Location Photographers

In this blog post we shall be looking at more research done for the location brief. I was required to research photographers who I thought applied to my take on the location brief and what I wanted to shoot in Liverpool.

Joel Meyerowitz:

JMJoel Meyerowitz is a Street, Portrait and Landscape Photographer based within America. Meyerowitz was inspired to practice photography in 1952 when he saw Robert Frank at work. So he took to the streets of New York City and started capturing. Meyerowitz’s inspiration has been often stated that it came from Robert Frank, Henri-Cartier Bresson and Eugéne Atget as Joel says “In the pantheon of greats there is Robert Frank and there is Atget”. Joel was always between colour and black and white but in 1972 he permanently switched to colour. He also switched to a large format camera (8×10) to capture places and people. He still uses his traditional large format cameras but also carries digital Leica’s (large format and full-frame)

The first image I have is called “an unexpected accident” which was shot in Paris 1967. This image is interesting and really emphasises the Henri-Cartier Bresson’s findings of the decisive unit, a person in the middle of the frame has fallen over. People have stopped what they were doing to look and you can see this epicentre of reactions within the people commuting in Paris. Though the image is slightly tilted this adds to the aesthetic of the action within the image. Joel would have shot this image on small film camera. Leica has been Meyerowitz’s main tool.

Paul Reas:

PRPaul Reas (born 1955) is a British social documentary photographer and university lecturer. He is best known for photographing consumerism in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s. He has also produced two books and worked on other publications for magazines. Reas has also received awards for the work he has produced. He has received three awards over his career. He has also had several solo exhibitions of his work, and has been shown alongside other photographers in many joint exhibitions.

Reas like many other photographers started with a 35mm camera and black and white film. He started photographing working people, taking inspiration from both August Sander and Lee Friedlander’s portrayal of working people. He later started moving to colour and subjective photography, having seen the work of North American colour photographers, along with a few other British Photographers (Graham and Anna Fox, for example). Reas later moved to a 5×4 film camera but still continued to use his flashgun.

I find Paul Reas’ work interesting because there is quite a blunt approach about the way he documents the human condition. There is no decoration of what he is trying to capture only what he sees through the camera. I feel this could be a useful approach for when documenting Liverpool and it will help form a strong magazine spread.

PR 1This photo is called “I Can Help, Army Wallpaper, B&Q Store, Newport South Wales”. It was part of his first exhibition called “I Can Help” (1988). This series looked at the impact of the “consumer boom” in the 1980’s. This resulted in Britain’s American-Style shopping malls and the rise of the “new middle class”.

This image is very straightforward it is a picture of a small family with the dad on the right picking out a photographic wallpaper in a B&Q store. He doesn’t seem aware of the photographer as he is looking up and it seems to that he is thinking about something (Quite possibly about decorating the room). The mother on the left seems to be aware of the photographer ever so slightly, her reaction is very natural and is shocked.

The camera isn’t stated, however the image must have been taken on a relatively small film camera and it obviously was taken with a flash accessory. The shutter speed could be 1/125th and because the woman who is a shop assistant in the back is blurred. In addition, most flashes synchronize at 1/125th however; it depends on whether in the past flashes could synchronize at that speed.

PR 2The second image is also taken from his first exhibition “I can help” (1988). This image in particular was took in Bradford and the man in the middle is an Asian man in a suit with trainers. The image has some interesting conceptual elements, in the past Bradford’s culture was known for being racist. For this man to stand out between the day to day of Bradford, is very interesting and quite striking as an image. However, it could be showing the man as an outcast because of his ethnicity.

The image could either be shot on a large format film camera or a film SLR camera. In all of the images Paul Reas has shot with flash they always light a specific part within the image, this draws your attention to the subject.

PR 3The final image by Paul Reas; taken from the photo series “flogging a dead horse”, which is a satirical view on the British Heritage and culture in a postindustrial Britain. The image has a man filming an area of Newcastle. It could be of Newcastle due the cart sign saying Newcastle brewers but other than that, there is no visual confirmation, based on the buildings as they could have all changed as times have moved on.

The image could have been shot on either a 35mm film camera or a large format film camera. We can see in this image that there is a lot of detail within the shot, there is not a huge compositional line that jump out. This leads me to believe it is more likely a large format film camera with a flash attached but focusing its light on the man filming. This evens out the exposure but also draws your attention to the man filming.

Tom Wood:

Tom Wood is Street, Portrait and Location photographer based in Britain, who originally was trained as a painter. Tom Wood had an interest in photography all his life and was called “Photie Man”. Wood is best known for his photographs in Liverpool and Merseyside from 1978-2001. Wood has produced many photobooks, his most iconic photobook “Photie-Man”. “Photie Man” focusses on Tom Wood’s work from around the Liverpool and Merseyside area it captures every type of person imaginable in Liverpool. Which has gotten the attention of critics such as The New Yorker’s Vince Aletti says “he makes Martin Parr look like a formalist”, Martin Parr has street photography that comes very close to exploiting the human condition all for the sake of art.

Tom Wood like many photographers started with a film SLR but also carried a film video camera. Wood used both types of film interchangeably as by the time he started to practice photography colour was becoming the norm. He now uses digital cameras to help capture his images, his main work camera is a large format digital camera, like the film large format cameras. These capture a phenomenal amount of detail allowing you to see more than graphic bold lines of composition.

Wood’s pictures are interesting to look at as they were taken in the Liverpool area which will be useful to look at for inspiration when taking my own images. The three images were all taken from his photo-book “Photie man”

TW 1This first image is quite intriguing at first glance the image shows three women not ready for an image. The women’s expression make you feel irritated as their expressions are slightly judging, this is understandable that a photographer has just come up and taken an image of them and left without asking or saying thank you. The image shows that the photographer was in between the group of girls, which does feel like an invasion of their privacy. In addition to the subject of the photograph being these woman the image is composed in such a way that you cannot work out where they are. The image feels like it could be shot within a club but it feels like this was done on purpose. This image would have to been taken on film SLR camera given how the photographer has got so close to his subjects. Wood would also have had to use a high speed flash gun to be able to freeze the people, this could be 1/160th.

TW 2This is a picture of a man waiting at the bus shelter, I cannot tell if the Wood has stopped to capture the image or just walked past and captured the image. The colours within the image are interesting as the jacket of the man contrasts against the tiled yellow wall. Another curiosity of this image is the lighting, it looks to be lit by daylight but the man looks well lit. The flash could be off camera but angled to light the man and not leave flash streaks. The aperture would have to be somewhere between f/8-f/16 if this was shot on a 35mm film SLR as that would explain the sharpness of the image and would also explain my assumption of the lighting.

TW 3The final image I have chosen to look at is of a woman leaning against a blue painted brick wall. The woman is blonde haired with a red dress and jacket stands out and is the main focal point of the image. I also like the lighting in the image it feels like this image could be shot underneath a bridge as its lighter on the left side but gives the image quite a nice gradient from right to left. The shadow on the woman shadows creates the illusion that someone is behind her. This image feels more composed than Woods other “spur of the moments” shots. Like the second image it is shot with daylight and is using the lighting of the location to create an effect. This could have been shot on a small SLR camera because the scene isn’t complex and though everything is sharp, it would seem unneccesary.

Trent Parke:

Trent Parke is an Australian photographer, who primarily shoots street TP
photography and has many of those images published into books. Parke is a member of the prestigious Magnum Photos and represented by two galleries in Australia. Trent Parke uses a variety of film cameras and prefers to shoot film but still embraces digital. He started with an Old Nikon Press Camera with a tripod. Film photography still has a place within our society and though we are phasing it out, film still has a place within Photography and is where are heritage comes from. Tripods have a practical use and also create a psychological effect of increasing the presence of the photographer within the image.

TP 1This image in particular appeals to me because of the composition and the position where the image was captured. I find it particularly clever how the person to the left of the image is in the foreground, while also being unfocussed as it immediately draws your attention to the focussed area of the image; the middle ground.

It is essentially a person, surfacing from the oceans, but the angle in which the image has been captured is very interesting. Looking further on you can see what looks like trees but because of the angle they look like they are also submerged within the water. It feels as if Parke has waited for the subject people that look like they are waiting for the rain to clear.

So what have we learnt?

As you can see I looked at different street/documentary photographers; Tom Wood, Trent Parke, Paul Reas and Joel Meyerowitz. Each photographer has their own style of Street Photography from the blunt and natural approach of Paul Reas to the conceptual and enigma ridden photos from Trent Parke. Tom Wood’s photographs were helpful as they documented Liverpool between 1978 and 2001. Whilst Joel Meyerowitz’s photos of the transition from black and white to colour are iconic and monumental within the history of Photography.

References:

Joel Meyerwitz:

Paul Reas:

Tom Wood:

Trent Parke:

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