by John Cogan ARPS
Saturday, 11th of June was a dullish day and drops of rain fell in fits and starts, caught by the sensor of my Pentax. Having become, by default, a portrait photographer (not that I mind) I thought I might take this heavy duty camera for an outing. Complete with its 75mm lens and a couple of empty SD cards I made my way to the Baths Bridge in Durham. This would be my third year photographing the Regatta and I wanted to try something different. Whilst other photographers from the DPS Assignment group tried to find a novel angle for to capture the blade of an oar, I drifted amongst the multitude looking for faces.
Normally, I adopt the “Hunter” approach with my Fuji XE-1; silent and deadly. At the moment I have a Mamiya Medium Format 80mm lens on the Fuji. This means an equivalent to something like a 120mm lens. Don’t take that as gospel because I have no idea what the formula is to convert a full-sized lens to one that is on the XE-1.
With the big Pentax 645 and the equally imposing adjustable lens hood there is no hiding; so this time I was committed to approaching people to ask their permission, not something I normally do. Equipped with the Durham Regatta photographer sticker on the camera and an orange wrist-band attached to my right arm, I found these two items were keys to open doors.
For two hours I wandered hither and thither talking to people; ranging from a couple of Umpires to several young coxes, from the recorders bent over their results sheets to the crew coaches. 142 photographs later I had a cross section of portraits good enough to represent the day’s activity.
Now, where is this leading? It has come to my attention that some photographers find this sort of photography difficult. I could be wrong but the number of times I am asked how I get away with street portraits would suggest that there is a reticence amongst some members to become involved. As a safer introduction the Regatta provides a fantastic nursery. So, here is where my thinking has taken me. Perhaps, at an event such as the Regatta or the Miners’ Gala anyone who wishes to accompany me would be most welcome. I can’t say I would be the best mentor, but I can try. You never know, you might just be in need of the opportunity to smile and become a deadly and silent street photographer?
John Cogan ARPS June 2016
Pictured: portraits by John Cogan
Regatta: Sheffield Uni Cox
Regatta: Lancaster Uni Two
Regatta: Leeds Uni Rowing Coach
Regatta: Regatta Girl 2016
Regatta: Regatta Marshall #1
Regatta: Smiling Girl