I’m a proud owner of about 30 vintage cameras, one Sardinia lomography camera, one little compact Canon & one DSLR with two lenses (I really do hope that whoever is reading this is not thinkin’ about robbin’ me). In spite of such a wonderful collection (yes, I’m bloody sayin so myself, because my cameras are an equivalent of babies), I’m not a tremendously good photographer. I love snappin’ away, don’t get me wrong, but taking proper pro photographs, that’s a whole different story. Here are a few tips & tricks I’ve learnt about photographing big cities so far.
? THE GOOD
Variety: There’s always something on in the city centre so if you’re not a fan of snapping pictures of the architecture, you can find yourself some more amusing objects. That is from food in your favourite restaurant to vintage markets and outdoor theatre shows. There are no limits (apart from security of particular places – such as shopping centres – you might want to double check with them that it’s allowed to be taking pictures there before they kick you out, literally #truestory).
Atmosphere: I’m not talking just busy/quiet and summer/winter (although winter in Brum makes it a whole lot different with the German Market & lights and plastic Rudolf’s). I’m talking pork scratching at the Indoor market, dragons in the Chinatown and an abandoned chapel in the Peace garden. Singers on New Street and LA-style neon billboards on High Street. Your pick.
People: Apart from the good old people watching (the best place is Starbucks on New Street, I swear), you can use people to your advantage and blur them out with slow shutter speed. Your photographs instantly scream busy. Metropolitan. Birmingham.
? THE NOT SO GOOD
Proximity: Everything is so bloody crammed. You can’t even tell where one building starts and the other one ends. Your options here are wide angle lenses, focus on details or bein’ a bit of a gymnast & pulling poses on benches, curbs or even on the cobbles trying to get a decent angle!
People: I’m not draggin’ in my introversion here, I swear. But as you can imagine – stepping into the city centre can equal to stepping into ant’s nest. There are people everywhere, head on head, toe on toe, especially if you decide to wander around at noon. Now if you want all these little faces (blurry or not) in your pictures then yes, go ahead and beat them with your elbows when the sun is at its highest. But if you wonder how do photographers get photographs of the Bull without a single child climbing over it, you should try waking up at 5am and getting the first bus to town. You will see.
Colour: Don’t expect 100% of your photos backdrop to be uber colourful, after all you’re in the centre of a concrete jungle. If you’re not a fan of all things limestone, concrete & brick then it’s likely you will find it rather challenging to incorporate some colour in your shots. Not impossible – just challenging. Make use of trees, flowers, blue sky, even colourful signage & maps!
Last Sunday I had a change to learn a fair bit about photography at Goodman’s photography workshop. The pro photographer Simon took us around the main sights in the Birmingham city centre, fed up at Jamie’s Italian restaurant and explained to us loads about photography – from pointing our how terribly I’m holding my camera to what perspective and settings to use to get a swanky shot. Thank you for organizing this, Goodman’s!