Dave Mason and Street Photography – an Appreciation

By John Cogan ARPS

Ah!  The joy of getting out and about on the street, any street in any town/city or other venue, there to stand back behind the lens of your camera and watch the world and its aunty go by.

Overcome your initial trepidation and follow Dave’s advice to “… get out there and have a go!”

The potential riches that can come to the patient, observant Street Photographer were on display throughout Thursday evening; and what riches!  Dave was looking for “…bodies in an urban space,” and he found them.  From the poster of the naked cyclist and the two vehicles waiting at the traffic lights in London 2012 to the London Zoo Gorillas and the lady with the inappropriate coat; from the man heading for the P to the three daffodils wearing blue trousers, all taking money from the cash machines at the same time; from a strange obsession with the Covered Cars of Cairo to the Punch and Judy Festival in Covent Garden …  Dave celebrates life in a way that is full of humour. 

He has some suggestions to pass on to us, such as: avoiding eye contact as it demands you explain to the “subject” about the whys and wherefores of your photograph and that pollutes the final image.  Dave is a member of various Facebook sites, not to contribute but to get dates and be informed as to what is happening within that particular Facebook world. 

When approaching an event for the first time it is useful to know a little about what is happening.  This is another of Dave’s suggestions.  The example Dave gave us appertains to the Punch and Judy Festival when he was confronted by an angry exhibitor and managed to use what he had learned about the various characters to placate the man and gain his confidence.

There are certain “areas” that Dave finds most useful and rewarding: finding images that are juxtaposed with something at variance or supportive.  One example given was the large cat-shaped kite that he photographed as it appeared to pounce upon the portable toilets; the whole image was completed by the addition of the two women.  Following the example of the late, great Tony Ray Jones, Dave photographs at events.  He also finds railway stations fertile ground; places of transit.  The classic example of railway stations would be Rome’s.

Summing up the evening; Dave Mason and his “I Shoot People” talk was richly textured, challenging and full of examples we could capitalise upon.  As an object lesson in Street Photography it was peerless: because there are NO rules in Street Photography, not even not talking about Street Photography!  Keep your eyes open and always carry a camera, especially a small, quiet one!  Oh, one last thing…just don’t try and photograph a toilet full of Santas!   

John Cogan ARPS

Dave Mason delivered the Harry Holder Lecture, “I Shoot People”, to Durham PS 2nd November 2017

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