Hi guys. Today I wanted to share a little of how I photograph the street, most of the time.
Theo or Fy, as we lovingly call him is almost 8 months old at the time of writing this. Me and Celine (better half) are both freelancers, and mainly work from our flat in the VII district, the heart of Budapest. Our son is half British, and the other half French and Spanish. This is an article on why I take him with me on my main trips of photography around the wondrous city of Gulyás and Túró Rudi.
1. Well I have to.
Ok, not strictly true AND I do have a choice, but since my better half works from home, I need to take the little tyke out to stop him from trying to run her business. He loves the technology we use, especially anything with a screen, so it gives her a break from stopping him trying to grab her laptop mid-customer service related questions.
2. It gets us both out of the house.
I could LITERALLY list a thousand reasons why being out of the flat is great - fresh air to help him sleep, getting myself off the computer, showing him the world, et al. Now the weather is better, and not freezing, it's easy to get out and it's not only great for moral of the troops, but it's great exercise. Stretching the legs and getting him out calms him down, stops him from getting too excited and he gets to hang there, on my chest in the carrier, or in the pram and watch the theatre of the world.
3. I get to see things through his eyes.
It is GREAT to walk around a beautiful city like Budapest and help him experience the constant chaos of the street, with its many foreign languages, its smells and flavours and its architecture to gaze at. From taking him out on the sling or in the push chair, I experience the street VERY differently. He reminds me that everything is new to soak in. Everything is bright and wonderful to experience, loud noises and exciting scenes. I watch him look and turn and gaze at all that is happening around him, and I try to follow where he looks. I get to see things as he experiences them, I get to see what captures his attention from moment to moment. I see the world through a child's eyes.
4. Change of perspective.
He is usually in a sling, which means his eye level is my chest height or he can be in his pushchair which makes his eye level where my abdomen is. His placement reminds me not just to see from my eye level (which can be boring IF used all the time), but to crouch or get low to the ground. I am always interested how the world looks through his eyes, and this is a shift of a few inches of height, which turns out to be a HUGE difference. The change in perspective, of getting lower or really low really makes buildings and architecture so much more powerful, people turn into giants and it becomes more interesting as it's not our usual way to view things.
5. People magnet.
Every father has the most beautiful son in the world. Mine is, without a doubt SUPER HANDSOME (thanks to mummy) so people naturally gravitate towards him to tell me how pretty and curious he is, and this makes for great photography. I get great expressions from people, I find it easier to integrate myself into a group or crowd, it's less difficult to strike up conversations, I get an abundance of people (usually old women) to photograph and capture. Nothing else makes me seem more legit and less 'in your face' than when I'm carrying him. People don't even see the camera as they're too busy staring at him. He, of course, is non plussed. Whether on public transport, stuck in a lift, shopping or just walking around, he distracts the people and I shoot them. Classic misdirection.
6. Great subject.
I'm always photographing the little monkey in all kinds of scenarios. When I'm taking a breather from photographing people and scenes on the street, I turn my attention to him. He is a multitude of expressions that change all the time. He hasn't had enough experience or control to be able to hide or subdue them, so more often than not, he will tell me when he is surprised, focused, listening and trying to understand something or overwhelmed. These add up to a great subject and a great foreground for a scene where there are no people. He adds the grumpy face to a beautiful art-deco building, an angry face when listening to my friends dote on him and a yawn when others are throwing him a smile.
7. He Comforts me.
It's hard to get frustrated when I miss a shot when I have two little hands gripping on to mine that shout 'don't worry papa, you'll get the next one!'. Having him and his presence is a warm light in an unforgiving landscape. It's impossible to get everything and stay positive, and he is there to keep me motivated.
I never really took selfies. Wasn't interested (except for this project) and although I tried many times, I didn't feel comfortable. I always had the same face, same expression. Now, when I'm photographing myself, he is there. It's a documentation that he was with me on many of the trips around the city, which he (hopefully) like when he grows older and I can start teaching him.
Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed it and got something out of it. Do you photograph with your children? How do you fare? Find it easy or difficult? Any suggestions for future topics, anything you would like to comment on, good or bad - please let me know. All comments can also be posted on the facebook page (Words on the street)