Choose a viewpoint, perhaps looking out of your window or from a café in the central square, and write down everything you can see. No matter how boring it seems or how detailed, just write it down. Spend at least an hour on this exercise.
Here are some areas to consider:
- Can you transform this into a photography version?
- Would you stay in the same place or get in close to the things you listed?
- Would you choose to use your camera phone in order to be discreet or would you get your tripod out?
- Would it be better in black and white or colour?
- Would you include your list with the final images?
- You may choose to turn this into a photography project if it interests you.
I chose to take advantage of the lovely weather and go to sit in Princess Gardens in Torquay. It is a pedestrianised area that sits in the town centre next to the harbour and most people use it to walk from Torquay to the amenities of Torre Abbey, the bars and restaurants on the seafront and the main leisure centre as well as the hotels nearby. Writing everything down took time and slowed everything as it was impossible to write and watch at the same time. It is interesting to just sit and watch as it is something that most of us do not do as a habit. It is a dying art of just being rather than doing.
After about an hour, I took my camera (compact and phone) and wandered round the area looking at the physical things that were in it – the fountain, the cenotaph, the Princess Pavilion and the Big wheel. I also took time to consider the people using the space. It was busy and all ages were there, from babies in pushchairs to old people in wheel chairs. From the cradle to the grave, and lots of young foreign students who come to this area to study English.
Would I transfer this into a photography version. I suppose I did that to a certain extent by snapping some items that I had seen. I took a series from where I was sitting in a panorama, then moved to get closer to some of the buildings and zoom in on some details. It was a surreptitious capturing of people passing by using my phone so that it would not seem so intrusive. Most people are now used to phones being on display and being used as a camera. It was more interesting to capture them passing by unawares than trying to get them to perhaps stop and pose, not that I would anyway as I am too timid to do that.
Torquay is a colourful town and the day was bright and sunny so colour works better than black and white – the blue and white striped deckchairs, the blue sky, the colours on the old fashioned merry-go-round and all the summer clothes.
I wrote descriptions of the place around me and how people appeared to me passing by so it would add context to the images if that was kept with the photographs. The wheel is a big part of the area as it arrives in April and leaves in October, and is prominent on the seafront throughout the summer. It has become part of Torquay now.
I quite like trying to catch people as they walk by and so the phone comes in handy to do that.
There was also the chance to get closer and use a wide aperture to get shallower depth of field, something that I have been looking at in my photography recently. Taking smaller features and focusing on them when taken out of the bigger picture can be interesting. It allows closer inspection of a detail that you may overlook otherwise.
I quite enjoyed doing this exercise as it forced me to slow down and look around me, taking in what was happening and making decisions about what could be important and what could be left out. The constant flow of people was interesting to watch, the range of ages and their ability to traverse the area. There were babies in pushchairs and older people using wheeled frames for steadiness to people in wheelchairs. It was good to see the life in the town in the sunshine, and gave hope for the coming summer season.