Continuing with my research and project work I began to look at the way film photographers selected images, so I looked at the Magnum contact sheets book (Lubben, 2017), which is about film photographers own selection process from their rolls of film negatives, which are mostly black and white. It’s interesting to see which ones they rejected based on the type of photography, and the time they took it and perhaps what the focus was on them as individuals. In the example below a photograph, which was taken in 1991in Tirana, Albania by Nikos Economopoulos, which captures the mobility and migration of the people of Tirana at the Central Railway station.
The main photo selected compared to the three similar shots, you can just see the composition is more balanced, the figure walking to the camera is either too far away or too close in the ones he rejected and the preceding photos had a less focused scene with two people. These subtle differences in the selection made the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph. It was also interesting to see in the book how most selections from each photographer usually ended up with around 3 to 4 primary favourite shots with one great photograph, so it was almost like the other third or second best of the bunch were virtually as a sidekick to the main picture, in other words part of a family of photos.
Another thing I wanted to consider also was what I read in Michael Freeman’s book(Freeman, 2016a) about the photographers digging deep into his or her repertoire to make the images more distinctive with their bank of stylistic choices.
I sometimes think as photographers we have to push the composition as described in Micheal Freeman’s book (Freeman, 2016b) the quote from the book by Edward Weston wrote “To compose a subject well means no more than to see and present it in the strongest manner possible” so this was one of the reasons I started to use square format sized images in some of my photos to help me compose a better scene with more intensity.
I think I managed to incorporate the slightly forced composition and also my style and some of my style of authentic perspective and vision.
Film contact sheet including shots from Fendi Barbershop, Thug Barber and the men’s grooming supplies shop in Kwun Tong.
This shot has a lot of the context of the Fendi Barbershop, and in the centre, you can see two small model figures of two famous Rotterdam barbers, which only the barbers would have noticed in the picture.
Lubben, K. (2017). Magnum Contact Sheets. 1st ed. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, p.368.
Freeman, M. (2016a). Fifty paths to creative photography. 1st ed. London: Octopus Publishing Group, p.158.
Freeman, M. (2016b). Fifty paths to creative photography. 1st ed. London: Octopus Publishing Group, p.134.