This year I entered the Lens Culture Street Photography Awards. I didn't win anything but as part of entering (there is a fee to enter) you receive a review of your work. I was really pleased with the positive feedback so I thought I'd share it here. Above is the series of photos I entered and below is my entry statement, feedback and thoughts. I'd love any more feedback including ideas for a book or exhibition. Also check out the excellent winners and finalists on the lens culture website.
Bristol seems to have a distinct lack of good street photography. Maybe because, even though it is a city alive with culture and activity, it can be difficult to photograph. It is a messy city and it's hard to make compositions that organise the chaos into moments of graphic simplicity. This collection is made up of single figures isolated within the chaos of the city, a theme that is unintentionally common in my work. In some of the shots there is obvious humour, but in others the scene and figure provides enough.
"Your pictures are fun and a pleasure to look at. I love the gentle humor and the effective use of color. These are fun pictures that don't insult the intelligence of the viewer.
The only things I found distracting were the titles as I think they gave away too much and were too leading in most cases. And at first I thought you should edit the last image out "Poundstretcher" out because I felt it was different but I'm thinking now that its more about the titles. In the final picture the shadow is quite lovely. Maybe if you changed the titles so that each one didn't feel like a puzzle then you could include pictures that have less obvious punch lines. I think that if you did that then the final image could be included because there is something quite interesting about the shape on the building, and the way the shadow of the man looks like its inside a pregnant/large belly. But that is functioning in a different way from some of the other one-liner. If you made less directed titles I think you could open up the work a bit more.
I think this is strong work, its smart and stands firmly in the tradition of Cartier-Bresson up to Martin Parr. I could easily see myself being entertained by fifty to eighty of these pictures in a book. I would suggest you keep working on this body of work, using color, wit, and the chaos of the city to create a experience for the viewer. I like also that its Bristol, a mid-sized city that it walkable and human and I think it adds an extra dimension of meaning. Nice work."
I was really pleased with the feedback and thought it was really helpful. Selecting just a few images for a series is really tricky and I had myself wondered if the humorous shots could be mixed with the non. Here the indication is that it can work, if I consider the naming of shots more carefully. This is good to hear as although I love visual jokes I don't want this to be all my work is about. I really admire the work of Matt Stuart where almost every shot is a visual joke, but I'm also keen on exploring a style more in the vein of Alex Webb, where emotion is explored through the careful positioning of single figures, or groups, within the space, colour and light of a scene.
In regards to the titling of images, this was something that I knew I had got wrong, but to be honest I'm unsure of how to put it right. The naming of these photos (you can see the names I chose overlaid on the slideshow — bottom left) was done in a rush and really only because there was a box to fill-in on the entry form. At the time I questioned why they even needed names? But perhaps naming is useful even if only for identification purposes if you ever exhibit or sell prints? I'm really interested to hear anyone thoughts on this subject, including suggestions for alternative titles. Please get in touch :)