From the Hip

Loyal readers will be appalled that I’m taking time away from what is surely the highlight of their day (this blog) to work on blog number four: From the Hip – Montreal.

From the Hip – Montreal (or simply FtH) is my experiment in clandestine street photography. There are three drivers behind this project:

  • I like street photography (although I don’t like being conspicuous as a photographer so I rarely do it);
  • I’ve long had a fascination with photography that is impressionistic by nature (although the Cartesian side of my personality has usually squashed my efforts);
  • In Quebec it is illegal to photograph people without their permission.

Knock those three together and what emerges is the desire to shoot street photographs inconspicuously, with the camera held at waist level shooting more or less blindly. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, and in many cases it is. I have a very high “reject” rate.

However, I have exiled the Cartesian mind for the time being, and am allowing myself to forget the so-called basics of “good” photography (focus, exposure, and composition) and am allowing myself to view these photographs on a purely experiential and impressionistic level. I only publish the ones that (to me) bring together an interesting confluence of event (what’s going on), subject (who is involved), and perspective (the uninvolved passer-by).

A lot of people will think these photos are crap, and that’s OK. I’m not putting them out there as an example of my expertise or fine photographic craftsmanship. I’m not fishing for compliments on my excellent photographic abilities. Rather, I’m presenting them (as I put in that blog’s About page) as “film stills from the reportage of my mind.” That means they’re tilted, fuzzy, and largely disengaged from the subjects. But that’s how I experience the world when I’m walking around, so that’s how I’m presenting these photos. They’re all about what I see, and how I see it, uncontrived by the conventions of standard photography.

That’s not to say I’m knocking standard photography. Far from it. I’m still running the Monday Morning Photo Blog, with a new image every Monday Morning (since 2004!). But that blog has no particular orientation or perspective. It’s just a loose collection of my photographs spanning more than 20 years and a dozen different styles. If you didn’t know, you’d be hard pressed to identify the photos on the Monday Morning Photo Blog as coming from the same photographer. It does contain a number of images that I’ve tagged as “street” photography (you can see all 75 “street” thumbnails here), and perhaps four of them could (and might) appear on FtH. But I see FtH as a sort of self-contained project, which is why I’m running it as a separate blog.

Go take a look if you feel like it. But leave your expectations behind. Prepare to be underwhelmed. It’s the kind of work that if it grows on you at all, it does so over time, as you see themes and perspectives emerge. Or not. We’ll see.

3 thoughts on “From the Hip

  1. Already in my RSS feed. Some of your FtH shot have been great IMHO so please keep it up. It’s encouraged me to bring my cam along though I have yet to take it out. It’s been so long since I’ve taken pix that I’m almost afraid to.

  2. This project kind of reminds me of the guy in Smoke who took a picture every day at the same location on the corner of two streets. Kind of an experiment, but with some interesting results sometimes.

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