In my previous blog, I told you that I was going to try to do everything I could to rediscover the pleasure of walking the streets of Saint-Denis to document them. For almost 7 years now, I have been indulging in this practice that many people have difficulty understanding. Street Photography. What is the point of taking pictures of strangers ? Of course, if you are a frequent visitor to this Blog, I will be pushing open doors by explaining to you what this practice consists of. I have already exchanged with friends or even strangers and I must say that it is complicated to explain Street Photography. At best, you look like a madman, at worst, like a perverted voyeur who takes pictures underhandedly …
I must admit that last year was complicated because I really felt a lack of motivation. I didn’t want to take pictures anymore, I didn’t want to write anymore. These two things were linked for me. Writing and photography. I even asked myself if I was not giving up everything gradually. I didn’t stop abruptly, I continued to take photographs, but I had lost the urgency to document and simply to do what Garry Winogrand said: I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed. I took refuge in reading and it was very comfortable because my mind was occupied by all these stories I was reading. I didn’t miss photography because I had found another activity.
But there was always that sparkle that shone deep inside me. Street Photography is not just a practice for me. I’d kind of forgotten about it. It’s a part of me. A way of living, of breathing. I needed a little something to remind me of what I’ve been doing for the last 7 years. If the first years, I surely had things to prove to myself or to others, it’s been a while now that Street Photography has become something else than a genre for me. It’s been several years since I gave a big FUCK to all social networks and cut myself off from almost all Street Photography communities.
The beginning of 2023 marks a new beginning. I can tell from my year 2022 that I have missed Street Photography. Not being on the street anymore. My sterile wanderings… So I made my return to the streets of Saint-Denis. This return reminded me that Street Photography is ungrateful. It is hard and will not show mercy and you have to earn every photo you make. You have to be there at the right time. You have to be quick and attentive to everything. You have to be bold. In short, I know all these things, but I’m more than rusty and only practice makes you feel more comfortable on the street. The eye is a muscle like any other. If you stop using it, it becomes sluggish and less reactive. So you have to retrain it to see things. It’s quite frustrating but that’s the normal process.
I wanted to make this beginning of the year 2023 with the Ricoh GRD IV quite quickly. It’s true that I had started to use it during our holidays in Rodrigues and I must say that it felt really good to be back with this camera that I know like the back of my hand ! Of course, the camera is not enough. That would be a bit easy. The GRD IV allows me to free myself from all technical constraints. It goes without saying that knowing your camera perfectly on the street is one of the most important things on the street. You need to have settings for every given situation to focus on one thing and one thing only : capturing moments.
But as I told you, that’s not enough… To get back on track, I knew what I had to do. Here in Saint-Denis, there is hardly anything going on in the streets. Well, I would say rarely. Looking at my archives from my early years, I had forgotten that a city like Aix-en-Provence could be much more lively and bustling ! And to think that I complained at one time… Today, I would dream of living in a city like Aix again. But I have to get used to it. My present and my future are written in Saint-Denis. I needed to see people, to have material to be able to take photos and it was quite natural that I went to the market to regain my confidence. I have never been a fan of going to markets, demonstrations, parties or other gatherings of people to take pictures, but in the current state of affairs, it was necessary to rebuild my confidence and re-educate my eye.
This week, I even went to document the strike against the pension reform that is taking place at the moment. I simply enjoyed it ! Like a kid in a candy shop. People everywhere, smoke bombs… There are other dates already scheduled and I intend to do them. I’ll share some pictures and impressions in a future blog. I’m quite excited about this new year. It’s a rare thing, but I was certainly hungry for photography after this truncated end of the year 2022 ! A little teaser for the next article.
All the photos were made with the Ricoh GRD IV.
This last pic, what a rush! Think it is your best in a long time.YOU ARE BACK,
Smoke, people, gestures… A great combo. Easy target anyway. But I like it. Very immersive and I was able to protest against the law they want to adopt and also to make some photos.
A big fan of the smoke bomb protest shot, pure documentary, but there’s even better Street Photography for aficionados in this post. For a start the emotion and simplicity of the yellow wall, dress and crying child is fabulous. There’s more though, another yellow dress, this time with some complexity. She’s looking at that car emerging from the right of frame and our star performer doesn’t even spare it a glance. Cigarette in one hand whilst the other hand stops the car in its tracks. Doesn’t even look at it, like a seasoned traffic policeman. Brilliant.
It’s funny how you read my mind. You put the right words on the photos you mentioned. I can’t be more clear about the reasons why I have chosen them for this blog. Your words are educational!
We’re all craving for this kind of pedestrian crossway shot. You just have to be here to capture it. It’s not perfect, but it’s a moment.
The other picture is pure light and shadows. I liked the colours and waited like Sam Abell once said… I just needed the right character. Pure luck. But again. You just need to be here.
Loving your return to the streets Jeff! The two yellow dress shots are keepers and it’s only just February…what a start to the year!
Gonna grab whatever comes. You never know what tomorrow will look like. I ‘m presently struggling because i’m rusty. Things don’t come easily but hey I enjoy again being in the streets. That’s the list important!