Research Summary: Street Photography

During my project I have mostly been influenced by Robert Frank and Berenice Abbott. Franks work as I thought that his photographs of crowds were very interesting, especially his image on ‘Canal Street, New Orleans, 1955’ which presents a very rushed atmosphere, but there is also an element of stillness as the image is not blurred, everyone is in focus so in a way the image is freezing the rushed atmosphere so that we as the viewer see these people who otherwise would have rushed by us. This is what I originally wanted to capture when I first started the project.
As I moved further into my ideas and started taking photographs I thought a lot about Berenice Abbott and her photographic work. Even though she is mostly known for her architecture photography I think in some of her works there is definitely an element of street photography. What I found more alluring about images that included tall buildings is connected to my own feelings of being in London compared to being in an area where the tallest building is a church. With Abbott’s work I saw how small all the people looked compared to the buildings and this made me think about how tiny and insignificant I feel being in a city.
When looking at my final five photographs they look more like Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s work due to the brightness of the day which really highlighted the subjects making them look like a movie still.
When I had a solid idea on what I wanted to photograph for the project I began searching for an area that had tall buildings, and quite a modern, rushed feel to it. In my composition I wanted to have a tall building with people walking past it, I wanted it to be quite neat with the lines of the building being straight with the frame, although I found that I wasn’t spending enough time on this as some of my first images the buildings seem slanted even though at the time I thought they were straight.
To capture the height of the buildings and also the people underneath I tried to keep a distance from the subject otherwise the images did not capture the sense of alienation I wanted them to. The idea was to show how large the buildings are compared to the people.
As I carried my work forward I then thought about capturing both London and my Hometown, this then led me to photographing Canary Wharf which before I moved to London was a perfect reflection on what came to mind when I thought of it even though I had never been there before. The weather was perfect for photographing the tall buildings and the businessmen and women as it was a very sunny day and so it illuminated the subjects and casted long shadows which I thought added to this movie-like feeling they provoked. The composition of my final images were much tighter than my previous images because Canary Wharf was the busiest place I went to, I focussed mainly on the lines the walking men and women were making as they crossed right in front of me.

My intention with my project was to evoke the feeling of alienation, to reflect how I feel about being in a city. I think that my final series is very successful in provoking this feeling as it shows both the fast moving areas of Canary Wharf but also how still it can be. I originally wanted images of my hometown mixed in with these images but they were not strong enough to compete with these photographs and so I had to leave them out. I was quite disappointed by this, but in the end I am glad that I didn’t include them as I know they would not have worked with my series.
If I had more time with the project I would have found more areas in London to photograph, and I also think that I would do more work in my hometown and try and capture more of its essence, as I did not have a lot of time to do the photographs the quality of the images was not as high as I had hoped. I would also perhaps look into some similarities between the two places.
In conclusion I am extremely pleased with my final images, and I think that as a series the photographs I have picked work together very well in sense of composition and tonal range.


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