Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘photo

Street photos: acting, tourists, and memories of the banlieue

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Couple, Regent's Park


Capturing the spontaneous moment is difficult. It says so on the tin (and if it doesn’t then some poor sod should carve it in with their nails in frustration). I’ve been thinking on the things I should be aware of for next time, and the variables which give a decent chance of a street photograph to happen. I give you:

Max’s Street Photography Suggestions for Max

**Go to places at the times where the people are, don’t wait for them to come to you.

**Try not to look as if you are seriously taking these photos. Try walking around, do whatever —-> squint your eyes and act as if there’s some funny dust in the air slightly near where your subjects are. Do some acting. Just don’t let them know that they are the main subject (unless you want that to be a key part of the photo that is.)

**Try to look unfocused, even if you are on a seriously frustrating LCC course assignment and especially if you are trying to frame kids in your photos —-> (looking rather intense whilst sneakily taking pictures of someone else’s kids AIN’T a good look Max, especially in Britain!)

**Don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Getting the shot is hard enough, so if you don’t feel that you’re blending in then it’s even harder. (Unless you’re Bruce Gilden – but then you think he sits in the ‘different’ box anyway).

You can make yourself less noticeable by tweaking with the following variables:

  • The size of your camera
  • Your dress
  • Your people skills on the day (obviously don’t be confrontational, and if they’re checking you out then smile at them and they will be less likely to think you’re weird)
  • Your acting & movement  (move around a lot, pretend you’re looking at other things – it’s kinda important to make think that you’re not taking a photo of them)
  • The kind of location you’re shooting in

**Location is really key, especially if you are you and are shooting with a large  “HEY GUYS! **WAVE, WAVE** LOOK AT ME, I’M A PHOTOGRAPHER!!” kind of DSLR. Tourist areas great to shoot in because:

  1. Everyone else has a camera the size of yours – they’re less likely to notice that you’re strapped with gear
  2. Everyone is taking photos of each other – this is perfect camouflage for your snapping
  3. Tourist spots are tourist spots because they are usually visually interesting landmarks. These can provide interesting backdrops to your ‘moment’
  4. There are tons of people walking willy nilly about. And they are moving and floating into all kinds of weird and wonderful arrangements in front of your lens.

Oh yeah, the last thing is quite important too – try and not go into areas that you don’t feel safe shooting in. Max, do you remember that time back in the day when you thought you needed to go to the banlieue in Paris in order to get some authentic ‘street’ shots? Thought so :-p  !! There’s enough of the above to stress about as it is without adding anything else onto your brain…

I don’t think this checklist is by any means comprehensive at all, so please feel free to chip in with your comments and experiences if you have any…


Written by Max Colson

February 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Blow torched chicken and lamb cubes: My trip to the Halal Butcher

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As I referred to in a previous post, it took me 4 separate attempts to be allowed to photograph inside a Halal butcher. It was hard.

After being labelled an “uneeded factor in the equation” by one man sporting a gleaming business smile, a Bluetooth earphone and a knuckle crunching handshake, I nearly called it quits on my attempt to capture some of Shepherd’s Bush’s finest meatmongery for my ‘people at work’ photo assignment.

However luck finally came my way when I chanced upon ‘Zee’, the genuine and incredibly friendly manager of another joint down the road. Having absolutely no problems with me protruding my lens into the nooks and crannies of his lamb sawing schedule or the intricacies of smoking chicken via blowtorch I was given a time, a handshake and the affirmative. Perseverance does work if you smile enough.

I’d say that 80% of the frames I took were out-of-focused pants quite frankly, so I didn’t decide to show any of the shoot in my tutorial. However there was a blow torching scene at the end of my shoot which is actually quite interesting to look at. Here the selected frames in all their meaty glory (really, really, sorry but I so had to get that pun in there somewhere):

Written by Max Colson

January 27, 2011 at 10:59 pm