Reading some of the articles on Minimalist Photography, and looking at the fabulous images (then reading a suggestion for minimalist street photography) got me thinking.
Although I’m a law-abiding citizen, I don’t really like rules. I never have. Maybe I’m just bolshy. I don’t mind a rule (and will abide by it) if there’s a good reason. And it needs to be a genuinely GOOD reason, such as, ‘No leaning over these rails,’ if there’s a forty foot drop the other side. I don’t need telling twice.
What I don’t like is rules for no reason. Sometimes, photography comes into this category. I suppose I like to think I work more instinctively than going through a check list of dos and don’ts. Maybe it’s because I come from an art, rather than a technical background. Don’t get me wrong, I love to know why things work, and I love to know the ins and outs of the camera. We all need the basic technical information before we attempt to shoot, but photography, for me, is all about experimentation: sometimes it works, more often than not, it doesn’t, but whatever happens, I’m more informed the next time I point that camera and click the shutter.
About a year ago, as part of a local art collective, Blott Artist Studios, I was asked to exhibit some work. As well as being bolshy and hating rules I am also the most indecisive person on this planet, so you can imagine the traumas of trying to decide on just six pieces of work. Eventually, after a lot of soul searching and changes of mind, I decided on a series of images which were part of a street photography project, “Passing the Time.”
The first image of the series was taken as I exited a room at an exhibition. Through a small gap, I spotted a man, leaning back against a wall, next to a bright lamp. With the camera on all the wrong settings, I pointed and shot. When I uploaded the image, I decided I liked it. It was stark, high contrast, and by chance, quite minimalistic. The others just followed.
I didn’t give the genre a name apart from ‘Street Photography.’ It was only after reading a recent article that I realised many of the images from the series also fitted into the minimalistic theme.
This next image was taken from North Pier. I watched a group of lads playing on the prom, when what looked like the smallest and youngest of the group, climbed over the railings and slid down onto the lower prom. He was showing off, trying to act big in front of his mates – but soon realised he couldn’t get back up again. He spent the next ten minutes flying up and down the steps as though that was what he’d intended all along. I gave it its title due to the boy’s activity and a lone seagull above him.
A prom shot, late afternoon. I liked the contrast of the man in his suit, reading, and the two girls in leather jackets against the curves of the seats and the lights. Another one on all the wrong settings.
The Comedy Carpet is one of Blackpool’s more recent attractions. Full of funny sayings from comedians, ancient and more recent, it draws holidaymakers and locals, alike. When I spotted this couple, eyes down, reading the quotes I loved the sense of space between them – they seemed lost in their own worlds.
Blackpool prom draws me like a magnet. I love the curves of the seats, the lines of the railings. Early evening is a favourite time, when people are strolling, cycling, heading home or back to hotels. This man was having a well earned rest after what looked like a long cycle ride. What made the picture for me was the gull, perched atop the lights, as though it, too, deserved a break.
Finally, the last of this six that I chose to exhibit, was back at North Pier, a family, picnicking behind the frosted glass, Blackpool Tower in the background. I loved the blurred shapes of the family, the shadows on the wooden boards. This last image is different from the rest: it’s not stark or under exposed, instead it’s busy. It’s not minimalist. To me, this picture sums up Blackpool.
Maybe this final image doesn’t belong in the series, but I like it, it has atmosphere. I chose it. It stays.
Rules, as I said, are meant to be broken.