Urbanity Image Review #3

Taken in Melbourne, August 2014. Location is Degraves Street, I think? The Flinders Street end.

The only image in the collection leveraging the use of a model.

Sometimes ya gotta try new things. There were a few ideas I had that were going to be much easier to realise with a more predictable set of circumstances than what you usually get in candid street photography. If you are looking for a cost effective source of models in your area, I recommend http://www.modelmayhem.com/ as a great place to start if you don’t often mix with model types on a daily basis!

I have sourced two different models when I have had a need to work with talent. It is not my normal mode to work with a model, but it has helped me better understand how to get the results I want from time to time.

Be a bit wary though if you dare to tread a path through Model Mayhem. I suspect there is a lot of dodgy stuff happening all over the place there.

You can browse the models by various attributes and find someone who you like the look of. I highly recommend that if you think it is important enough to engage a model, then it is important enough to pay them. $30 cash per hour for a minimum of two hours is usually enough to get an inexperienced model to pose. If you do not open up with a paid offer, I suspect you become one of many GWC – Guy with Camera – on the site, trolling with package DSLRs they picked up from Ted’s last week… Offering to pay makes you a serious photographer and says you are not a time waster.

And now to the image.

Urbanity 3

The thing I like most about this image is the high perspective point. I held the camera up above my head, pointed it as best I could and pressed the shutter a few times! Using film meant I had no idea what I had captured until developing and scanning was complete late the same day.

To get the shot, I positioned the model on a spot where I visualised that the natural leading lines of the lane would work. The high perspective also accentuated the diminishing nature of the lines up the laneway, and gets the figures in the background a little more involved in the image.

The model has also done her part – her eyes are wonderfully highlighted by makeup and looking in an unexpected direction with a pensive look. Wow!

It was another somewhat lucky shot – I think I clicked off four or five frames and only this one nailed it.

Photographer - Gordon Parks

A great example of how changing your perspective can make an image more interesting. You can read more thoughts on changing perspective here.

The image to the right is by Gordon Parks and is of Ingrid Bergman in 1949. This was the kind of shot I had in mind at the time. I think that Parks added a lot more interest with the three older women in the background, but I gotta admit I am pretty happy with my shot overall.

Parks’ shot is one of my all time favourites and comes from a book featuring Life Magazine’s photographers. A complete gem you can read about here.

I have written about the things I love about this image before here. 

Here is the summary :

Ingrid Bergman on location for the movie “Stromboli” in Italy. There are a number of compositional techniques combined in this image to create the overall effect.

The photo has been taken from a high vantage point – higher than the normal “head high” perspective we normally view the world at. The camera is looking down gradually at Bergman. The shot has been taken with a reasonably wide angle lens, which enables Begman to be the key focus of the shot but still include high interest elements in the background. Probably not a super wide lens, as the background is still a bit tight.

There is a strong and obvious contrast of the beautiful actress and the dark older women in the background. She is dressed in white and they are all in black, with shawls covering their heads. The women in background almost look religious.

For me, there is also the suggestion of what Bergman will become – the women are looking at her in way that suggests they are waiting for her to “come with them”, to become older like them. Bergman can feel their eyes and gives off a very introverted vibe. The viewer can’t but help imagine what the women are thinking.

Her eyes are following the direction of the path which bisects the image diagonally. The women are following the path to the exit path of the photo in the top right corner. There is also tension between the direction the two parties are expected to travel in the next moment. The women are going to continue down the path to the top left, and Bergman looks as though she is going to move along to the bottom left corner.

Lessons :

1. Movement of subjects in opposite directions can provide tension.

2. Find contrast between two subjects in an image.

3. Keep an eye on Depth of Field. The wider you have your lens open, the less distinct the background will be.

4. Take your shot from an interesting perspective – something other than head height.

4 Responses to “Urbanity Image Review #3”

  1. I actually like yours better than Parks (except of course for Ingrid…sigh…lol) in that photo my eyes are drawn to the older women and them being in black really pulls the eye. In yours while there are people, they in no way conflict for attention: they are indistinct and lighter in tone. Also yours is a lot more dynamic with those lines and the high POV. I like it. the model and her eyes really help too as you say


  2. too kind!


  3. Ingrid is ingrid though…


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