London Street Photos (Part 2, Colour)

More street photography from London, this time in bright Velvia colours. Taken in and around Camden Market in North London, and Brick Lane in the East End. Both these places attract street photographers, I saw quite a few out and about. Most seem to use zoom lenses (some of them obscenenely huge). I myself prefer prime lenses, here I used the 35mm. For some reason I don’t like zooming in on people – I feel like a Peeping Tom doing that. But maybe that’s just me? Did I watch too many bad movies?

Camera: Fujifilm X-T20 with 35mmR1.4 lens. 
 



London Street Photos (Part 1, Black and White)

It’s been a while… here are some new street portraits and street photographs from a sunny day in London. There is nothing like travelling to get the creative juices flowing. That, and decent weather, i.e. light. 

All images shot with a Fujifilm X-T20 camera and the 35mmR1.4 lens. Colour photographs to follow…

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Portraits

This weekend I took part in an “available light” portrait workshop. This was actually my first time working with a professional model, and I found it quite a joy to work with someone completely at ease in front of the camera, someone who knows how to look and how to pose. The model is the girl depicted in the pics below, the other folks shown were other participants.

I used my Fujifilm X-T20 with the 56mm1.2 lens, making great use of the lens’ large aperture.

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R.I.P. Ren Hang

photo © Ren Hang

I was very sad to read last night that Chinese photographer Ren Hang passed away yesterday, at the age of 29.

I came across this young man’s work some 6 years ago, by chance on Flickr, and I’ve been following him ever since.

There are a number of things which fascinate me about his work. While staged, the photos are always unpretentious. He seemingly shot at whatever light he found, or using the camera’s flash, with point-and-shoot cameras, retaining an amateurish look far removed from that of sophisticated post-editing. His images can at times be sensuous, shocking, amusing and tender. Some, for all their nudity, are the opposite of sensuous. His work is, above all, highly original. They feature men and women in all kinds of combination, and while queer identity is never an issue of and by itself, the fact that his art is fluid in terms of sexuality, does make a point it about queer identify as well. A number of  his photos can be deemed pornographic, which apparently led him get into conflict with Chinese authorities. He was getting more and more recognition in the west, with an increasing number of exhibitions and covers for international publications to his credit.

© Ren Hang

I do not know much about the man himself, and even the articles published since his death reveal scant information. He was suffering from depression, and committed suicide. It’s always tragic when young artists die: when you look at what they have achieved until now, you realise what more they could have achieved and what potential was lost. As it is, he has an impressive body of work, one that will be remembered by many, for a long time. I know I will be coming back to his art for a long time to come.

And I hope this young man finally found the peace he was looking for.

Here are a few links to his work:

his Flickr feed

– his Instagram feed

his website

an article on the web site of editor Taschen, who recently published a photo book of his work. 

This article was amended on 11 March to correct the place of death: he died in Beijing, and not in Berlin, as was stated by early postings to social media. 

Faces of Morocco


I recently returned from a three week trip to Morocco, where I visited the towns of Marrakesh, Meknes, Fes, Casablanca and Ouarzazate. I had with me my trusted Fujifilm X-T10 camera, and came back, as usual, with a good many photos. I tend to take two kinds of photos when I do trips: street photography (including street portraits), and photos with which I hope to capture the essence of a city by focusing on details (see my earlier article “Colours and Textures” on this) and on architecture. I seldom take landscape photos, but in Morocco I visited the desert south of Ouarzazate, and also photographed the fascinating landscape there.

I have now gone through the street photos and made a selection which I put up on my site. The 40 images which I selected include both candid shots, and images of people whom I asked to pose. Morocco is not an easy country for street photography. Many people object to having their picture taken by strangers, some energetically so. I was told off a couple of times, and in one instance I saw a young man force a tourist delete a picture she had taken of him. My first instinct was to ask people’s permission. Some agreed to be photographed, but most did not. Some people I got into conversation with and they subsequently agreed to pose, happily so. But even photographing crowds was difficult. Women especially but also men (especially older ones) would turn their head or hide their faces behind a scarf or a hand if I only vaguely pointed the camera their way. In the end I often had to resort to the old trick of seeming to photograph random objects in the street and thereby capturing people who happened to be in the scene at the same time.

The set includes only two black and white photos, the rest are in colour. Colour is an important aspect of Morocco, and it was a joy to capture the country in all its colourful splendour – especially given how well Fujifilm cameras render colour. As I mentioned above, I used a Fujifilm X-T10, primarily with a 35mm lens, but also the 27mm pancake which came in very handy in the narrow alleyways of the medieval medinas.

I will be posting more of the other photos in the weeks to follow but to begin with, here is the link to the street photography set, Faces of Morocco. Enjoy.

My Year 2016 in Pictures

(Note: this is an updated version of a posting I put up on 26 December. Turns out that that was a bit premature for a full round-up of the year)

It’s that time of year again to look back and see what the year has been like. Like many out there, I feel that 2016 has been absolutely disastrous. It started with the death of David Bowie and just got worse. I thought it had reached its lowest point with the election of Donald Trump (a day I think the world will regret for a long time to come), but of course other low points followed: the atrocities committed in Aleppo, the terrorist attacks around the world, including the recent one here in Berlin.

With the world going crazy, in a negative sense, it became important for me to create a space where I connected with people – with new people. Photography allowed me to do that. It started with my intention to capture more portraits of the people around me, my friends; and then on to street portraits, i.e. portraits of strangers that I’d ask on the street. This curiosity also led me to get acquainted with street musicians here in Berlin, which in turn led me to hooking up with a larger circle of people who lead a free-spirited life outside what are deemed social norms. I called them the “Südstern gang”; Südstern being the square in Berlin where we’d meet on an almost daily basis during the late summer months and well into autumn. Describing these experiences (not all of them positive) warrants an article in itself, not one I’m ready to write just yet. Let’s just say for now that it allowed me to experience different life choices, witnessing both the freedoms and the problems that these choices bring with them. With the onset of bad weather, the group dispersed, but the experience resulted in two friendships, one good and one flawed (the flawed one marred by trying to cope with a drug addict, and all the negativity this entails).

On top of these Berlin based experiences, I also took a few trips. Initially just a few short ones, the highlights certainly being Bologna in March and Oslo in early May; however, I’m currently on a three week trip around Morocco, and two of the images taken on this trip conclude the selection, with one image actually having been taken today, on the last day of the year 2016.

Below then are a selection of image for each month, summarizing best what the month stood for. I picked solely people photos, portraits or street photographs, but they also reflect the place and the time of year they were taken in.

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All photos, except two, were taken using the two Fujifilm cameras, the X-T10 and the X-E2, which have definitely become my cameras of choice, especially the X-T10. Being small and unobtrusive, yet providing high quality images even in low light, they played an important part in my life this year.

Hard Truths

How far do you go in trying to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped? When do you reach the point where you say, enough is enough? How long do you keep watching someone whose every action is a step towards a long slow death, with the danger of a sudden quick death always lurking right behind the corner.

I don’t have answers. Faced with some hard truths, there exists the temptation to run. But a coward’s way is not a way out…