prowling the mean streets of st. kilda
The past week or so has found me out and about the local streets with a fresh sense of purpose and enthusiasm. The two-part reason for this is simple to explain: a) last Saturday I attended a workshop with Australia’s, and surely one of the world’s, foremost street photographers, Jesse Marlow, and b) next Saturday the workshop concludes when he conducts a review of participants’ portfolios. Somewhat of an added challenge if you felt like taking it up is to try to come up with a reasonable picture or two during this fortnight between the sessions.
So, a challenge, eh? Of course it meant first hitting the lockup, locating the developing tank, chemicals and gear, loading a camera or two with tri-x and… heading out. Luckily the new crib is within walking distance of what must surely rank as Melbourne’s best-endowed suburb in terms of visual richness. So I’ve been wandering and snapping and trying to get together some pictures that won’t look too dismal alongside the other work in my portfolio which, let’s be honest, has been edited down from god-knows-how-many pictures taken over the past 40 years.
But hang on a second - we’re getting ahead of ourselves - how was the first week?
Brilliant. Jesse talked about how he got started, how he built up his approach, what works for him and where he hopes it will take him. This was all illustrated with many excellent examples of his and others’ work including, interestingly, some sequences of shots he’d made around the one he ultimately chose. He has a personable, easy going manner that works well in a workshop situation and without doubt would help keep him out of trouble on the streets. A sense of humour comes through strongly in his work, and in his character.
So it certainly made me feel compelled to go out and try my darnedest to get a couple of shots. Which was the point of me going, really - I felt I needed a fresh reason to make pictures. And I kind of feel I can keep going with this now - take up the baton as it were - as I’ve been ambitious to do more street work but not, at least until now, sufficiently so to actually go about it with any regularity or method. After all, one of the main things I got out of week one of the workshop is that “street” photography, or “documentary” or “candid” photography or whatever label it wears, is kosher. It’s legitimate. And, all things being equal, it’s a hell of a great personal challenge and a hell of a lot of fun.
Anyway, the picture above is one I made yesterday at the Esplanade Market. I’m not yet sure how I feel about it but we’ll see how we go - these things sometimes take time. But even as an exercise in honing a certain technique - which in this case is taking candid pictures - I count this as a success. There are a few from during the week that I am pretty happy with, and one that has even found its way into the portfolio, so the exercise has already paid huge dividends.
But we may just leave it until after next Saturday’s portfolio review to determine whether some of the other pictures ever get to see the light of day, if you get my drift.