As part of my recent efforts to take part in more collaborative and communal photography exercises I spent the afternoon photographing some Parkour and freerunning as part of an instagram meetup, with gear sponsored by Nike.
I had been tagged in a post on instagram by Iggy (@londonlenses, with whom I had previously photographed Tibor) inviting me along, and as I had no other plans that day I decided to tag along. There were at least seventy photographers when I arrived at the BFI, and I only stayed for half the day. Despite only operating for around a year so far, @UK.shooters has already gathered a strong following, and support from some mainstream brands as sponsors.After photographing the parkour I am certain I would be more interested in their portrait meetups, as they hold similar style collaborative sessions for all kinds of themes. Hopefully if I am free the next time they have a portrait meetup I will participate.
It was very interesting shooting such high speed motion with an M, as I was certain the shutter speed would struggle to keep up, and end up blurring my shots. This was not the case, and I did manage to capture some quite high speed events. However, I much prefer a focus on the scene, as well as my current focus which is guiding a narrative, and storytelling within the frame.
The compositions @uk.shooters ended up featuring on their feed were nice and sharp, and had some nice thought overall, but having been there I can really see what I would have done differently – from mediocre composition and framing using the athletes, to cluttered bags, left in the background in the hopes that they would be invisible through the bokeh. I know it isn’t my place to judge, and that it’s likely that the photographers were very proud of their work.
However I feel quite strongly that with access to these kinds of environments, with models, athletes, a real location, and free for all atmosphere that it is important to actively avoid the obvious route, to really use the opportunity to its fullest extent, and be as creative as possible, whilst learning and networking as much as possible with your peers who have also decided to attend.
Generic creativity is really causing issues through social media and other popular imaging sharing mediums. I’m making such a personal effort to avoid this and it can be disheartening to see those exact results received hundreds of likes while my own experimental work does not. I’m aware that it isn’t a popularity contest, but my ego is not.
That said I did have great fun; everyone was super friendly and most of the photographers were outgoing. I didn’t manage to get too many new fans on instagram (sort of defeating the point of the instagram meet up), but it was still worth it to me because of the sheer talent of the parkour artists, especially when they attempted their very risky moves (for in my opinion some very Cliche images).It was also great watching other photographers at work in an environment very different to fashion shows which is usually where I have most of my exposure to my peers. It was really interesting seeing the number of Canon and Nikon users, when I am used to associating with the rangefinder and mirrorless crowds. It was (almost) inspiring (short of being patronising), the number of shooters using kit lenses and entry level cameras standing alongside with as much dedication to the craft as the 5DIV with L lenses they were standing next to.