The OCA handbook advised taking time over this assignment, and careful planning. After weeks of throwing ideas around my head I decided on photographing a standard London commute, and capturing people on their journeys – where were they going to? Where were they coming from? Could I narrate their mood using body language or facial expressions?
Photographing people is something that I find rather daunting – where is the boundary for being intrusive? What if the person does not want to be photographed? From the get go I was not going to photograph any children whatsoever. Being crammed on a tube carriage meant that I had to be up-close and personal – something that didn’t come naturally to me. Even using my 50mm prime lens felt too intrusive. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat on the tube, you’re usually sat in a row facing your fellow commuters. This meant that eye contact was at a high, and eye to lens contact was even more so. Even trying the ‘shoot from the hip’ method was not producing the results I was looking for. Had the train been near to empty this may have been different. This was the first of many obstacles I encountered.
The second was camera shake. I hadn’t anticipated just how hard it would have been to get a still shot – the tube jiggles you around much more than I was aware of (usually i’m in my own world listening to music, not noticing how much I move) and this became a BIG problem. I could alter my shutter speed setting, and then crank up the ISO but I didn’t want to produce grainy pictures.
This brings me on to the lack of light. Duh, I’m underground – so there’s firstly no natural light, and secondly, the strength of the artificial light at times was weak (tunnels were a no).
The biggest problem was that I was banned by security for using my tripod anywhere in the stations (health and safety….apparently) which just emphasised my struggle to capture what I had imagined and wanted to produce. I feel that what I envisioned in my head was not unrealistic but unattainable due to these set backs.
As a result of the above I have decided on doing the same sort of theme, but in an easier environment. I still want to push my boundaries of photographing people, but maybe not when they’re sat 2 feet opposite me, looking at my camera like i’m paparazzi.
I did, however, manage to take a handful of interesting shots, which I have included below.
I learnt a great deal from this ‘failed’ shoot, and wonder if i’d researched it a little more if I could have avoided these problems – perhaps by heading to the outer city where it’s not as busy and the trains are emptier, also shooting on over land routes so I can use more natural light.