Beat the Street II.

Less than a month after I launched the first Beat the Street photography challenge, I found myself once again tying up the laces on the comfiest shoes I could find and hitting the pavement - camera in hand.

This time, I teamed up with three other photographers: Tyler Dunn, Jesse Wilkinson and, back for round two, Jesse Graham.

In response to the first Beat the Street, I had a lot of positive feedback and interest in participating and I am very thankful for everyone who has been in contact. I decided not to open Beat the Street II to more than a small handful of friends so that I could continue working on the behind the scenes aspect of this challenge. After the day of capturing images and using (forcing) the others as a soundboard, I am fairly confident that I have ironed out the nuts and bolts of building a friendly competition out of what was, originally, a way to hang out and explore photography with others.

I will post more on that in the coming weeks.

If you like the idea, would like to get involved or even just want to say 'hi', please use the Contact page to get in touch with me. For now - Beat the Street II.

In this Beat the Street, we upped the participants and reduced the topics. 4 photographers, 5 topics. 

Our meeting point was Flinders St Station under the clocks because... Melbourne... and convenient. From there, we set about the city with the same general rule as last time: try to avoid making conscious decisions about where to find images and allow ourselves to be guided by whatever stimulates the senses, whether it's a sound, a sight, a smell, etc. This proved to be quite interesting as we found our way inside a range of buildings and found compositions that we would normally not think about capturing.

Melbourne's weather forecast was looking promising. It was announced, courtesy of the weatherman, that it would be our last pleasant day for quite a while. This gave hope for busy streets full of interest worth capturing. What we were greeted with was quite the opposite and Melbourne was uncharacteristically quiet, making it hard to find those standout compositions with exciting subjects.

We had to make a conscious decision. We jumped on a tram and headed towards St. Kilda. Unfortunately, it failed to offer much more in terms of interest, but we did take advantage of a local football match to capture some images. Tyler and I finished the game on 1 touch each from the sidelines.

All in all, five hours outside with a camera in hand and good company is never a bad way to spend a day. The challenge topics that were selected were significantly harder and the conditions forced us to really work for our images. Having to create an 'homage' to another photographer or famous photograph required a lot more premeditation than we anticipated. I think we were lucky to come away successful today but, with a few reluctant submissions sneaking their way in, all of us are chasing redemption in Beat the Street III.

Same rules as before: we had to choose one final image per category from the day. Here they are in alphabetical order.
(Andrew, Jesse G, Jesse W, Tyler).

1) Leading Lines

2) Text

3) Out of Focus

4) Stop Staring/Stairing

5) Homage

Once again, this was a great day out capturing images. The topics that were selected provided an interesting challenge and have definitely inspired some re-shooting. Personally, I'm looking forward to taking the idea of an 'homage' back out onto the street and exploring how to capture images that reflect different styles of photography and different photographers. Trying to put yourself into the mind of someone else is an interesting learning experience to continue developing your eye for compositions - without seeing so much drone photography recently, I would not have thought to shoot down over a ledge at a staircase.

As always - please feel welcome to get in contact or express interest via Instagram or the contact page.

Honourable mentions:

Beat the Street I.

Street photography is something that just about every photographer I've ever met has tried. And for most of us, consistently failed at. What seems like the simplest style proves itself to be one of the most difficult.

It takes a creative eye to capture something exciting in the day to day.

I am not a street photographer. I enjoy it for the challenge and see it as a way to try and see things differently. As a photographer, that's the best tool in the arsenal - being able to enter a location and create images out of the seemingly ordinary. The more i've thought about what I enjoy about street photography, the more I notice that it shares some traits with landscape photography. In particular: cutting through a crowded scene to create something memorable from it; focussing on the finer details; trying to uncover unique textures; making a conscious decision about foreground/middle-ground/background. I wanted to put some of this to the test.

Enter the first Beat the Street.

A head-to-head street photography challenge with predetermined criteria that must be met.
For the first Beat the Street, I teamed up with my friend and portrait photographer Jesse Graham and we set 9 themes. Landscape v Portrait style, taken to the streets of Melbourne's CBD.

Unfortunately, neither of us felt that we truly hit the mark for the 9th: repeating colour (foreground and background). We agreed that even in this context, it was better to admit defeat than share something we didn't value.

We spent just under 6 hours in the city on foot with a lot of gear that we didn't use. It quickly became apparent that we'd chosen our lens for the day, and two tripods, two spare cameras, flashes and filter kits were nothing but dead weight. My shoulders are paying for it now. I opted for my natural territory of a 16-35mm lens and Jesse punched in sharpness as the top priority by settling on a 35mm prime.

The best 'unexpected reward' to come of this challenge was that we only made a conscious decision about which direction to follow 5 times for the whole day. We trekked from one end of the city to the other, top to bottom, revisited streets and found new places that we had never been. It was a great way to explore more of a city we spend a massive amount of time in.

We had to choose one final image per category from the day. Here they are - Jesse's in colour, mine in monochrome. Click each image for full perspective + caption:

1) Wide Perspective Street Shot

2) Portrait Style Street Shot

3) No People

4) Repeating Pattern

5) Down Low

6) Look Up

7) On the Job

8) Behind the Glass

Overall, this was a fun experiment. It is something that we both found incredibly rewarding on a personal and photographic level. Although not every image that we walked away with would be something we would usually share on our social medias or in our portfolios, I feel that we were able to take our interpretations of these challenges into the street and come away with some interesting and unique perspectives on Melbourne's CBD.

Stockpiling of challenge topics for Beat the Street II has begun.
If you would like to get involved, feel free to get in contact via Instagram or the contact page.

Honourable mentions: