The image below is possibly my favourite street photo I have ever taken. I was lucky enough to win an online photo competition and get a great critique by pro photographer and educator Mike Browne. Have a read and let me know what you think.
Texture Competition winner: Daniel Kukec. Congratulations Daniel. What a great image.
There are so many layers of texture going on here - and masses of subtleties too, which I’ll speak about in a moment. I can feel the grime in the guy’s matted hair, the wrinkles and the corrugated background. But there’s also layers of character going on too. The crisp newspaper suggests intelligence and a depth of character which goes beyond the guy’s appearance.
He’s not reading (or fallen asleep over, not sure which) a scruffy old paper found blowing down the street, it’s new. The smooth texture juxtaposes against his own grubby wrinkled one. There’s an emotive element to this image as well as composition and technical excellence. It makes me want to know this guy’s story and find out who he is. He could be homeless or an eccentric billionaire - and that’s interesting.
Composition is interesting with the way it’s cropped slightly into the guy. Temptation would be to include all his hair and all his arm. I kinda like that it doesn’t because for me it’s a bit edgy and ‘rule’ breaky. The way he’s pushed back into the left of the frame to support his back with his legs straight along the bottom works well.
Depth of field has him subtly separated from the background. Even though he’s so strong in the image this separation makes a subconscious difference and it’s make a big difference if the background was sharp.
Directional lighting always brings out textures and the temptation is to look for strong sunlight which can often overpower a human subject. The light here is very very subtle and soft but it’s still directional. Look at the corrugated background and you’ll see it’s coming in from the right of the image. Even though is so soft it’s almost flat, it’s making a difference and great imagery is often about stacking small subtleties together. Done well, the viewer probably won’t even notice them without searching, they just see a powerful image.
Black and white is always great to make texture stand out because there’s no colour distraction. And with the softness of the lighting in this it’s absolutely the right choice to make it contrasty to pimp up those textures.
Points to improve: I can’t think of any. For me it’s a powerful thought provoking image. I have a niggly thing in the back of my mind that I’d like to see what it looks like in colour but that’s just curiosity. - MIKE BROWNE - Digital Photography - videos, training and tips