re-discovering your vision

Recently my photography has started to turn a corner. Leaving India in the dead of night came as a shock, and it’s taking a while for me to re-discover my photographic vision whilst in New Zealand. This is partly due to what I suspect has been some low-level depression, combined with high-level anxiety. I am sure there are many others in the same boat, and given the circumstances it is unsurprising. Photography is of course a wonderful anti-depressant, and capturing a decent photo provides a natural rush of endorphins! As with any changes in life, there are both positives and negatives.

New Zealand

The Challenge

India is arguably one of the greatest places in the world for photography. The diversity of the population lends itself to colourful images of people and places. Most of the population appear happy to be photographed, making Street Photography a pleasure. The heavy pollution found in most of the large cities creates a soft diffused light, creating etherial pictures at dusk and dawn, whilst softening the harshness of the midday sun. With India’s current Covid numbers at over 2 Million, the country is going to be off the Travel Photographers radar for a while yet. Even when I return, I cannot envisage walking around in the crowds like I once did.

New Zealand

New Zealand has a population of roughly five million. There are more sheep than people. Unsurprisingly, most of the population are used to their space, and an in-your-face Bruce Gilden approach of photography is likely to lead to conflict. This has lead me to try different approaches to what I am doing. As with any transition, my ‘style’ is a little ad-hoc. However, I have now been here for three months, and a collection of ideas has started to grow. Here are some of my ideas for inspiration.

Light Leaks

Light Leaks #1

The suburbs of NZ are dark at night. I like this photo, the scarcity of light creates opportunities for minimalism. While in India I viewed a project where photographers explored Bangalore at night, looking for locations where light escaped. As with all creations, I am pinching the idea and making it my own.

Still Life

Dragon’s Foot

Still life photos can make the ordinary extraordinary. I have spent a couple of Sunday afternoons trying to capture NZ’s streets, which are often devoid of life. Time to roll in some creative ideas. Quite often I will touch these photos up, using a 35mm film preset to give the images a bit of grain. Crystal clear digital images can often look quite boring. After all, who want to see reality as it really is?

People

Photographing the human condition is one of the most rewarding form of photography. I may take inspiration from Magnum’s Alec Soth, and start seeking characters to photograph. Discrete candid photography also remains an option. My attitude to seeking permission to take an image has changed over the last few years. Five years ago I would have argued that a photo taken with permission cannot be a ‘street photo’. Now I am not so sure, or maybe just do not care.

Film

35mm Film

Photographers can be very divisive when discussing film. Sure, it is a pain in the arse, expensive, unreliable and limiting in terms of the number of shots you take. I’m not going to be ditching digital any time soon. But I do enjoy playing with analogue technology. I also prefer listening to a vinyl records than to streaming devices! At some point I will try to develop my own film, just because I will be able to lock myself in a dark room and pretend I’m Ansel Adams. And yes – film does look better.

Portraits

Portraits

Portraits are a wonderful way to connect with people. The image above was taken during quarantine in NZ. Annie Liebovitz states that she is a portrait photographer because people expected her to adhere to a genre. Portrait photography may be a path into commercial work, and with a world-wide recession looming that may not be a bad idea. However, I suspect many portrait photographers are going to be struggling throughout the rest of 2020.

Nature

I’m a bit of a city boy when it comes to photography. Having beautiful nature on my doorstep is opening a whole new world. Definitely finding my feet in terms of style. One tool that is very useful at the moment is Luminar 4, the landscape profiles provide a great starting point for editing an image. In addition I have just purchased a WACOM pen and tablet, but I will save that for another blog!

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

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10 Tips for Better Travel Photography. Part 2

Firstly, thanks to Brenda for pointing out that for most of these tips, you do not really have to travel far. This brings me to my first discussion point…

Long Distance Travel not required!

Bangalore City Market – 30 Minutes travelling time from home
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Pictures of a Wall

Catchy title I know, this is a blog post deemed to never go viral. Recently, I have not had enough time to do half of what I plan for. Arguably, head butting a metal door and spending Friday afternoon in A&E has not helped, an accident that ruled out weekend shooting. However, I have been walking to work, a journey that takes me past a rather interesting wall.

Go Slow. Sounds like good advice!

This technique is often called, ‘making something out of nothing‘. It can be amazing how the mundane can be transformed if looked at a certain way. These photos would also fall under the subject of minimalism (or still life for that matter). Capturing these kind of images is an affective way to practice framing, as the subjects remain motionless. The strong geometric lines would look good in black and white. However, I think the contrasting reds and yellows make a striking contrast.

This style of shooting opens locations you can go back to time and again. The same areas will look different depending on the time of day and the position of the sun. On a personal note, I can see this theme growing into something of a long-term project. Now there is an idea!

Take care and keep clicking! Chris

Five Tips for Planning a Photo Getaway.

This month I will be heading to Mumbai for a weekend of photography. Mumbai has been shot to death by photographers far greater than me, but I am hoping that I will be able to capture something new and unique. Here are some of the things I put on my check list when planning for Travel Photography.

Holy-Bull Walker

The photos for this article are part of a book project I am working on, with the working title ‘The Bangalorean’. You can hunt for more photos taken while shooting for this exciting project on Instagram, #bangalorean and #bookaboutbangalore.

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Should street photographers watermark their photos?

There is much debate on whether or not photographers should watermark, or place a logo on their photos. I am not going to sit on the fence here as I fall solidly into the NO camp. I will accompany this article with some recent un-watermarked pics!

Street Portrait. Yelahanka/ Bangalore

Most people don’t care who you are.

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Starting a Project Part 3

Focus on a Skill-Set

Upgrading your skills is a sure-fire way to improve your photography. One way to do this you need to think of a goal, it can relate to how you shoot, or how you process images. Here are a number of project ideas to get you started, although I am sure many of you can think of your own. As you will see later, this relates closely to my KISS philosophy (read on!). Through focusing on just one specific skill at a time, your photography will rapidly improve

Using a flash can open up the night for photography
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Faces and the Portrait

All images in this article are my own, as I lack the rights to publish work from the artists discussed.

“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.” 
― Susan Sontag (1977)

Wrinkles tell stories!
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Three Photos to Capture.

“F8 and be there.”

‘F8 and be there,’ is the explanation ‘Weegee’ gave when asked how his photos were so consistent, and it has become something of a mantra for Street and Documentary photographers. When using a Full Frame camera, shooting at F8 ensures everything is in focus. If you are not using full frame, the F number becomes lower. Explore google if you want to know why. This is not a technical article.

Weegee followed a rule, and everybody followed Weeggee. As a result, there is now a heap of Street Photography that all looks the same. It reminds me of a joke I read this morning, ‘How do you milk sheep?’. Answer – ‘release a new iphone.’ Here are three photos you can take if you want to capture something a little different. Don’t worry, there are no more jokes.

Long Exposure Photography

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Long Exposure

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Backing up your 2017 Street Photos.

Filing 2017, and 3 ‘lost’ photos from China.

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Boy playing around a demolished area close to Yanshupu Lu, 2017.

Work flow is an essential aspect of any photographer’s life. We need to spend less time on the computer and more time taking photos. At the end of the year, I file away the past 12 months of photos onto an external hard drive. I then back that drive up keeping copies of the external drive at work, at home, and in my computer bag. Maintaining an external hard drive is an essential part of my routine, as my primary computer is a MacBook Pro with a small 500Gb hard drive. Online options are an area I am looking at adding to my workflow, having a back up of my photos on Google Drive would make me feel safe, but it is not a free option.

Forgotten Gems

After filing away 2017, the images stored will slip from memory. However, while cleaning up my library, I came across photos that never quite got published. Some of them needed a light touch up, and other images were just growers. Rediscovering old photos relates to my workflow. When I first review my photos, I am often a too keen to publish them online. Some pictures you see and think WOW, get this out there. Other images take a while to enjoy. I look at these images and I don’t fall instantly in love, yet they grow on me each time I review my library. This post is about them, the photos I passed by the first time.

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Men with Dog in Alleyway. Hongzhen Lu, 2017

Happy New Year everyone. Remember to back up all your photos from 2017! Back them up online and use an external hard drive. My next post will look at how to quickly delete and sort your photos using Lightroom. Hopefully, I can help some of you think about how to make your workflow a little lighter in 2018.

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Graffiti Artist at work. Hang on… that’s ME!

Happy New Year and Keep Clicking,

Chris

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INSPIRATIONAL STREET PHOTOGRAPHER #9

Robert Capa

“What’s the point of getting killed if you’ve got the wrong exposure?”

Robert Capa

Robert Capa founded Magnum Photography, and as such is included in this series. Calling Capa Street Photographer does not do him or his work justice. Capa was a journalistic war correspondent. I include him in this series as his photos capture human activity and life on the streets. As Street Photographers, we can learn a lot from him.

RobertCapabyGerdaTaro

Robert Capa

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