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The Shires Detrius

By Jon_Briggs
After going to view the Foundation Degree Level photo Exhibition at Frog Island, took a walk into town with the wife, on the way to New Walk Musuem (having a cultural day)

The Shires shopping centre is being extended to accomdate a new multi-storey carpark and John Lewis.

However, the amount of rubbish that the builders are leaving behind is worring, although I'm sure it will all be cleared up come the Autumn, when it is due to be opened up.

Tags: Shopping Photo journalism Work Building General Centre Black and white Leicester Shires Extention

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


zarquon 10 47 55 England
3 Jun 2008 12:16AM
This is an image that promises quite a lot. Urban decay probably interests most people who live in urban areas. Apart from the palette leaning against the wall and a few odd bits of wood on the ground, it seems to me like a fairly pedestrian image.

I suspect this is because you have not got in amongst the detritus. Your viewpoint is that of a slightly curious observer passing an open gate... from a safe distance. There does not seem to be very much here for me to write to my MP about urban decay and the destruction of society or even the mindlessness of corporate interests. All in all it looks just like what it is, an unattended building site.

Your title suggests that you saw more in the image than you have depicted. The filigree metalwork of the back wall has militated against you being able to show unmitigated squalor. It is far to fancy to be an abandoned building. The gate looks to be in good order and the dump truck looks to be in working order too. Next to it some building materials have been left stacked but covered with some sort of protective cloth, while awaiting use.

The image is lacking a little in contrast and it is in need of opening up the shadow detail. It can be easy to feel that dark tones are equivalent to good strong contrast but the two things do not follow one another automatically.

This may have made a much stronger image if you had got a bit nearer to the trash and homed in on a smaller number of elements. Your image is quite busy with no obvious place for the eyes to naturally come to rest because there is no single subject matter and the brain and eye are doomed to wander around without rest, within the boundaries of the image frame, because you do not have a single compelling subject here.

A good maxim is to try and give the impartial observer nowhere else to look but the main subject matter. This will lift the direction and the quality of images... immediately. Brutally assessing your own images will help you to know what is good and what to throw away. It will help you to set yourself a target and then try to image that target.

If you had started out with an idea of what you wanted to do (image urban decay in the form of a social document) you would have been better able to find an image that represented that event. If you considered the visual cues that we are all familiar with, that are universally used to suggest urban decay, you might have actively looked for them.

Serendipity is likely to throw up one chance in a million that you will get a satisfying image. Pre-visualising what you want to capture and then setting out to do it will provide you with a much higher hit rate. I am a huge fan of documentary photography and my heroes are Dorothea Lange, Weegee, Robert Doisneau, Eugene W. Smith and Don McCullin. Look at the work of other great documentary photographers and try to identify how and why their images speak to you.

Take your camera with you as often as you can and build up a solid repertoire of ways to describe common events... with a camera. Your image is a good effort but it could have been so much better if you had moved closer to the subject so that the viewer could examine the subject in detail. That sliver of time is all you provide to your audience and it has to count. Remember that wide-angle views carry the disadvantage that every image will appear smaller in the frame.

Keep shooting and being back an image to stun me. (figuratively rather than literally) Wink


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