John displays the art of street photography

Camera Club Saves on Socks
Camera Club Saves on Socks

Morpeth Camera Club

On Tuesday, October 24, club member John Thompson led an interactive session focusing on ‘Street Photography’.

During the evening, John illustrated what makes good street photography by showing some of his work.

And to help make the evening even more interactive, John had invited fellow members to send some of their own examples.

The evening was designed to help those who are planning to submit images for this year’s monochrome set subject competition on the theme of ‘People on the Street’.

John started off by saying that street photography is conducted for art and enquiry, which features chance encounters and random incidents within public places and can fall into the category of photojournalism, candid photography, social documentary and record photography.

He added that street photography is not a modern idea when one considers that Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French humanist photographer who was said to have pioneered the genre, had his first photojournalist images published in 1937.

Photography is people-watching with a camera, capturing a decisive moment in time.

John went on to discuss people in street photography, a scene which includes small figures turns the image into a landscape containing people, the people should be the point of focus, preferably walking towards the camera and not away from the camera, which dulls the impact.

Could street photography be dangerous?

John put to the audience. Discretion is key; don’t brandish a long lens but use a small camera which can be used with one hand and definitely don’t photograph controversial characters who swear or appear violent and may or may not be under the influence.

Fish eye or wide angled lenses are helpful in that they accommodate people grouped together, or one can use a mobile phone to capture images, everyone uses them know and you certainly won’t stand out in a crowd.

A discussion followed on with what constitutes a street and should it include all public places?

For example, are stations and shopping malls considered to be streets? As they are certainly public thoroughfares.

John illustrated the point with his photographs taken of people from the street into cafes and bars, seen through glass windows, which also fall into this criteria, in John’s opinion.

Single subjects which become street portraits came under discussion, and are acceptable as long as the part of the street in the background is included.

Buskers and street musicians can be approached and are usually quite happy to be photographed; a connection between the subject and photographer can often result in a better image, especially when a relationship with passers-by is established.

A homeless person on the street set against a glamorous poster may produce a social comment, but it is kinder initially to make contact with the person before taking their photograph as not everyone welcomes their picture being taken.

By looking for unusual occurrences such as a bride in a rainy street or dog walkers all in step add humour and have a story-telling quality.

Throughout the evening, John showed the fellow members some examples of successful ‘people in the street’ photography, interaction between a young couple, a charismatic older couple in unusual clothes, a row of people on benches all looking at their mobile phones, people taking photographs of other people, an audience watching street performers and unsavoury characters, all of which reflect life and capture a moment in time.

John asked the gathered audience if anyone had a problem with photographing children?

On holiday, people happily take photographs of local children from other countries, but it can be frowned upon depending on where you are.

If in doubt, John suggested that permission be obtained from the parents, and although John prefers not to be seen, ones demeanour should reflect ones intentions therefore instilling confidence in the parents’ decision.

Examples of members’ photographs were shown together with their titles, and debate followed on whether they were successful or unsuccessful in the brief.

Finally John stressed that considered cropping and converting to monochrome is not a fad if it has an end result, whereas over manipulation can destroy the honesty and accuracy of that captured moment.

John shared his expertise and experience, providing a very informative evening and was duly thanked by chairman Mark Harrison, after which coffee was served.

For more information regarding the club, visit the website – www.morpethcameraclub.co.uk – where you may like to look at the Gallery section where there are images created by the members.