Category Archives: Part 4 – People interacting with place

Paul Bence – Street Photography

I stumbled across another article offering advice on street photography by Paul Bence.

The article below offers some great tips on what and what not to do. I’ve noticed some big similarities with the advice on street photography.

I love the style of Paul Bence – he gets so up close to his subjects, and often shoots through windows which creates a lovely urban feel. He captures great expressions on his subjects, and the eye contact between them and the camera evokes emotion.


Exercise: Selective processing and prominence

Select one image that you have already taken for an earlier project, an image in which
the issue is the visual prominence of a figure in a setting.  For this exercise you will use the digital processing methods that you have available on your computer to make two new versions of this image.

In one, make the figure less prominent, so that it recedes into the setting. In the second,
do the opposite, by making it stand out more. Possible selective adjustments are to
brightness, contrast, even colour intensity if you are presenting a colour image.

The actual technique will depend on the processing software that you use, for example
Photoshop or Lightroom or Aperture, or any other. The tools available to you will also
depend on whether or not you shot the image in raw format. You will need to find out
which of several methods you can use.

For this exercise we can use a previously taken shot, so I wanted to see whether I could shift the attention of my small lone figure at the top of Yosemite waterfall. Considering the backdrop is quite spectacular and the main focal point of the image, I wanted to see if it would be relatively easy to bring the figure to life more.

To make him less prominent I upped the contrast and the shadows, thus creating darker shadows and obscuring him a little bit more.

To make him more prominent I lightened the foreground including the space he’s positioned on and the space before him. I lowered the contrast to make the background stand out less.

It was a fairly difficult picture to achieve this with, but I feel he is more obvious in the second shot.

I’ve also included an easier photo to demonstrate this with – my niece. In the first shot I’ve darkened the image, making her blend into the background more. I’ve then done the reverse and brightened the image and upped the contrast to make her stand out from her surroundings.

Drew Hopper – Street Photography

In my quest to gain more confidence when photographing people I began researching photographers and forums giving advice and tips on how to overcome the fear of photographing strangers.

That’s when I came across an article written by Drew Hopper – an Australian landscape and travel photographer. Here Drew gives 10 top tips for getting over ‘the fear’ and includes examples of his travel photography.

Not only is this advice stellar, but his imagery is incredibly evocative.

His use of colours really make the images ‘pop’ and I like the vignette effect he’s applied to several of the shots.

His use of camera angles are enviable, and produce some really great shots. For example the aerial angle used to capture the fruit and veg seller.

Here’s the article:

Tips for successful street photography

Along with the link to Drew’s website…………well worth a look. What an amazingly creative photographer.

Drew Hopper Photography


‘The Last Resort’ – Martin Parr

I have previously referenced the work of Martin Parr earlier on my blog, but was advised by my tutor to look especially at his collection called ‘The Last Resort’. I had a substantial lack of confidence for my latest assignment and chose to avoid photographing people where possible – something I am fully aware I need to overcome. As my tutor Robert pointed out – we are all entitled to photograph the world around us, and at times may need to seek permission, but photographing people both aware and unaware is something I need to become much more confident with.

What I learnt instantly from looking at ‘The Last Resort’ is just how confident Parr is when photographing his subjects. He manages to capture such raw and intimate moments in time.

His collection can be viewed here:

There’s very little in the way of preparation with this collection. No one is posed or positioned in order to create a more aesthetic composition. There’s no second chance, or chance to recreate a certain shot. What is also apparent is that Parr is up close and personal, rather than relying on/hiding behind a zoom lens. Parr’s ability to capture expressions and gestures are purely a combination of his impeccable timing, his eye for detail and most importantly, his confidence behind the camera.

What captivated me the most about this collection is the glaring irony.

‘New Brighton is a seaside resort on the Wirral Peninsula, three miles from Liverpool. Originally a watering place for the wealthy merchants of Liverpool, New Brighton hit the peak of its popularity in the first two decades of this century. The tower, built in 1897, was actually higher than Blackpool’s but had to be demolished after the First World War due to the neglect. New Brighton’s decline was accelerated in the 1960’s when most of the sand disappeared because of the tidal changes in the River Mersey. This was consolidated by the closure of the ferry service to Liverpool (1971) and the demolition of the pier (1978).

Despite this, some notable features remain: the Lido outdoor swimming pool, built in 1934, is one of the largest in Europe. There is also a fine promenade and ‘The Palace’ amusement park.

Today’s visitors to New Brighton are day-trippers from Liverpool and the Wirral. A hot summer day can still draw large crowds. Martin photographs document contemporary New Brighton: and urban seaside resort, run down, but very much alive.’

This resort used to be frequented by the wealthy, but slowly spiralled into a decline – which is very much apparent in this series. People had gone on day trips and vacations to this destination, yet the feeling of disrepair or some sort of disconnect is very much apparent. The litter scattered amongst groups of sunbathers, the crying children, the bored parents and the elderly couples sitting in silence. What a captivating collection. This really has given me the drive to photograph the public….

Exercise: A Single Small Figure

This kind of image is not easy to plan, simply because the conditions are so specific- a place which at the time of shooting is for the most part free of people, yet with the occasional figure passing through it.

You may have to keep this exercise in the back of your mind and take advantage of a suitable situation when it crops up. Alternatively, you could plan the location and then arrange for a friend to be the figure.

Consider how obvious to a viewers eye, the figure will be in the image. Some delayed reaction adds to the interest of looking at this kind of photograph, and there is even an element of surprise if the scale of the place (perhaps a cathedral interior) is larger than expected. On the other hand, the point of  this style of image is lost if the viewer fails to notice the figure and moves on.

Pay close attention to where in the frame you place the figure- the more off centre, the more dynamic the composition is likely to be, but only up to a point. If the figure is walking you may want to consider the conventional treatment of placing it off centre so that it walks into the frame.

I’ve chosen to use an image from my archive as I feel it fits the brief perfectly; one of my favourite images from a road trip I did in California. As mentioned in the brief I’ve chosen a location that is a huge scale, and much larger than expected.

I’ve positioned my figure to the left of the image, following the rule of thirds, which makes the image more dynamic. He’s small enough to go unnoticed at first, but as the viewers eye begins to scan over the image he becomes apparent. I like that he’s also relatively in the forefront of the image and not placed somewhere in the distance (this wasn’t an option with this image as he was on the edge of a HUGE drop) but what makes his presence close to the camera subtle is the vast scale of the gorgeous backdrop.