Making it on the Street

Making it on the Street

WARNING: Some of these photos, and their titles, are “cryptic”

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I was a late starter. I only became seriously interested in photography during my early fifties. And I didn’t discover the work of Trent Parke, as seen in his 1999 book “Dream/Life” until a year or so later. Then, almost immediately I wanted to take photos of people “on the streets”. I loved the way Trent Parke captured light and “out of focus” subjects in his B&W photos. If you know Trent Parke’s work you may see some influence in the next two shots.

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“Defined by the Light” – Perth WA – November 2005 by Alistair Dewar

I sat and waited on the opposite footpath of a Perth city street, until a pedestrian walked out of the shadow into this slither of light.

I have enjoyed my many visits to Perth. It offers plenty of sunshine, great restaurants and cafes, quality boutique breweries, beaches and sporting events etc.. And its not too far from there to the night life and boating oportunities of Fremantle. A three hour drive gets you to the vineyards of Margaret River and other great destinations along the way.

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“The Serving Trolley” -Perth WA – 2005 by Alistair Dewar

Dressed like a kitchen aid from an up-market hotel, this lady was pushing (what I assumed to be) a stainless steel food trolley down the footpath towards…….who knows where?

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Another big influence has been the work of Saul Leiter, one of the early exponents of colour photography. Much of his work was created on the streets of New York and Chicago where he shot through windows, used the reflections from windows and focused on bold coloured subjects. I was ecstatic when I discovered Saul Leiter’s work, as I had already been tentatively attempting this type of photography.

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“Nail Biting” -Sydney CBD NSW – June 2014 by Alistair Dewar

Nothing better to do, the construction worker across the road is biting her nails. They must have been tough nails as she persisted for quite a while.

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“Forearmed” – Manly NSW – August 2014 y Alistair Dewar

You’ll have to figure out this one for yourself. I got all tangled up, somehow.

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“To Catch a Ferry” – Manly NSW – August 2014 by Alistair Dewar

These two guys were about to enter the ferry wharf. I assumed they intended to catch the ferry.

If visiting Sydney you must take a ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly. It’s a 25 minute journey and offers views of one of the most picturesque harbours in the world.

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“Arriving at Sydney CBD” from Manly Ferry – March 2014 by Alistair Dewar

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My next exciting photographic discovery was the work of William Klein, a French Amercian photographer. He mainly used B&W film for street work, although he did fashion magazine work in colour. What struck me most was just how grainy, gritty and confronting Klein’s street work is. He shot from close proximity and sometimes actively provoked his subjects to create action or aggression.

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“Suspicion” Sydney CBD NSW – June 2014 by Alistair Dewar

This group was on a free walking tour of the Sydney CBD. The lady in the green hoodie is the tour guide.

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“The Minder” Sydney CBD NSW – June 2014 by Alistair Dewar

The guy leaning against the QVB stone pillar seemed quite protective of his artist friend. The artist was doing some great work, but I dared not take any pictures of it.

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Should a street photographer be an observer who “documents” street life, without attempting to affect the behaviour of the subjects? Or should the street photographer interact with the subject to influence the shot? It seems the established street photographers are divided on this. And of course, it depends on what one is wanting to achieve.

In general I prefer to be an observer, attempting to capture the spontaneity of the situation – a “life is stranger than fiction” approach.

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“She’s the Baker’s Delight” Brookvale NSW – July 2013 by Alistair Dewar

The young baker came out towards the counter when he saw this young “chick” arrive at the counter. And he couldn’t take his eyes off her.

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“Twins” Sydney NSW – April 2006 by Alistair Dewar

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“The Rendezvous” Woolloongabba QLD – August 2013 by Alistair Dewar

I was having breakfast “alfresco” when I noticed the people dining at the next cafe. The picture seemed complete when the lady in the red coat walked into the scene behind the bloke with the red stripes on his bag. But my questions remained unanswered.

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“Body Language 2” Brisbane QLD – August 2013 by Alistair Dewar

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“Body Language” Perth WA – November 2005 by Alistair Dewar

After crossing the road this guy came and asked if I had taken his photo. Of course I said “yes”, and after a brief, friendly conversation he walked away happy about it.

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“Snobbery” Manly Wharf NSW – August 2014 by Alistair Dewar

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“Selling His Wares” Manly Beach NSW – August 2014 by Alistair Dewar

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“Waiting to Cross” Manly Beach NSW – August 2014 by Alistair Dewar

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“The Locals Manly NSW – August 2014 by Alistair Dewar

These two sat talking for as long as I was in the area and stayed in much the same position all that time. This could be their lounge room?

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“The Beach Babe” Manly NSW – August 2014 by Alistair Dewar

All lines in this photo lead to the………..?

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“Early Flight” Sydney Airport – August 2013 by Alistair Dewar

Keep Safe and see you next time.

For photographs by, and further information on, the photographers mentoned, please use the following links:

Trent Parke – His page on the Magnum Photos website 

Saul Leiter – a third party website discussing his legacy

William Klein – a third party website discussing his life and work

1 Comment
  • Kevin @ Bev G.
    Posted at 10:37h, 04 August Reply

    Alister, faces are fascinating! Contrasting the mood with the facial expression presents the plot of an “Australian Story”!
    Superb reading and viewing. K’n’B.

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