When Clifton Cameras do a promotion, they certainly don’t do it by halves – The #StreetLife competition was no exception to the rule! Spanning many months and encompassing a variety of different events and competitions, the StreetLife promotion was HUGE! It’s also rather in-depth, so bare with me while I try to explain.
One of the most exciting parts of the #StreetLife promo was the competitions. There were three different street photography competitions, each with a different theme and the chance to win an awesome FujiFilm X100T! There was also a prize for the overall winner, which was an all expenses paid trip to a European city to shoot street photography with yours truly.
The first competition ran from March – May and the theme was shadows. This proved to be a really popular section and there were thousands of entries in total. After some debate, the panels of judges, myself included picked this fantastic shot taken by Jim Moody.
(Image by Jim Moody)
“This was the strongest image for many reasons, being shot from above made this image stand out from the crowd, the strong angles of the buildings added to the great composition of the shot, the arrow shaped shadow pointing into the darkness makes you think, but at the same time you want to know more about the woman standing with her arms folded, making this a great Street image.”
Skip forward a few short weeks, and it’s time for section two competition which ran from early June through to mid August. This time, it’s the more difficult theme of Layers. Now, we don’t mean lengthy photoshop composition, instead we were looking for multiple things occurring in a single frame – David Goold delivered just that. A image titled “Hostage.Crisis” was picked as the winner of that round and won himself a Fujifilm X100T.
(Image by David Goold)
End of August through to start of November was the third and final section of the competition. The theme – Red. A simple one, but we gave specific instructions that the images must be kept real and red was a crucial part of the overall composition. After much deliberation, us judges agreed on Vasile Buzdugan’s entry entitled “Nuns.”
(Image by Vasile)
Alongside the Street Life competition, I ran a series of free photos walks open to anyone on the behalf of Clifton Cameras. To give everyone a chance to attend these were thrown up and down the country. The first one was on the 4th July in Bristol, the second was 5th September in my hometown of Liverpool and the third and final one was on the 1st November in London.
This is where the story gets a bit complicated. The day comes to announce the winner, after much deliberation, us judges picked David Goold’s image titled “Hostage Situation” as the winner overall. We’d all had that image in our shortlist and came to the conclusion, this superb image deserved to take 1st place.
The winner was due to be announced mid-november across social media and on the Clifton Cameras website. However, just days before, the unthinkable happened – The Paris Terror attacks. It was a huge shock to everyone and due to the nature of the image and the timing, we thought we would delay the announcement out of respect for the tragic event. We had also decided upon the european city we were going to visit, which coincidentally was Paris.
One night in Paris.
Skip forward to September 2016 and it’s time for David Goold to get his prize – An all expenses paid 1 on 1 street photography weekend in Paris.
After leaving my home in Liverpool I headed for the Eurostar where I met David. We spent the journey chatting all things photography, the plan for the next two days and putting the world to rights. Interestingly, we both agreed upon the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 lens was our favourite for Street Photography. Oh, and we both wished for an even faster version to come from Fujifilm in the future. Running through our kit, I had opted to use my FujiFilm XPro2 armed with the Fujinon XF 16mm f1.4 WR and a FujiFilm X-T1 coupled with the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 lens. Meanwhile, David’s main set-up was the Fujifim X-T10 with the Fujifilm 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS MKII.
It was about 1pm before the Taxi reached the hotel and we spent the journey with the windows open desperately thankful for the breeze. Once we were all checked in and sorted our first stop was that really tall building that looks a bit like the Blackpool Tower – I forget it’s name.
We set a route from the Eiffel Tower down to Champs-Elysees, then towards Arc de Triomphe followed by a walk The Louvre and we finished our 14 miles trek in a beautiful area around Folie-Mericourt. By that time sun had started to set, so we ended up going back towards The Louvre for a bit of grub and a well deserved sit down!
In those tourist areas it was really difficult to find quick pit stops to grab something small to eat and drink. Most of the places we stumbled across were subscribed to the laid back, French dining experience. We love that style on the right occasion but we had pictures to take and just needed some quick in and out sustenance. It was so hot and the streets were packed with tourists which meant most places had completely sold out of cold drinks. Thankfully though, we stumbled across a Starbucks along the way and was able to get some kind of delicious orange frappe creation.
After a day of shooting some fantastic street photography and seeing a bunch of Paris’s finest landmarks, it seemed like a natural progression to head to a local french place for dinner. However, where we were, we couldn’t find a little bistro in sight. We ended up settling for an Italian, well, at least it borders France right? It turns out, the reason we couldn’t find any French places was because we were in fact in the ChinaTown, which explains a lot really.
A lot of street photographers have strong preferences for certain conditions in order to give them that perfect light. For me though, I don’t feel that strongly about it – I like to work with whatever I have. Of course, harsh sunlight can be quite awkward to work with but I think that it sets the scene and allows us photographer to create a different ambience with the light we use in our pictures. Paris has something about it, although the sunshine was constantly bright, it was much more forgiving than I once though. I was expecting a lot of areas of blown out highlight detail and deep dark shadows, but the light on the street as a lot kinder than I anticipated. Perhaps it was the buildings, the positioning of the sun or just having a bit more dynamic range from the X-PRO2 sensor, it just worked out quite nicely.
With all this said, the real recipe for a great street shots is decent light, a decent composition and a moment. Even in a great city like Paris, the moment is the hardest bit. There are colourful characters, interesting objects but it’s all down to that split second where everything comes good.
HOT HOT HOT! Day two was yet another scorcher hitting highs of 38ºC at mid-day. We hatched a plan over breakfast and decided to take a Taxi to the Moulin Rouge followed by an exploration of the area. Climbing the stairs to Montmartre and wandering around the square along the beautiful cobbled streets was rather pleasant. I can imagine if there was a bit of rain the day before the reflections and the texture you would get from those cobbles would have been incredible, but of course, there was no chance of rain on this particular day. We searched the streets for a nearby Starbucks but came away unsuccessful as they didn’t do any icy frappe things. With that terrible news, we headed back towards the hotel to get our bags and also grabbed a light lunch in a local french place followed by a cold beer. For some reason, cold beer was all we could find. Judging by the general lack of cold beverages available, anyone would think that summer had come out of nowhere and suddenly surprised the shopkeepers of Paris.
Our train back to the UK was our next stop and was leaving at 6:30pm, so we opted to head towards the train station after lunch picking a great location to concentrate your efforts before heading home. The area is known for it’s colourful characters and it the location is easy on the eye – or should what be sensor?
Well, there’s not much else to say here other than to express my thanks to everyone involved with this exciting project.
We reached out to David Goold for his take on the trip – Here’s what he had to say.
Audrey Hepburn said that “Paris is always a good idea” – but in thirty-eight degrees Celsius?! It had been forecast for a week but the reality of a high summer heatwave in France’s capital was suddenly with us. “Welcome to Hell!” was the greeting from the African taxi driver at Paris Gare du Nord as we began our Big Adventure. Fortunately, I had decided to travel light from Scotland; I brought with me just the X-T10 and the 18-55mm zoom for my photo workshop with Fujifilm Ambassador and pro street photographer (and now good friend), Matt Hart.
Two full days shooting ‘street’ in that city – in that heat – needed serious and careful attention to health and safety. Drenched in Factor 50, we paced ourselves from the start and must have each consumed a litre of water every two hours whilst pounding the pavements during our two-day stay.
But that city rewarded us with golden sunlight and inky black shadows, such elegant architecture and characterful citizens and visitors. In that special light, haute couture red dresses and heels had us, if not running, then staggering briskly to capture the decisive moment at those distinctive, striped street crossings in Le Marais.
I suppose we each develop our own technique, learning from our mistakes, but I had never experienced the technique of a professional street ‘tog. It was a revelation to watch Matt in action… to watch his pace change as he spotted an opportunity and to keep out of his way while he ruthlessly sought the decisive moment. And I hope I caught a few of those myself whilst learning to sharpen my eye. I suspect Matt features in many of them and I’m very happy about that – some wonderful memories of our journey to Hell and back.
For making it all happen, big thanks to Clifton Cameras, Fujifilm UK but most of all to Matt. We had such a blast. Let’s do it again soon! But perhaps in December this time, please?
(Images by David Goold)