Our assignment this time was a broader brief than usual – capture a ‘decisive moment’. No specification of technical details, number of shots, or anything really, other than to find the ‘perfect’ moment that captured the essence of the scene. That can involve setting up a shot and pre-visualising what it needs to ‘complete’ it, or it can involve rapidly noticing the world around you and being in a position to quickly and efficiently document what’s happening.
For me, it was a little of both approaches. There were several (like the wolf on the wall, and the bike rider in the lane way) where I was just waiting for the ‘right’ element to enter the frame. And then there were others, where I was lucky to be in a position to respond quickly (most notably the rubbish truck and the wedding party!).
I suspect the brief was left quite open here as this can be a challenging technique to master. It requires you to know your camera so well that there is absolutely no conscious thought required to operate it. It requires you to be familiar enough with your surroundings to know where there are ‘frames’ just waiting to be completed. And it requires you to be able to pre-visualise a shot, and then know if you’ve achieved it or not.
For me, it felt a little like riding a bike. Although it’s been at least two years since I’ve been regularly well enough to actually get out and shoot street, and the year before that we were prohibited from just wandering the city with a camera in hand (for perfectly valid public health reasons I might add), I have spent probably days or weeks in total wandering this city doing exactly this. So it was familiar, comfortable, and rather a lot like coming home. I loved it.
Here we are in week 7 of following the projects in the book 52 Assignments: Street Photography by Brian Lloyd Duckett. I’ve been free-ranging across the themes a little, but with this assignment completed I’m now back on track with the sequence in the book!
This time the assignment was to create a series of six images where signs are the star; where there is a connection between a sign or text of some kind, and other elements of the image.
I found this one quite challenging – more than I had expected. Sharon was with me but following a different assignment (she’s part of a group of photographers working on a project to catalogue all of Melbourne’s surviving city laneways), which meant we were focusing on different things. I found I missed the capacity to ‘bounce off’ each other in exploring the theme. We were also constrained to a specific city block as that’s where Sharon’s laneways were located, and as it happens it was a block where I used to work. That meant I found it a little tricky to find new ways to see the very familiar.
I returned home from the afternoon’s photography feeling a little deflated, almost certain that I hadn’t managed to capture anything of any relevance or connection to the assignment. However, when working through the images in Lightroom I was quite pleased to find pretty much six images that I was comfortable with. So, not a loss after all! Some of the sign/text <-> image connections are perhaps a little too vague or small, but see what you think anyway…
Here we are in week 6 of following the projects in the book 52 Assignments: Street Photography by Brian Lloyd Duckett. I’ve been free-ranging across the themes a little, but we are almost back in sequence with the book now!
The assignment this time was to go out after dark and produce a series of nine images, all focusing on a shared theme or idea. As usual, I kept my focus local rather than venturing into the city.
I’ve done plenty of street photography at night over the years, but I must admit it’s been quite a few years since then! It was good fun to get out there with a theme in mind as well – my focus this time was food places, and being on the outside looking in. Lots of interesting things going on, from in-depth conversations to diners lost in thought. Here’s a tip – apparently 9:00pm on a Sunday night is the perfect time for frozen yoghurt, judging by the length of the queue! Sharon joined me on this assignment again which always makes it more fun and interesting. Sharon focused on neon lights (and other bright signs) – who knew our local shops could be such a rich source of images across multiple themes and ideas?
I also had to remember how to process night photos, and ended up really enjoying the whole exercise. Thank goodness for long weekends so that I could be out so late on a Sunday.
After the randomness and spontaneity of last week’s ‘no viewfinder’ assignment, this week was a much more structured task, to use the relationship between similar colours as a visual ‘anchor’, to keep the viewer engaged in the images for longer.
I’m not sure if I was supposed to just use the same colour for all six images, but anyway I didn’t do that. I found it a real challenge to keep observing colours and yet still create an image that would have some depth and interest to it beyond that element. The colour is supposed to hook the viewer in, but the story of the image still needs to be present. So a lot of concentration needed, and much more deliberate compositions this week. At times I felt like a camper, with an image all lined up and just waiting for the final element to enter the frame. I tried not to move any objects, but rather to wait for the scene to unfold organically in front of me. I was also very conscious of the backgrounds, trying to minimise any additional colours in the scene without relying on the dreaded ‘colour pop’ technique in post processing.
In the end I was pretty happy with this set, and as with the previous weeks, I found this assignment to be a great visual exercise. Give it a go!
Took a few weeks off there – the demands of my day job, plus a long-overdue (for me) road trip, meant I wasn’t able to attend to a project. I’m back now though!
Sharon joined again this week, where we explored the ‘no viewfinder’ prompt. The task is to spend half a day taking photos without composing using your viewfinder or the back of your camera at all. Just stick the camera out in front of you and see what happens. This is a good opportunity to play with different camera angles, and see just how interesting some of the ‘happy accidents’ can be. I was really pleasantly surprised with this technique. In some ways it reminded me of film photography, in that it really separates the act of taking images from the subsequent review and editing process, and that’s quite nice in terms of getting ‘into the groove’ of noticing. But film photography requires great care and attention to composition and exposure so as not to waste film, whereas this was more spontaneous and free ranging. Sharon and I spent an hour or so walking the streets of Malvern together, and then I spent another half hour or so in the CBD to see what else might come my way. The results are below – there was no ‘quota’ or limit this week, so there are a few more shots this week than usual!
Still free ranging rather than following the order though – this week I selected the project “Rules? What rules?” – where the task was to produce nine images that break the ‘rules’ of photography but still work… that might mean breaking rules of composition, rules about not ‘chopping off’ limbs or heads, shooting with a straight horizon, and so on. See if you can spot the rules I’ve broken in the images below…
This week it was great to have Sharon joining in on the task, although her images were amazing and very quickly made me think I possibly shouldn’t be bothering at all… but with another look, I’m actually pretty pleased with how these came out. I did suggest a trip into the city, but Sharon (rightly!) reminded me that I’d said in a previous week that the city was really the ‘easy’ option and I should challenge myself more. Challenge accepted!
Following on from last week, it seems I’m really no good at following the sequence in the book, but I think that’s okay! For my second week, I chose the Week 15 topic – Lights, Camera, Action! The brief this time is to create a new poster for a famous film, that gives a good indication of what the film is all about, using only things you can find in your local area.
So here’s mine – for some reason I went completely blank and couldn’t think of a single film, but a quick iTunes search fixed that up and I came across The Money Pit, a mid-80s film starring Tom Hanks. I can only vaguely remember seeing it, but from memory it’s all about a couple who buy a fancy house that is very cheap because it needs a little ‘fixing up’… my image isn’t particularly subtle but hopefully it conveys that theme!
What film would you choose for this project brief?
Back at the end of 2021, I was very fortunate to be given a wonderful present, the book 52 Assignments: Street Photography by Brian Lloyd Duckett. Last year I wasn’t really very well for most of the time, so this book sat waiting.
Well it’s a new year now, so time for a new approach, and the first thing I did was dig out this book.
Will I finish them all in a year? Maybe. Who can tell what the future holds? I’ve given up on that. But I’ll certainly give it a red hot go.
That said, I’m already deviating from the order presented in the book. Instead of starting at project 1, I jumped ahead to project 2, which is rather wonderfully titled ‘Apocalypse Now’. The challenge is to think about how you could, in 12 images, sum up and capture the essence of the place in which you live, so that if we were all wiped out by an apocalyse tomorrow (the books lets you fill in those circumstances for yourself!), the people of the future would have a record of what life was like before it all fell apart.
I thought that was quite a wonderful idea, and a good way to start taking photos again, and so off I went. I decided not to focus on ‘Melbourne’, because that’s kind of too easy, and besides, I’m sure the people of the future would have access to the postcards of all the places I would have chosen.
So instead I decided to focus on my local council area – much smaller scale, but still hard to keep to 12 images I found. And here they are… let me know if you think they meet the focus of the task!