Here’s a peek from a photo project I’ve been working on, with substantial editorial assistance from my wife. I call it Man of Colo(u)r. I’m not certain what will become of it, other than possibly a very limited-edition book for family members. It’s not like I’m running over with exhibition space. However, it is a compendium, of sorts, of my 40-plus years of color photography. The project doesn’t pretend to celebrate my best work or favorite shots. Instead, I’ve culled from the 50,000 or so photos, the photos wherein I think I’ve used color most effectively in street photography.
Here are two examples of possible photo-page combinations that might make the final project. It’s an interesting (exhaustive) exercise in combining shots with tonal similarities that somehow combine or contrast content. We think the final project should consist of photos that stand alone, and that provide a richer meaning in combination.
I’ll tell you how we do, if I ever finish. One interesting aside from this project is that I’ve now finally mastered photo editing, and I view photography very differently. I still don’t like many of my shots, but I’ll keeping clicking until I get there. It’s how I’m put together, I suppose.
“Pinocchio,” Rome, Italy, 2016 — “Reading Asian-language News,” Rockville, Maryland, USA, 2010
“Man Counting Money,” Washington, DC, 2016 — “Women and Midshipmen,” Annapolis, Maryland, 2008
I hope the presentation of this work eventually sees the light of day, not so much so that I’m known–I couldn’t care less about that–but as a statement about photography in general, and street in particular. All photography is art, if approached via the lens of artistry. All street is worthy, whether the subjects are mundane or shocking. And most importantly, life happens in color. Black and White is emotive, but easy. The lens focuses on elements and photo editors use shadow and light to direct you where to look, usually within the framework of a rather streamlined composition.
Color, however, is life. The colors bring the image to life and reflect how we view and feel. Vivid colors shout for attention while muted ones sing lullabies in the background. The top two images become relatable because they share a palette, enabling us to view both faces. Perhaps we imagine the Asian man as smiling because his companion smiles. In the bottom image, the color similarities are less obvious, the whites framing the background of one and setting the identification of the individuals in the other. The subjects are surrounded by mute, vertical icons, though one subject seems unaware of that fact.
I’ve always shot in color because color was hard. It was expensive to buy, nearly impossible to develop, and a challenge to ge the damned hues to work for me without taking charge. I hope to one day master it before I pass on. In the meantime, I’ve set a milestone that says, “Forty-two years in, I’m beginning to get the hang of this damned thing.”
About time, too.
(All photos in the collection taken by me, shot with either a Minolta SRT-102, Minolta X-700, Kodak Z740, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50, Nikon D90, Nikon D300, Nikon D600, Ricoh CX3, Fujifilm X20, Fujifilm X30, Fujifilm X100T, or Motorola Droid, iPhone 3S, 5S, or Samsung Galaxy 7 mobile phone. Cameras affect how your photos look; they don’t determine whether they’re good or not.)