Street stalking

by juliakeil

So I realise it has now been over a week since my last post which means that I now have not one but two assignment (soon to be three) to post about. Time and all the events in it sure has a way of catching up with you. So much so that finding the time to write about it all is the challenge. Well at least I’m trying…

Assignment two was street photography. Same requirements as last time. Three instances, 400 ISO, 50mm, manual focus, black and white. Now street photography has always been what exhilarated and frustrated me most. The exhilaration stems from the unknown, the itching to peek around the next corner to see what awaits for you to capture it. The exhilaration heightens when you finally snap up that moment, that face, that slap in the face that life throws at you sometimes when everything just seems When you don’t manage to capture that specific moment in time however, for whatever reason whether its nerves or timing, that’s when the frustration kicks in. And boy does it kick hard. For me, it’s always been an emotional battle.

I approached this assignment using my Nikon D700 DSLR and set to the streets immediately. It found it to be a totally different experience photographing on the street with my digital camera rather than my usual (lighter) equipment of choice, my Nikon FG20 film camera, a hand-me-down from my mother many years ago. It wasn’t a better or worse experience…just different. With my FG20, I tend to treasure each frame much more and take my time composing each image. Photographing digitally, I snapped away carelessly, often holding my camera at hip level and guessing my exposure (which often resulted in some pretty blurry images and unplanned framing as you can see below).

searching for that light on Oxford Street

The city

Phone call in China town

I tried all sorts of different approaches in order to find my shots. I tried walking endlessly through London letting my legs make my decisions for me…

Oxford street

Eyeing up the buffet in China town

A view from a bus of a rainy day

The City and a very long cigarette


A character in Whitechapel

I tried waiting in certain areas for the right individual to pass my frame…

Southbank shadows

Off Oxford street

Reading the paper in China town

Shadows in trafalgar square

I tried approaching people and ended up in diverse conversations with them about their lives which eventually lead to them giving me a ticket to their time…

Feeding the pigeons at Marble Arch

I even tried slightly stalking a poor elderly woman which I pretty quickly felt a bit strange about and so swiftly stopped…

Taking a moment before the next step, Southbank

Yes I tried all sorts.  And I still don’t know if I got “the shot”. I don’t actually think  I’ll ever feel like I got it. Grass is always greener on the other side and all that jazz..

From this assignment I do feel like I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I am getting more and more comfortable approaching people or even just getting closer which hopefully will result in  less of the frustration that comes with street photography…although perhaps I should work on focusing my shots and try and find more of a balance between my methods in film and digital. Perhaps. I’m intrigued to see how this progresses.

Occasionally I think..what is the point? What is the point in snapping up so many moments, so many faces when all they  end up as is a file on your hard drive, another negative to file away for future reference… why am I doing this? Putting myself through this unquenchable thirst of finding the next frame..What is the essence of what I am trying to capture because I feel there is some message I am attempting to share yet I don’t know what that message is. Sometimes I feel I get close to discovering something only to feel it slip away moments after. Just like the people I try to capture as they pass me by.

For now though, I will continue stalking the streets and see where my legs might take me next.

Stay tuned for Assignment three: Relationships coming soon….