary Moment?

Couple Lunching by Pauls-Pictures

Couple Lunching, a photo by Pauls-Pictures on Flickr.
Yes it is, isn't it? An ordinary moment I mean. Mind you, eating lunch can be serous business. At least these two are really into it in a serious way.
But, yes it is an ordinary moment. Or, as I have often said or written: a "so-called ordinary moment".
In reality it is a rather special moment. I mean by this that it is a moment that, had it not been for me passing by with my camera, would not have been noticed (by anyone at all really), would be soon forgotten (by these two as they rushed away after their clearly hurried lunch break), and would certainly have gone unrecorded.
Of course it is not simply the act of recording a moment that makes it special. But look at this photo more closely. Who are these people? What is going on? Why do they seem so serious? Are they as alienated from each other as the photo suggests? Or are they just really hungry or in a hurry? And, where are they? What are they doing there? (aside from eating that is).
Questions, questions, questions. And, to be honest, there are, nor will there ever be, any answers we will ever be able to provide for these questions.
And, that is just one of the beautiful and interesting things about this photograph (and about street and social documentary photography as a whole). We are witnesses to a mere slither of time in the lives of this couple (if they are in fact a couple. Another question). In that sense we have been able to share that little slice of life with them.
And it is this that is such an honour, such a privilege for me, and for you the viewer. A connection has been made; a connection that will always be there at some level and to some degree for me and for all of you who view this photograph.
It's a bringing together really, don't you think? A joining of souls, a unification of me, these two people eating lunch, and you, the viewer.
This is the point of what I do as an artist. And I am grateful

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'VE COME TO THE LAND DOWNUNDER: Some thoughts & a Story too!

Yes, my friends, it is true: our ten month sojourn in Europe has come to an end and we are now in Australia. Western Australia to be precise. Why WA? Well, it's pretty simple really: we wanted sunshine, beaches, a simpler life with fresh air, less complications and that "new world" vibe.
And, let me say right up front, I think we have come to paradise! Even if right at this moment we are a 20 minute walk to the  beach, we are very happy with the white sand, emerald green waters and lovely pine treed parkland to be experienced at the beach that is at the end of that walk. Next week we move on down south to the town of Bunbury, where we will be about 100 meters to the beach. More like it!
Our few days in Perth after landing there were put to good use: I had a couple of longish sessions on the street which I think produced a couple of reasonable photographs. I certainly felt I was able to pick up on the vibe of the street and managed to convey that, at least a little, in a few of my photos. We're in Fremantle right now, about 20 kilometers south of Perth city and it too has been very productive.
Apart from some good sessions on the street, I have noticed a bit of a new something creeping into my work these last days since arriving here. I've made a number of what I would call still life images of things noticed in the suburb we're staying in. Not only that, but they are in color. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to suggest a new trend or project or ... .
Here's one from yesterday:

Golden Elephant in the Aussie Bush

Pretty isn't it? But is it Street? Well possibly. Is it Social Documentary? I've given this a bit of thought and I've decided that, yes, it is. Let me explain the circumstances and you will see what I mean.
I was walking past houses just a street away from us in the really nice, but "average" suburb we're staying in. Next to one such house is this vacant field which, I think, once had a house on it but has been left to return to nature. Which is nice really. Anyway, plonked not two feet from the sidewalk, right in the midst of this patch of native grasses, sat this elephant. Yes, I know: sounds bizarre, but that's the way I found it. So, I knelt down on the sidewalk, and using the very nifty tilt screen on my Sony Nex 7, made this photograph (and a few more too, which may or may not see the light of day). I loved the way the elephant is facing the trees, and that chain link fence or barrier that looks like it might bar its march to the forest!.
So, you see, it is a document recording a moment, a situation in a suburb in a city, made from a regular sidewalk in a street full of houses with just this one vacant block. Does the photo tell a story? Is there a narrative here? I think there is. In fact, take your pick: How did this thing get there? Is it lost? Stolen? Dumped? Who put it there? Why? Does the statue have special meaning to someone? Or is it just junk?
While I personally think it is a beautiful object (although I don't like any animals "dressed up"), I can say that today I saw the garbage trucks emptying bins in the area. And, when I walked past this spot, the elephant was gone. You be the judge of what fate may have befallen our golden friend here.
I don't often post photographs that don't include people in them. But, for some reason, that is exactly what I feel like doing around the streets in this suburb. Why? Not sure really. Perhaps it has to do with the lightness (as well as the light itself which is wonderful) I feel here. It might be to do with me seeing with fresh eyes after so long on other, more crowded and layered streets. There is a sense in which I think I am seeing more things which in one way or another are forcing me to ask questions, to reflect and contemplate more. I don't know really, but I do feel I want to continue to document the little things I notice on the streets of the towns we visit in this place. 
Anyway, let me know what you think. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PICK OF THE WEEK: "No Posh Nails Here" BUT there is more!

No Posh Nails Here by Pauls-Pictures
No Posh Nails Here, a photo by Pauls-Pictures on Flickr.
My Month in Nottingham in England is just about over. Leaving in a week. I know I haven't been what you would call either timely or consistent in my posts lately. Too much going on is my excuse. But, no point in excuses. One must simply keep calm and carry on.
While here (and this is the big news) I traded my Nikon DSLR and two big lenses (and all the bits and pieces that go with it, including a 3.5 kilo tripod) for a Sony Nex 7 and three lenses. Is it lighter? Is it smaller? Well, suffice it to say that in the bag (which itself is a whole kilogram lighter than my old one)  I bought with the extra batteries, cards etc etc, the whole thing weighs less than ONE of my traded in lenses.
But it's an extraordinary camera, this little Nex 7. At first I was having trouble with controls, being used to a big DSLR and all. But now it's coming together very nicely and I love it to death.
I actually feel free. I feel lighter. And I feel I can actually focus on making photos and not on lugging the big gear around all the time (or not lugging it around: it was all becoming too heavy and cumbersome)
I've spent a long long LONG time using SLRs, and I've been a defender of them as being good for street photography. I don't think I will ever go back on that particular opinion. But what I will say is this: I am so happy I've switched. I think I am now embarking on a brand new creative learning curve and who knows what will come from that process?
I think I will have a lot more to say about this switch-over. But right now we are getting ready for the next phase of our never-ending journey, and it seems other things are taking a lot of my energy and brain power (and that resource is quite limited at the best of times). Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, here is an image from an outing yesterday into the city centre of Nottingham.
You see a few of these advertising placards around the town, and, well, I think this one speaks for itself.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

PICK OF THE WEEK: Eyes Have Been Caught

Eyes Have Been Caught (Almere The Netherlands August 2013

This week I'm coming to you from Nottingham in England. We're here for a month, but as yet I've just made a quick foray into the local streets and a quick few images at the local shops. So, stay tuned for more from here.
So, to the Pick of the Week. Eyes Have Been Caught. Made a few days ago, not long before we left The Netherlands while I was walking in the local mall. Huge it was too by the way; one of the biggest pedestrianized spaces I've ever seen.
Walking past this cafe, I was drawn to the couple. I saw the guy with his hand gently holding the girl's elbow. That, I thought, was a nice image, so I moved closer to the window. As I did, the guy turned to look at something and the girl's eyes followed. That, I thought, was an even nicer image. So, just about to press the shutter button, I saw another couple walk into the frame from my right. That, I thought, was going to make a really terrific image. But just as I pressed the shutter the walking man turned to look in the same direction as the couple in the cafe. And that is the image I was lucky enough to end up with.
The magic of street photography is something I know I talk about a lot, but you know, that's the way I look at it. Of course plenty of time spent looking and being on the street hones the intuition so that one develops what could be called a sixth sense for when things are coming together. This is a case in point. But, then, something extra sometimes enters the situation to take the image beyond the usual, to make a special photograph. A moment that we could if we were so inclined (which I am not) call decisive.
I did not "know" on any kind of conscious level that the guy in the cafe was going to turn to look at something, or that another couple would walk into the frame. And I certainly couldn't possibly know that the man in the street would turn his head just at the "right" moment when I was pressing the shutter button on my camera.
Maybe some street photographers will tell you that they do know all this is going on. And, who knows, maybe they do. But, for me, it is all going on at some other level, which I might call magic. Though, naturally, I know it is not magic. It is intuition. It is being really present in the "zone" of the moment and of the place and of what is going on around me - and within me too. But this is a whole topic of its own which I plan to write about  soon.
And, even if I am in that zone, it doesn't always provide me with an image like this. Sometimes life just rolls on by as it should and does not choose to offer me such a gift. That, for me is part of street photography too. What I end up recording is only a tiny tiny fraction of the totality of what is going on. That is why, for example, I have no idea at all what these people are looking at.
Peace to you all

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

PICK OF THE WEEK: Dad and Daughter by the Canal

Dad & Daughter by the Canal (Amsterdam The Netherlands August 2013)

As you will all know by now, we are in The Netherlands right now and have been for about six weeks. We're leaving in three days time, and really that is the reason I chose this image as my Pick of the Week. Let me explain.

A couple of days ago I went into the city of Amsterdam for the "last time" (the quotes are because we will be back!). Specifically, I wanted to revisit the Van Gogh museum (I'd only been three times already!) and I wanted to spend some time in the area called Museumplein, which is a huge open space bounded on all sides by great museums. But for me the attraction is that it is always full of people relaxing, making photographs, having picnics, playing ball games or just resting between museums. I had been really keen to spend a few hours there with my camera.

So I did both. Revisiting Vincent was wonderful and lead to some really nice insights. But, that's not why we're here today. Before the museum, I spent a few hours in the park and it was great. So many people, all friendly and so many wonderful street photography opportunities. I will be working on the images for months to come! Couldn't resist an hour back in the park after my time with Vincent either!

Anyway, tired and very satisfied I caught the tram to head back to the station and home. I couldn't resist the urge to check out what I had, so got busy peering at the screen on my camera. Suddenly, I stopped and realized what I was doing: Here I was on my last day in Amsterdam and what was I doing? Exactly what i advise other people not to do! Chimping! Canals, gorgeous architecture and the street scenes of a great European capital were rolling by and here I was with my head stuck to the small screen.

So, I became a sightseer for a while. Then, at a tram stop I looked out the window and there in front of me was one of the canals with a father and child posing for Mum's smartphone. So, although I had assumed my work was over for the day, I raised the camera and made this image you see here.

And you know what? It's probably the pick of the several hundred I made that day. It says Amsterdam; it says street; it says social documentary. But more than this it says to me: Keep your eye on the street; remember where you are and what you are doing. Really it says most of all, just be where and when you are at every moment you can! Which really should be the street photographers mantra

Not bad for my last day in Amsterdam. And I saw some of my favorite Van Gogh paintings and drawings as well!

Peace to you all!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

PICK OF THE WEEK: Stars on Her Arms, But Not in Her Eyes

Almost didn't make it this week! Don't ask me why; I wouldn't be able to explain. Anyway, better late than never eh?
This week's pick is really at least in part, a bit of a brag. You see, this image was chosen for Flickr Explore a few days ago. I was thrilled to learn that it is seen (even by an algorithm) as interesting. I look at Explore images often, and the fact that an image of mine occasionally (it's happened seven times so far) is chosen to be included, amazes me. So many wonderful photographs, so many wonderful artists. I am humbled to be thought worthy to be amongst them.
But, even more than this, I am pleased because it means my work is reaching a wider audience. Putting aside the ego boost that this invariably is, I want my work seen and thought about. Especially images like this one.
Stars on her arms, but you can see the stars are no longer in her eyes. Perhaps it's just that she is tired, or maybe only thinking. But, and this is the point, my feeling was that she is unhappy. Maybe her life is not working out quite as she had hoped (I mean whose does really?). Maybe the stars she once saw or dreamed of, have dimmed. life isn't easy for many of us is it?
And, that is really the reason I do what I do. To tell stories, to reflect upon the lives of the people I am lucky enough to photograph.
I thank this woman for allowing me into her life, even if it was just for a moment. After all, isn't that what life is? Just the moment?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

PICK OF THE WEEK: We Love Street Photographers!

On time this week, which means you guys get two picks almost for the price of one. Lucky you!
I've chosen this image because it highlights one of my pet peeves about the new dogma that is being laid down for what is becoming almost a new cult: street photography.
One of the tenets of the gospel this new cult runs with is that people hate having their photo taken. Not that some people don't like it, but people in public don't like having a camera pointed at them, no how, no way.
This loathing by the public of cameras means, of course, that stealth is required of the intrepid "street tog". He (and forgive me, but the adherents to this new cult (as opposed to the tradition we know of as street photography) seem to be overwhelmingly male) has to be discrete. No, sorry, wrong word: discrete implies manners and thoughtfulness. The word I am looking for is sneaky. He has to be sneaky, he has to hide, both himself and his camera. So, the gear has to be small, he has to act quickly, be a hunter. He has to be there but not there, he has to keep his presence hidden
All total and absolute rubbish. Just like most so-called wisdom proclaimed by cults. Naturally some people are not going to like being photographed. Human nature you see. But, in five years I have had maybe half a dozen, perhaps a few more, people object. Nobody has punched me, grabbed my camera, chased me, called the police. Why, hell, I 'ain't even had a bloody nose (My prediction: after the release of a certain film on "famous" NY street photographers (Google 'street photographers New York, and many really good but perhaps not so "famous" fine street photographers will come up), there will be a new initiation rite into this new cult: blood has to be spilled. The "tog's" blood that is. Spilled by angry "subjects". All in the line of "duty". Sigh.)
Anyway, my point is this: most people seem, in my experience, to either not mind, or actually like being photographed. Just like the family in my image here.
And, if you ask any street photographer who isn't just in it for the "thrill" for the "kill" or to "steal souls", then you will hear the same from them. Most people are very happy to be photographed.
A final note, and I've said this before, so forgive me. People have thanked me, asked for copies, even asked me to photograph them and/or their children again. This hasn't happened once or twice, but over and over again.
So, here's my advice. It's actually the same I would give you if you were thinking of joining any type of cult: Do not just take others' word for anything. Even Buddha said "Don't believe anything I tell you, go out and find out for yourself" (I paraphrase with respect). Question everything. Experience will tell you what is real and what isn't.
And if you were joining a cult, I would also ask you why? What have you got to offer? What do you hope to gain? How will you behave? And that's just for a start.
May your street photography experiences be as joy filled as mine have been (and continue to be!), may you bring your own vision and heart to the task, and may you come to know the truth.
Amen and Peace to you all!

Friday, August 2, 2013

PICK OF THE WEEK: Watching the Chiidren Play

A bit late this week due to internet connection issues, but better late than never as they say!
I have chosen this image as my pick of the week because it shows how in street photography, while there is one element that attracts the photographer's attention, something will sometimes happen to make it a whole other image.
I noticed this lady with the walker and the toys attached to the front and I thought it might make a nice photograph. I was waiting for her to turn so I could get a view of her face, and suddenly there were kids running through the fountain right next to her.
And that was the moment I pushed the shutter button. I think it's a far better photograph than the "static" view of the lady and her decorated walker I had at first envisioned. It's a moment that is full of movement, of joy and fun. It even speaks of the hot weather!
I guess you call these moments serendipitous: they just happen! They are "ordinary" and pass quickly, most often without us noticing.
Well, I noticed.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Love is. That's it really. And as Brad Paisley sings in one of the great songs backing my photos on this slideshow:
'There 'ain't nothing not affected
when tow hearts get connected'
And that's what this slideshow is all about really. When two hearts connect, when love happens, lives change. And who knows what's possible then?
Enjoy the slideshow and as always please comment, click Like or even share the show with your friends.
Thank you and Peace to you all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pick of the Week: Waiting for What at the Bag Stand?

For my Pick of the Week this week, I've chosen a photograph that has attracted a few interesting comments. When I saw the scene and made the photo, I just assumed it was a dad and son waiting - perhaps for mum - by a bag stand outside a shop.

Then when I got it onto the computer, I noticed the facial expressions: the man seems to be hot and bothered or tired or...? and the boy is either staring in a bored fashion or isn't happy about something. So I called it Waiting for What at the Bag Stand? Once I posted it I got some lovely comments and a few differing interpretations. One or two people agreed it was a father and son waiting for someone. Someone else, however, suggested that the man looks as though he's crying. And given that the boy looks a little unhappy as well, it's possible to think that they have had an argument or that something else has happened to upset them both.

Of course we will never know will we? It is a moment that has come and gone and only really exists now because I was there and chose to record it with my camera. And, in a real sense, that is the magic of street photography: the photographer is a witness to a succession of seemingly ordinary, yet fleeting moments. Here I think of a quote I like to use often: There are no ordinary moments. We usually hve just a few seconds at most to sum up a scene and decide to make the photograph or not. In that time we can make some assumptions about what is going on, who is who, and the rest.

But, that is all we can do most of the time: make assumptions. What is really going on, who is really who, and the true meaning of the moment will always remain a mystery. Perhaps that is as it should be. After all, we will all make our own assumptions, jump to our own conclusions, when we view a photograph, won't we? And I think this is the case even if the photographer captions the image or explains to us what is going on. It's like history in that way don't you think? It's all very subjective when it comes to whose stories are told and indeed if those stories are "the truth" at all.

So, what is the "truth" of this photo? As I said, we can never know. Or rather, let's put it another way. We will never know the facts of this situation; but can we know the truth? I think we can; it's just that the truths (yes truths, plural) will vary, depending on what the image tells each individual viewer. It is my belief that if a photograph is made with goodwill and with honesty and a commitment to recording what is before the eye of the photographer, the resulting image will speak for itself, give its own story. It will tell its own truth to each and every viewer who looks at it and asks what's going on here.

I don't like to use clichés, but perhaps Frederick R. Barnard was only half right when he coined the phrase A picture paints a thousand words.  Perhaps we should add, "But the particular words painted will vary".

Monday, July 22, 2013

One Thing I've Learned About Street Photography from Kenny Rogers.

Okay, let's begin at the beginning. Kenny Rogers is (or was) a very big name in Country music. Not an obvious introduction to a post on street photography you might think. Well, you see, among his many chart topping hits, there was one called The Gambler. He made that tune famous!
  Anyway, it's about a couple of guys stuck on a "train to nowhere". One, a gambler, starts talking to the other guy because they're both too tired to sleep. He says (and forgive my paraphrasing) "You know son, I make a living out of reading people's faces. And I reckon that yours suggests you've seen better days. So, if you give me a swig of your whiskey I'll give you some advice, an 'ace' you can keep". Or words to that effect.
   He then drinks the whiskey and starts to give the guy some really good advice about knowing when to walk away, knowing when to run; when to hold your cards and when to throw them away. Still, I hear you saying, what's this got to do with street photography? Okay, here's the bit of the song I'm talking about:
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin' is done.
Still not being real clear am I? Alright, here it is in street photographer lingo:
You never chimp* while you're on the street and still making photographs. There'll be plenty of time later once you've uploaded your memory card to your computer for checking how many good ones you got, and how many you didn't; what you've done right, and what you've done wrong.
Now, all of us who use digital cameras have been guilty of such behaviour. And it's a very bad habit! I mean, while you're busy peering at the monitor on the back of your camera, you aren't there and then; you're no longer on the street. You are no longer of the street—and you are no longer in the moment either. You're off in your head somewhere, analysing. You've left the Zone'! Not only does it take some time to get back into the Zone when you lift your head once again to the street, just think of what you have missed as the life of the street has just flowed right on by while you've been distracted by your monitor analysing.
  Many street photographers actually turn their monitors off, so they aren't tempted to 'chimp'. And of course this is where our film using sisters and brothers are ahead of the game. They have no choice but to wait till later to see what they've got.
  The gambler gives his advice about not counting your money while still at the table because he knows that once you take your eyes, mind and heart off the game, you set yourself up for a losing streak. Think about when you last caught yourself chimping. Do you think you missed some good opportunities? Did you miss some good moments? Did it take you some time to get back into the game, sorry, I mean the Zone?
  So, here's what I suggest you do: Resist the temptation (and after several years of photographing on the street, I admit I still succumb occasionally—and pay the consequences too). Just don't look at your monitor. Turn it off if you like. It really is that simple; Tough love of this sort is the only solution. Actually, that's the tough part. You can add some love by setting up a reward system for when you find yourself not chimping for a whole session on the street. Here's what I do: I remind myself that I am going to sit down "in a little while" to have a coffee or cup of tea. Just to rest my legs you understand. If I've been good and not chimped, I will then—and only then—allow myself a quick run through of the images I've made so far.
   But, even then, though, I don't like to spend a lot of time analysing what I've done. If I do, I run the risk of getting too much into the thinking mode, and right away from the Zone where I am really in and of the street, and in the moment. And, really, that's where the best street photographs are made.

*The Urban Dictionary defines 'chimping' as:
What one does after taking a picture with a digital camera and looking at the result.(My Note: The street photography take on this would be: checking whether or not we have "captured the moment").  Derived from the words they (photographers) speak when chimping: "Ooo-oo-oo!" (as in the sounds chimpanzees make)

         I do not endorse gambling. In fact, I believe gambling (as in poker, horse racing, sports betting            and the rest) is a curse and more often than not simply another way for the rich to get richer.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


The title, the song, and the dedication say it all. A slideshow of just a few of the street photographs I have made of women over the last couple of years in various places . They are indeed the rhythm of the world. 
Comments, feedback, Likes, shares. All are welcome.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Street Photography - How I see the world: Wonderful insights & advice from Adam Moore

You know, I sometimes think I should give up on reading and watching advice from street and documentary photographers: so much depressing, ego driven, "hunting" advice. I can't stand it!
But, then I come across something like this from Adam Moore. Not only is it a beautifully constructed video in its own right, full of extraordinary images, it is also a full of advice and insights into the art of people photography in the street and on the road.
I promise you, you will be inspired, as I have been. I'm about to watch it again, and you will want to as well.! I hope to share what Adam calls a "more informative version" (this one's pretty informative mind you!)) when it becomes available.
I suggest that anyone with a serious desire to improve their skills while in the street and photographing people, needs to watch this video and reflect carefeully won what they will learn here.
So, thank you Adam, for permission to share your work here. And, dear reader, please enjoy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Do Good with your Camera Street Photography tips. John Free

John Free is in my not so humble opinion one of the finest street photographers and teachers around today. Not only that, he is a decent and  modest man, who simply goes about his business of doing good with his camera and passing on his vast knowledge and wisdom to others. I am honoured to know him. And anybody who aspires to be a true street photography will do well to watch his videos, go to his workshops if you can and read his writings.

Pick of the Week: Pucker Up and Pose for a Self Portrait

This week I post my first image from my Netherlands adventure. And it's a great example of how being fully present, "in tune" if you like, with your environment will help produce better street photography.
I saw this woman posing for her own camera phone. So, I quickly made a photo. It wasn't till later, on my laptop screen, that I noticed she had her lips all puckered up. And for me it is that expression that really makes this photograph.
Coincidence? Some would call it that. But, for me, I believe we see much on a sub conscious level only, and if we are really fully present, fully "in tune" and what I like to say "of the street", then we see these small things on that level which causes us to react and take action on the "conscious" level.
You see, it happens all the time. Too often to dismiss as mere luck or coincidence.
Try it and see. Just being is the key, not expecting, not waiting, not struggling. Just being there and in the now as they say.
Peace my friends

Friday, July 12, 2013

FAMILES: Slideshow of Street Photographs of Families - backed by some fine music!

Paul's Pictures is proud to present "Families", which like the name suggests is a slideshow of street photographs of families encountered on the streets.
This video is dedicated to Families in all their diversity.
Special thanks to Drew McAlister for his great song "Part of the Family", and to Keith Whitley for his wonderful and melancholy tune "Family Tree".
Please enjoy. And if you do enjoy the show, please let me know. And as always if you don't, I would like to hear why. If I am truly fortunate you will want to share the slideshow with your friends.
Peace to all

Thursday, July 11, 2013


This video was first published in December 
Mostly I try to have a theme for my slideshows, but occasionally I have thought I would like to post images that are my favourites. I guess that's a theme, now I come to think of it!! Some of the images on this one are also favourites with friends and others too. This is the second of that occasional series of "Artists' Chooses" slideshows.
I have chosen John and Yoko's Give Peace a Chance for the soundtrack because, in essence, that is why I do what I do: to try to spread a little love and promote a little peace So, please enjoy and as usual, your comments, Likes, feedback, Shares are very welcome.
Peace to you all

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Pick for this week Spotted by Some, Ignored by Many

This week (well it's the first week for the "My Pick" feature) I've chosen an image first made in June 2012 but only processed and posted just a couple of days ago.
I like it a lot. It's an ordinary scene, but so full of life, full of story, and full of people. Not only that, a couple of the kids and at least one of the adults has spotted me!
And I don't mind that at all really. You often read how if "they" spot you, the moment's ruined. Well, have a look. Has it been "ruined" here? I don't think so. In fact there has been a special, even decisive, moment made manifest simply because I was there with my camera. I like to think about that idea.
If you like image, please tell me. If you don't, please tell me! Any comments or feedback is always welcome.
Thank you for visiting!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tower of Song A Tribute to All Who Labour There

Musicians, singers, performers of all kinds bring us not only listening pleasure but can change our lives and always enrich the cultural life of any society. Here you will find a slideshow of some of those creative souls. And as a treat the show is backed by the master himself Leonard Cohen with his Tower of Song, which is of course where all workers in song labour for all of us.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Dog with Suspicious Eyes

One of those magical street photographs where the elements just kind of appear together at just that right moment. The expression in the dog's eyes is beautiful and makes me smile. And the girl also watching me proves that two out of three photographees noticing the camera is still okay. Please comment and enjoy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I Am a Witness to Love, I Am a Street Photographer

Love. It's everywhere isn't it? Well, yes I know, it does depend on how one looks at the world, but often it's not that it isn't there so much as it is we don't see it. That is where we street photographers come into the picture. We are a very lucky group of people. We get to see love all the time and everywhere we look. Love between a parent and a child, love between a dog and its human. And then there is romantic love. I can't count the number of times I have seen - been lucky enough to see - couples obviously in love or loving each other.
Hello My Darling

I so often am privileged to witness that look of love that passes between lovers as they meet or as they part. It's a private moment, yet there it is in plain sight for the world to see, to witness. If only we would slow down so we are able to see it. 

It's the Look of Love

Mind you, sometimes a couple will be just sitting, passing the time together. Suddenly, one will look a the other and in that fraction of a second (John Free says all Street Photographers see the world in segments 1/500th of a second long) it takes to point the camera and click the shutter, such a look is passed from the one to the other, that it is a gift worth treasuring. I sometimes wish this couple could have a copy of this photograph. But, that's not how this thing works. It's a fleeting thing; a moment that comes, then is gone forever.

Lovers on the Grass

Then there are the times when from even metres away, the street photographer can just feel the joy being eperienced by lovers as they embrace oblivious to their surroundings and to other people passing by. It's as if the world itself is their living room. But, you know, I don't often get the sense people are "showing off" or "posing"; it is usually just two people expressing joy and love in each other's company.

Loves in the Park

Now, I am not one of those street photographers who goes out of their way to be invisible. I see no point in hiding or sneaking around. Of course this means that sometimes I am seen and more often than you might think, this can result in a great image too. People might sometimes change their pose a little, but overall they  like these two, maintain what they were doing (except of course they are smiling now for the camera). And these two were happy in each others embrace, and proudly proclaim that to the camera. I like this one!

Sunday Seaside Stroll

Another aspect to street photography that I absolutely love is its ability to change people's lives, even if it is just for a moment. Take this couple for example. Strolling on a beach path one Sunday morning. I just instinctively lifted the camera and made the photo as they approached me. Now, they were so engrossed in whatever was happening for them that they didn't notice me, even as we passed each other. Again, just intuitively I said to them: "It's great to see such a handsome couple". They both looked at me and smiled, then the guy said: "It is indeed".

That's all, nothing else, and all over in a couple of seconds. Later, as I looked at the photo on my computer, I noticed that they are both looking upset or at the very least really distracted by something. Who can say what sort of day they'd had or what kind of bad news they had received and were processing. 

And that's the point you see. I knew nothing of this at all when I made the photo. And, then, despite the fact they hadn't seen me, I spoke to them, and what I said elicited a smile and a humorous comment from the man. So, by acting on instinct, being fully present and going with the flow, it is likely I played a tiny part in cheering up two people who were quite probably having a bad day.

Like I said, I have so many images that are witnesses to love in many of its forms. These are a tiny few of the romantic love kind. I have had the great good fortune to see and share thousands of similar moments. And what's more, the fact I am actually there to witness and record those moments with my camera, means that I can then share these moments of love with others, with you. 

Street photography is a great gift to me and to all of us. Fleeting moments that come and are gone forever as I said earlier, are usually missed as we rush about just living our lives. But just because they are missed doesn't mean they aren't important or that they shouldn't be recorded for sharing with others and for posterity  I am one who is lucky enough to be called to do just that. And I am grateful.

Sharing a Sleeve

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Social Documentary Photography: It Can Be Pretty?

For those of you who don't know, I am in Lisbon in Portugal right now. We've been here two weeks, and will be here for another four. At least. I say 'at least' because it is a city that already I know is going to be very difficult to leave. But, in keeping with my new resolution to 'live in the moment' more, I categorically refuse to think that far ahead.

Anyway, enough about that. Well, actually it's related to what I wanted to talk about in this post. You see, one of the BIG reasons I wanted to come to this city is that it is a street photographer's paradise. Friendly open people, life, vitality, picturesque buildings as backdrops. You name it, this place has got it! But, so far I've only been out with my camera once. Been sick you see. Another story! And that once I just got a couple of images of buildings in the Alfama district where we were staying (we've moved now. Yet another story! Hell, I love travelling!).
So, before I get started, here are the two images.

Alfama Houses

Love in a Lisbon Lane

Now, I am a Social Documentary and Street Photographer. Of course both of these images are made on the street, but they wouldn't meet the definition many would give for being street photographs. No people, you see. But, still they are street in that they are of the street and tell us something of the moment in time that they were made, especially the second one with the "graffiti" love heart.

I'm not even going to begin to list here all the various ways that Documentary Photography is defined. Here is my definition, well what I use as my guide when working. 
Documentary Photography seeks to produce a visual record (a photograph) of a moment in time, a place, an event, a person (or people) in such a way that a viewer will be exposed to something of the life, culture and environment of that time, place, event or person and hopefully will be moved to react in some way or at the very least have their lives impacted in some way by the viewing of the image. Documentary Photography will, by definition and because of its nature, always provide only a partial and purely subjective view which could be described as a "comment" by the photographer on the time, place, event or people depicted in the images produced.
I guess that's not overly articulate but it does sum up what I try to do with my work. The question here, however, is: do these two rather touristy and "pretty" photos fit with this definition? Are these two images documentary photography?

Both are, like all photographs, records of a moment in time. They're pretty ordinary moments in both cases, but moments nonetheless. And I think both images tell us something of the way the people live and something of the physical and cultural environment. The first gives us the impression of a pretty "village" type house with flowers and laundry hanging. It evokes a sense of place immediately.

The second photograph with its locked metal door, bars on the window and crudely drawn graffiti, also evokes a sense of place, but this time of a more urban environment. Now, what adds I think to the documentary value of these two images is that, although superficially appearing to be very different, are actually of buildings no more than two hundred metres apart. Alfama is famed as a "village in a city" with all that this appellation suggests: quaint houses, with roses at the door, and at the other extreme, very urban lanes and graffiti!

How a viewer reacts to either or both of these photographs is going to be very hard to measure: we are all unique and our reactions will be determined by all kind of factors. And any impact the images have on a viewer will likewise depend on who they are and what they bring to the experience of viewing.

I will admit that I didn't really have my documentary photographer hat on when I made these images. I was just sort of wandering around and playing tourist (most unusual for me I can assure you!). So, I did not have an intention when making these photos of impacting anyone or making any kind of comment when I made these images. 

Once I started thinking about it however, I thought, yes, this is documentary photography. I'm not preteding they are great photos by any means, but I think they do make a statement about the place, the time, the poeple who live in the places in the images, and they have the potential at least to have an impact on the viewer. I've used the word "pretty" a few times. What's wrong with pretty? Nothing! If a viewer looks at these images and thinks one or them of them is pretty, or stark or scary or interesting in some way, then they succeed as documentary photographs.

DISCLAIMER: As mentioned, I had no intention of making documentary photographs of the scenes depicted in these photos. It is not my "usual" subject matter, nor to I regard it as an especially serious  subject for my work. This, however, does not exclude it as being a study of value, of interest or as being potentially influential in some way on a viewer. Of course it has to be added that as a subject for documentary photography the living environments of people everywhere is a rich area for exploration and for recording in our fast changing world.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Three Secrets of a Committed Street Photographer by Damon Guy

Damon Guy describes himself as an author and editor, but he is also a gifted photographer and teacher. Not only that, but he is the managing editor of the excellent blog But, wait, there's more!!! He has a keen interest in and, if I may say, a true understanding of street photography.

It is with great pleasure and immense gratitude that I welcome Damon to my blog as a guest writer. In this especially written piece, Damon shares with us a set of street photography "secrets" that will give any street photographer, whether just starting out or experienced, much food for thought.

Three secrets of a committed street photographer

Every picture tells a story. In this picture the story is really a question for the viewer. What are these girls looking at? I like to pose questions in my pictures. It helps the viewer look at the scene with my eyes.

Girls day out - happy on the banks of the Thames (Damon Guy)

What is the vision?

We all have a unique insight into the world. Part of the attraction of photography for me is to be able to share a little of my personal vision with other people. Through my photography and teaching I try to help people to see the world a little more clearly. In this article I hope to explain the foundations for my vision in street photography.

The habit of visualising

I have always been a visualiser. I see much of the world in a pictorial way. Diagrams, photographs, paintings; all are ways to provide explanations of the world. So what is this phenomenon we call street photography? How do the pictures of people out living their lives explain anything?

The attractive thing about street photography, to me, is that sometimes, when we get it right, a street photographer shows what people are feeling. Examining that behaviour through our images explains a little about those people as individuals. Through that small study we have the  opportunity to understand a little about ourselves. We are all basically interested in ourselves more than anyone else. When we take pictures that interest us out on the streets we are really looking at ourselves in an abstract sort of way. 

My habit of visualising makes me an observer. My enjoyment of photography makes me an analyst by virtue of the moment I choose for the capture. Whilst out there living the moment, and taking pictures of people, I am reviewing and understanding myself and others around me. I think that street photography is uniquely placed to be an important study of both our inner selves and who we are as social animals interacting with the crowd.  

A myriad of moments

One of the important things about street photography is to show what life is about. It is made up of a myriad of unimportant moments. But, if you put those together, sometimes those moments add up to something more significant. Not world shattering events perhaps, but ones that nevertheless have a significance for the people involved. The well known photograph, The Kiss by Alfred Eisenstaedt is a great example.

It is one of those iconic street photography moments that captivate the viewer. We cannot help but be drawn into the ecstasy of the moment. We know the experience ourselves, or wish for such a moment, and endlessly analyse the myriad of instances that lead us there.

Those moments that appear so important in the history books often don't affect the individual in very obvious or immediate ways. What history has not shown so well is how the little moments, like The kiss, can have a great impact on the individuals involved. To a street photographer, we are not only studying ourselves, but chronicling these moments of significance that sum up the tiny moments creating them. We are telling a story. A street photographer is an artist who can create an entire world in a fraction of a second, tell a complete story, and do it using only light.  

Being rather than doing

One should not try to "do" photography. Instead photographers should live the habit of seeing images everywhere. It is by visualising the world that I get my insights. Not just out on the streets, but also image-making for my work and writing. When making images I try to have a good image in my head before I take the picture. This takes a little practice, but it is a worthwhile endeavour. Knowing what you want to capture makes it so much easier to get a great image when you can prepare for it beforehand. I believe that if you are going out to "do" photography you are "doing" something that you have not really internalised. A photographer will see an opportunity, create the inner image they want, then take the photograph to match it. A "snapper" will react. With practice the photographer will get the picture as quickly as the snapper, but it will usually be more artful and more technically controlled. 

Being a street photographer is therefore not the same as "doing" photography out on the streets. I strive to be a photographer rather than a snapper. I try to be comfortable, and fit into the environment. I want my shots to be composed and of high quality. I look for those events that tell us a little of life out there. They are shots that let us peer into this odd thing we call humanity. 

How is it possible to do all these things together? For me it is about respect. I think, as street photographers, we owe it to our subjects to be respectful, unobtrusive, polite and reasonable. I have found that out on the streets these attitudes have helped me to be able to relax around the people I am photographing. As a result they relax too. I have often been astonished at how friendly people are when you take a little time to get to know them. If you fit in, take a little time, and don't come over as a threat, people take you for who you are and get on with their lives. As a result I can be a photographer rather than a snapper. I can relate to the people I meet and I can blend in to the scene. "Being", rather than "doing" is a great way to get great images out on the street.

The punch line

There is something very special about capturing a great street image. For me it involves observation and analysis, an appreciation of the story and being a part of the very scene I want to capture. When these three foundations come together I know I am going to get some good, if not great, images. And, that's what it is all about.

By Damon Guy (author and editor)

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)
Damon is managing editor of with professional experience in photography, writing, image libraries, and computing. He is also an experienced, webmaster and a trained teacher. Damon runs regular training for digital photographers who are just starting out.
See also: Editor's Bio 
By Damon Guy :: Profile on Google+

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Out from Behind the White Picket Fence?

One of the great strengths of social documentary/street photography is the genre's ability to tell the stories of so-called "ordinary" people going about their normal everyday lives. Not only that, the story read into a photograph is going to be a bit different depending on what each viewer brings to the image from their own lives, values and worldview.
I saw this man walking along the shingle beach not far from where I'm staying. Alone, and not looking like this was his happiest day. But who can say what was in his mind as he walked along the beach on a sunny Sunday?
Now, here's another great thing about art: you meet lots of really talented people whose art and presence enrich the world. One such person is Karen Bayley-Ewell. She saw this photo and sent me a poem. Not written in response to the image, she told me, but written some time ago. But, you know, in the world of Art and beauty, there is no "time" in the linear sense that we seem to live it day-to-day. So, one possible story for the man in my photograph was written long before his life's journey led him to this spot on this beach and long before I saw him there. Makes you think doesn't it?

Feeling Down Down on the Beach


Oh how your garden looks so fab 
Looking like a home & garden ad 
How much time have you spent
Surrounded by a white picket fence

Waiting around for the 9:08 
Always wondering why it's late 
Time moves fast as you fall behind
Your watch is off by a decade you find

Oh dear what a crushing bore
You never looked behind before 
There's only the recording of your mind 
If only you could just rewind

What on earth have you done
But mother is proud of you my son 
Excuses excuses have you not heard
Your unseen play is so absurd

Happy family, wife and 2 kids 
Is that really all there is 
2 spare rooms mortgage paid
Bare as your future I'm afraid

Gaps wide open as a patio door
Garden furniture adorns the floor
Oh what a splendidly well-kept lawn 
Inside you suddenly feel forlorn

But you are the king of your castle
Trophy wife and a dog called rascal
Life is evaporating like a morning dew
And suddenly you ask where are you 

The question burns deep inside
A voice taunts your life is a lie
The unanswered question inside remains
Will you answer or just go insane 

Thank you Karen for doing me and my work such a great honour

Friday, April 5, 2013

Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand ...

In April 1970 Diana Ross released her début single Reach out and touch somebody's hand. Imagine? 1970! Anyway, the title of the photograph in this post is Reach Up and Hug Somebody  which I intended to be a kind of play on that title, not really thinking of the song lyrics at all. So, I just looked them up and I thought, wow, there's a blog post here!  And the lyrics are so powerful they can stand alone.
So, reach out and touch somebody's hand, make this world a better place. If you can.
With thanks and love to Diana Ross who brought so much joy into the world with her beautiful music.

Peace to all

Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can
Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can

(Just try)
Take a little time out of your busy day
To give encouragement
To someone who's lost the way
(Just try)
Or would I be talking to a stone
If I asked you
To share a problem that's not your own
We can change things if we start giving
Why don't you

Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can
Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can

(Just try)
If you see an old friend on the street
And he's down
Remember his shoes could fit your feet
(Just try)
Try a little kindness you'll see
It's something that comes very naturally
We can change things if we start giving

Why don't you
Reach out and touch
Why don't you (Why don't you)
Reach out and touch somebody's hand

Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can
Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Street Photographers Changing the World

A couple of days ago I came across Vincent G., a street photographer from York in the UK. And I thought, this guy thinks just like me! Now we all know how great it is to come across someone who thinks like us don't we? What I like about his work is his attitude and approach to street photography. He's not out there stealing souls; he's not hunting people, not flashing his camera in people's faces. No, he respects his subjects. He considers how they feel about being photographed. I would even go so far as to suggest that he beleives he is privileged to be allowed to photograph people in the street. Above all he in convinced that photography (in his case street photography) can change lives. And we all know that if we can change the life of an individual, then we are in effect changing the world. We are, by our work as street photographers  making the world a better place one photograph at a time.
Anyway, enough from me. Gary has kindly given me his permission to share with you his latest blog post. It's an inspiring story and one all street photographers could learn from. Oh, be sure to visit and follow Vincent G.'s blog here

Photography changing lives

Photography is my way of documenting life, primarily it’s street but every now and then an opportunity arises to do something unexpected and challenging. As i walk the back streets looking for photogenic moments that will tell stories i pass a wedding shop window where a pretty woman sits legs crossed staring into the abyss surrounded by white wedding dresses.
This was a moment i couldn’t resist but also one where i respect the person’s wishes, this is obviously a very important day for someone? I venture in cheekily asking if i could take her photo she smiles and happily replies yes . . . After further conversation she explains she’s there for her daughters dress fitting making this a more personal moment and one i didn’t want to intrude on.
I quickly took a few shots and said thank you and left! I walked away thinking was she really ok with it or did i put her on the spot? I suppose i’d never know, although i did tell her my name so hopefully she’d contact me???
Days passed and i really liked the photo and was hoping she’d somehow get to see it. A week later i get a message on flickr “it was the lady from the wedding shop” She tracked me down and created an account just to express how happy she was and how i made her week, she went on to say that she’s not very well and this photograph and all the nice comments she’d been reading had really cheered her up.
Sometimes its moments like this that prove a simple photo can change lives, make a change with your photography and keep chasing those clicks. “ Happy Easter “
street 01