Characters of Dublin
People bring cities and towns to life. They give the city its charisma, atmosphere and personality. For this post I've chosen a selection of some of favourite characters that I have encountered while out shooting the streets for the Arcanum. All it takes is a fleeting gesture, emotion, distinctive style or colour to take the ordinary to the extraordinary. What was common place ten years ago now seems out a place and unique and it is aspects like this that I hunt. A person reading a newspaper, a person holding a proper coffee cup rather than a disposable cardboard cup. I try to avoid the common place. Stand around for five minutes on any street and observe how many people have their faces stuck in their smart phone. Where people used to have cigarette breaks they now have smart phone breaks. Shooting candid portraits can be captured two ways, neither which is right or wrong. You can get close up and personal and sboot with a wide angle lens or stay further back and isolate the subject with a telephoto. The selection of images below has a mixture of the two. By adopting the up close and personal, the street photograph has two another two choices. Adopt a brass neck and don't care if you get noticed or use the street photographer's sleight of hand, drawings the person attention to thinking you are doing one thing while you are really doing another. Shooting from the hip, pretending to photograph something behind them or above them, pretending to check your watch or phone, pretending to shield you LCD on the back of the screen so so you can look at the image you pretended to take looking the other way, I've used them all.
The reason for the sleight of hand is not that we are doing something wrong, but more to protect the moment, that spark of emotion or gesture that caught your eye in the first place. Ask someone to pose for the photo in these situations and the defences go up, a false facade appears and the moment is gone forever. There is of course a place for street portraiture where the photographer asks to take someones photo. This requires an alternative set of skills as the photographers breaks down those defences to get through to the person beneath and reveal their character and personality - their soul. That for me is the key skill that all the great portrait photographers have, be it in the studio or on the streets.