Monday, January 16, 2012

People at Work...

People at Work, the subject for my 1st assignment. We have to document 3 different individuals at work with a single image that tells it all. All modern day commodities of a digital SLR were stripped off from us. The image has to be shot with either a 35 or 50mm on a 35mm camera in black & white. It has to be on manual exposure with manual focusing and ISO set at 400. It's back to the very basis of what the camera could do with the photographer playing an ever important role.

Photographing people should be my forte, but this time, it's different. I have to conceptualize the type of image i wanted and most importantly, source for the subjects, the actual people at work. My 1st phone call to a yoga centre was shot down because the owner, is out of town, and the staff couldn't get the permission i badly needed in time, just my luck. Being relatively new to the country, I thought why not focus on something closer, someone that i have crossed path with on a daily basis. The hawkers at a small and random market across the junction of Wimbledon station, is an obvious choice.

I took a rather direct approach by introducing myself to the stall owners, explaining what i'm doing. They were extremely friendly and kind to allow me to hang around documenting their life. I spent most of the first half talking to them, finding out who they were rather than on the actual shoot, which i eventually realize its importance, especially for the process of getting the shot, that one single image.

The actual shooting itself is a bit of a disaster. The manual focusing on a 5D proved to be a challenge, and the focus ring on the 50mm is not exactly smooth. It does not make it any easier with an almost constant moving subject. But what all these restriction does really, is to allow more thought into making the photographs. More time were spent looking through the viewfinder, getting the setting right and waiting for the right moment before the trigger is squeezed.

In total, I spent 2 days working on this assignment. The first day was spent entirely at the market with 2 of my subjects, Michael & Dan, the grandfather and grandson duo working on their fruit stall that has been around for 45 years, and Shane, the fishmonger from Hasting, working from his van that also double up as his portable stall. Both of them are extremely popular with the locals. My 3rd subject, i thought, has to be different or at least someone working indoor with a skilled trade. Thus, day 2 were spent walking the street looking for a suitable candidate, till i met Houro, a young Kurdish tailor from Syria.

(Not part of the assignment, but a good way to break the ice with a portrait.)

Houro, a skilled tailor, works in a rather modern looking tailor shop along Wimbledon Broadway, a perfect fit for the assignment. He is extremely welcoming and we had some really interesting conversation. I am starting to enjoy the whole process of meeting new people, learning about their cultures and listening to their stories. Something that i will be doing very often from now on..

(Photograph taken with Canon 5D MK2)

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