Make a Google Images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images.
Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One. You might like to make the subject appear ‘incidental’, for instance by using juxtaposition, focus or framing. Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the ‘camera vision’ of Bill Brandt.
Add a final image to your learning log, together with a selection of preparatory shots. In your notes describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images source images of the same subject.
It was nighttime and I was in Berlin when thinking about this exercise. I thought of all the amazing things that I could photograph in and around Berlin but my mind went to the Trams. Being from a town with no Trams, they are obviously quite the novelty for me. But how would I photograph one?
So as required for this exercise I googled “Tram” which seemed quite ambiguous and brought forward many simple images of Trams, usually photographed slightly offside (you wouldn’t really want to be standing in front of one I suppose) with the tram approaching. So the tram was usually running through the frame at a diagonal.
Whilst this was a good representation of what a tram looked like for someone who was interested, I would call it somewhat simple and straightforward recording of an object, quite clinical in fact. To be fair, most of these pictures came from informational or news websites so it fits well in with that.
However, I did come across a few that caught my eye. Like this one of the people crossing the street. It gave depth to the scene and suddenly became more than just the tram.
The following day I began. I watched as the trams passed by, and started with trying to emulate the pictures I had come across the previous night, I held my camera up to my eye, and tried to take the advice of Bill Brandt with his “camera vision” and “see what the camera was seeing” without pressing the shutter release at first. Then, I took a few shots as a tram approached:
As I reviewed my shots, I felt that the last one was slightly closer to feeling “right, however I wasn’t happy.
I carried on watching the trams, trying to look at them and see them in another way, I observed the reflections in the windows, the speed, the people onboard going past in a blur, I was aware of the bright colour in quite plain surroundings. The light level was getting lower as it approached the evening and I became aware that I really needed to get a shot. I was waiting at the crossing as one passed by and in the spirit of Henry Cartier-Bresson and his decisive moment, I held my camera up quickly and took a shot in a very split second decision. This was the result, and I am happy to say it worked. However, not in the way I expected. Perfectly framed through the window was a man in a brown jacket on the other side. He became perhaps my “incidental” in this shot or perhaps he reversed my whole image idea and made the tram become the “incidental”?