Taken outside one of the many wedding dress shops on 3 Thang 2 street, District 10.
I was very flattered earlier this week to have one of my pictures included in this post on street photography on the WordPress.com News blog. There are some great sites included in the post – I particularly like 365 from the archive and A walk with my camera, but they’re all well worth a look. It’s brought a lot of new followers to this site, so welcome everyone, and a big thnk you to the nice people at WordPress for featuring my picture.
All the pictures in the street photography post, including mine, are in black and white. I’ve been thinking recently about shooting more black and white pictures but, like a small child, I’m easily distracted by bright and shiny things and tend to default to colour pictures. Today’s picture is a case in point. I think it looks good in black and white – you’ll have to take my word for it – but I’ve opted to post the colour version, because the pink of her top and the green of the gates seem to complement each other. This was taken in Cholon, Saigon’s Chinatown, in between rain showers this afternoon.
This post continues last week’s theme of simple, uncluttered portrait pictures. I wouldn’t normally post two pictures of the same person, but I just can’t decide which of these I prefer, wider in colour or closer in black and white. What do you think?
I take a lot of portrait photos, as you will have spotted if you’re a regular visitor. Often, I choose a wide, or wide-ish, perspective to give the portrait some context, as in my last picture of the week. This week, though, I really wanted to focus on people’s faces, so I’ve been stepping out with my much-neglected 85mm lens. I wanted to take some simple, uncluttered pictures, with faces as the focus of attention.
I see a lot of different kinds of reaction when I approach people to take their picture. Hilarity, bemusement, sometimes irritation, but never hostility. Some people become self-conscious, almost standing to attention in front of the camera or, worse, pulling their camera face, sometimes accompanied by the dreaded thumbs up or V sign. These don’t make good pictures, but even the most reluctant or over-enthusiastic subjects will often start to feel more comfortable once they’ve seen a couple of pictures of themselves on the camera screen.
My favourite response, though, is that of people who simply carry on with what they were doing: smiling, frowning, dreaming, scowling, working. I saw this gentleman on Friday afternoon. I liked the way his t-shirt matched the rust on the metal gate behind him, but most of all I was drawn to his posture and expression. He was sitting just as you see here, with his head in his hands, not unhappy, but as if he’d got to the end of a long week and couldn’t quite muster up any enthusiasm for the weekend. I know the feeling. He barely moved while I took a few pictures, but broke into a big grin when I showed him the result. I can’t speak for him, but it was the highlight of my Friday.
Earlier today, I went for a late afternoon / early evening stroll around my neighbourhood. I had some vague ideas of capturing some street scenes or a city sunset, but as usual it was the people on the street that I was most drawn to. This lady is selling lottery tickets.
Sometimes, I go for a walk with my camera and nothing happens. Nothing inspires me, I’m not in the right mood, the light’s not right, it’s too hot, it’s too dark, I need a pee, it’s too bright, I’m hungry, I’ve got the wrong lens, I’m tired, the stars aren’t aligned, etc, and so on.
Other times, I stumble upon a great shot just round the corner from my flat. I walk past these blue shutters with their blue writing all the time, but on Saturday afternoon, there they were again, behind a nice man in a blue shirt who was happy to have his picture taken. It’s this sort of thing that restores my faith in photography, and in the universe in general.
I’ve rather pretentiously named this post after a nineteenth century French novel, which I haven’t read. But I like the red and the black of her shirt, and the way it almost matches the background, so ‘the Red and the Black’ it is. She runs a food stall on the edge of Hanoi’s old quarter.
I was up in Hanoi for a quick visit last weekend, jetsetter that I am, and will be posting a few more pictures soon.
It’s been a while since I posted a picture of the week; I simply haven’t been taking many photographs lately. I haven’t been doing much of anything at all, to be honest. But I’ve just come back from a week in Hue, in central Vietnam, where I managed to get up off my arse and take some pictures. This shot was taken in Dong Ba market. More Hue pictures coming soon.