Fancy A New Hobby?

At Apollo Care we pride ourselves in delivering the very best care that we can to our clients.

This means that all of our care plans are person centred and reviewed regularly to ensure that our clients wishes are at the heart of what we do for them.

We are also proud that we are very much a values based company and our core values are at the centre of everything that we do. One of our values is empowering. When discussing their personalised care plans with our clients and their families, it’s important that we get to know them well. What they like and dislike and what their future aspirations are. Sometimes, this could be that they resurrect a hobby that they once enjoyed or in fact start a brand new hobby that they have always wanted to try.

One such hobby that might be chosen is photography.  This is a relatively cheap hobby to do, it has no age restrictions and you don’t need previous experience. We have had the pleasure of getting to know a gentleman called Howard who is a street photographer. He has very kindly agreed to write a guest blog for us to give us an insight into his enthusiasm for photography. Enjoy….

I started taking photographs over 40 years ago and I have had an on/ off relationship with the camera ever since – mainly on. But two years ago I started to study photography with passion and particularly the work of acknowledged masters – Henri Cartier Bresson, William Eugene Smith, Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon. There is a very long list but the starting point is easy. If you want to learn about the work of the greats, go to YouTube, search for Ted Forbes’ Art of Photography channel and he hands it to you on a plate.

As I studied their work I naturally moved in the direction of street photography for a couple of reasons.

Firstly it is easy to do. When I say this, I am not being rude to street photographers. Producing consistently high quality street images is far from easy. I am talking about the practical side of things. Most cameras will be fine, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on additional specialist equipment, you can do it any time of the day (or night) and you can grab a couple of hours whenever that fits into your schedule.

And secondly street photography came as a reaction to the demands of my video work. When I head off to produce a video for a client I have a huge rucksack that weighs half a ton and a suitcase on wheels that weighs about the same. So going off to shoot video for fun for myself for a couple of hours isn’t an option. Hence my drift back towards photography in general and street photography in particular.

So what is street photography? Well let’s keep it simple……… you hit the streets and take photographs, which usually but not always include some people. It can be in colour but black and white is very popular and some photographers are still using film instead of digital. It splits into two main parts – candid where you take photographs when people don’t know you are doing it. For this to work you tend to blend into the background and work quietly. The other approach is street portraiture and for this you have to walk up to a person or persons and ask if you can take their photograph. I am drawn more to street portraiture because I like engaging with people. It is very difficult at first and some photographers just cannot do it. From my own point of view I have got better at it and I now feel much more confident when asking but the fear/ shame/ embarrassment/ frustration of the rejection never actually goes away. But on average 30 – 40% say yes to me which is probably a decent average. Selecting likely candidates helps as does a big smile – how you ask is usually more important than the words you use when asking. Oh and never approach anyone from behind. If you see me running up the street I am probably trying to get ahead of someone I have spotted so that I can get well past them, turn round and approach them from the front, totally out of breath but with a big happy smile on my face – “would you mind if I take your photograph before I have a heart attack!”.

But recently I have been working on a series of photographs featuring people who wear Dr. Martens boots. Check them out if you don’t know what they are but the people who wear them often have an interesting, quirky, arty look and the ladies often have pink or blue or purple or green hair – but not always. With the Dr. Martens project I hit the ball out of the park because I came up with a wonderful lead-in line. I approached people and said “I am taking a series of photographs of cool-looking people who wear Dr. Martens boots – would you mind if I take your photograph?”. My success rate rocketed to about 90% – why would anyone not want to opt in to that demographic?

As an aside there is a great story about Brandon Stanton, a New York based street photographer who has had huge success with his blog and book called “Humans of New York” – check him out, he is excellent with just 12 million Facebook followers. The morning he found out that his book had reached No.1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list, he hit the streets as usual with his camera and he was buzzing – you would be! But that morning the first ten people – in a row refused to let him take their photographs – that brought him down to earth with a bang!

So the downside about street portraiture is the potential for rejection and it is not for the faint hearted. But the upside is that you get to say hello to, talk to and in a few cases keep in touch with people who you would never otherwise meet. And if you like talking to people that is a major plus. You also get some really unusual people to photograph in different locations and settings. And like I said it costs very little. When I go to Liverpool for half a day on the streets with the camera, I use my “pensioners” rail pass and travel for “nowt”. I also take a sandwich from home and that keeps the cost down. Having said that I don’t deny myself and I usually have a Cappuccino from Costa. That pushes the cost of the day up to a massive £2.85 – but you can’t take it with you – eh!

Howard Jackson

Open Door Multimedia

07795 252797

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