Exercise: Shooting from the hip

I was surprised to find that this is the first time I have really tried doing this properly. It always seemed too sneaky and gimmicky. I have to confess that not only did I enjoy it but also quite liked some of the results. It actually made me think of David Bailey’s words in this month’s Professional Photography magazine in answer to a question about why he doesn’t like digital: “I hate seeing the pictures – I like to wait a couple of days. Digital you give up all the time. I’ve watched people stand there looking at a screen with all these sycophants saying, ‘It’s great, it’s great’ – it’s not. If you didn’t know what you’d done, you’d do more, and once you think, ‘That’s okay,’ then you’ve given up and you’re not allowing for the accident. There’s no existentialism in there.”

This exercise was like shooting blind and then searching for treasure afterwards.

I think some of the images worked well because they capture people completely unaware – “the guard is down and the mask is off” and sometimes in their own little contemplative worlds – ” faces are in naked repose” (Walker Evans). There is also a heightened feel of vibrancy and dynamism. A fraction of a second in a kinetic experience has been captured.

The difficulties arise from looking natural/casual while shooting and getting the field of focus right. I could see that this improved as the day progressed (and after shooting about 500 frames), as did my tilted angles and I can imagine it could be developed into a really useful skill, if I was so inclined.  We are also into Winogrand territory where ‘content almost overwhelms form’ so I have to alter my expectations of what the final images might be.

Whilst I believe this type of work is honest in its representations of the scenes around me, it does feel a bit devious.  I don’t feel that I particularly edited the truth, apart from the obvious selections of people who were more or less interesting to look at or were doing something intriguing. I did find myself getting in closer to the crowds than usual and definitely became more observant.


This woman looked so sad and distraught, it was hard not to believe that she was acting. I particularly like the contrast with the more happy-go-lucky character in the background. The scaffold and pillars add to the tension and sense of confinement.


This was a strange moment as two small children bustled past a French chef giving directions to an English tourist. The weirdness of the ballon and the straight arm just appealed to me.


Some street people outside the tube station. This reflects the edginess of the moment and I was glad I wasn’t spotted.


What a great expression! Have we not all felt like this when lost in a foreign city? This feels so intimate – these two sweet people trying to find their way together as they must have done a thousand times.


Part of my quest to work out what is the smallest surface area of an image with the only full face in it that is acceptable.  Would have been nice if there could have been some selective focussing here, a la Stephen Shore New York panoramas but this does capture the bustle of the West End.


No idea why this young woman is in such a bendy position but I like it. The curve of her legs echoes the lines coming round the corner of the street and gives a topsy turvy feeling to the moment.  I also like how the rest of the street is empty and these two strangers are practically falling over each over.



This woman was so immaculately dressed that is is hard to imagine being able to get a bad photo of her. Unless you happen to have an unflattering angle and are eating a sarnie in the street.


This image seemed to sum up so much about parenthood that it isn’t even funny. I could just imagine the Dad thinking: she’s got a ballon, what more does she want?

The best of the rest…


AY2A0600 AY2A0601 AY2A0609 AY2A0610 AY2A0636 AY2A0644 AY2A0659 AY2A0672 AY2A0674 AY2A0691 AY2A0719 AY2A0770 AY2A0789 AY2A0796 AY2A0816 AY2A0869

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2 Responses to Exercise: Shooting from the hip

  1. Catherine says:

    There’s certainly an energy about them. You know, before I started this Course I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about just photographing people but now, I feel really reluctant unless it’s at a Fair or I’m on holiday – weird!


  2. Rob Townsend says:

    Really great set – you seem to have taken to this street photography lark 😉


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