What Is Going On Here

Woman At The Met

Woman At The Met

This article is, for want of a better description, a word to myself to start street photography again.

What Is Going On

I saw a photo in a magazine recently that got me thinking. It was of a wooden structure – maybe a bridge – with parts of the timbers broken off. Visible below the timbers was a young African man in a coloured Tshirt working his way across the gap.

It reminded me of something Martin Parr said in a TV series critiquing aspiring photographers, which is that the viewer ought to be able to make sense out of the scene and find themselves naturally asking and being interested in ‘What’s going on?’

That’s not a head-scratching ‘What’s going on?’ as in ‘I can’t make head or tail of this.’ but of being genuinely engaged in a narrative that makes sense, and seeing that something is going on and wondering what it is.

I would contrast that with ‘art’ photos that shout pretence rather than narrative.

And I would contrast that with candid street photographs where nothing is going on; where’s no narrative. It’s just a shot of a person standing or sitting or looking with very little dynamic movement in the body. Just a passive body snapped in 1/125th second.

Which reminds me of something I heard from a woman who writes and draws graphic novels. She said that recently she had started hiring actors to act out the scenes she intended to draw. And she said that the most successful actors were those who hammed it up like cartoon characters.

When they were being shouted at, for example, they didn’t stand there solidly. They rocked way back on their heels as though the blast of invective was blowing them backwards.

Of course a portrait, for example, doesn’t have to have a narrative. I am not saying that all photos have to have a narrative.

And of course – each to their own – and what one man finds interesting another man/woman might not.

But a photo of the type I am talking about – where something is going on – is likely to be successful if it makes sense and make us ask ‘What is going on?’


Haha – how embarrassing – I see I wrote in a similar vein last November.


This is my first second post using Postbot. Let’s see how it works out.

The story of this image is quite complicated. It started out as a photo of a mannequin that I took. Then I ran it through the Waterlogue app and then uploaded it to my laptop and used various blending modes to get the effect I wanted.

Then I cloned the jacket to the right of the model and flipped it over and blended it in next to the model so that he/she was flanked by two people.

I put the image on a greeting card and added text that reads ‘Give yourself permission to feel’.

The card is in the ‘Possibles’ folder at the moment, which means that Tamara and I have to look at it and give some input and then decide whether it makes the final cut to be printed.

The ‘permission’ thing is on my mind at the moment because of a personal family matter that came up. It brought home how events can act as a permission when really, no permission is needed.

Young Bison – And A Word About Postbot

Young Bison
Young bison on a hillside.

Does anyone know whether bison nibble grass (like sheep do) or whether they twist grass around their tongues and pull it up, like cattle do.

By the way, I scheduled this to post via Postbot, which amazes me. How is it better than just scheduling a post here in the Admin panel of the site itself?

Well there is one way that it is easier and that is that the scheduled date and time is big and bold and so not easily forgotten. Still… a whole website to schedule posts??

I have another photo scheduled via Postbot to appear tomorrow – and the weird thing is that I can see the draft here on the site.

I wonder how long Postbot will last? Will it be wildly popular? Will I use it?



I got halfway through opening a store with Storenvy but didn’t finish it. I would have had to link my account to Paypal and I decided I didn’t want to.

I named the half-finished store Animalistic and I made a logo.

After deciding not to proceed with Storenvy, I was closing the logo image in Photoshop when I thought of this addition to the name. It was prompted by a conversation between one of the keepers at the wildlife park I was at last weekend, and a visitor.

The visitor asked what the keeper thought was on the tiger’s mind, and the keep said he was pretty sure that he was thinking of lunch – lunch being the keeper and the visitor.

“I’m pretty scrawny,” said the visitor. “Would he be interested in me?”

“He’d be across that enclosure faster than you could say knife.”

I was in a group of four people with special access to the animals, and at some points I was just a foot or so away from the tigers.

The keeper warned us against grabbing the fencing to steady ourselves, because our fingers were very tasty.

And I was thinking about the tiger springing across the enclosure quicker than I could say knife, and homing in on a tasty handful of fingers.

Polar Bears

Early in the morning we had been down by the fence with the polar bears. Again, I was just a matter of inches from the bears. They were huge. The sensation of one of them coming closer and its sheer bulk was an amazing experience.

It wasn’t just that it was big, though. It was lithe, and it looked like it could move very fast.

If you wonder who would come off best between a tiger and a polar bear, then before last weekend I would have said the tiger would be the winner.

I guess I would have imagined it attacking the bear from behind and hanging onto its throat, and slashing with its claws.

But now that I have seen the bear, I think one swipe with its paw would break a tiger.