Sunday, January 15, 2012

The making of a photograph

A porter reaches back to help another as they struggle to carry their burdens up into the city, Istanbul, Turkey.
It strikes me that photo enthusiasts are often more interested in the equipment used to take a photograph and the settings as if somehow that knowledge will help them create images like the ones they admire.

On the other hand art critics look at images as the starting point for an interpretation. They often give images a meaning far beyond what was in the photographers mind at the time of making the image.

Professional photographers on the other hand look at images and think about how they would have tackled the same situation to get the shot. They are less concerned with the equipment or the interpretation and more interested in the practical decision making involved and the point of view, both physical and interpretive, of the photographer.

Over the years the image above has become quite symbolic to me. Each man carries a burden through life and sometimes everyone needs a little help to take the next step. My understanding of the image I shot on that day has evolved. Here's how the actual moment of capture happened...

One day when I was a young photojournalist student, I was walking near the harbour in Istanbul when I saw a row of men with heavy barrels on their backs. They were crossing the road and as each man crossed the one in front turned around to help the man behind him up onto the pavement. It immediately struck me as an iconic and symbolic moment.

I had my SLR, loaded with Ilford HP 5 film, hence the grainy print, and an 80-200mm lens. I was a long way off and had to run flat out to get close enough for a shot at 200mm. By the time I was in range I could only manage to shoot one frame of the last two men in the row. Weeks later when I got home and developed the negative I realised I'd captured something special. The image has been in my portfolio ever since and reaction from viewers has always been good. Generally people 'get it'.

The thing that interests me now though is that over time the power and meaning of the image has grown.

More soon...