Move!

Recently I took a day long bus trip to Stonehenge and Bath.

I assumed shooting at Stonehenge would be really easy. I mean these are iconic stones which are instantly recognisable around the world. But it turns out that shooting them in a way which is interesting is quiet hard when pressed in with the crowds of tourists.

For starters, you can't actually approach the stones any more. They are roped off from the public, who are confined to a circular foot path which you can use to walk past the stones. The issue immediately was that the rope in front of the stones was jammed with people getting their friends to take shots of themselves on ipads and mobile phones with the stones in the background.

I have a quiet giggle at these shots because they seem little more than 'proof that you were there', like holding a newspaper in a ransom photo. There must be millions of albums out there with just a string of shots of happy holiday makers standing slightly awkwardly in front of the usual list of landmarks. Needless to say that it didn't really make for a great foreground when trying to capture the sense of this ancient place.

So the best vantage point was blocked, and wasn't about to clear up.

So I had to walk around a bit, even traipsing through some mud, but I eventually found a few vantage points away from the hoards to shoot. It seems a simple a lesson but it's one I've come back to again and again: MOVE.

If you're getting stuck, if you feel yourself getting frustrated with your shots and it's just not working: MOVE.

I pushed my headphones in my ears, pumped up some Justin Timberlake, and then just began to walk around. I didn't shoot at first. I knew I had 20 minutes or so, so initially I just walked around and changed the angle. As I did that possibilities began to present themselves and shots opened up. I was on my 5DmkII with my 24-105mm f4 lens on, which gave me maximum flexibility. I needed to be able to frame quickly and precisely with the zoom in order to compose. The old "use your legs as your zoom" adage touted by 'prime purists', isn't always possible.

So here are a few of the shots I managed to get.

Remember, if you're getting stuck, don't give up: MOVE.

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Find Your Angle

On New Years Day I went into London to shoot the Parade.

The streets were lined, 2 or 3 people deep from the curb, with on lookers from all around the world, wielding their own cameras. As the parade began to go by, and with a cursory glance at the LCD screens of the cameras around me, I realised that I was getting exactly the same shots as everyone else.

I had one of those moments of clarity where I realised that if I was just going to be replicating the shots everyone was getting that day, I genuinely didn't want to bother shooting at all. I'm not creating at that point, I'm merely doing a shoddy job of reporting.

Who cares if I have a full frame DSLR?

It would be difficult to pick my shots out of a line up from the images being grabbed by the happy-snap holiday makers with point-and-shoots all around me, unless I could find another way to shoot this parade.

I committed that if I couldn't find a better way to shoot this, or a different angle, then I would put my camera away, and head home. In fact, given the icy wind, it only took a couple of minutes of fighting the crowds and cold before I resolved to head back to the soup I had waiting for me on the stove.

I was walking back to the tube station and decided to take some back streets and avoid having to push my way through the mass of humanity crowding the road side along the parade route. I rounded a few corners and stumbled upon the prefect situation; I walked right into the staging area for the parade, and as luck would have it there was no security to stop me.

I stayed there for a good hour, walking among the floats and acts as they lined themselves up to join the throng on the main street. I was able to walk into the middle of the road and get down to eye level for some shots which, I knew, would be something more intimate than your average photographer was able to get further up the way. It was worth the walk, and made the whole mission worthwhile.

My 'take away' from the day was to always look for another angle. If I am shooting the same shots as everyone else, then I am not being creative enough.

It reminded me of a documentary I watched recently about 3 of the founders of MagnumRobert CapaDavid Seymour, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

In their early adulthood they were in Paris during a series of protests, and as friends they decided to Photomission and cover the happenings. One of the commentators in the documentary spoke about how you could mix those photos up on a table and still be able to tell whose was whose. Capa loved strength and drama, choosing to shoot men with fists in the air. Seymour caught the softer side, capturing woman and children as they watched. Cartier-Bresson loved to find a new angle, an interesting composition.

Each found their own way of shooting the events; their own angle.

So...

Find another angle.

Find your take on what's happening.

Here are a few of the shots I captured:

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