Part 1: People
• Below are twelve pictures that sum up 2016 for me. They all contain people as the subject (a second set of shots without people will come next). The selection criteria was based merely on their emotional appeal–in other words, they stand out for their personal memories of 2016. They are in no particular order.
It was early spring and I was in Dubai. I was keen to get back into street photography, but there was a prickly feeling that something was wrong with taking pictures without permission. The dilemma came to a head when I spotted a fruit seller who seemed down on his luck and who looked right through me when I took the shot, recounted in my post here.
It was a thrill to visit the Acropolis Museum in Athens. I also sought a picture or two contrasting the artefacts on display with museum visitors. The best I could manage was this one of a young student, evidently part of a school field trip to the museum, with pencil and notepaper in hand while examining one of the main exhibits of relief sculpture. I chose this picture to accompany my post about returning to blogging after an absence of six years. See Back Again: To Recap.
I saw red on the island of Aegina, Greece. This photo is rather ordinary, except for the number of items sharing the same colour. What first got my attention was the red shirt of the waiter framed by the red facade of the cafe. But when I noticed a redheaded customer enter wearing red sneakers with a red pullover tied about her waist, I knew I had to capture her when she exited.
I was being a geeky tourist in Athens by photographing a marble building with huge columns. It was across the street from where I was standing, so I made use of my zoom lens at maximum setting. I took several shots and took my time about it as I waited for pedestrians to get out of the way. But I realized it would be a while, as a man exited the building for a smoke break and stood behind one of the columns, eyeing me suspiciously. So I made do with his stare and waited for an elderly couple and a pigeon to join in.
For my first attempt at layered photography, I positioned myself carefully so as to capture pedestrian traffic on both sides of the street. I was in Kyoto, it was mid-summer, and the many Chinese tourists were helpful in lingering about without caring that I photographed them. I targeted a pair in the background and a lady in the foreground as I eyed them all through my viewfinder. Peripherally, I discerned that a cyclist was fast approaching and I knew I had a chance to an add an extra layer to the shot, if only I could time it right. It was featured on the website Urban Picnic Street Photography.
It was a hot summer day and I was in Kyoto on an errand. But I had brought my camera, and it was not long before I spotted a kimono-clad woman holding a parasol. The challenge was to get a shot that would not look cliché. I raised my camera above my head, pointed it downwards, and shot blind so as to try to get a “figure to ground” picture. I’m not sure if I managed to avoid the cliché, but I was satisfied with the result.
I had just purchased a Ricoh GR and was eager to use it, but it was the middle of the rainy season. Unperturbed, I went out with an umbrella, shot under it in the rain and also ventured into covered arcades and underground passages. With all the umbrellas about, I thought a project on men holding umbrellas would be fun (see Umbrella Men). My preferred of the series is this one, as I think I managed to time it just right. I was in an underground passageway with intriguing black and white tiles like a chessboard. I decided to see what I could get out of it, and I was happy with this interplay between the floor pattern and a passing gentleman holding a clasped umbrella. I stood there for quite a while to get it.
Japan has quite the drinking culture. Public drunkedness really isn’t frowned upon, nor is it something the police generally bother to do something about. Early Sunday morning in downtown Osaka is always an opportunity to find people snoozing away after a night of drinking fun. This photo is part of the small set To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.
This picture is part of a small set where a hand had special focus in each shot. It was taken at a famous shrine in Kyoto while a temple staff member was closing a sliding door. See Job of Hand.
The late summer was a particularly stressful time. To distract myself, I escaped Osaka for a weekend and went to Tokyo to do a few days of street shooting from dawn to dusk. It was early Sunday morning and I was milling about Shinjuku station feeling disappointed with the shots I had taken so far (a common feeling) when I sensed that this security guard might be an interesting subject to juxtapose with passing pedestrians and the adverts behind him. It is one of my favourite shots of the year, as the angles, lines, and hues resonate with me.
I quite enjoyed doing the photo project Umbrella Men during the rainy season, mentioned above. But when the rains stopped and the summer started with its intense sunshine, the parasols came out in full force. Japan is rather unique that way–parasols and umbrellas are everyday items. I guess it was natural to follow with a project on parasols, but it didn’t dawn on me right away. I was in the downtown area, street shooting, when, after taking this rather simple shot, it occurred to me to start the project. It would last for several weeks. See Parasol Women.
It was early autumn but it was still hot. The sunlight was intense and the shadows were deep–an enticing invitation that photographers would understand. I was in downtown Osaka prowling about for street shots, but without success. On a whim I started taking pictures of passersby from the waist down. Here is what I ended up with. I am not sure if it really works on any level, but personally I like it. It became part of one of my last sets for the year, Theme of Black.
To mark the new year, my heartfelt thanks to all my visitors, and those bloggers whom I follow, for stopping by and inspiring me during 2016.