Outtakes for Covert

While I have written about the five photos that I took to make a set for the exercise, there are others that I did that I liked as well.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to take some photographs of a friend’s band at an outdoor gig recently.  My camera is a bit of a being a beast Nikon DSLR, but as people expected me to take photos of the band they paid no attention to me wandering around the site and snapping what I saw.

Ex2.2 Covert-1
At Soundcheck

A couple of the crew avoiding the rain and waiting for time to pass until it was all over and they had to load up again.

Ex2.2 Covert-4
Rainy Flower Girl

It was overcast although quite warm, spitting with rain.  Little Mix had played there the night before and they were selling floral headbands and glow sticks.  Her headband makes her look like she’s at Woodstock.

Ex2.2 Covert-3
Selfie With The Band

Lots of people take photos of themselves in front of the band playing so that they remember being there and part of it all.  More floral headbands, but her expression caught my eye as well as the tiny man in front of them.  Is he part of their group? I don’t know!

Ex2.2 Covert-2
Space

Another band waiting for soundcheck to finish and then they can get off to eat.

Ex2.2 Covert-5
Preston Beach

I was walking along the promenade at Preston Beach and saw these two having a snooze in the sun.  The are blissfully unaware of anything around them, and it was very hot so I can imagine them waking up with sunburn.

Ex2.2 Covert-6
Beach Huts

Carrying my camera at waist height, I snapped these people outside their beach huts just along from the other couple.  Beach huts are prized items here and the waiting list is endless.  It’s not my idea of fun as I like to move around from beach to beach depending on my mood, the time of day, whether I want to swim or not, whether I fancy an ice cream.  It’s a slice of British life seeing people outside their huts on a summer’s day.

These don’t make a coherent essay on street life, but they are observations at various times to show that it is possible to take photos while people are not aware of you.  Interesting to try it out and see the results.

 

Exercise 2.2 Covert

Brief: Closely consider the work of the practitioners discussed above, then try to shoot a series of five portraits of subjects who are unaware of the fact they are being photographed.

I had a couple of attempts at this using my phone camera as it was the most unobtrusive of cameras – everyone carries one and there isn’t any suspicion of it facing people.  I was out walking along the seafront and snapped a few people as I passed.  Some I caught, others were completely missed as the phone reacted slower than I did, and it was very hit and miss in terms of focus and framing.  That isn’t surprising as trying to line up the phone and allow it to focus then pressing a shutter button of sorts isn’t an exact science.  I also tried a couple using my DSLR when out doing images for the previous exercise.

I think that this is almost as unnerving as asking people to pose for a photograph in Assignment 1.  It does feel a little as though you are invading their space even if they appear to be unaware that their photograph is being taken. The ones below are the result of walking through Torquay on a blustery but sunny evening, snapping people on my phone.  There is a variety of ages and people from young families to older couples.  I use an app on the phone called Retrica that adds filters to the photos and this gives them more of a polaroid look, like the instant photos of the 1970s.  It isn’t to everyone’s taste but for an exercise like this it works ok giving the images some warmth.

 

Caramel
(1)

This one is made interesting by the long shadows made by me and my husband as we walked in the opposite direction.  There is a feel to this that it could have been taken many years ago, not the other night.

Natural
(2)

This one came out really well as they are really close to me, blinded by the lowering sun, and there is my shadow across them as I snap the phone.

Natural
(4)

We then sat in a bar by the harbour and I snapped people passing me, that looked interesting.

Natural
(3)

There is the feeling that none of them are seeing me as they pass on their way to meet friends, loved ones or family or on a walk in the sunshine before it goes down.

Natural
(5)

A young family with the sun behind the little girl being carried – not something we are encouraged to do but it works in this instance as they are hurrying away from me.  I truly am invisible to them.  That is the beauty of a phone as it doesn’t draw attention to me while i snap away.

All of these were taken within a short time frame of about half an hour and the light makes them a coherent set with the warmth of the setting sun.  It was a challenge but on this occasion, not as bad as doing the assignment and I believe that I caught something.

 

First thoughts on ‘The Non-Familiar’

Assignment 1 asks to make five portraits of people who were previously unknown to me.  I have ignored it for a couple of weeks hoping that it might go away but I finally had to knuckle down and do something about it.  I admit that I not the most gregarious of people and I find portraits quite difficult anyway in that I tend to rush rather then take my time, as I feel that the sitter will be impatient with me taking time to sort out focussing and all that on the camera.  When they say that it is out of the comfort zone, I tend to agree for this reason as I refer to be invisible.

I didn’t really have a definite plan in mind of who I wanted to try to find to photograph other than I wanted them to be from where I live, so the people who work and live here.  I live in a tourist area by the sea and when the sun comes out, so do the people and locals. It seems that we almost hibernate during the winter but as soon as the first rays glow, out they come casting off clothes and ready to face the world.  I would like to say that I had it all planned out, that I would go to a certain place and find the right people.  In reality, I took my camera to several events and hoped that it would come to me.  In my favour is the fact that I seem to have to air of someone who knows (a) where they are going and (b) where everything and everywhere is, plus I must be approachable as I have been asked directions in the USA, Canada, and Germany as well as the local Sainsburys.  I have seen Martin Parr in action in programmes and he makes it look so easy.  I am no Martin Parr, on several counts. But I hope that when I did approach people that they weren’t intimidated by me.  I even asked a young man who seemed very wary but allowed me to photograph him anyway.  Interestingly, I think this is the one image that shows the lack of connection and has a ‘far away’ feel to it.  The others were very accommodating and it was ok after all although I did have trouble with the focussing on my small camera on one occasion that I panicked over a little but laughed it off.  That is the learning part of it.  I was once told by a piano player that you never stop playing if you make a mistake, you carry on and most people won’t even notice and assume that it’s part of the piece.  I am learning to carry on playing so that it all looks intentional while to me it appears that it’s chaos.

Below are a couple of the few photos that I took in order to move towards getting them to pose for me.  Dan is the only one that I remembered to ask his name, and I took some of him making the coffee before stopping him to get him to look in the camera.  With the ice-cream seller, it was a breezy afternoon on the seafront and the wind whipped up under the canopy as I was taking the photos.  She was laughing at her hair going all over the place and while this was a moment, it was not the moment.

Non Familiar contact-1
Dan making the coffee

 

Non Familiar contact-2
Timing

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I have finally come up with five images and while I am not sure that they are the best I have done, I am submitting them as a first draft in order to get on with the rest of the course and not be bogged down in this.  As time goes by, I will be persevering in photographing strangers and hopefully getting better at it as I do.  I feel sure that this is not the final five as the course progresses but for now, I have got them.

Getting Started

The course materials have arrived, I have a brand new notebook, I have set up this learning log, and I am about to contact my new tutor.  All I need to do now is to get started.  I really enjoyed Context and Narrative as I hadn’t really considered my own sense of identity in my photography.  It came at a good time, or a not so good time depending on how you look at it, because my dad was declining in health and temperament and subsequently passed away between Assignments 4 and 5.  My role changed over the months that I was studying as my duties caring for my dad’s wellbeing went up a notch, my role as a parent went sideways and I took on different responsibilities with my family.  The assignment of “Putting Yourself in the Picture” really was a discovery as I looked at where I was and the roles I play.

 

Identity and Place will be a continuation of that exploration and I am hoping that I can now focus more fully on the more rounded aspects of studying, with reading, visiting exhibitions (most are in London which are hours away) and taking more photographs. That really  is why I started this course on the first place, to take more photographs and better ones that show more thought than just a snap of a moment in time.  Although I enjoy those too, my phone camera is put to good use every day.