Saturday, 11 September 2010

Health and Safety

A few more pictures from my lately-discovered heap of rusting metal.

People often talk about the courage it takes to do street photography* but it takes a certain resolution to photograph junk, too, especially when the occupants of nearby workshops and offices fear you may be a health and safety inspector.

It helps to have a good line in repartee, and not to look like a health and safety inspector. And, in general, people have a superstitious fear of fast-mouthed lunatics with missing teeth, and that works for me.

* Have you ever seen this Youtube video of Garry Winogrand at work? It's a revelation. Yeah, OK, so the commentary is in German, but it's what he does that is so interesting. Notice how he continually seems to be checking the camera ("Is this thing really working?" -- remember, it's a film camera, what's to check??) and looking off to the side and smiling. In between those tics the picture gets made.


Martin H. said...

Interesting video clip, Mike. And it sounds as though superstition has a useful role to play after least, in the life of a street photographer.

Mike C. said...

There are quite a number of good "photographers at work" videos on Youtube, but for a complete contrast try this:


Steve said...

It's interesting how he's constantly adjusting for the light (he has no light meter) as well as using the 'checking' technique to relax the subjects - makes him look like a tourist struggling to get the camera to work, rather than a pro street photographer.

Mike C. said...

Steve, that's right, I think the strategy is that if someone notices him, he's already looking somewhere else. I once did a workshop with Martin Parr, and his commonest "aggro avoidance" technique was to turn through 90 degrees or to appear to be looking beyond the subject (they would get the impression they'd walked across the "real" subject).

For a completely in-your-face alternative approach, try this: