That’s Street Life – Through a Lens!

The evening of Monday 8th February saw a very entertaining talk by Dave Mason on “Street Photography” presented to a good attendance of nearly sixty members and guests. Dave had come up from London and is doing a “tour” of northern camera clubs. He started by explaining that 90% of his love of photography if simply looking for the image. He often referred to the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and his concept of “the decisive moment” which he far preferred to the idea of spending months constructing an image. Most of the images captured fleeting moments that a second before or after would not exist. Most photographers may not have seen them especially if they were used to spending time ensuring that everything was set up just right and posed for the shot.

Dave explained that he frequents [places where there are lots of people passing through or gathering and he puts quite a bit of research into this. He doesn’t manipulate his images (apart from possibly converting them to black and white) and just looks for the final image to be captured. He doesn’t “do” competitions anymore and he regularly illustrated what a standard judge might have said about an image. His images had impact, a story and all the attributed which made you want to look at them – but would not fit into the standard criteria often used by judges! Dave made an important point in that he waited for people to enter the shot, or his space, rather than going up to them and invading their space. The vast majority of the shots were black and white as he felt that colour often distracted the observer and allows them to concentrate on what is going on in the picture.

Dave illustrated his talk with a constant procession of photographs which showed street life in all its wondrous forms. He grouped these images into groups each of which had a theme. He kicked off with Borrowed Art which juxtaposed people with advertising hoardings, graffiti and signage to create a compelling image. He then moved on to The Moment where the image exists for a split second capturing eye direction or more often hand movement to provide direction in the image. The next group came from his home area of East London. Here there were plenty of opportunities for the use of graffiti backgrounds and the “accidental” images that people create by standing or moving in front of them. Next group up was Smile which was the entirety of his artist’s statement for one of his exhibitions. It wasn’t just about laughing at the image but about having a smile about the image and the world. Examples here included a gents with about 20 men dressed in santa outfits and 3 people dressed as daffodils drawing cash from 3 adjacent cash machines. London Bridge was the focus for the next group of images, taken on the hottest day of the year and captured the expressions on the faces of the passers-by and the attitudes displayed by their body language. Then came Galleries where there is a much more relaxed attitude to photography and plenty of opportunities to capture an image relating people to the art they are observing. The next group Colourless was different in that he looked for images without people, all taken at seaside resorts in winter. The final group in the first half was Covered Cars which is self-explanatory and which Dave says he has cured himself of!

The second half continued in the same format with groups of images about Events, Crazy Golf, The Day It Rained on the Parade, Colour Travel, Tough Guys and Porthcawl. Unfortunately there isn’t enough space to go into detail on them all even though they thoroughly deserved it. Through the whole evening Dave’s relaxed and humorous delivery, together with a strong thread of humour in the images, kept the audience completely involved and entertained and led to more laughter than had been heard at the club for some time! There were literally hundreds of super images, every single one of which provoked a positive reaction. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to give an accurate description of the images so why not have a look at Dave’s website here – you will not be disappointed. A thoroughly enjoyable evening and many thanks to Dave for providing it.

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