OK, it wasn't an exclusive 'hang out with Matt Stuart day' but the next best thing - a Street Photography workshop in conjunction with the Photographers Gallery in London. As postgraduate fees have gone through the roof, I've decided,for now at least, to keep my continual professional development to attending workshops and buying books. And what a valuable day of learning it was!
Oxford Circus, the heart of London's busiest shopping district on a Saturday presented a dynamic and challenging environment for our two set projects for the day: The 2 Fs - following and fishing. In the morning I was following the shopping crowd, through the high street style of Oxford St. through to the millionaire glamour of Bond St. 2 hours flew by as I was trying, mostly in vain, to put Matt's wise words in to practice. A quick return to base at the Photographers Gallery, and I select my top 5 shots, guzzle some coffee and snaffle a croissant before heading back out - this time to stick to a fixed location and 'fish' for what comes my way. I was surprised to find out of the two, the static fishing for what comes your way far more difficult than the morning's hunting on the move approach. The constant waves of people left me feeling rushed and out of control until Matt gave me some in the field advice about framing and anchoring certain elements in my composition. Back at base, 5 more shots selected before a group debrief and Matt's critique of our selected images.
Now that I have had a little more time to reflect, some of the images I selected weren't my strongest, but considering how many frames that can be taken in just one day, getting 10 images you like is a very high conversion. To put it in to context , even after going out with his camera most days, Matt said his ( very high standard) 'keeper' hit rate is about 7 per year.
Four hours of constant focus and thinking on my feet was both mentally stimulating and exhausting but I can see why it is considered addictive and why street photographers have dedicated their lives to pounding the streets in search of that magical shot.
Till next time...