Street Photography Beginnings & Manchester Trip

Even since before I ever took photography seriously, I have been intrigued by ‘Street Photography’ and, I suppose, it’s derivatives. Edward Hopper’s work, particularly Nighthawks, which I discovered while still in secondary school inspired an early interest which developed more as I discovered a range of photographers and other artist online and started producing my own work.

Quite what Street Photography is ‘meant to be’, and then I suppose more importantly, what I wanted my own to be like has always been a bit of a sticking point for me, and for a while I did write it off as not for me. The idea of wandering about and sticking a camera and flash in an (often) unsuspecting persons face à la Bruce Gilden really didn’t appeal to me - not just artistically, but also, harassing people like that isn’t my idea of a fun day out.

First ‘Street Photograph’ in Newcastle I’ve been pleased with. It’s alright.

After years of scrolling, I have come across a few photographers here and there that take images that resonate with me more. They were photos taken on a street, but often focusing more on light and shadow, architecture or people who were not as recognisable. Amongst my favourites is Joshua K. Jackson who I think I discovered through Sean Tucker on YouTube - I really like his work too, and his thoughts and discussions on photography and art more generally are really interesting. Jackson’s images are sometimes quite abstract, utilising reflections and shadows to form much of his images, which just makes them even more interesting for me. His use of colour is also brilliant and envy a little his ability to find such wondrous images in the seemingly mundane!

YouTube has been a great resource for me for learning about people’s though process when creating images out on the street - I particularly enjoy following Evan Ranft on his adventures, and just getting that extra perspective on his thoughts when taking images, and getting to see what went into getting the final image, and the ones that didn’t work out.

While I have seen, and do avidly follow some of Newcastle’s more prolific street photographers, for some reason, I never come away from my adventures around Newcastle City Centre with much to show for. I had been feeling a bit uninspired lately, particularly because when I see the work of the likes of Jackson or Ranft mentioned above, it’s from big cities, be that London, Atlanta, or wherever. So, I recently decided to take a spontaneous trip to Manchester and just have a day to myself to explore and take photos. I suppose I thought that being anonymous in a big city might help me get over my barrier of taking photos of strangers, which I think it did to some extent. By the end of the day, I definitely felt more confident, and realised that people were more concerned about the fact that it was raining rather than about me.

For the most part, I wandered around the heavily graffitied Northern Quarter and the Central Retail District, but I also ended up in some places where I have no idea where I was! I suppose when I take photos of people, or indeed any photos really, in a city, I don’t have a real conscious agenda or message I’m trying to convey, but I do want to try and represent modern life in that place well in what I hope to be a somewhat interesting way. I feel that my trip has instilled some confidence in me that I can hopefully put to use making better images in Newcastle in the months to come! I have certainly identified some areas I can work on to be hopefully be more consistent, and some ideas that I can work on too. For now, I’ve included a gallery (click to see full-size!) of some images from my adventure to Manchester this month, so I hope that you find something that you like there.