I was lucky enough to have one of my street portraits hung in a gallery exhibition across the pond at The Glasgow Gallery of Photography. The portrait called "Talk is cheap" was of a young lad with a heavily tattooed face that I met outside the court buildings in Calgary, Alberta. To my knowledge he hadn't been appearing before the bench and was just passing by.
The exhibition ran from 21st November - 30th November 2019 and the portrait was one of eighty selected from around the world. To say I was pleased was an understatment and it's my first major gallery portrait.
You can find links to The Glasgow Gallery of Photography and a list of their most recent exhibitions here
Street photography can mean different things to different people. Some photographers are looking to capture the scene, others, the individual and some looking to create something that makes no sense out of the context of the image. That's the beauty of street photography. There aren't really any rules meaning each individual has the ability to show the streets from their own perspective. In fact street photography isn’t just another genre of photography, it’s something of its own entity. It was something that happened totally by accident for me, and has had captivated me ever since. It’s like an addiction, where I want to shoot all the time and never stray too far away from a camera.
My approach to shooting street, is going on my walk as if it's a new adventure every time. I may walk past the same place a thousand times, but the scene can always be different. I'm always scanning with my eyes and listening with my ears, hunting out the different and unlikely. I like to take my time and just wander around, I never have an exact area I stay in. I want to be the fly on the wall. I’d rather people not know I’m there. In my mind it preserves the scene as it actually happened. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way which is fine by me. If the situation calls for it, I will shoot from the hip or through the viewfinder depending on the situation or how I want the image to look. Street photography can be a great place for you to deliver a message or share your opinion on life. There is no judgment on it, no good or bad, you just shoot what your eyes see. It’s simply about taking a photo and capturing the moment, documenting life and all that’s around you. Every time I go out with my camera its always different and I learn something new. It’s an excuse to go anywhere, it makes you think more and see more. As famous photographer Diane Arbus once said “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photography them”
I take a lot of images and always connect back to the moment that I took it, I remember the thought process of seeing and capturing. It instantly takes me back and I get to take others with me and relive it. I try to make my images as interesting as possible. What I like to capture is people or situations that stand out, or better still the weird and wonderful. I'm always intrigued by strong characters in a combination of intense light and deep shadows, trying to isolate my subject in its environment. Also, mirrors and other reflections attract my attention. Finally, juxtaposition, or where two or more objects or situations contrast to make an interesting photo also gains my interest.
To combine all these elements into one single frame, this is my everyday pleasure. The future is what also makes street photography important because it makes these average everyday moments become a part of history. I never stop seeing, and don't ever want to stop shooting. It doesn't matter if you have a smartphone camera, a super expensive DSLR or a 50-year-old rangefinder, as long as the composition works and the image tells some sort of story, then you've managed to capture that moment.
One of the reasons why I love street photography so much is the fact that you will not be able to make the same creation twice. No one will ever capture that moment again. When you see something unique or a special moment, you have to be ready to push the shutter button immediately. One second too late and the moment has gone. There is no second chance…….
All photos by Chris Toombes (City Street Photos) copyrighted 2019
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On the day before Alberta's provincial elections which take place on April 16th 2019, workers from Alberta's oil industry once again took to the streets to protest the Federal Governments lack action. It was a huge turnout that marched down Stephen Ave (8th St SW) and gathered outside city hall where speakers from CanadaAction.ca and other action groups called for further action to get the pipeline built and to protest Bill C-69. The large crowd was vocal and sang the now familiar "build that pipe, build that pipe" and waved banners demanding the federal government take action to protect Canada's future and to protect oil industry jobs. Mark Schultz, of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, asked those in the crowd to make their voices heard in Tuesday’s provincial election. “Get out to vote, we need your support, because energy policy matters,” he said via a megaphone. The crowd responded with loud cheers and more cries of “build that pipe”. Tuesday’s election is going to be very interesting with a lot riding on the result for a lot of people.
Street photography in Calgary always delivers the unexpected and today (April 13 2019) was no different. Rabbits, fashion, homeless lovers and people with different political agendas were just a few of the things I captured during todays walkabout.
My first capture of the day we a guy called Haithem who stood out like a beacon dressed in his bright floresent Orange coat. It turns out that Libyan born, Toronto mentored, Haithem is a source of international style and creator of KaaDiki fashions. A graduate of the International Academy of Design in Toronto his collections focus on mixing traditional men's wear construction techniques with contemporary silhouettes that have a well-proportioned and fashionable appearance.
Next up and in total contrast to Haithem was David a homeless guy who was just passing through Calgary on his way back to his home city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. David had been wintering in Vancouver where its a lot warmer. He told me that he'll be hanging around in Calgary to make a few bucks off the spring tourists before heading home.
It's not every day you come across a man walking his rabbit but in Calgary anything is possible. Meet Stephen and Harriet Houdini his escapologist rabbit! Stephen told me that he had been performing his rabbit escape act for ten years. Harriet was now retired and was enjoying her new found freedom.
My final street portrait was of homeless lovers Tom and Lady Hawk who were laughing and joking with each other when I stopped and asked to take their portrait. They were sat on one of the many benches on 8th Ave the main tourist road that runs the length of the Downtown core. I noticed that Lady Hawk was wearing a leg cast and she explained that she had broken her leg after slipping on the ice while dancing with her partner Tom. She went on to say that maybe next winter she'd be more careful and not dance outside again.
Finally, I came across a few yellow vest protesters who were picketing a local venue where one of the NDP candidates in this months (April 2019) provincial elections was holding an event. The whole affair was noisy but friendly, with both sides chanting and shouting. On balance I think the yellow vests were the louder of the two groups but a heavy police presence was standing by to ensure nothing got out of hand.
Click on the photos below to view full size