Exercise 2.2 People and activity

I have been thinking about different types of activities that I could focus on as a theme for my work.

Firstly where could I find people and which type of shots would suit the activity?

(1) Lowestoft town centre – many people walking.

  • In centre of high street with people walking towards me – setting street with shops either side and the hot dog van on the left of the picture frame – point of view camera head height – type of shot as though we are being swamped by people flooding towards us.

  • People crossing the traffic lights towards me/ away from me – setting Lowestoft train station in the background, waiting cars to the left and right of the walkers – point of view camera chest height – type of shot going against the flow of people, as though we are in their way.
  • People getting off the train towards me – setting inside the train station with the train to the left/ right and people walking towards me – point of view camera above head height – type of shot looking down on a mass of people as though we are looking for someone or spying on people.

(2) Public houses – groups of people standing and sitting.

  • The Joseph Conrad – singles, couples and groups of people – setting standing and sitting eating, drinking and chatting – point of view camera shoulder height – type of shot looking in on people, evading privacy as though we are curious about them and want to know more.

  • Lowestoft singles night groups of people – setting sitting, chatting, laughing and drinking – point of view camera on table looking through glasses type of shot intimate as though the viewer is one of the group.

(3) In town –

  • In shops, eating establishments and in the streets – singles, couples and groups of people – setting standing, sitting and walking while on their mobile phones – point of view table and standing height depending on where I am – type of shot looking in on people as though invading their privacy.
  • In the arcades – singles, couples, families – setting standing or sitting at machines – point of view eye level – type of shot intimate as though the viewer is there with them.

Research here I come….

5th October 2019

When Friends With Hearts Meet Up

I just went into Lowestoft to look at areas that I had envisaged to shoot in. Due to the fact that the holiday season has gone and the town shops are closing due to the internet taking their trade, all I can say is there was not much of a footfall there this Saturday to make my shoot look busy. I think I might have to try Great Yarmouth or Norwich for any type of shoots that need large groups.

I am now just left with the crossing shots and train station, arcades and the eating and drinking establishments. I am thinking that the arcades will be out of the equation also because of the lack of tourists at the moment unless again, I go to Great Yarmouth and have a look.

Yesterday I put a post on a lowestoft FB group page for single people, asking if I could photograph one of their meetings. They have given the go ahead so I can try this setting and call it, ‘When Friends With Hearts Meet Up.’ The reason for this title is that the group members actually become friends as they meet and there have been 23 couples formed and one engagement in the past four years, so these are people with hearts who would like to find someone to share theirs with. Also they meet up in a local public house that has the word ‘Heart’ in its name so I thought there is a good tie in there for my title also.

I researched photographs taken in bars and found some shots that I really like. However they have been taken during the daytime so the light is easier to work in. I have found that at the moment I am not able to shoot well in low light conditions, this will be my nemesis in photography I feel.

The photographer that I have found that I like is Giulio Magnifico who is a street photographer. The article is called, 5 Tips For Shooting Portraits In A Bar and can be found on the website digitalrev.com. From here I looked the photographer up and found some excellent black and white images on his website giuliomagnifico.it.

The article has some really good tips, from common sense too technical advice. For example:

  • ‘Call ahead, or go to the bar/pub a bit earlier so that you can talk to someone there and make sure that the management are okay with what you intend to do.’
  • ‘Ideally a light, fast prime lens would be best. It won’t cause alarm or make anyone smirk, which is important when you are trying to get your subjects to be candid and to relax.
  • Most importantly, fast primes will be able to go up to 1.4, 1.8, or 2.8, allowing you to use a lower ISO and achieve a slight depth of field.

Giulio Magnifico – street photographer

The series that I have found shot by Magnifico that I really like is very similar to the contrast photographs of Trent Parke, although the subject matter is different. The black and white images are very dramatic and quite dark in areas with areas of light where details of the people and their activity within the osterias are highlighted. An osteria is an old style bar very similar to our old English pubs.

This setting also fitted in with my idea for a shoot because many of the pubs in Lowestoft are still very old fashioned, old deco and carpeted floorings warn by the many feet and the stickiness they wear from spilt drinks over the years. In fact the ‘Hearts of oak’ pub in lowestoft is an older style pub and is very, very dimly lit and to be honest I am not sure I will be able to pull the shoot off.

I love the way that Magnifico has a type of pin hole feeling to his borders, where the darker edges gradually become lighter to focus on his subject.

The Shoot, ‘When Friends With Hearts Meet Up.’

I will take two lenses with me, my fixed 20mm and my 14-42mm, my full length tripod, my table top tripod and beanbags. I haven’t got a flash so I am presuming that the shoot will be too dark for me to do anything, but will see what happens.

I began with a practice shot, read the settings and adjusted them as the light was so low I needed to up the ISO to near maximum so that the shutter speed would be fast enough to freeze capture rather than blur. I reviewed the next few trial shots and they were terrible, embarrassed to say, very bad!

The light was so unbelievable dim that I couldn’t shoot at a faster enough shutter speed to capture anything. I do not own a flash either, although I have now bought one as there is an exercise coming up in the course that uses one but I wouldn’t want to use it anyway in this setting.

So I am upset as I imagined the type of shots I would get, funny how my mobile phone worked though and it is a rubbish camera on mine as well! Oh Well!!

On to the next idea….

07th October 2019

Mobile Phones

I love this little saying, I have lost my daughters to technology, not mobile phones but the internet. There is nothing worse than seeing them both plugged into the world web, apps and YouTube with ear phones in. There is little communication but loads of isolation, which sadly they enjoy.

With this in mind, I thought about capturing people on their mobile phones within the settings of streets, shops and restaurants like Mcdonalds.

With this shoot I know I would be able to capture good shots because the lighting would be good enough to freeze subjects. I am thinking there would be people talking on the phone, texting, surfing and taking photographs with their mobile phones so there could be different situations to look out for and also different age groups and both genders.

I have also decided to take other shots for example, people talking and queing and see if they can take me anywhere for another series.

From here I have narrowed the shots down by looking at their composition and interest and asking do they meet the brief: ‘…people engaged in an activity, where the activity is the main subject rather than the people themselves.’

The contact sheet below shows the mobile phone shots which were converted too black and white.


From here I have short listed my series to six images which are seen below:

Elm Hill

Stood Up


Family Photo

While I Rest

Waiting At The Bus stop

Looking through the complete images that I have taken (not just my chosen few), I have managed to:

  • Get a variety of view points – I sat, knelt and stood for shots giving different angles for different portrait shots.
  • I took photographs from different perspectives – directly facing people, from behind and from the side of them.
  • I looked for people in different positions – sitting and standing.
  • I looked for different settings to set a scene and add interest to the shot – outside and inside.
  • I looked for different mobile phone activities – taking selfies, texting, looking at the phone, holding the phone and talking on the phone.
  • I looked for a variety of people taking into consideration – age, ethnicity, social status and gender.
  • Facial expressions – although those using the phone directly ALL looked vacant and emotion less. It is only if they were taking selfies or with a friend looking at the phones that emotions were caught in the face.

I am very happy with the shots that I have got, but my tutor had mentioned that I should shoot many more photographs when I am out. So although I have a nice little series here, I am going to go out and focus on mobile phone images.

The only other thing that I have noticed are areas of harsh light in backgrounds. Some are just that the light from the sun but others are from the pure white shops, so these two areas do confuse me. When I was in the darkroom developing 35mm film we would dodge and burn while developing, I know you can do this within Photoshop but as yet I have not learnt to do that. Also what do you do if EG shops are pure white? Do you leave them as such or manipulate them somehow?

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