It’s all very fashionable again.
My heroes during my formative years were well known for their Street Photography even if they made a living from documentary or journalism. In the seventies Susan Sontag put the practice into question, theorising about the connections between photography and voyeurism and suggesting the act of photographing was an aggressive one, pointing out the language shared between camera users and gun users. I suppose that’s why formal photography education didn’t take Street Photography as seriously as conceptual and documentary photography for such a long period in the eighties and nineties.
Street Photography is back. I see it all over Tumblr now and camera manufacturers seem to have picked up on the trend. With it’s near silent shutter, small discreet looks, switchable optical or electronic viewfinder and depth of field scale in eyesight, Fuji’s X100S has to be pretty close to being the perfect Street camera.
Photography itself has never been more popular. More photographs have been made since the digital revolution than were made in the whole 160 odd years of photography that preceded it. The Street, as a subject, is right there, literally on most people’s doorstep.
Apart from the need to put bread on the table I have two chief motivations for being a photographer. I love the craft of printmaking. I get so much pleasure from creating a fine print in the darkroom. That’s pretty much what The Alchemist’s Workshop project is all about. I love the process but I am also a huge fan of the result and greatly admire the work of other print-makers. I also love telling stories. People who know me will vouch for the fact that once I get started I don’t shut up. My wedding photography is all about telling stories. As a print-maker I am interested in light, texture and form. I can find those aspects in most subjects but I also want to tell about my own and other people’s lives.
Street Photography for me then is a bit like thinking aloud. If I am somewhere among people who are not normally a part of my life, I watch, I listen, not with any bad intent or toward any personal gain but because I am curious. I make up my own little stories about what I observe. If I don’t have a camera or a friend to tell, I keep it to myself. With a camera I can think aloud. Street photography for me then is about communicating those little stories I have in my head.
Clearly the majority of Street photographs made today are made with a digital camera, but before we had digital technology they were made on film, and because, as I said earlier, there was a time that Street Photography was not fashionable, a time that coincided with the advance in colour film technology, it was usually black and white film. Black and white is popular among Street Photographers again. Without the distraction of colour and by reducing the image to a more graphic form, it is easier to follow a narrative.
Some of the most iconic Street Photographs made were black and white.
With that in mind, and the fact that The Alchemist’s Workshop is a facility for the making of black and white film prints, the Street Photography workshop on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July this year will be on black and white film.
The two-day workshop will appeal to digital and film photographers alike. The techniques we will explore will translate to colour film and digital technology but we will be working within the strict disciplines of black and white film. It will be like a foundation course in photographic story telling and we’ll have all the fun of working in the darkroom on the 2nd day.
On day 1 we will work in Morecambe, a traditional English seaside town, subject abounds. Delegates will be supplied with a film camera but are welcome to bring their own if they choose. We will look at framing and composition, juxtaposition and mirroring, use of reflections, empathy and compassion, humor and narrative. Also technique such as pre-focusing, zone focusing and alternative exposure modes.
On day 2 we will come back to The Alchemist’s Workshop gallery and darkroom where we’ll process and print the results, we’ll look at some of the great Street Photographs of the past and discuss what it is that made them great and we’ll take the time to look at and discuss our own efforts.
Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July 2014
The Alchemist’s Workshop
The English Lake District
£250 for the two days.
Please phone 01229 860588 or E mail email@example.com to book.