Tutor feedback on assignment 3 can be found here. Based on the comments received I changed some aspects of this assignment.
- When I started the shooting for this assignment, I was looking for something which is the opposite of what we normally expect to see in “decisive moment” images. Henri Cartier-Bresson primarily captured organic forms in motion within a geometric frame. It was the relevance of the captured moment (of that action) that made his pictures particularly endearing. But while the behaviour of the subjects was key, the backdrop and its shapes was also an important ingredient used to not only to provide context but also to lead the eye. My intention with this series was to concentrate on the backdrop and to capture it at the right moment (hopefully decisive) when it can lead to questions in the viewer mind. Questions about what is happening in frame where not much is going on.
- I understand my interpretation of the brief was perhaps a bit too adventurous and this is reflected in the feedback I got, but I still wanted to try something different from the traditional realm of “street” photography, which closely follows the decisive moment style, and which is too close to what I normally photograph, so I decided that I for the formal assessment I would continue with my original concept and try to reinforce the set by re-selecting and reshooting some of the images:
- The three landscape-oriented pictures in the original set were all replaced by either re-selected shots from the original sessions or by new images taken specifically for the re-work. Looking at the original set, these images do not fit entirely well with the rest from an aesthetical point of view, but I still included them because either they had some relation to the ideas I wanted to convey (evidence of human presence or activity, such as the tennis court image) or because they were related to the mechanical process of waiting for the “decisive” moment to fire the shutter, such as the image of the canal. This latter picture, together with the park shot in the Barbican, only offer limited evidence of human activity or intervention, and look more like landscape shots.
- The four portrait-oriented images from the original submission were all images with an urban theme. I wanted the substitute images to have a similar look to create a more cohesive set. The first two replacing images show empty offices and playing grounds respectively. The final picture was taken in one of London’s canals, just like in the original submission but on this occasion, I combined the canal with an empty side street running alongside the canal, which on the day I took the picture did not have any parked vehicles, adding to the sense of desolation that I wanted to imprint in the series. This image also includes an abandoned white kitchen top, which drew my attention to this in the first place. The visual effect of this on the image is quite subtle, as it only visible from the side, but it combines well with the other images in the set that include transitory elements, such as the remaining Barbican picture (an empty plate left on one of the tables), the Cheapside junction image (a sweeper cart) or the Moorgreen House image (an empty cardboard box). Incorporating more transitory elements in the images was another recommendation made by my tutor as part of the assignment feedback process.
The revised set of images are shown below, with updated comments as needed. The original set with comments can be found here. The first four images in the revised set, all in portrait orientation, are the same that were included in the original submission. The last three images, all in landscape orientation, are newly selected pictures (either from the originally taken images or newly shot).
Cecil Court, City of Westminster – This was taken early on a Sunday when the shops in the court were mostly closed, which helped to have a clear foreground, but the thoroughfare at the far end is Charing Cross road, which is one of the busiest roads in central London, even on a Sunday. I did have to wait a while for people chatting on the pavement there to move along, as well as for the road to be cleared of buses and other traffic.
The Barbican estate, City of London – This was also taken on a Sunday, around 10 am. The sitting area in the foreground is usually quite busy during weekdays, but relatively quiet during weekends. The main challenge in this occasion was people constantly entering the church at the back, as this was taken just before the start of Sunday’s service.
Cheapside, City of London – Again taken on a Sunday, when crowds tend to be more subdued. In this one, I had to wait for people on the shop to the right to move out of the way (there was a smoker who removed himself by hiding behind one of the columns, although you can still see the smoke from his cigarettes if you look carefully). Surprisingly, the owner of the sweeper cart in the foreground did not enter the frame during the 5 minutes or so that I had to wait to take the picture. For this picture and the previous two, the shooting strategy primarily focused on selecting the right time of the day / week when places that would normally be full of people were less busy.
Moorgreen house, Islington – This was taken during a working day, but I did not have to wait particularly long to take this picture because this road actually leads to the back of the estate and consequently not as busy as the main entrance. For this picture, and the next one, the shooting strategy centered around finding locations that were urban and played into the expectation of being busy, but that in reality are never too busy, thus facilitating the shooting process.
King Square Estate, Islington – This picture was taken mid-morning on a saturday and I was expecting to find people working out or playing in the estate recreational facilities, but it was relatively quiet, so it was possible to take the shot relativelly quickly. This picture was newly taken for the re-working of the assignment.
Moor lane, City of London – This picture, re-selected from the original assignment shooting sessions, was taken on a weekday around noon. Although one would expect most office workers to be out for lunch around this time, there is always people having lunch at their desks or working through their break hour. On this particular day I was lucky to find the office desks relatively empty, for which I did not have to wait too long to take the picture.
Dunston road and Regent’s canal, Haggerston – This picture was taken specifically for the re-work with a 21mm wide-angle equivalent, around noon on a weekday. This section of the canal is relatively busy during this time of the day with people running during their lunch break, and I had to wait a few minutes for the path to clear. I was particularly taken by the emptiness of the road here, with no vehicles parked even though there is a bay for residents on the right hand side. I was also attracted to the abandoned kitchen top left against the canal railings, which subtly drags the eye towards the lower third of the frame.
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As in the case of the original submission, I framed the re-worked prints using a conservation board mat. While in the original prints the mats were backed by another piece of board, for the re-worked submission I used watercolour paper as a backing, achieving both a reduction in thickness and weight for each framed picture, without compromising on the presentation of the images. The series is intended to be shown hanged for exhibition, arranged as a cluster. My original idea about this is presented here, with the layout updated to include the new picture selection.