Living in a city can be a busy and fast lifestyle. But, once in a while, it’s important to slow down and do what feels best for you.
I like to grab a camera and go out and walk. The idea of “just looking” at scenes, colours and compositions of Berlin that could make a cityscape photograph of Berlin city, is relaxing.
Not everything must be about street photography.
A city is a complex structure of ideas that either melds well together, or it crashes into itself through bad planning.
Photography is about different things to different people. I enjoy the challenge of doing my best to take a photo of a scene that catches my eye as I walk through the city.
Other times, I’ll set up still life motifs at home, get the lights out, or use natural light from a window source, and start experimenting with the still life.
The above photo was taken while walking around the Government buildings area of Berlin. There is large open space, a park, that leads to a small bridge that crosses the river Spree and takes you directly into the Berlin Central Station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof.
After walking between tall buildings, along narrow passageways, and navigating the crowds of Sunday strollers around the city, I walked into this open space. It felt like a place to relax. It was a cold but sunny day, and people were doing their best to enjoy the sunshine despite the chill. The benches immediately caught my eye.
I sensed a composition of colours and lines that would make a good photograph. So I started to shuffle with my feet, and look through the view finder, trying to frame the composition and to find out what angle would be the most interesting point of view.
The photo of red benches in the middle ground, with the wooden slatted bench in the foreground creates a strong composition. The green grass in the distance creates a composition similar to an arrow head, and therefore begins a strong geometric composition.
People are always high interest points in photos. There’s the couple who are centred on the far bench, the man leaning his head towards the person next to him. They seem to be relaxing and enjoying the broad field of view.
To the far left a group of people have stopped and are chatting, one person is walking with a mobile phone in hand.
I took four shots of this scene until I finally got the above shot. At that point, I decided that if I’m right, and there is a composition worth capturing here, then I must’ve got it those four shots. I knew already that it was the fourth shot that best captured the scene.
My experience tells me that if you spend too much time dallying around with a scene that you know is good, and you are shifting and shuffling your feet, adjusting the lens for depth of field etc, then your brain ends up more confused than it was at the start; it’s important to work with a strong intention, and react quickly to the decisive moments that arise.
I took four shots of the bench and field. It all took me less than 45 seconds to figure out. While I’m deciding on my angle, I also feel a strong tension. It’s a positive experience and tells me that something good is happening.
I look at the world through the eyes of an artist. I don’t care for the romantic in life, nor do I give a monkey’s toss for the “high concept” style of thinking in art. I think art should be accessible to everybody, even numbskulls who believe that art is a total mystery.
If what you are looking at makes something fizz inside, and stops you talking and makes you look, then it’s probably got some potential as art in it.
Art is neither “high” nor “low”. It is a human factor. A part of our lives that we either embrace and enjoy, or we ignore it- and therefore miss out on something interesting.
I love it when I see that a piece of work has grabbed somebody by the balls, and caused them to stop and gasp about a photograph, or a painting. Even music and dance makes people gasp, then feel something.
We live in a world where skills and meaningful action are being shoved aside for a computer generated piece of crap that claims to replace a laborious task that a human once willingly did.
When we wander around with a camera in hand, and look at the environment where we live. It is full of all types of architecture that has been designed for human use. The mark of being human is everywhere.
More and more we see that the Internet of Things is invading our spaces.
We didn’t ask for it, nor condone its invasion. Its effect is contrary to humannesses, and we need to be aware of that. The computer generated world is a self serving one. Humans are expected to adjust, fit in, and accept that things have changed – even when it’s detrimental to human wellness.
To walk through a park, and to notice the colour of a bench. Two people sitting and relaxing after a week of work and stress, is to feel something. So, why not capture it with a camera and do your best to take that photo with all of your heart. Normally, when we do something with all of our heart we tend to reap a result which is “pretty dammed good”. And so, we move on hopeful to the next opportunity to express something human with our cameras.
Taking photos is just one aspect of being human. The ability to see deeply and capture an idea is to freeze it into a moment. The hope that we do this well, and that the outcome is worth looking at later, is the goal.
Street photography, cityscapes, landscapes, are all important moments captured by a photographer that people look at in later years, and the onlooker will see how life has changed. The streets never stay the same. The way people dress, and what people do to entertain themselves is always newly reinvented.
Call your photography what you like, people will always argue with you about technical meanings of “what is street photography?”, or the difference between candid photography, and street photography, and cityscapes and so on, and on. People love to argue, and then feel as if they are right about things.
At the end of the day, it’s about building a body of photographic work in some way. When you take photos on the street, or in a country village, then you are taking interest in life. People, places, and architecture that makes life worth living and looking at.
More on this blog about photography