“Street Life” Day Two

I headed into the streets of Oxford first with a 35mm film camera.

The days shooting was of a middling quality. The light wasn’t particularly brilliant as the weather was overcast, leading to a lack of shadows. As a result however I switched to black and white film, and kept to areas of contrasting lights and darks.

Beat artist Brion Gysin showing off some of his street photomontages.

The most successful images I took were outside the Sainsbury’s in the Westgate shopping centre, which is now encased in scaffolding as the building work carries on around it. This has made an aesthetically interesting tunnel area outside which is very dark, but the supermarket is bathed in white neon light which you can see through a giant window.

I decided to experiment and stood outside taking a picture down each of the aisles visible from the outside windows, and then once these were developed placed them side by the side. The result is quite pleasing and has a strange sense of space and perspective, creating a similar effect to the cubist/photomontage works of artists like David Hockney and Brion Gysin. I think I will continue in this vein, but want to be careful to continue the theme of street photography and not just copy other artists.

One of Hockney’s famous ‘Joiners’.

There were also some failures; I tried to find a space which was interesting in itself and then do a series of photographs of people walking in front of it, as in pictures by Robert Doisneau, but I couldn’t find anywhere particularly great.

I also found it slightly disheartening that when asking people if they would be part of the project, most of those who refused didn’t have a problem with the idea of being part of a project, or the project itself, but instead seemed to be self conscious and embarrassed by their own image. I think maybe this is a sad product of our ‘selfie culture’ wherein people know their own image too well.

Robert Doisneau’s sly series of street photographs.

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