Standing in one spot pays off, especially in front of an art installation in Hyde Park, Sydney which allowed me to capture images of people stopping and appreciating the work done by the exhibiting photographers and artists.
I’m forever amazed by the inspirational work done by so many photographers from all genres and I take my hat off to anyone who gets published or included in an exhibition.
I did something that I’m not proud of and I still feel guilty about it.
I might have well worn a bright red shirt emblazoned in bold lettering across the front “Westerner” because as I stood out like a sore thumb. Everyone stared or looked at me longer than necessary. This was Davao city, home of the President of the Phillipines which had been labelled as one of the most dangerous cities due to the countries war on drugs however, what I found was entirely different to what the worlds media was reporting.
Everyone who I interacted with were the opposite to how they had been portrayed, they were normal people trying to make their way in life. Pay bills, put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads and make sure their kids get an education. Pretty much like the rest of us except for two old ladies that I tried to photograph.
They saw me, I saw them and I had already decided that I was going to take their photo but every time I brought the camera up to eye level, they both turned away from me so I couldn’t see their faces, but when the camera was lowered they had their hands out wanting money.
This went on for several minutes and what seemed the only way to capture an image was to surrender and give them money. So with 20 pesos in one hand and the camera in the other I managed to capture this shot and I tried to photograph the other woman but she wasn’t having anything to do with it and continued to turn away from the camera when pointed in her direction.
The 20 Pesos quickly vanished into thin air and again they both asked for money however neither were going to allow me to take another photo. Turning to walk away I noticed that I had been watched by a woman, who was well dressed and had a look of scorn on her face. In any language I knew, in her books what I had done was wrong and I shouldn’t have handed over any money nor should I have taken their photo. She didn’t say anything as I passed but the feeling of her stare drilling holes in my back as I walked away is not something that is easy to forget.
To this day, I’m not sure why but there is lingering guilt over paying the 20 pesos, this might be due to the scorn from the local woman or something else. I don’t think I’ll ever know.
What do you think, Is my guilt about paying money justified?
Firstly, your safety is paramount. If any protest or protesters become violent towards you or others, including the police interacting with protesters, leave. Your safety is more important and must have a higher value than any photo you take and your safety always come first. No photo is worth you being injured or hurt.
Travelling, mainly for work, I had decided that the photos taken during my trip would be to show my family the famous sights of London with no intention of sharing, so I was surprised to stumble across a what looked like a protest, a peaceful protest, on a bridge, a famous bridge (Westminister Bridge) in London. What an opportunity!
Pushing through the crowds trying to get a feel of what the protest was about I found that there were plenty of photographic opportunities with good light and everyone seemed pretty happy, might be the whacky weed that was in the air, to have their photos taken.
Some people will struggle with my next comment, I selected Auto on my camera and started shooting. Why not? Camera companies spend millions of dollars developing incredibly small computers and sensors to work everything out so why not select auto.
Documentary and street photography are genres that I have always been attracted to, I find them to be challenging as you have little to no control of what is about to happen and how you capture those moments can be a challenge in itself. Ultimately you want people to feel connected to your images and to possibly inspire them in some small way.
Please remember, if you do decide to photograph a protest, remember your safety must come first over any photo opportunities.
This is an image that has stuck with me for years and was taken by Elliot Erwitt in 1946 in New York City. If you don’t know who Elliot Erwitt is, I highly recommend this interview by his son, Misha which will add some context to this image and who he is. Elliot Erwit has an amazing body of work and dare I say is an inspiration to many people, including me who have picked up a camera over the years.
I love this photo because he has got down low, real low and he has managed to maintain the dogs eye contact while showing just how small the dog really is. For me, taking this photo takes skills and some incredible forethought. He has other photos of people with small dogs and some are photos that easily recognisable.
I have always wanted to use the theme of the photo as inspiration to see what I could create. As its been pretty hot in here in Australia lately (40+ Degrees Celsius) I figured the best spot would be the boardwalk at the beach to attempt to take my concept of the small dog theme. There should be plenty of people around and some should have their pets out for a walk in the mornings or late in the day.
I sat on the kerb of the footpath and watched this little dog with its humans to see what he would do. He kept looking back behind him and turned around completely while they waited for someone else to join them.
This little one, called Melluka, rides the train on the boardwalk and keeps his human train driver company.
I asked his humans if I could take a photo of their dog and they said that he wouldn’t come near me but he did exactly the opposite and walked straight up to me and let me take his photo. Maybe he was looking for a sniff, a lick or maybe some food but he was pretty happy that he was out for a walk with his humans.
It was definitely worth getting out in the sweltering heat to photograph these dogs and their humans and I must admit that the British Bulldog photo is my favourite photo of the day.
What inspires you to get out and shoot ?
Please notethat I am unable to link Elliot Erwitt’s image or text to a specific website as I am unable to find one that has all of his work located however I am going to provide two links, both from the New York Times. This link is an interview with Elliot Erwitt and an Art Review. If someone finds an appropriate link please let me know in the comments as I will update these links.
There is always someone, normally a student or a backpacker holding a sign pointing down an alley to where you can buy Ugg boots in Pitt St Mall. Only their fingers move as they tightly clutch their smartphones surfing the net.
The lack of movement provided an opportunity to photograph him, albeit without his knowledge.
Wandering through the mall I spotted this fella enjoying himself in the virtual reality world but what attracted to me was the amount of reflections that were in the window. So I positioned myself to take a photo of people looking at me taking the photo while trying not to get my reflection in the image. Not an easy feat.
I often wander the streets of Sydney looking for interesting subjects to photograph when I noticed this guy sitting with his two dogs in the entrance to St James train station. What caught my eye was the sign directly behind him and the sheer number of people who simply ignored him as they went about their lives.
Normally I don’t like to photograph people who are homeless for many reasons and the main reason is that I don’t want to or seem to be taking advantage of them but I couldn’t resist asking him if he minded if I took his photo.
Walking up to him, I stuck my hand out and introduced myself, asking him about his dogs and he told me their names and that one was the mother and the other the daughter but for the life of me I can’t remember which. The blue heeler that he is holding growled at me but the blue heeler at his feet didn’t mind a pat. He put down his harmonica and let me take this photo. I asked him if he minded if I took his photo. Much to my surprise he said yes.
I only took two photos and showed him the end result on the LCD screen. He said was pretty happy with the results and after a few more minutes of talking to him, I shook his hand, threw a few dollar coins in and left. Since I have downloaded the image and processed it I have this desire, this want to print the image in a decent size, say 12×10 and then give it to him. He won’t be able to eat or drink the photo but I think the problem I’ll have is finding him again to give him the photo.
I think it paid off walking up to him and speaking to him. What do you think?
Lets start the year with something a little bit of fun. I have named this guy The Bubble Man because nearly every time I wander through Hyde Park during a weekend or a public holiday I come across him. He does these amazing tricks with huge bubbles and of course the kids are attracted to bubbles and adults are reminded of the time that they used to be able to play with something so simple but fill your day with loads of fun.
The Bubble Man manages to get the bubbles up high and they float through the air with parents watching on as their kids reach high as bubbles gently float towards their waiting hands. Every now and then an over excited kid will wander across the line into the the bubble magic area where he quickly ushers tham back across the line before he continues his bubble magic.
Sometimes he will ask for a volunteer from the audience and this guy was pretty eager to get in and have a go. The Bubble Man asked him to hold an oversize champagne glass and The Bubble Man created a large bubble in the champagne glass and then filled it with what looked like smoke.
Once completed The Bubble Man encourages the volunteer to pop it using his face.
Looks like fun and certainly reminds you of when you were a kid and how much fun you could have with bubbles. If you see him in Hyde Park, watch what he does and if you feel like it, drop a dollar or two into his collection hat.