Ashley Yeates

Street portraits

One of my favorite occupations is street photography, pictures of people in candid moments. In fact I’ve based my whole career on it. Waiting for just the right moment to take the shot is a really tricky. Often people move, or someone [or something] gets in the way. Worse still they look at you with that “What do you think you’re doing” look! But now and then you get the perfect shot…

I suppose that’s what it’s like for wildlife shooters. I’ve never been big on shooting wildlife, I just don’t have the patience. Shooting people all happens in a seconds. You see something and you either get your camera focused and ready, or you don’t.

Something I also love doing is taking portraits. Messing with lighting, setting up the shot, carefully planing how everything will look. People have an interesting way of showing you aspects of themselves, often because of why your taking the shot. Business headshots are never like the one’s you do of a retiring grandfather of six five.

Some time back while planning an exhibition at the Custard Factory I decided to combine the two. I started asking strangers on the street if I could take their portrait, and I got some very varied reactions. All the way from the “are you mad” look, to a total full on enthusiasm for the idea.

The things about street portraits is that you can’t take your time and plan the shot. People aren’t going to wait around after they’ve stopped in the street for just the right light, or the right angle. You spot someone who looks interesting, go up to them, and ask. Usually if it’s going to happen they just tell you or even pose. You take the shot and it’s done.

They are spontaneous, but it’s still portraits, which is what I love about them. Sometimes you get the best of both worlds.

Most of the pictures in this post where taken with a Canon 550D and a standard kit lens in 2012 for an exhibition called 3 Week Window as part of a Make.Shift Birmingham arts project.


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