Street Photography in the style of Cartier Bresson

Street Photography in the style of Cartier Bresson

One of my favourite Photography Meet Up Groups is London Photographer’s School run by Zara Matthews. A format that she frequently chooses is to base the workshop on the work of a well known photographer and to give us a few exercises to complete in that style.

This format gives us a sense of the history of photography as well as the opportunity to broaden our skills. Of course one drawback will be immediately apparent. Well known photographers have had a lifetime to hone their craft, and to build their portfolio of work. We have three sessions of about 40 minutes to emulate examples of their style. Sometimes we do not quite get to that elevated level, but the thought process of seeing and and doing is invaluable

Street Photography in the style of Cartier Bresson was a particularly challenging series of exercises. Cartier Bresson was the master of what he called the decisive moment, waiting for that perfect moment to click the shutter, and Cartier Bresson could wait for hours for that decisive moment to come to him. We only had 30 minutes or so.

First Exercise

Our first exercise in Street Photography in the style of Cartier Bresson was to focus on staircases and the action that occurs on them. Staircases provide diagonal lines, and are usually framed between to horizontal lines. Occasionally those lines can be curved if we have a curved stair cases, but in either case the stairs will often provide a framing mechanism and a backdrop. We can shoot at the bottom, looking up. We can frame our shots at the top, looking down, or we can be at some point on the staircase looking up or down.

We took two staircases as our “model”, a set inside Somerset House and the stairs on the adjacent Waterloo Bridge. Cartier Bresson invariably used a 50mm lens for his work. I decided to use my Lensbaby Velvet 56, shooting at an aperture of F8 or F5.6. The Lensbaby is perhaps not the best for Street Photography because it is a manual focus lens, and if you are looking for a decisive moment, you do not want to be trying to focus and time your shot perfectly. However, the subject on most of these shots would be distant, so I could leave the focussing on maximum distance and concentrate on composition.

The shots inside Somerset House were less successful as I had spent too much time at Waterloo Bridge, and there was not enough time to wait for people to interact with the staircase. Instead I had to satisfy myself with a shot of the detail of the staircase.

Second Exercise

The second exercise involved us moving up towards Covent Garden to take images of people interacting with each other. For this exercise I did switch to my standard Nikon 1.4 50mm lens with autofocus. Time would be of the essence, and I would be at varying distances. Couples did not seem particularly amorous this afternoon, perhaps because it was cold, or perhaps just because everyone was rushing about. I was pleased with the shot of the two Chinese girls and dog in the gallery below. I just missed the embrace of the couple with the child, and goodness only knows what the girl facing the man was saying.

While I was reviewing these shots (in camera), the saying of Robert Capa came to mind, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you are’t close enough.” This saying is of course interpreted in various ways, and it does not mean that you need to get right into the face of your subject. It can be important to the composition of the picture to show the context, and that may mean stepping back a little. For example, the picture of the boy photographing the seagull needs to have the seagull in the picture. I took the shot excluding the rubbish bag the seagull was trying to tear open to get as close as I could, but perhaps I should have been further back, and I definitely should have stopped down.

It is always difficult being in the right place at the right time. Very often the best strategy is to just wait for the scene to come to you rather than going out looking for something that might develop. For example, and taking as an example, Cartier Bresson’s famous photo of a man jumping over a puddle. That shot was not taken through chance, but through patience. Seeing something that has potential and then waiting to see what happens. I sometimes stand on a street corner and just wait, sometimes taking photos of people as they get closer and closer to me. Of course I am left with a lot of photos that are completely devoid of interest, but, that is the beauty of digital photography, just hit the delete button. It also enables me to check on my focus, particularly where the subjects are moving, and also on the background. Is it interesting? Would a slight shift in angle provide a different background?

Third Exercise

The third exercise in our Street Photography in the style of Cartier Bresson was also the one that I found most difficult. Cartier Bresson frequently took as a theme windows, either people looking inside windows at displays inside, or at the people inside, or indeed from inside a shop, looking out.

In terms of technique, shooting through a window into the people inside can be difficult. If it is dark inside, reflections on the glass really obscure what you are shooting. You might get a double exposure effect if you are lucky, but the reflections will make it difficult to capture what you are trying to shoot. Brightly lit interiors such as hairdressers make a good subject with plenty of action inside.

But bizarrely I found it difficult to shoot, pointing my camera at people inside a shop. Bizarre, because I have no problem doing it in the street. It should be more easier shooting someone who is having their hair styled. They can hardly get up and chase after you.

But like all challenges, it is just a question of meeting that challenge, going out and doing it. So my next challenge will be to shoot some people in brightly lit shops and cafes.

Anthony Kingsley Photography
Lead Generation through Linked In

Lead Generation through Linked In

Lead generation through Linked In is an essential part of the features of the media, but one that is frequently misunderstood. Linked In was originally a tool to recruit employees or employees to find employment. It is still is, but the platform has developed in many ways and is now as important as Facebook or Instagram for lead generation, or perhaps even more so. It is regarded as the “social media for business”, but remains misunderstood.

As a business consultant in Hackney, my advice to most businesses is to treat the platform as a form of networking, and to adopt the same principles as physical networking. If you follow a well thought out strategy it is perfectly possible to generate leads through Linked In.

Turn Up

As with physical networking, you have to turn up on the platform. it sounds obvious, but it is a step that is neglected by a great many businesses. 

Turning up means more than just being there. Just as you can go to a networking meeting and sit there quietly, waiting for people to come to you, so too can you sign up to Linked In, and wait for people to connect with you. Connect they willl, but it is to benefit them, not you. You can boost their number of connections. 

If you take (actual) networking seriously, you will probably take care with your appearance when you attend a meeting for the first time when you do not know anyone there. You may wear smarter than usual clothes. Hopefully, you will arrive on time and you will have an idea of how you want to present yourself. 

Turning up on Linked In should be treated in exactly the same way. You will have a properly set up profile, with a good quality headshot and background profile. It is your first impression to a visitor and first impressions count, both off line and online. 

Are you the sort of person who attends a networking meeting and  doles out as many business cards as possible, but speaks to only a few? Generally speaking, it is not an effective networking strategy. 

Effective Networking means 

  • building relationships 
  • Contributing to your network
  • Attending meetings regularly. 

Effective Linked In networking means

  • building relationships
  • Commenting on the posts of others
  • posting regularly and consistently.

Should you attend a networking meeting and try to sell your goods and services to the room? I mean, you are attending the meeting for business not just a good breakfast. So why would you not be there, selling?

The image gives a visible representation of what networking is all about. You are not selling to the room, you are selling to the connections of the people in the room. 

Linked In operates in the same way. You attend, by posting, by connecting, commenting on the posts of others, liking and sharing. 

Commenting, liking and sharing is part of the “contributing to your network. If one of your connections posts, a like, comment or share tells the Linked In Algorithm that this is a popular post that should be shared to more people. The more engagement, the more people will see it. 

 

Consistency

Networking Groups like BNI, Biscotti, Your Business Community (YBC)  emphasise the importance of Consistency. You cannot turn up once and expect a business tap to be turned on. Relationships have to be nurtured by gradually building knowledge and trust in your brand. In Linked In networking, this translates into posting regularly. And just as importantly as posting regularly is ensuring that you are posting content that your audience wants to read.

So it is important to resist the temptation to post offers and sales. Lead generation through Linked In is based upon building your brand as something that people can get to know, like and trust. 

As you will have seen from this website, I sell holidays. It should be an easy sale: everyone goes on holiday. But it is not, because the vast majority of people going on holiday will book online rather than pay a little more for advice and service from a travel agent.

I therefore use Linked In to portray myself as an expert on travel and to educate my readers on the advantages of using a travel agent. I do not post offers. I want people to enage with my posts by commenting on them, liking and sharing them, and it is difficult for people to comment on an offer which might not be relevant to them. The more people who engage with my posts, the more people will see them. Their connections will see that they have commented on, or liked my post, and then hopefully will read the post. 

People do not want to be sold to, whether on social media or at a networking group, so my strategy is to present myself as someone who can help them when they need help or advice.

SO IN CONCLUSION…… 

 

TURN UP

Make sure that your profile on Linked In is fully completed and is interesting.

Post regularly and consistently, providing value and interest. Develop your brand and thought leadership rather than trying to sell.

ENGAGE

Engage with your readers and followers by liking and posting interesting and relevant comments. The purpose behind this is that everyone who reads your comments thinks “Hey, this person is interesting, let’s find out more about him/her, and start to read your profile.

FOLLOW UP

There is no point in going to a networking appointment and not following up with the connections you make. Geography may make it difficult to move that online connection to an offline meeting, so keep i touch through messaging. Find out how you can help your connections.