Street Portraits

A young couple in love on Ile St-Louis

A young couple enjoying each other’s company on Ile St-Louis in Paris

The definition of street photography varies depending who you ask. For me, street photography is all about making images that have a strong human element. That doesn’t mean there has to be a person actually in the image, but there has to be some evidence of humanism. Images of a bus stop, a building or footpath, or even a bicycle could all be examples of street photography.

When you do include people in your image, the question becomes “do I ask them first, or do I just make a photograph without asking for permission?” The answer to that question is – “it depends.” Why are you taking the image? What is your intent? Do you want to make a candid photograph that shows people in their natural environment, behaving as they normally do, or do you want to make a portrait of them? Sometimes it makes sense to make the photograph without asking and other times it makes more sense to interact with your subject and ask permission.

When you do decide to ask permission, you have an opportunity to take control of the situation and make the best portrait you possibly can. That doesn’t mean you need to set up a mini studio with lights and reflectors, but it does mean you should think about your surroundings and use them to make a pleasing image. Perhaps moving your subject a metre or so to the left or right; turning them around so the sun is at a better angle; or maybe even crossing to the other side of the street to get a better background. If they’ve given you permission to make their portrait, take advantage of it. Not everyone is going to be happy about crossing the street, so that’s something you need to gauge on an individual basis, but it is something to bear in mind.

The photograph at the top of this post was made in Paris. I was with a group of other photographers, taking part in a workshop. We were stopped as a group and talking about where we were going to go when I saw this young couple just finishing a late breakfast. It was obvious they were smitten with each other and I had to make their portrait. As I was watching them, I sensed they were about to leave, so I broke away from the group and went over to them. After making sure they spoke English I simply told them they were a beautiful young couple and asked if I could make their portrait. They were happy to pose for me, so rather than have them just look at the camera I asked them to lean in towards each other, touch their foreheads together and look into each other’s eyes. You can see the love and happiness in their faces and I think it makes a much better image than if they were just looking straight at me. By posing them, I also created a heart shape with the tops of their heads, which adds to their story.

The next two images were taken in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda.

Scotty

Getting Scotty to pose with his arms folded and looking straight at the camera made a more compelling image

Two cool dudes

These two guys were walking along the footpath outside of Luna Park. A quick conversation resulted in this portrait of them

The first photograph was taken inside Luna Park, an amusement park located near the beach front. The park is popular with families, especially on weekends. Scotty was standing outside a confectionary shop waiting for his wife and daughters. I approached him and introduced myself and told him I thought he would make a great subject for a photograph. He was a little reluctant at first, so I gave him my business card and a quick explanation about street photography, then thanked him for his time. Once he knew why I wanted to make his portrait he was happy to oblige, so I got him to turn slightly and posed him with his arms crossed to highlight his tattoos. We ended up chatting for a few minutes until his family returned and then Scotty asked me to make a family portrait for them, which I happily did.

The second image is of a couple of young guys strutting along the footpath outside of the park. I stopped them and got them to pose for me, although they were a little self-conscious. They were in a hurry so they moved on as soon as I had made my photograph and given them my business card.

Bling!

After agreeing to be photographed, I moved this guy along the footpath and posed him leaning on the post, with a Parisienne patisserie in the background

The last three images were made in Paris and Melbourne. The image on the left was in Paris in October last year. I saw this guy walking along the footpath towards me. He had a bit of an entourage with him and was obviously the leader of his group. I made a beeline towards him and after a quick “bonjour!”, I checked that he spoke English before telling him how great he looked. I asked if I could make his portrait, which he agreed to. I asked him to move about three metres along the footpath so I could get him to lean on the post. I also wanted to have a glimpse of the Parisienne patisseries in the background to add a sense of place. I made his portrait, gave him my business card and thanked him before he headed off along the footpath again.

The last two images were both made in the laneway’s of Melbourne. Hannah was standing waiting for someone, but the direct sunlight was very harsh and I knew it wouldn’t make a good image. There was just too much contrast, so I asked her to stand in a recess in the wall, which was completely shaded. I then got her to look down slightly and asked her to think about somewhere she’d really like to go one day. The sunlight reflecting off the ground she was standing on created a great fill light and her contemplative expression made for a more pleasing image.

Hannah

I moved Hannah into a recess in the wall to avoid harsh light, then posed her to take advantage of the reflective concrete floor

Road worker

This road-worker was posed with the graffiti wall behind him, arms crossed and staring into the camera to add impact

Last there was the worker repairing the road in one of the lanes. He didn’t want to give his name, but he was happy to chat and pose for a portrait. By posing him against a backdrop of graffiti, crossing his arms and staring straight into the camera lens, I think you get a sense of who he is. He was great to chat with and really down to earth.

So, don’t be afraid to speak to people. You never know who you’ll meet, or what stories you’ll hear. Make conversations and then make portraits.

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SANTOS Tour Down Under

Stage 1 of the SANTOS Tour Down Under through the Barossa Valley in South Australia

Stage 1 of the SANTOS Tour Down Under through the Barossa Valley in South Australia

As the Tour de France has just begun for 2014 I thought I’d share some images from this years SANTOS Tour Down Under (TDU). The TDU takes place in South Australia every January and is the first race on the international UCI World Tour road-cycling calendar. It was the first event added to the UCI World Tour calendar outside of the northern hemisphere and is a world-class event embraced by many South Australians. The Tour winds its way through picturesque locations in and around Adelaide and surrounding regions.

Staging such a major event that is televised all around the world is a huge task. There are many people involved, making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Logistics and emergency management are planned down to the most minute details. Every day of the Tour there are hundreds of police out along the route ensuring everything remains safe for spectators, competitors and marshals. South Australia utilises motorcycle police to enforce a “rolling road closure”. Essentially, they ride ahead of the cyclists and direct all traffic they encounter to the side of the road where they’re required to stay until after the Tour competitors and support vehicles have all passed. The system works really well and means less police are required to perform road closures along the route.

Police motorcycle officers enforcing rolling road closures during Stage 1 of  the 2014 SANTOS Tour Down Under in the Barossa Valley in South Australia

Police motorcycle officers enforcing rolling road closures during Stage 1 of the 2014 SANTOS Tour Down Under in the Barossa Valley in South Australia

Of course it’s not only the police that make the event work. Without the many medical staff the Tour just wouldn’t be able to go ahead. Paramedics also ride motorcycles, which enables them to be highly mobile in case they’re required to make their way through very congested areas. There are also paramedics in fully equipped ambulances as well as numerous doctors in support vehicles and St John Ambulance volunteers spread along the route to help any spectators that may need medical intervention. January is summer in Australia  and it’s not unusual for the SANTOS Tour Down Under to be held in temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The high temperatures take a toll on everyone – competitors and spectators alike.

Paramedics ride motorcycles in the SANTOS Tour Down Under

Paramedics ride motorcycles in the SANTOS Tour Down Under

The ‘Tour Parade’ is a convoy of vehicles that travels about 30 minutes ahead of the race leader. The first vehicle has the Tour’s official mascot, Oppy the Kangaroo, on its roof and the other vehicles each have a large torso mounted to the top of their vehicle representing the Tour Down Under race jerseys – Santos Ochre Leader’s Jersey; Subaru King of the Mountain Jersey; Adam Internet Sprint Jersey; Cycle Instead Young Rider Jersey; Europcar Most Competitive Rider Jersey; and the Hindmarsh Winning Team Jersey.

The vehicles stop at key locations around the race route and hand out promotional gifts and souvenirs to the eagerly waiting spectators.

The 'Tour Parade' vehicle travel about 30 minutes ahead of the race leaders in the SANTOS Tour Down Under

The ‘Tour Parade’ vehicles travel about 30 minutes ahead of the race leaders in the SANTOS Tour Down Under

The entire race is televised around the world every day which means that media need to have access to the cyclists too. There are numerous motorcycles with television camera operators and photographers as pillions that follow the race from start to finish. Without them, there would simply be no worldwide following. Many of the camera operators and photographers travel the world as they follow the UCI World Tour calendar from event to event. Watching them twist and contort on the motorcycle to get the best images they possibly can is a sight to behold. Their balance and the skills of their riders is amazing.

Television camera operators on the back of a motorcycle follows the lead riders in Stage 5 of the 2014 SANTOS Tour Down Under

Television camera operators on the back of a motorcycle follow the lead riders in Stage 5 of the 2014 SANTOS Tour Down Under

The race moves at a frantic pace and standing on the side of the road as the main peloton races past is exhilarating. They move so quickly they create quite a draft; and the noise is surprisingly loud. The excitement and anticipation builds as they approach then they’re gone in a flash. They really are an elite group of athletes with seemingly limitless energy. If you ever get a chance to witness a professional road-cycling race, I suggest you do.

Peloton

The Peloton on South Road at Aldinga during Stage 5 of the 2014 SANTOS Tour Down Under

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Sailboats in the centre of Paris

Sailboats in Jardin du Luxembourg

A young boy pushing a wooden sailboat on the Grand Bassin in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France

The Jardin du Luxembourg, or Luxembourg Gardens, are located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris on the Left Bank of the River Seine. The gardens are about 60 acres in size and full of wonder. There are many garden beds, tennis courts and just over 100 statues. One of the main attractions though is the octagonal pond, the Grand Bassin, located almost centrally inside the park.

For a small cost you can rent wooden sailboats to sail on the pond. Children love to push their chosen boats around the perimeter and watch as the breeze blows them further into the centre. Sometimes they sail completely across the pond if the wind is right, but otherwise the children have great fun just pushing them around.

The gardens are free to enter and open daily until just before sunset.

Sailboats on the Grand Bassin, Jardin du Luxembourg

A boy stands watching his boat sailing across the Grand Bassin

Sailboats on the Grand Bassin, Jardin du Luxembourg

A young boy rescuing his sailboat on the edge of the Grand Bassin

Sailboats on the Grand Bassin, Jardin du Luxembourg

One young boy pushes his sailboat into the pond while another watches on

 

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Dogs are people too

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A dog and his family walking along Omaha Beach in Normandy, France

Dogs are people too. There. I said it. I can’t resist making an image of a dog if I see one. There has always been a dog in my family, for as long as I can remember.

Dogs make great people. They love you unconditionally and never hold a grudge. No matter what type of day you’ve had, they’re always there with a wagging tail and a slobbery tongue when you get home. Five minutes, five days, or five weeks – it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone they get super excited to greet you when you get back. So, I like to make images of them when I see them.

The image at the top of this post shows a dog and his family walking along Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. I saw them coming and spotted the pool of water that had been left by the receding tide, so I waited for them to get into the right position to capture their reflections as well. There are actually two dogs in the image… can you see the second one?

The next two images were both made in Honfleur in Normandy. I saw the the man sitting on a fence with his dog while I was walking through the old part of town. He was just sitting there talking to his four legged friend, so it made sense to ask for a portrait. I think both boys liked the attention!

A man and his dog

A man and his dog in Honfleur, Normandy, France

Golden Retriever and his master

A Golden Retriever and his master walking along the street in Honfleur, Normandy, France

I saw the man in the left image below, sitting on the concrete bollard. I asked if I could make his portrait with his dog and he said yes, but seemed quite bewildered about why I would want a photograph of him. He wouldn’t look at the camera while I made the image, but he did smile and agree before I made it. I think he was just a little self-conscious, but I think the image works because both he and his dog are staring off into the distance, both looking in the same direction.

The face in the middle image below was spotted in Bayeux, France. He was sitting waiting with his owner and lapping up ear-rubs like there was no tomorrow. Who could resist that wonderful face? He was a great model and just sat patiently while my friends and I made photographs of him before patting and rubbing his ears as  a thank-you.

The German Shepherd on the right was sitting in front of a café in Paris. I went over and made friends with him before making the photograph. He was such a friendly dog and a wonderful model! I think this breed has a bad reputation, but I don’t think that could be further from the truth. They’re great dogs and very loyal. Of course, like any dog, they can be trained to be nasty, but that’s the owner – not the breed!

A man and his dog looking along the street

A man and his dog staring into the distance in Honfleur, Normandy, France

A Golden Retriever in Bayeux, France

This Golden Retriever was waiting patiently in Bayeux, France.

A German Shepherd in Paris

This German Shepherd was seen sitting in front of a café in Paris, France

Of course, Europe isn’t the only place with great dogs. The young boy in the image on the left (below) was photographed on Acland Street in St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia. He was out for a family stroll and loved all the attention he was getting.

Finally, the dog on the right is “Russ” who is keeping his master Ian “Rattles” Retallack company as they travel around Australia by horse-drawn wagon while raising money for Cancer research.

Staffy on Acland

This young Staffy was out for a walk with his family on Acland Street, St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia

Russ and Rattles

Russ is accompanying his master Ian “Rattles” Retallack as they travel around Australia in a horse-drawn wagon

Dogs make great companions. Eager to please, no prejudices and they can always bring a smile to your face.

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Southwark Cathedral, London

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral in Central London, adjacent to London Bridge

One of the oldest churches in London must be Southwark Cathedral. Located in Central London, adjacent to London Bridge, there is uncertainty about when it was originally established. Verbal history passed down through Elizabethan times suggest there were nuns living in the area as early as the 7th Century although the first written record is of a minster in an entry in the Domesday Book which was completed in 1086.

The church has had a variety of names. In 1106 it was “re-founded” as a priory and was known as St Mary Overy. It later became the property of King Henry VIII and was renamed St Saviour’s before eventually becoming Southwark Cathedral in 1905. Major extensions were added to the building in the year 2000 which house an education centre, shop and refectory as well as a number of conference rooms.

A memorial to William Shakespeare inside Southwark Cathedral. Shakespeare is believed to have been a parishioner for a number of years

A memorial to William Shakespeare inside Southwark Cathedral. Shakespeare is believed to have been a parishioner for a number of years

One of the more famous parishioners of the church is William Shakespeare (1564-1616). He is believed to have frequented St Saviour’s over a number of years. His original Globe Theatre was completed in 1599 near St Saviour’s, but burnt to the ground after a mishap with a stage cannon in 1613. The theatre was rebuilt in 1614 but was closed in 1642 and then demolished in 1644. Shakespeare is honoured with a memorial and stained-glass window depicting some of the characters from his plays.

There are numerous other monuments within the church, honouring people from all walks of life.

Spending an hour or so wandering around the Cathedral, looking at the monuments and soaking up the history is a pleasant way to spend a morning or afternoon in London. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, this church is well worth a visit just to learn a little about life in London stretching back over centuries.

Inside the Nave of Southwark Cathedral, showing the baptismal font

Inside the Nave of Southwark Cathedral, showing the baptismal font

Stained glass windows in Southwark Cathedral

Stained glass windows in Southwark Cathedral

The main organ inside Southwark Cathedral was completed in 1897

The main organ inside Southwark Cathedral was completed in 1897

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