My approach to “street photography” could probably best be described as “photography of streets”. In other words I generally try and avoid having people in shot and concentrate on the street itself. I don’t do a great deal of this because, frankly, the streets immediately around where I live aren’t very interesting, and where I work there is only a small village with little in the way of actual streets. I’m not an urban person by nature and probably wouldn’t choose to just wander the streets with a camera looking for those magical moments that make a great photograph. However, every now and then I find myself with a spare hour or so to wander around a city (usually Winchester) so I make sure I have a camera handy, and see what I can find.
I guess it’s still landscape photography, but an artificial, man-made landscape. I’m interested in how the structures we’ve created fit together and evolve over time, and looking at them without people visible swarming around, if possible, provides an interesting perspective. More recently I had an afternoon to use up in London, which I found a little odd, and somewhat challenging. The problem I have in London is that I don’t go there often enough and so I find myself falling into a tourist mode of shooting and taking very obvious shots of very obvious landmarks.
On this occasion I started in the Strand and the Temple area of the City, an area full of legal chambers and other businesses related to the Royal Courts of Justice located there. Interestingly for me, since it was a Saturday and the Courts were closed, the area was very quiet, with very few people around except on the main thoroughfare of Fleet Street which had sporadic groups of people wandering along to St Paul’s. I joined them but, whereas I almost exclusively saw tiny digital gadgets being used by others, I’d opted for my Bronica, and started with a roll of ortho film.
Fleet Street was interesting, as there was so little sign that this had ever been the centre of the newspaper industry other than the Art Deco, and magnificently shiny, Daily Express Building and the more modest London office of DC Thomson – publishers of, amongst other things, The Beano. I wandered up as far as St Paul’s and resisted the urge to join the thronging masses, and turned round and made my way back in a more haphazard manner checking out some of the more interesting looking side streets.
One of the things that bothers me is that no matter how picturesque an old remnant of medieval London may be, there’s bound to be a modern signpost, usually detailing the relevant parking restrictions, in the worst possible place. I think that’s why I feel partly dissatisfied with the day’s shooting. I found it hard to separate these things out, and so fell back into the trap of looking for the dramatic edifice to overwhelm the modern clutter. Later on I started to look for something different and focus on smaller details, but then I think I started to lapse into narrow depth of field cliché. While not terrible, the problem with those shots is that I could have taken them virtually anywhere. Must try harder.