Martin Clark | Streets of Blackpool

Streets of Blackpool

April 05, 2017

I'm just back from a short family holiday near Blackpool to recharge the old batteries and thought I'd share this.

I managed to get a couple of hours free time in the town on my own to take some photos and thought it would be an ideal opportunity to try some street photography. This is a genre of photography that in it's purest form is used to tell a story using similar pictorial references in the image to link people and/or objects. The people in the images are usually unaware they have been photographed (unless you're Dougie Wallace who is just a nutter). I've seen some great examples from friends and of course from well known photographers but I hadn't actually tried it myself as I wasn't too comfortable with the idea of taking photos covertly. But I reckoned that I'd give it a go and see what I could come up with.

I had great plans to get into the back streets of Blackpool and capture some grime and people but to be honest this just seemed a bit daft to be there on my own weilding a nice big shiny DSLR camera and so I eased myself ito it by taking a stroll on the Promenade which felt a bit safer. There weren't many people around though so I started by pretending I was taking some scenic photos but including people in the frame. This wasn't working though as everyone saw me and made an effort to get out my frame.

Change of plan required. I wrapped my camera strap round my wrist and walked with my camera in my hand as if just casually carrying it but with my finger on the shutter button. This was working better as no one minded or seemed to be aware of the camera. However now I wasn't getting close enough to them and every image I took had a very prominant tilt. I needed to get closer but my big camera makes an awful loud clunk, well it seemed loud to me anyway, when I took the shot.

Ideally small cameras are better as they are less conspicuous and some are silent as well so no one hears the shutter clunking but a new plan was in order. I needed to go where it was busier and noiser and this is when it got really enjoyable.

It was a really bright sunny day which I love for high contrast images that work well in black and white so I headed for the main shopping street and looked out for interesting scenes and light and shadows. A bit more success with the images but still that strong tilt and still not close enough to subjects. You really have to look ahead and predict what's going to happen, where people are heading and how the image will look. It's a really good exercise.

However when I was about to cross the road I saw a guy feeding a good flock of pigeons down a side street. He was the only one there and instantly I knew I had to give it a go. I knew the pigeons would take off as soon as I walked towards them and their shadows and action would work well. The guy was in good light to see his face and there were nice shadows on the ground. I quickly setup the camera for the right exposure and set the shutter on rapid fire and walked directly down the street towards the pigeons and the guy, now paying attention to his phone rather than me. The pigeons exploded into the air and I kept my finger on the shutter button as I walked closer to the guy before turning and crossing the road.

I got a couple of workable shots from that and the one below was the one I liked best from the exercise.

I'm definitely going to try street photography again as it was good fun and got the mind working to see the light and the composition.

I'm not sure it's the best street photo ever but it works for me.


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