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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:34 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:24 am
Posts: 1822
A few recent street shots with either 35mm prime and Nikon D90, 35mm prime and D700 or Fuji X100S in Bur Dubai and Deira


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:33 am 
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These pictures are the main reason I missed having you around here lately Phil. Absolutely stunning work! The B&W conversion are great, the compositions are great, well, most of it is great really. Some of the evening/night shots seem a little dark, but perhaps that's because the sun is shining into my room at the moment.

I really love how you seem to form a much more personal connection to your subjects than I do, without your pictures looking too much like portraits. I have never had the courage to step up to perfect strangers and ask whether I can take their picture (and I am sure that in Holland many people would just say no). Looking at your work however, and seeing how your subjects open up to you, is really inspiring. Plus, they show a completely different culture than what I am used to, and I love that insider-perspective. Again, very impressive images!

I wish I could pick a favorite, but the narrowest selection I can make right now is no. 10, 13, 17, 22, 27, and 32.

- Bjorn

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 2:29 pm 
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Yeah, everything Bjorn said. The B&W conversions are excellent, and the night shots looks really clean. What animals are those in #19?

I agree with Bjorn. Asking people is something I never do and really should try, and each time you post it reminds me of a new angle I haven't tried. It gives more time to compose and this is evident in your considered compositions.

I'm curious whether you offer your subjects a copy (or even print) of their shots.

Street candids is my main interest as there's something unique about the way people naturally carry themselves when they know they're not being photographed; each person's body has a natural position which is often lost the moment they notice the camera. Your subjects always manage to maintain a natural posture as if you know them or they are very comfortable with your presence.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:05 am 
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Excellent work! I enjoyed my first viewing of your images, and will revisit them from time to time. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:02 am 
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kimchi wrote:
Yeah, everything Bjorn said. The B&W conversions are excellent, and the night shots looks really clean. What animals are those in #19?

I agree with Bjorn. Asking people is something I never do and really should try, and each time you post it reminds me of a new angle I haven't tried. It gives more time to compose and this is evident in your considered compositions.

I'm curious whether you offer your subjects a copy (or even print) of their shots.

Street candids is my main interest as there's something unique about the way people naturally carry themselves when they know they're not being photographed; each person's body has a natural position which is often lost the moment they notice the camera. Your subjects always manage to maintain a natural posture as if you know them or they are very comfortable with your presence.



Thanks kimchi - those are goats in #19. A lot of these are candid but the shots with permission are literally taken as I see them. They don't alter their poses for the camera and it's a very brief interaction between me and the subject(s) to capture the pose that initially attracted me to the potential of the shot in the first place. One exception is #14 where I was originally asking for the 3 guys in white and 2 additional people then joined in! If I asked them to pose then I would lose the moment and natural positioning of the subjects as there is a language barrier. As I'm generally shooting with a 35mm I know my subject distances and framing before I bring the camera up to shoot and this cuts down a lot of time on the shooting process.

I go back every 4 weeks or so with prints for these guys and it becomes quite an event to find them. I'll show a picture to one porter and within 5-10 minutes a whole network of people have tracked down the subject's name and telephone number and brought them over for me to hand over the print.

If I were doing this in Europe I'd have business cards to distribute, but as these guys don't have e-mail or internet I go back personally.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:23 am 
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Bjorn van Sinttruije wrote:
These pictures are the main reason I missed having you around here lately Phil. Absolutely stunning work! The B&W conversion are great, the compositions are great, well, most of it is great really. Some of the evening/night shots seem a little dark, but perhaps that's because the sun is shining into my room at the moment.

I really love how you seem to form a much more personal connection to your subjects than I do, without your pictures looking too much like portraits. I have never had the courage to step up to perfect strangers and ask whether I can take their picture (and I am sure that in Holland many people would just say no). Looking at your work however, and seeing how your subjects open up to you, is really inspiring. Plus, they show a completely different culture than what I am used to, and I love that insider-perspective. Again, very impressive images!

I wish I could pick a favorite, but the narrowest selection I can make right now is no. 10, 13, 17, 22, 27, and 32.

- Bjorn


Thanks Bjorn. I try with B&W conversions at night to keep them looking as if they're taken at night. In some of the darker areas of these districts of Dubai there is a massive contrast when compared to the glitzy modern architecture that people see in the travel brochures, so I try to convert in light of this and show another side of Dubai that isn't so often seen in the way I see it.

Whenever I see environmental portraiture and travel portraiture from the Indian subcontinent I see the same interaction that I get from these guys (they are generally from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh or Yemen, Oman and other areas of the GCC). They are not scared of the camera in any way, which really helps to bring out there character in the final image with little effort to break down any intimidation they may have with being photographed. They look through the lens without any prompting and the final images become quite personal, surprisingly so considering the tiny amount of time they 'sit' for the image.

Occasionally I'll come across people I've shot before and have a chat with them - these guys are on a very low minimum wage and yet they are willing to spend their time with me and offer me a coffee while we chat (I always buy them the coffee though!) They're very proud, which I think comes across in the images, and when I give them prints they are gratefully accepted as they send them back to their families who they don't see for up to 2 years at a time. Again, a completely different culture but despite their low wage they opt to live in Dubai and can afford to support large families back home while living and working here.

Initially I started taking street candids but was always wary about getting people in the frame who may not like to be photographed. Culturally you should not take images of local women without the permission of the male family member that they are with, as they will not speak with you directly. This almost forced me down the line of shooting the workers in souks and markets, when I eventually plucked up the courage to ask for permission to shoot. Eventually you get used to rejection (even though that happens very rarely - around 20% of the time), and this is the biggest obstacle to overcome. No doubt if I were to try the same in the UK the rejection rate would be far higher, combined with the potential subject questioning the photographers motives far more. The language barrier in my case is as much a help as a hindrance. I can't pose the subject, but with body language and a smile I can move on from a rejection in a positive and non threatening way which occasionally persuades the subject, through their friends who are standing close by, to agree to a shot after all!

For #5, I asked the permission of this lady's husband (even though they're Hindu rather than local Muslim)
For #20, this guy initially didn't want his photo taken, but he was persuaded by his friends. Again, only after he was happy did I take the shot.
For #22, I asked the group for permission. This is an Indian card game similar to Hearts (for anyone familiar with Microsoft games). It's just something you don't see very often in Dubai, so I had to get the shot despite the darkness and after chatting with the guys for a while they were comfortable with my motives and let me shoot.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:25 am 
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Bjorn van Sinttruije wrote:

I wish I could pick a favorite, but the narrowest selection I can make right now is no. 10, 13, 17, 22, 27, and 32.

- Bjorn


Thanks Bjorn - #27 has been compared on another forum to a Middle Eastern Laurel and Hardy, with the pose and facial expression of the boss with the beard!

You learn things culturally as well when you post on the internet. For example in #7 the guys are playing Chinese chess, and traditionally anyone watching should not offer any advice or reaction to any moves made by the players, which is why the viewer has got his mouth covered with his hands.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:36 am 
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RexGig wrote:
Excellent work! I enjoyed my first viewing of your images, and will revisit them from time to time. :)


Thanks RexGig - these are a few from over the past 2 months - I'll add a few more over time.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:15 pm 
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Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Great shots! I really missed your work, I really like your B&W processing plus the mood that Dubai has and that I believe you capture really nicely. I really can't pick favorites as there are a lot of great shots. As Bjorn mentioned, it's really nice the way you're able to connect with your subjects and I think it's really nice that most people there are open to having their picture taken.

Nice job :)

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:49 am 
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Awesome stuff.


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