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.