Updated: Feb 9, 2019
Street photography is a very daunting category at first. It's not nice to shove your camera in somebody's face. It's even worse when they shout at you for doing it.
It is exciting, though. It's a fast-paced environment and can be manipulated in countless ways.
I lived in Barcelona for two months. With no job, no friends and no real motivation to attain either of those two things, I grabbed my camera.
Barcelona is a city rich with culture, pedestrian streets and tourists. It's a stunning place to learn the ropes of street photography. Here are my three top picks as a complete amateur looking through the lens.
First up is one of my earlier shots taken in the city.
Initially, I struggled to get close to my subjects. It was uncomfortable. The fear of their reaction had me shy away from the ‘personal’ approach. That general mindset was limiting to my growth, too, as I immediately disregarded so many possibilities. I'll stay far away, thanks.
It did help at times, though. Stepping back helps reveal the environment around our walking elderly. A wide angle and an isolated subject compliment each other nicely. With leading lines dancing down towards the man while also having him framed; there's no question what the subject in this photo is.
The colour - and lack of - also catch my eye. There's a definite colour palette. It's not demanding but when it's cohesive it can really bring an image together.
It's great to go run-and-gun with street photography but it's even better when you take your time. So many of my images have been ruined by a distraction in the background. Sometimes they just feel ‘off’. This time I saw the potential, then waited for my subject. Let the scene come to you.
Next up is a photo full of character.
I fell in love with street photography for the flexibility it has with light. There's no bad time to go out and shoot street, it's up to you to adapt.
Playing with afternoon shadows at a market, a piece of tarp was all I needed to get one of my favourite photos.
There's no face to the subject but it adds impact. The viewer is now involved with the photo, picturing what they look like behind the cloth. Is he a leathery skinned geezer that loves speed and Leeds United football club? Or is he a horribly postured magician, trying to catch a big break? That's up for you to decide. A little bit of mystery goes a long way in a street photograph, I found.
Last but not least, a strange man on the beach.
It was sunrise in my final week in Barcelona. Bianca and I went for a morning portrait shoot just past the beach. The walk back gifted me with a beautiful opportunity.
All alone, a questionably dressed man marched along the coast. Footsteps in the sand, buildings in the distance and not another soul in sight, a scene painted itself before me. Early morning light hugging the sand, casting shadows on the high rise buildings and a long, stretched dimness of the man give off a sleepy and inviting scene. Exactly how it was when I pressed the trigger.
People say it doesn't matter what medium you shoot on, but I still feel that film trumps digital. That being said, I shoot far more digital than film and if I had to choose, digital would be my choice in a heartbeat. It's convenient and fast.
However, the slow pace and delayed gratification of film keeps me buying more. The way it produces light, too, is superior. I don't think it's just nostalgia. The colours in this shot sum it up.
Again, not seeing the man's face keeps the viewer intrigued. He looks different to everyone, and now a thousand different stories have been made. It's cool. There's a bigger focus on his outfit to try understand who the man is. His clothes could have been disregarded if we saw his face, as we naturally draw focus to eyes and lips.
I took thousands of photos in Barcelona. Thirty six were on film. A lot of my favourite shots have been taken on film despite only using up about seven rolls in my life. The slow and precise nature has forced me to really think about each shot. It's a brilliant type of photography that I recommend any photographer to at least try out. It has helped me and adds that sexy spice if you feel things are getting stale.
To wrap it up, Barcelona was a period in 2018 that I'm really thankful for. It wasn't planned, and it certainly wasn't what I had hoped for. But on reflection, Barcelona and its opportunity to explore street photography made me fall in love with the camera again and keen to use it more in 2019.