Final Photo Story Appraisal
For my photo story assignment I chose the theme of ‘fast’, primarily focusing on the quick pace of city life.
I chose this theme as I am very interested in street photography and haven’t yet had a proper opportunity to experiment with slow shutter speeds during the daytime since moving to a bigger city.
I had a number of different ideas after deciding on the theme ‘fast’ rather than ‘austerity’ or ‘raw’, however the approach I eventually took to this project was based on the idea of a ‘lunch break in the city’ and the various obstacles urban dwellers are faced with on a daily basis.
For my visual research for this assignment I researched various street photographers in order to find inspiration. I was most inspired by the works of Brian Soko, Martin Roemers and Richard Sandler. Brian Soko attempts to capture the quieter moments in his hometown of Chicago, concentrating on the people that make the city rather than the bricks and mortar. I tried to incorporate this into my work by using the people of Leeds as the subjects of my photographs and capturing the bustle of the inhabitants going about their everyday lives rather than focusing on the cities physical infrastructure. Martin Roemers specialises in metropolis photography and uses slow shutter speeds to portray fast moving life in the city. I took Roemers’ work into consideration when shooting my set of photographs for this module by using shutter speeds between 3 and 0.4 seconds in order to depict the commotion during rush hour. Richard Sandler is a well-known street photographer from New York whose work reflects elements that are typically found in the city for example yellow taxicabs and subway trains. I tried to take this into consideration when looking for potential locations for photo shoots for this assignment by finding well known landmarks associated with Leeds, for example the Town Hall, the Headrow and Briggate. When looking for potential locations I needed to find areas that would have a lot of movement in both the people and transport if I wanted to properly portray my chosen topic of fast moving city life. I took some time to walk around the town before deciding on any locations in order to find the places that would be most successful in demonstrating the story I wanted to put across.
One of my images shows a British Red Cross volunteer approaching a man who stereotypically wouldn’t be seen as someone likely to donate to a charity like this due to the way he looks and the way he is dressed. I watched as the man spoke to the volunteer for a few minutes before walking away, burying his head in his hands. This made me wonder what they had been discussing and why it had affected him in this way. I then merged the two photographs together to represent the unfolding of the scenario and to make the viewer question the story behind it.
Two of my images focus on the reliance on public transport in cities and how transportation such as buses are such a massive part in the day to day running of a city. I used a slow shutter speed to reflect the buses in motion therefore sticking to the theme of ‘fast’. I used the buses to frame the image and allow the paths to create a strong linear focal point that attracts the viewer’s eye. I adjusted the exposure, brightness, clarity and vibrance of these photographs to make the buses appear to almost be a flash of colour speeding through a dull city.
My favourite image I took for this set features a boy with the appearance of a typical student in Leeds crossing the road with buses captured in motion either side of him. I like the composition of this photograph because the buses frame it well with the island leading the eye to the centre of the image. Taken on the Headrow, one of the main streets in the city, this picture reflects the business during rush hour. I used Martin Roemers work as inspiration when planning the composition of these photographs, as I wanted to capture the quick pace of life in the city as he does without creating too many distractions away from the main focal point of the images.
I took another photograph, which shows a man on the left standing stationary and smoking a cigarette while a woman hurries past him. I think this image is effective because it represents the differing stories behind people in big cities and how we are not necessarily always aware of everything going on around us.
A number of the photographs I shot for this assignment revolve around the general hustle and bustle of the people of Leeds going about their everyday routine. Looking at these images makes me realise how much variation there is in large urban areas, with so many different backgrounds, cultures and styles. One of my other images features the bustle of customers visiting the new Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds. Being quite well known for its large variety of retail locations I think this photograph represents the city well whilst also keeping within the topic of ‘fast’ because of the use of a slow shutter speed reflecting the movement of the people, giving the image a busier feel.
I took another photograph as I was walking which shows a group of teenagers hanging around in the town centre. Although this was an accidental photograph I was happy with how it came out as the motion of me walking combined with the slow shutter speed my camera was set to resulted in the image having an exciting impression. The fact that it focuses on a group of black teenagers loitering portrays the varying cultures and lifestyles cities have. As I was using the work of Brian Soko as inspiration I feel this photograph ties in well as it focuses on the people of the city rather than the artificial elements that make the city what it is.