Janet's SQA project
1. I photographed the homeless James in Edinburgh's Royal Mile on a wintry January afternoon. Living in Skye, this is a sight with which we are unfamiliar in Skye, so I was full of empathy for him. The photograph reflects the pathos of the situation on our urban streets. The feelings evoked from looking at it also encouraged me to adopt urban portraiture as my portfolio theme.
4. Equipped with my newly acquired 85 mm lens, in February I travelled to Glasgow arriving in the city centre in the afternoon. Because of its relatively light weight, fast speed and wide aperture, I was feeling confident of the handling it on the street. I managed to capture a couple of candid shots of the Magazine Distributor before he noticed me, as he was busy handing out magazines to the passers-by. I then interacted with him and he indicated his willingness to be photographed using the phrase “dinnae frighten the weans”, which also showed his indigenous authenticity.
5. The Busker was busy singing and playing and attracting quite a bit of attention from the people passing by in the street, so it gave me an opportunity to get to shoot a series of shots with the 85mm lens before moving in closer to get some portrait style captures. In my fourth last shot, he made eye contact with me and the lens, allowing me to capture a portrait shot.
6. The Big Issue Seller was sitting on a folding seat outside by the pedestrian shopping precinct, strumming a small secondhand guitar, which he had picked up from a charity shop. To become a vendor, one must be without a home or marginalized in some way and he explained to me that he although he was learning the guitar, he was not allowed to busk for money, while selling the magazine.
7. The Enthusiast was engrossed in window-shopping for his hobby so I was able to capture four images of him before he moved in to the shop. I then took a final shot through the window of the items he was viewing. The resulting image is a merged photo of the two shots, which make it look as if the shot was captured through the shop window from outside.
8. While wandering round a city centre department store in the evening, having fitted my camera with the versatile and lightweight 35mm so as to appear very inconspicuous, my attention was drawn to the silver shoes of an interesting young gentleman working in the store. When I struck up a conversation with him, it transpired his job title was Visual Assistant which involved dressing the mannequins and being in charge of the display. He agreed to be photographed, appeared relaxed and clearly enjoyed the experience as he chatted to me about aspects of his work and his own dress sense, while he continued to move around the area where he worked. I took the opportunity to move in close for a portrait shot and thought the image portrayed his character well.
9. My blog post “Under The Heilanman’s Umbrella” details my personal interest in photographing this community and I found the experience very meaningful. Both the barber and his client were happy to engage with me, showing an active interest in the fact that I had travelled from the Isle of Skye to participate in street photography. The barber, representing the multi-cultural workforce to be found in the small businesses under the rail bridge, had relocated from East Africa to work in Glasgow and was very happy with his life choices.
10. Lou worked in the Edinburgh Tron Kirk market centre and I struck up a conversation with her by expressing a fascination with all her tattoos. She told me that her friend was a tattooist, thus making it more accessible to her and she readily posed for shots until a customer arrived at her shop counter.
11. The Deacon Brodie Character was promoting Edinburgh Tours and handing out leaflets to interested tourists passing by in the Royal Mile. He spoke about his work promoting tours which included one to the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh and was very engaging, even suggesting other locations in the city which were good vantage points for photography.
Lunchtime was well past in the small café in the Grassmarket, and by the time I had eaten, being the only customer left, I engaged the waiter in conversation as he cleared the table. I discovered a strong personal identity with Yadgar, who was brought up in a small farm in a Kurdish village, similar to my childhood experience on a croft in Skye ( he was familiar with the island and hoped to visit). Enforced bankruptcy of over 1,500 village farms by the government made it compulsory for his family to leave and he decided to come to make a new life for himself in Scotland. He was optimistic about his future in Scotland with his girlfriend, for whom he hoped would be successful with her university course. My camera was fitted with my 85 mm lens and I shot two very emotive portrait images of Yadgar. I left the café feeling that in capturing the moment, I had viewed another window on the world, through my street photography.