Distracted by the Faces

Walking around the city at 6.30am on a Saturday morning is always going to encourage creative epiphanies. Combining a spartan-like early start and caffeine led to the inevitable questions of creative growth and purpose. Have my images been improving?

People are my favourite subject for street photography. Capturing a single moment of people’s lives as they wander the pavements and laneways of Melbourne keeps me getting out of bed and grabbing my camera.

Photographing people who look interesting, or who are doing interesting things makes things easy. My recent trip to Radelaide reinforced a realisation that perhaps I had become a bit lazy when it comes to composition, relying on the quality of the subject to do the heavy creative lifting.

A few years back, a Ron Mueck exhibition came through Melbourne. So many photographers took some incredibly striking images at the exhibition – but anyone could do it, providing they had a tiny bit of talent. The sculptures lent themselves to easy composition. Most of the images I observed on most of my contacts’ feeds were just reproductions of Mueck’s work, without the photographer adding enough additional interest to the composition. That is not to say many of the images were wonderful, I just didn’t feel as though the photographer had added enough to frame to “claim” the image creatively.

Maybe I have fallen into the same trap? One of my photography buddies often talks about photographers having access to “cool” subjects in their group of friends and acquaintances, which can often make up for gaps in their creative chops. Older, dorkier guys like me tend to have older, dorkier friends – so I need to search for the right subjects whilst out walking Melbourne.

I had a clear mission for Saturday morning’s shoot. Focus on backgrounds, textures, framing, and textures was the short-lived plan. As soon as I jumped off the train, I started to search for people to shoot. The ingrained behaviour proved very resistant to change… I had to stop myself and reset very consciously to avoid going back into “people spotting” mode.

Here are the first few shots I excitedly took…

A couple of nice enough images, but it was not what I had planned, just people spotting…

The first step was to slow down – pulling out the Joby Gorillapod helped this. Seriously, a Gorillapod is so much more useful than any tripod I own. Light, dependable, and infinitely adaptable. Get one if you don’t have one!

Buy this! (the gorillpod, not the crappy camera!)

Buy this! (the Gorillapod, not the crappy camera!)

And then I took these photos at Flinders St to start with.

Mounting the Gorillapod on the hand rail offered some interesting prospects. I was incredibly lucky when the guy sweeping just ignored the camera and kept working. The motion in the second image is also a great used of the available light to create an image with a dynamic feel.

I moved on to Degraves St next, and set up again with the Gorillapod. The images started to flow a lot easier, and I had become more conscious of what I was doing rather than just constantly scanning for the next face to photograph.

After half an hour or so, enjoying the early morning light, I moved on. Staying put and taking my time seemed to make me more conscious of image opportunities around me. Here are some of the shots taken next…

Whilst there are no absolute belters in there, I was able to see compositions more easily and change things up a little.

4 Responses to “Distracted by the Faces”

  1. Yes It’s the slowing down that is the key Been thinking a lot about this lately For me trying to be as fully “here and now” helps me to see the whole of what’s there To the point sometimes that I see something before I have realized I’m looking Of that make sense lol


  2. fantastic faceless series. very living and moving


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