Street Photography – John, Bridget and Freya Gill September 8 2016

John presented with support from wife Bridget and daughter Freya. The talk was illustrated by photographs from all three family members. One interesting point was the three different focal lengths used – John close-up at 28mm, Bridget 28-105, Freya mostly 105 and upwards.

John showed a variety of styles from the family and much to his obviously amused chagrin some of the biggest applause came for Bridget and Freya’s photos. It was an obvious source of interest for us to guess (usually accurately) who had taken the picture.

He explained that the term street photography is a rather restrictive term as it is not just about taking pictures in the street – it is about people rather than location.

He also described himself a ‘lazy photographer’, a recurring theme, but none of us really believed him. Either he was lying or he is so good and natural a photographer that he doesn’t really have to try. The truth is out there somewhere.

John stated some personal preferences for his photographs. He

·         likes to get close (hence the 28mm focal length);

·         takes 90% of his photos in black and white for dramatic impact and so he doesn’t have to bother about colour balancing;

·         doesn’t like staged photos;

·         doesn’t like to manipulate photographs too much e.g. by taking people or other detail out or adding artificial detail.

He believes that street photography offers more scope for people to place their own interpretation upon what is shown by a photograph. Individual preoccupations and perceptions mean that there may be many ways of looking at a photo, which ultimately makes this branch of photography fascinating. A good picture is one which stimulated people to create their own stories about its content.

There was some discussion of ethical issues;

·         There is always the issue of photographing people without permission – arguably this is OK in a public place

·         Homeless people and drug-users are snapped too often – more than their representation in the general population merits;

·         Children are largely a  no-go area nowadays – but one of best and most-discussed was a child at the Hepworth Museum.


There are some safety and personal security issues;

·         Try not to make too much eye contact – paradoxical since this what makes a good photo

·         a flip-screen is useful where directing a camera straight at people may be inappropriate. There was quite a long discussion of this.

·         Try not to look too professional e.g. large cameras & lenses may make people suspicious.


Technical tips included

·         High shutter speeds 1/250 or above and adjust ISO to 400 or 800 if necessary. These are more important than the aperture as exposure can be altered later if shooting in RAW;

·         Use Program Mode P.

·         Under-expose by a ½ stop – most important is to avoid blowing out,

·         Don’t be too much of a purist or you will lose the best shot. Get in and out quickly. If you get it wrong there will always be another opportunity;

·         In post-processing for black & white – bring highlights down – up the clarity – push shadows up


Music festivals and similar events are usually a good source of inspiration, especially because people are often dressed up, there are plenty of cameras about and many like to be photographed. A useful approach is to watch where everybody is looking e.g. at a performer or stage and ‘shoot the other way’ into the audience.

John finally talked briefly about the After the coal dust project in which the Gills are involved, which examines the aftermath of mine closures in Castleford and the surrounding areas. More information can be found at

Rais thanked John, Bridget and Freya for a fascinating evening which had stimulated a lot of interest and discussion and of course got himself into the picture at the end.

Further details of John, Bridget and Freya’s work can be found at www.johnand


Gerry Gorman