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Skill Level Intermediate
- [Steve] You know, even though I'm shy by my nature, I love photographing people, and it's worth getting out of my comfort zone and getting into the mix out there in the world and try to capture the world as I see it, and of course, people are going to be a part of that. Hi, I'm Steve Simon, and welcome to a new edition of Photo Critique of the Week, and this week I'm going to show you some images I made on a recent walkabout in Chicago, and there are no real people in them, or at least, if there is a person in them, like in one of the images, they're not sort of the main focus.
Images without people, obviously landscapes, etcetera, can be very powerful and so, too, can images without people in the urban environment, urban landscapes, if you will, be very powerful, too. Sometimes much more powerful than images with people, and they also describe the place to a certain extent. So let's take a look at some of these images and we can talk about them. You know, there are artists everywhere and sometimes, depending where you're at, in most major cities you'll see, not only street arts, murals, graffiti, etcetera, that can make really interesting images, and this image, made in the Pilsen area of Chicago, was really kind of interesting in terms of this sort of ghostly sort of feel on this old wall.
So the question is, you know, what to include and what not to include, and that's a personal thing, and I think that the bar is raised when there's nothing moving in front of you, you have the opportunity to explore the best possible angle and you need to take it. In this case I decided to crop out the sidewalk and any plants and just focus in on the mural itself and the texture of the stone wall, or the cement wall. It really accentuates, I think, what the artist was trying to communicate in that picture.
Here just, I love this old car. The reflection, you can't really tell what it is, and that's mainly because I cropped it. You can see the original, there I am, my wedding ring shining, glistening in the glass, but I felt that by taking myself out and just, you get a sense of place a little bit, you focus on the car, which is really kind of glowing in comparison to sort of the rusty kind of shelf that it's on. Caught my attention and I thought it was kind of interesting.
I love reflections, and when it comes to reflections you have to be careful, A, not to include yourself in the picture, as in the last one, if that's not your intention, but also to sort of make sure that the areas that are the main focus point are not too distracting with, you know, other things that are reflected in there. So obviously, any light-colored, white-colored things tend to really take away from the subject. But in the end, you get a sort of sense of place, a sense of what the store's all about and kind of a haunting image 'cause I love mannequins because they're a little scary, I might have some bad dreams after looking at an image like this, but always interesting, you know, and I think that the viewer can sort of make up their own minds.
This beautiful dress, in contrast with sort of the alleyway, I thought made a really nice contrast, so the framing was really kind of important to sort of figure out how to do it, and this was kind of ultimately the best framing that I could come up with. Make sure you leave yourself some space. You know, you have a second chance to crop, but you can't really include more beyond what you've included in the frame. So, again, things aren't moving so you have some time to move around and try and make the best possible image that you can.
Now here's the human being, this woman is in this picture, but really that's not what the picture was about, it was the Star Wars bag that I thought was really kind of cool. I like the color, I like the sort of coincidental street color of the blue, the blue of the bag, the red of the car, the red of the car here, and a little bit of the red down there. Yeah, this would've been better if this was maybe a red blanket, but it wasn't, but I still thought it was kind of an interesting shot that fit sort of the urban landscape motif.
I think that every picture tells a story and, you know, just the simple sign, you know that this is a big deal. There's a beautiful photograph of the bird, you can see the story, you can actually read the story, you see just how much effort has gone into creating this poster, and you understand the connection and the power of, you know, a pet for example. I have a friend who had these birds can live a very long time, and relationship is very powerful, it's one of the family.
So, it's really kind of a sad picture. I hope that the bird was found, but we don't know. So again, the idea of telling stories through images that you encounter in the urban environments can be very, very strong. These images I opted to make it black and white because I felt that the color was a little bit distracting, I cropped in a little bit and, obviously religious icons are very powerful, and these images are very powerful.
The fact that they're on the ground even, but the fact that, too, they're protected by the plastic underscores the reverence given to, you know, not only the item for sale, but also the fact that they represent something very powerful that a lot of people understand. So, the idea of going out there to photograph without people in the pictures in the urban environment, it can be a really interesting and challenging one for you as a photographer. I don't think necessarily you should only do this, because I think it prevents you from maybe getting out of your comfort zone a little more to include people and deal with these sort of unexpected situations that do come up when you're photographing people in the street.
But the power of the urban landscape cannot be denied, and it's worth pursuing. Well that's it for this week. I hope that you'll join me next week on a new edition of Photo Critique of the Week.
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