Searching for diamonds

Looking at the photographs I’m taking each day, like the one below, I see that in the main I am looking for abstract compositions in the often decaying human environment I am living in. My ‘eye’ was formed as an artist, my preferred artists people like Ben Nicholson, Mondrian, David Smith, artists who were abstracting nature into its constituent blocks.

I found when documenting work I did with children and young people that I was photographing humans successfully. But I just don’t have the ‘eye’ for people that someone like Cartier-Bresson had. So why is that?

It could be less interest in humans than abstract patterns. Perhaps it was an innate shyness, it takes considerable guts and self-confidence to photograph people outside a ‘confined’ situation such as a project creates where people are expecting to be documented. If you see movie film of Cartier-Bresson he works like a dancer. He used a lightweight small camera, and would dance on and off the pavement, people obviously hardly noticed him working.

Photographing people going about their everyday lives creates some of the finest and most interesting photographs. They show us a glimpse of everyday life, capture points of tension, relaxation, which even moving film has difficulty with. But they do impinge on people’s privacy. I remember in about 1976 walking past the old Cardiff Library, a fellow student took a shot of a very scruffy homeless man searching through a dustbin, a good subject, but he became aggressive and quite rightly so I feel, he was unhappy being photographed in what for him was probably a very distressing time. I could see what the photographer was intending, making a point that in the middle of a big area for consumerism someone was so desperate he was searching a bin for food/drink/money/diamonds. After a heated discussion it was settled by the photographer giving the homeless man a couple of pounds, who traipsed off down to The Greyhound, where I was on the way to.

So if you are expecting lots of pictures of people this year you may not get them, but I will try, maybe a few portraits of people I know, and even self-portraits.

Today’s photograph is near the park where a building is slowly disintegrating. It was windy, sunny, chilly, at about 10.15am.



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