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Assignment: human interaction

This assignment was about capturing a more intimate interaction between people and teaching us to get access to it.

Frankly at first, after being delivered the brief, I was a bit pissed off, because most of the examples that we had been shown were either single/street photography shots, which we were asked not to take, or photos which were part of bigger essays. Now, I think if you are already working on a story it is much easier to get access to intimate situations of the subjects you are working with; but how am I supposed to turn up to a random mother breast-feeding her child saying “hey, can I take some pictures?” ?   I was very frustrated because despite wanting to do well I would also never be able to replicate the shots I had seen in the brief; there was just so much ‘intimacy’ I could snap with people I didn’t know.

During the brief, it had been suggested to look for situations where people cared for each other, for example in care homes. I know many people had been given access to several care homes, but that was really something I did not want to do. I have worked in social care for a few years and I wanted to see something new. I also wanted something that could be visually stimulating for me. Although I really enjoying looking at pictures of a more intimate nature, it is not something I am interested in.

I tried to get access to several ‘twins club’, where mothers of young twins meet to discuss and have a cuppa, while the children play, but I was unsuccessful. I also asked my friend Paolo, who plays in a band, to take some pictures during rehearsals but after a 9 hours shift in the kitchen, the photos were nothing great.

On my day off from work, I took the opportunity to get an appointment at the hairdresser to get my hair cut and once there I asked to stay on to take a few shots.

I’m quite happy with the result although unfortunately the settings didn’t help as it was too bright on one side and too dark on the other, which meant I had to take most photos from one direction. What I really liked here was the professional engagement that was established between the two subjects. Visually I liked the idea of one subject being completely still, while the other moved. Also, I was intrigued by the fact that although not looking at the each other, they had clearly established a connection and very often their expressions mirrored each other.

Another aspect I liked here was the idea that there were actually two types of relationships going on at the same time: one was the relationship between the hairdresser and the client, but the other was of the client with himself. I avoided taking pictures of reflections in the mirror, because I have seen too many of those. Still it is clear that the gentleman’s eyes are focused on something: he is looking precisely at himself, and he looks quite pleased.

The other situation I managed to find was a Deaf Club in north London, which I was quite proud of. The club meets once a week and gives the opportunity to people with hearing difficulties and BSL learners to get together. In terms of the ‘aim’ of the assignment, this was probably the most successful attempt, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Here I wanted to capture how people communicated with each others looking at the interplay of movements, gestures and looks since BSL is by its very nature very visual.

At the club I noticed how within the bigger group, there were smaller groups of people interacting and I tried to capture that as a whole and more in detail. The room was unfortunately very dark, but overall I did an OK job. Next time though I should really be less afraid to interact even more with the group. I could have taken more and better pictures, had I tried to become even more part of the group rather than just looking at it from the outside.

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The last picture I decided to include as part of the assignment is a picture I have taken during the street-photography week. Going through the Heygate Estate I bumped into a group of guys doing parkour; a policeman turned up while I was there and thinking about this assignment I tried to capture their interaction. I love the visuals in this picture, I had enough time to study the settings although it was a fairly brief chat. I really like the non-threatening feelings displayed from both parties. When the police and young people are involved, we tend to often see pictures portraying contrast, but I like the respectful nature of this interaction.


This assignment has been important for me, because I have started to become more aware of the kind of effort one needs to put in when getting access to more specific situations.

Since the beginning of the course, I have also become more confident when dealing with people, I feel more at ease, but I have realised that I enjoy  photographing people when they are part of ‘a bigger picture’. I don’t think I am very good at photographing simply people as my main subjects. I like to put them in a contest, where they become just one of the many factors that make up the photo. Also, on a much more personal level, I am someone who doesn’t want intimate relationships. Having to go, look and examine what I don’t want to see in the first place annoyed me since it forced me to face an aspect of my personal life I always prefer not to deal with.

Anyway, after the initial frustration I think overall I would give myself a pass.



One thought on “Assignment: human interaction

  1. Beautiful work Alice! I love this b/w upright photograph…it is amazing!! Keep on! 😉

    Posted by Ciril | March 5, 2011, 12:12 pm

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