Geoff and I went to Lincoln, UK just a few days ago to shoot some street photography. The previous time we went there for a commercial shoot, it seemed like the city and the streets were vibrant and buzzing, mind you it was a Saturday evening so that may explain why going there on a mid-week afternoon may bring totally different results. But I was determined to go there anyway!
We walked the streets and nothing would catch our attention, even though it was quite busy. But the problem was, it was busy with families and middle-class couples or groups of friends who came to visit Lincoln and its boutique shops and cafes for a lovely and calm Saturday afternoon and evening, shopping for souvenirs, hot chocolate and muffins.
So, no crazy drunk people, no daring fashion-lovers in the middle of this historic city, no loud young teens… it all seemed far too coherent and mild mannered for what I was looking for. Walking through the city a few more times did not really give any results.
So, what do you do when you have mentally prepared yourself for a day out shooting and everything seems just too.. bland?
Well, the best decision seemed to simply pick one place, sit down, and allow for the city to happen around us, without moving through it too fast and possibly missing good shots.
We settled for a seating area in the middle of one of the main shopping streets. My attention was caught by a bin in front of me (yes, really), because one of my ongoing projects, called “Discarded”, looks at our society as one that disposes of everything and anything, and it seemed an ideal place to capture different people disposing of rubbish all in the same spot.
Meanwhile, Geoff’s project took on a different route – catching people’s legs (with a camera), as they walk past in a unison, or with nice movement, interesting shoes, and so on.
So, while we found ourselves immersed in our own projects, even though sat right next to each other, we actually started getting the shots that we had been looking for. And all that just because we settled in one place and let the action come to us.
No, I did not just photograph a rubbish bin all day. In fact, we ended up seeing things we otherwise may have passed by without noticing because they did not necessarily “jump out”, they just occurred next to us.
A big man, one that I could easily imagine as a lorry driver, sat next to us with his French bulldog, dressed in a purple outfit (the dog). Mind you, the man’s outfit was matching. The man seemed to be so gentle and loving to his dog, as if it was his baby. Cuddling and whispering something in his little ears, it all seemed so unusual for such a “manly” man, but it looked adorable.
After a good 15-20 minutes his wife and children came, clearly after having visited nearby shops, and the man did not seem as bothered about them as he had been about his pup!
Later on, someone dressed as a monster of sorts (something close to a fox or a wolf), jumped out of nowhere and gave us a few poses. I bet you, hiding in a costume you can let loose and do all sorts of things without feeling embarrassed!
Also, have you ever heard the “BIG ISSUE” man in your city? They all pretty much look the same and I swear they all sound the same. They try to push a (BIG) issue in your hands as you’re rushing on your way to work or the train station. Well, what we had near us was a “BIG TISSUE” man.
He held a tissue box sized XXL and kept announcing he’s giving out BIG TISSUE, with some of the passers-by actually taking one. He also thought we are from the government, taking photos of him.
And that’s just a few things we saw, all in one place.
Sometimes you have to stop searching for something unknown and instead sit down, listen to the city and see what you finds you.
What have you found? What has found you?
P.S. Want to go “searching” the streets with us? We do workshops in Paris & London – http://www.geoffpowell.co