Ok, so journey number two was more about me being a flaneur really, and trying out a toy camera I picked up recently. I never got into the Holga/Lomo craze and shooting film almost completely passed me by because I’ve only got into photography in the past two or three years. But I’ve recently picked up a couple of low-fi film camreas (including an underwater one in the pound store yesterday…I’m sure that one will work well) and am also planning to start shooting a bit of medium format here and there, where money allows. I’m interested to see the effect of mixing it up a bit on my photography and also I’m hoping that shooting film once in a while will help me become more thoughtful about what I do. That’s the theory, anyhow.
Anyway, so these are just some rather random snaps from a walk yesterday from the city centre up the A6 to Levenshulme, the area of Manchester where I live. It’s a gimmicky little camera and won’t be to everyone’s taste. Not having a viewfinder at all means lots of shooting from the hip, guesswork and crooked horizons. I don’t think Homer (tutor) would approve.
Bit conceptual for me, this, and it hasn’t really worked how I imagined it. It was actually quite good fun – glad no one was about though. The top photo was taken with a home-made snoot over my flash.
I have to say that despite being slow out of the blocks this fortnight, I’ve really got into this portrait assignment, and have ended up doing more people than I originally planned. I still have the self-portrait to do, and have a work photo job booked in on Thursday, so hopefully I’ll get a few more done before Friday’s tutorial. Anyway, on the suggestion of a photo mentor I wanted to make sure that at least one of my portraits was of a Big Issue in the North vendor, seeing as though I work closely with the magazine and sometimes fill in as editor. I ended up getting two (plus dog) for the price of one when I turned up to the vendor breakfast club this morning and Paul and Shaun agreed to help me. I’d found a couple of interesting-looking walls on my way to the office, so knew exactly where I wanted to take them for a backdrop.
Each portrait session brings its own challenges, I’m discovering. In the past my own self-consciousness has been my biggest handicap. This is something I am now trying to mask as far as possible – essential if I’m going to help others feel at ease. Living in Manchester – known as the Rainy City for good reason – presents obvious challenges. Even when the weather’s fine, wind causes me problems when I want to use my simple set-up of an off-camera strobe, lightstand and brolly. Today’s attempt at a portrait shoot was hard in another way. It was beyond quick – I got maybe five minutes before my subjects’ attention was gone, so the lights couldn’t even come out of the bag. My volunteers – users of a street drop-in centre where I have just been given the go-ahead to do some work as this course enters its next phase – were a bit all over the place in terms of following directions, but I managed to get a few pleasing shots which I hope at least show a bit of personality. Compositionally, they could probably be better, and I didn’t manage to tick all the required shot types off the list, but you have to work with what (or who) you’ve got…
I’ve got off to a very slow start with this uni portrait assignment. I got a few nice shots of my good friend Rozie this morning and now have four days to find two strangers willing to let me photograph them and to do a set of self-portraits. Will it happen? Fingers crossed as I think this is a really great assignment and I need all the portrait practice I can get. Must get more confident and get better at directing people….
I spent a couple of hours today at a weekly pensioner’s group in Manchester run by volunteers from Irish Community Care. I didn’t really know what to expect but hadn’t thought through the fact that bingo – which takes up part of the session – isn’t exactly rife with human interaction. There were of course moments of connection during the afternoon and some of the images are okay. But in terms of the brief I was trying to fulfil, I’m not convinced I really nailed it. Of the three shoots I’ve done I think the family definitely worked best for the brief.
Chinese New Year celebrations, Manchester. I’d had enough of buggies and babies after an hour though.