Happy Birthday Transition Heathrow – a photo essay

Assignment 11 in the MatadorU Travel Writing Course: Shoot a series of 6-8 sequential shots that tell a story you want people to deduce just by looking at your photographs. Post the photos on your blog without any captions and invite friends and family to view the essay and leave comments.


3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Transition Heathrow – a photo essay

  1. Sounds a varied kind of writing course … and yes, every pic tells a story. I love the changes to your blog … xx How long have you got left of the course?


    • It’s a 12 week course, so just one more assignment left. I, like most other people, have taken a lot more than 12 weeks completing it though.
      What was the story you thought the pictures were telling?

  2. Great pics, not quite magazine quality but you’ve certainly got the talent if you want to take it that far. Hopefully the following is constructive.

    1st photo. Great concept as it establishes the scene, or at least it would if I could read the sign. Without any other knowledge and just the photo to go by I’d assume it was someone’s 2nd birthday as the word Heathrow is absolutely tiny.

    If you want to show info then get right up to the sign so it fills the frame, if you have problems with focus then get as close as you can then crop and resize on the computer.

    2nd photo. Again great concept, seeing where the sign is puts the information from the 1st photo in to context, however there’s huge amounts of foreground and the people in shot are tiny. I’d have been tempted to move the pot of white flowers and get right up close to the sign, using depth of field to blur the sign and draw the eye towards the people. (If that sounds confusing then ask and I’ll go over depth of field again).

    Cut out what you don’t need and be harsh about it – move things or otherwise control your environment to get the right shot (provided you’re polite and put things back when you’re finished).

    3rd Photo. Good framing and continuation of the narrative, a big shame we can’t see the kids faces though. A tip here is to take a bunch of photos in quick succession, something that’s worth doing in any hard to predict environment. If that fails then ask them to plant a flower or do star jumps or something.

    4th photo. I Love the guy with the double bass, he makes a great subject, unfortunately he only takes up 1/3 of the photo and the backs of people’s heads aren’t such good subjects so I will repeat – Cut out what you don’t need and be harsh about it, if it’s in shot then you should have made a conscious decision to include it.

    Something people underestimate are the social skills required for photography, if you’re quiet, polite and have a sense of humour it’s possible to move in front of an audience to take a photo. Minimize the disruption and get out the way as soon as you’ve got the shot.

    5th & 6th photos. Awesome, really like these from the point of view of narrative and framing. Photos like this are however very difficult to expose as they’re losing information at both the dark and light ends of the spectrum. To get round this use the camera’s exposure compensation setting to make sure you can see the people properly then use dodge and burn tools in photoshop to rescue the rest (I assume gimp has similar tools).

    7th photo. Again a good concept, a visual exclamation mark to finish on! A couple of errors in the execution, one is that you are just too close for the camera to focus properly and anything out of focus will be binned by a magazine editor, stand back slightly then crop and resize on the computer.

    Something that grates with me is the angle of the photo, there’s no discernible reason for it not being head on which makes it look like a cheap snap rather than a magazine pic. Smacks of a lack of thought rather than an artistic decision.

    To sum up then. You’ve got a good handle on the story telling side of photography but need to put more thought in to getting what you want and cutting out what you don’t. Also don’t be afraid to be a photographer and to value what you produce, people will be very accommodating if they see you taking your work seriously.

    You’ve got a natural instinct for vanishing points vs straight lines and are an approachable, friendly person. This gives you a fantastic base to work from if you want to get to magazine standard.

    Apologies for not having been in touch to go over post production. Something that will help bring your photography up a notch is an understanding of contrast and saturation, hopefully we can go over that sometime soon.

    Hugs and hope you’re well,

    PS, If you’re bored then check out this photoset on flickr. Notice how there’s very little fat on my photos, I get right up to my subjects and generally they don’t mind because I smile and joke with them too. Also note how I use depth of field to blur the foreground and background, this makes the subject stand out and also mimics the way the eye works, leading to a more natural photograph. Both of these techniques are essential for magazine photography.

    TP 007 Solfest

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