Taking pictures in your hometown is never quite the same. All too easily you gloss over details and themes that feel common to tired local eyes, but which might be endlessly fascinating to the outsider. This is something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, as well as trying to battle. Glasgow is far from short of interesting sights, but being able to both notice and then capture them has proven tricky.
My trips to both Girona and New York last year simultaneously frustrated and inspired me – leaving me with the feeling that my own city was much harder to photograph, but also that I needed to find a way to bring some of the energy and curiosity that I found in those places back home. For a while I was hitting the streets every chance I could get, in a bid to do just that.
Faced with a free Saturday in what is one of the hottest weekends in memory, I knew that I could either sit on the couch editing pictures from my travels abroad, or get the train into town and try and capture some of what was sure to be a spectacle, given how many people were bound to be out. As it so happens, all of the trains were cancelled (shock horror), leaving me with the bus. I wish I had just walked, as it took forever.
I had packed my trusty Ricoh GR III, but in a moment of madness ended up buying a Ricoh GR IIIx, which is literally the same camera, but with a 40mm f2.8 lens instead of a 28mm lens. I had this grand idea that perhaps that extra 12mm of focal length would help me unlock some of the issues I’ve faced shooting street pictures in Glasgow before now – the fear of getting too close.
One of the biggest challenges of taking these kinds of pictures in Glasgow (at least as far as I’m concerned), is that we have a combination of a relatively small collection of streets which are busy, and those are all very wide in relation to the number of people around at any one time, which makes it tricky to get the kind of proximity you need to for good pictures with a wider angle lens. With a 40mm, some of that distance is reduced.
It actually worked fairly well, and I ended up taking a lot more pictures than I ever have on one of these outings. Since it’s summer time, and the sky was less drab and grey than one would usually find in Scotland, I decided to leave most of these in full colour.
Shooting with a 40mm lens isn’t some kind of magic bullet, and I still feel like there is a long way to go before I am happy with my street pictures from Glasgow, but it at least opens the door to a different way of approaching things.
This post has been lingering in my drafts for a while, and looking back on these images with hindsight, they are far from the strongest or most interesting collection of pictures, but there is a clear progression from these to the following set, that I’ll be posting up on here soon.
If I was to cut down this post to 10 pictures or so, I’m confident I could have a fairly strong set. That’s one of the oldest photography tricks there is: Ruthlessly pare down what you share, so that people think you are better than you are. But where’s the fun in that?
As it stands, my current motivation for photography of any kind in Scotland has dwindled to almost nothing – but I have a bunch of trips planned for this year, and I’m already excitedly figuring out what cameras I can take on the ride.