We were delighted to welcome Peter Merry back to Photocraft for this talk. Peter had previously judged at one of our photo competitions but this time, he wore his street photography hat and gave us an insightful presentation on his Monopoly Project.
As the name might suggest, this is a photographic journey around the famous London Monopoly board, as below in map form.
How did Peter get here? Well, like many of us photographers, we are always happy to be out and about with our cameras and Peter told us he was trying to find a genre/style that would give him that extra buzz. He had not really picked up his camera when busy being a dad for 18 years and wanted to find a project to help his development.
Peter’s camera club arranged a visit to Skomer, home to much wildlife and famous for its puffins. After much pointing his camera at the sky and clicking the shutter, trying to get a classic puffin flight with a mouthful of sand eels, Peter was delighted to get one in the bag.
It was after this trip that Peter realised he should be photographing things he likes and his many visits to London since his early teens gave him an idea. After all, he had been going there for years and knew his way around without the help of a mobile phone or satnav. But how would he approach his project?
An attempt at “Project 365” lasted 12 days! Online, Peter found that much of the project work centred around the technical side. Martin Parr and Andrew Bush (in particular his book “Drive”) gave Peter positive thoughts but he felt he was not really one to make people the main subject of his street work.
Peter then stumbled upon a father and son that had spent a school half term walking around the locations on the London Monopoly board and bingo! He had his project! He could take images of the places on the board! But how to do this needed some thought.
A working life in project management meant Peter felt best if he set himself a structured set of rules:
1. Walk the entire route (in correct order)
2. A variety of techniques and subject
3. Three images for named locations
4. One image per unnamed location (Chance etc.)
5. An ethical approach to image making
Peter had already told us he was not one for people, but a few made it into his work, where Peter saw that they added something to the image.
Otherwise, he wanted to convey the life, chaos and colour found in London. To do that, he used styles such as:
ICM/multiple exposures – Peter simply adds as many images as he wishes as layers in Photoshop then moves and blends them till he is happy, using various levels of opacity to make sure each key item is clear within the final image.
Silhouettes and shapes.
Below is a small selection of the locations Peter shared with us on the night, not in board order if you’re looking that closely.
The above came after Peter had spent some time in Bond Street and his tendency to be seen taking photos outside some of the more fashionable jewellery stores did attract attention!
Of course, once a project is over, there are more things to consider. Such as:
What do you do with the project?
1. Enjoy it
2. Blog about it
3. Exhibit it
4. Talk about it
5. Create a book?
6. Move on
Peter had many options from the above and with his own website already in place, that was a natural starting point. There are blog posts with information behind each location and the images for that place or square of the board.
He chose to concentrate on his favourite locations when it came to presenting his work in a style like we enjoyed and also held various exhibitions. An added benefit here was that Peter felt freed from having to set his work out based on specific locations and so reworked the structure of his presentation to concentrate more on the style or story conveyed by them. Some examples are below:
So what is next? Peter shared some of his other projects and ideas and he is clearly now stretching his mind and camera both from the type and style of photographs and where they are taken as we went from Shetland to Berlin and from wool to dreams and poems, from trains across Europe to along the Thames Path.
There is much, much more on Peter’s websites and also below are details of his ongoing street workshops and website, the latter being one for all the newest street images:
Take a look at the street workshops on the above website. Many are free and for members of Photocraft, Peter has kindly provided a discount code which I am happy to share with anyone who emails me a request.
An enjoyable and rather different approach to street photography and a big thank you to Peter for the evening.
All images above are copyright Peter Merry.