As a woman, out and about taking photographs on my own, I try to take care not to put myself at any unnecessary risk. I’m always watchful of anyone taking the wrong kind of interest in me or my gear. I shouldn’t have to worry about things like that but sadly, that’s how life is.
When I go out, I don’t have any expectations of what I’m going to shoot that day because I never know what, or who, will turn up.
Through my passion for street photography, I am very interested in people and in people-watching psychology. I’ll hang around a Metro station or a high street, observing everyone.
Where are they all going and what are they doing? Are they heading to work, going home, just out shopping, on holiday, or maybe visiting friends? I’ll try to guess what they’re about, where they’ve come from and what they might do next, putting narratives to my shots. Many of my shots are sneaky ones, where I’ll try to blend into the background and capture them unaware.
The Kiss Goodbye
I capture people very fast - that’s what street photography is, documenting daily life and its surroundings. And to me, it’s an adrenaline rush knowing I’ve got the shot. There’s no time to hang about - the kiss goodbye will be over. You have to be aware of the body language and anticipate the next move.
Those Who Are Inquisitive
In contradiction to shooting fast, I enjoy talking and will happily chat to anybody willing to engage in conversation with me. I often get approached by those who are inquisitive and ask me what I’m taking photos of, and why. It’s all good interaction and I like that.
As a rule, I find most people are really cool about having their picture taken, which is good as often there is no time to ask for their permission. However, I make an exception to this if ever I take shots of a homeless person, who might be sitting in a shop doorway or on a street corner. I always talk to them first, usually offer to buy them a coffee or a sandwich, and listen to their story. If they aren’t keen on their picture being taken then that’s fine, I respect that.
I’ve always been driven by the encouragement of my school photography teacher, who taught me to take photos from all different angles, not just at eye level. I don’t ever want to stop learning or taking photos and, as a female street photographer, I hope I can give back some of what I have learned and encourage other women to do the same.
Photography can be a very competitive business, but for me it’s my ‘go to’ happy place. It’s where time stands still, because I am out there doing what I enjoy most in the world, capturing the moment, and I don’t ever want it to end.
Cold Sunny Thursday
These images were all taken on a cold, sunny Thursday at the end of April 2022. I shot two rolls of ILFORD HP5 400 film in Wallsend, Byker and Gosforth, which are all in my home area of Tyneside. Using my ever reliable 37 year-old Pentax K1000, with a Takumar-A 28-80mm F3.5-4.5 lens.
Gosforth is quite an affluent area, Wallsend and Byker less so. I also took my Manfrotto 290 Xtra tripod with me (with MHXPRO-3W head), but on the day, I never found the need to use it.
About The Author
I was born in Newcastle and grew up in the city’s east end. My education was at local comprehensive schools and Newcastle College. I’ve earned a living in a variety of workplaces over the years, from department stores to photo labs, from vegetarian restaurants to care homes. My first camera at age 13 was a pre-loved Ricoh ZF 35mm, which I still have. My earliest inspiration came from my GCSE Photography teacher, Dennis Cowings, who taught me to use an SLR and inspired my love of the viewfinder. More well-known influences are Fay Godwin, Ansel Adams and, from my local area, Jimmy Forsyth, Mik Critchlow and my mentor Jason Warnes. I’ve noticed that most of the well-known street photographers today tend to be men. As a woman, I hope I can offer a different perspective on the life of the street.