Working With Layers in Street Photography, Part Two
John Lewell Photography
by John Lewell
2y ago
One of the keys to success in layering is to have meaningful correspondence between the different layers: between subjects in the foreground, middle-ground and background. It’s not enough simply to fill up the image with layered content. There needs to be something more, such as capturing each element in an aesthetically pleasing position within the frame. You may need some luck to get it exactly right because you can’t control the subject. You can adjust only your viewpoint or the settings on your camera. Three Steps The best way to capture a moment in time and preserve the various layers of ..read more
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Working With Layers in Street Photography, Part One
John Lewell Photography
by John Lewell
2y ago
In street photography, layers are successive planes of interest and action, occupying the foreground, middle ground and background, each one holding information that captures the viewer’s attention. Together, these layers form a complete, “symphonic” image, taken in a single capture. I use the term symphonic in much the same way as E.M. Forster used it in Aspects of the Novel. The symphonic novel represents the pinnacle of a writer’s achievement, being the most difficult form to create successfully but also the most rewarding for the reader. For example, the symphonic novel will have multiple ..read more
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Hacked Off
John Lewell Photography
by John Lewell
2y ago
If you’ve visited this site during the past month or so, you’ll have noticed the lack of updates and the absence of featured pictures at the top of the posts. Sorry! The site got hit by the dreaded “Japanese Keyword Virus,” one of the most difficult computer viruses to eradicate, even given the many helpful “10 step” processes that security bloggers have posted. The Japanese Keyword Virus turns your keywords on Google into links to Japanese sites selling clothes and accessories. It’s a kind of SEO spam that hijacks legitimate sites (like this one!) and ruins your reputation on Google. Moving O ..read more
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Is Imitation the Sincerest Form of Flattery in Street Photography?
John Lewell Photography
by john
2y ago
Like everyone else, photographers learn from other people’s experience. If you want to succeed — at cooking, carpentry, or rattlesnake venom extraction — you need to bear in mind how people have done it before. The real problem arises when an original idea is at stake, as it often is in the creative arts. So is it OK to nick it? A Glorious Past Great painters of the past had no qualms about borrowing ideas from their teachers and peers. A few of them, like Raphael, even borrowed from their own students when a particularly talented apprentice joined their studio. Nonetheless, the whole process ..read more
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Walking Around a Roman Wall
John Lewell Photography
by john
2y ago
What did the Romans do for us? Well, here in my home town of Colchester (Essex, UK) they built a rather nice wall, much of which is still standing after nearly 2,000 years. Not being able to venture too far afield during the recent (and seemingly endless) pandemic, I started to wonder whether the wall could serve as a backdrop for some street photos. I took all of them with the new Fuji X100V, intermittently over a few days. One Shot On one day I took just one image (above). Walking into Lower Castle Park, I was struck by the sudden appearance of yellow blossom in some shrubs near the railings ..read more
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The Problem of Public Art in Street Photography
John Lewell Photography
by john
2y ago
As a street photographer I’ve been keeping an eye on all these quirky bits of sculpture that keep appearing in places where you least expect them. I quite like one or two of them, like the Oscar Wilde memorial (above). Yet so many public sculptures are beyond awful. What on earth were people thinking when they decided to ruin a lovely street corner with a cluster of fried eggs (Santiago, Chile), a crumpled plastic cup (Bristol, UK), or a drift of mischievous pigs (Adelaide, Australia)? I usually avoid photographing statues and sculptures — in the same way as I avoid street performers, beggars ..read more
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Do Street Photographers Need the Validation of their Peers?
John Lewell Photography
by john
2y ago
Comedians get validation when people laugh. Politicians get validation when you vote for them. Street photographers get validation when you look at their work and don’t complain about it too loudly. Among the many definitions of validation is this one from the Oxford Dictionary: “Recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.” I love the way “or” is repeated four times in that sentence! It’s like one of those vague recipes which says “use chicken, or beef, or lamb or turkey.” However, if you think about it (and it’s actually a very well crafted ..read more
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Will Street Photography Last for a Thousand Years?
John Lewell Photography
by john
2y ago
I’m sorry for the ambiguity of the title. There are two questions here: will people still be taking candid street photos a thousand years from now? And will they still want to look at the street photos we’re taking today? Please note: I’ve already discussed the latter question from a 500 year perspective (“Will Anyone Want to Look At Our Street Photos 500 Years From Now?“) Looking Back To help us think about it, we can look back a thousand years, and, in the absence of photography, consider other media such as writing, painting, and sculpture. For example, in The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, t ..read more
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When Your Street Photo Really Has to Be Square
John Lewell Photography
by john
2y ago
Just before taking the above image I felt the familiar set of mental signals that tells me: “this is potentially a good shot.” The composition has all the elements I like: movement, purpose, engagement, colour matching (orange), colour distribution (blue), a curious object — no, two or three curious objects! Yet even as I took it I had a sinking feeling that it didn’t quite work. There was a blank area at bottom left, too much car at top left and distracting detail on the other side of the pillar on the right. I didn’t store the photo with the ones I like best until after I’d thought generally ..read more
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BNE Was Here, There, and Everywhere
John Lewell Photography
by john
2y ago
Going through my photos from Bangkok from last year, I came across the featured image (above). It has the kind of juxtaposition I like: with the surfeit of visual messages on every object, including the woman’s body. Most prominent of all the messages is one that says: “BNE Was Here.” It’s a message you’ll come across again and again if you take street photos in the cities of the Far East. For example, here’s another one (below). I took it because of the distinct oddness of the couple: a girl with a big floppy ribbon in her hair and a boy furtively holding a cigarette while carrying in front o ..read more
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