Wednesday evening October 14, the St. Albert Photography Club welcomed club member Hedy Bach as she presented a talk entitled “Street Photography: A verb”.
Hedy has been a member of the club for the past year and brings her own very interesting perspective to the art of photography. In her background comments, we learned that she had worked as a fashion model from the time she was thirteen until the age of twenty one and didn’t really get interested in moving behind the lens until 2011. She is a blogger and many of her photographs make their way to her blog and can be viewed here, http://sloppybuddhist.com/
In the following few paragraphs, Hedy describes her own approach to street photography.
“As an image-maker I study how things look and sound. I work daily with my camera and words to compose beautiful “thought things” as one way to form ideas, to inspire reflection and rumination – perhaps even start a conversation. My photographs are almost all allegories about my understandings of human desire for settlement, of spaces and places, and how people and things fit together within. I try to negotiate my subjectivities with consideration to Scruton’s ideas of why beauty matters and to see the remedy of beauty as an instrument of peace.
I actually think you can be a Street Photographer without a camera and without making photographs, it is really just the more insecure Street Photographers like myself that actually have to record and show off their ability to ‘see’.
How many other forms of photography essentially have ‘wonder’ at their heart? That’s what makes Street Photography almost a spiritual process for many because it is so personal and so akin to a kind of photographic enlightenment.
Street Photography helps me understand the nature of my society and my place in it, I do it more for myself than I do for an external audience and like Buddhist enlightenment I do achieve a happiness through gaining that understanding.
I have certainly experienced Matrix- like moments of revelation when in a public place I see things, moments just reveal themselves because I have put myself in the right situation for it to happen.”
Hedy’s approach may not work for everyone, especially those of us who don’t share the type of gregarious, inquisitive nature that seems to disarm the suspicions of the people, the subjects that make street photography so interesting. Hedy uses a Fuji X100s, a 16mp APS-C camera that is disarmingly small and has a retro look that makes some people think she is shooting with an old rangefinder film camera. It seems that a friendly lady with a small camera might just be less intimidating to some subjects than a burly guy with a giant DSLR and a 200mm lens!
Whatever the reason, Hedy seems to be able to get the shots that capture the “decisive moment” a term coined by, Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of Hedy’s inspirations and a pioneer of street photography. She lists many men and women from the world of street photography and painting as inspirations as well and by reminding us of the value of studying what people have done in the past, she’s prompted us to dig into those old art/photography books.
Listening to Hedy describe the process involved in capturing some of her memorable work, it sounds much more thoughtful and time consuming than what may be the norm for most photographers.
Wandering around, pausing to talk to people and hear their stories, maybe coming back to the same locations and seeing the same people day after day, possibly bringing them a coffee and slowly becoming a part of their world if only for a short time can bring a wonderful intimacy, an engagement with the scene that is lacking in many photos.
Hedy talks about the possibility of discovering the “grateful surprise” that makes the photographic process/search/walk/stroll/ and life in general, fun and rewarding.
She says that she often takes the photo, then smiles, nods, gestures in a sort of non-verbal question, “is it okay?” It seems that usually it is, with one or two exceptions and she occasionally sends digital copies of the photographs to people who want them.
It seems that a prime consideration for today’s street photographer and likely for all photographers is to take a moment and think about our intentions in taking a photograph. Particularly In street photography, where the photographer may be infringing on privacy rights, it is important to pause and think and consider the subject before taking the photo.
Thanks Hedy for an excellent presentation.