Poster Man

In the last year or two I’ve taken a keener interest in people on the streets than ever before. In London, large posters are a common sight. They occupy redundant space, and they brighten boarded up properties or the frontage of building sites.

People frequently seem to use them as a prop for their coffee break, phone call, or cigarette. Sometimes those juxtapositions create interesting images. I spotted this man adjacent to this poster. He was busy talking on his cell phone. Have you noticed how a lot of people can’t stand still when they talk on their phones – constantly pacing backwards and forwards? I hung around across the road, camera ready, watching. I waited for him to walk into the poster’s space, where he paused, and leant back against the image. His coat was almost indistinguishable from the background colour. He seemed to merge in. That was the picture.

IMG_6984I am increasingly learning that if we stand still and watch the world go by, the images will come to us.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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24 Responses to Poster Man

  1. ShimonZ says:

    Beautiful picture, Andy. And I agree with your bottom line/// just watch the world and it’ll all come to us. Have a beautiful day.

    • LensScaper says:

      Greetings Shimon. I thought that last line would be a concept that you would agree with. Many thanks for your comment, and enjoy your day. The sun has just come out here as I am writing.

  2. Chillbrook says:

    Such very good advice Andy and a superb picture. I can just imagine you standing there just willing him to stand still. 🙂
    A recent ARPS panel was made up of photos similar to this one, though not candid, where people were interacting with billboards and shop window displays. I think it’s on the RPS site under ‘Distinction successes, what’s worked for others’. It was an ARPS contemporary submission.

  3. Lignum Draco says:

    Great candid. Timing and patience paid off.

  4. John Linn says:

    Nice image and as others have commented, good advice. It seems we are always in too much of a hurry to take the time needed for a good picture.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks John. London always seems a bit frenetic and it’s very easy to get drawn into that fast-paced feel. On the other hand hanging about, not looking too suspicious, is not easy.

  5. oneowner says:

    This is a wonderful shot, Andy. The man in the photo is perfectly placed under the circle in the poster.

  6. oneowner says:

    Sorry, I didn’t finish my comment. I wanted to say that, although I think this is a great shot, I’m reluctant to post shots of people who are recognizable in them. I think people are very concerned about personal privacy today and probably wouldn’t want to have their photo posted on the Internet without permission. I was guilty of that in the past and now I have some regret about it. I realize the value of good street photography, but, as it turns out, there are so many more bad street photos than good. This photo has two subjects, the poster and the man. But many will see it as just a photo of the man on his phone. I would not want to disuade anyone from not shooting street scenes, especially when the results are as good as the photo here and im personally looking for the appropriate middle ground.

    • LensScaper says:

      I appreciate your point, and it’s a valid debating point. I would not consider posting an image that was embarrassing or likely to present someone in an unfortunate light. If we ruled out street photography then a lot of Cartier-Bresson’s work would be side-lined. I guess it is the issue of connectivity that is the game changer in today’s world. Images can go viral very easily. The chances of it happening are very small, but that is why images that are detrimental are a no-go area.

    • I’m wondering what the middle ground is. Maybe where a person’s face is not recognizable?

      • oneowner says:

        I think that’s it, Linda. It doesn’t matter if the photo is not embarrassing (like this one, which I think is excellent), it just may be that some folks don’t like to have their photo taken and posted.

  7. Len says:

    What a cool capture Andy. I don’t notice these type of images and wish I did. You have a keen eye for this.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thank you. I’ve been taking pictures for an awful long time, but it has only been in the last couple of years that I’ve started to feel bold enough to start taking them, ore even to see them as worth taking.

  8. I almost wish I hadn’t read Ken’s second comment. I really like this photograph. Why is life so complicated?

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for your comments Linda. I think it’s the Internet that makes life complicated. We wouldn’t be having these conversations without the internet, about an image that has been round the world in a nano second. If we conclude that any photograph that includes a recognizable face should not be published on-line, think of the far-reaching consequences of that. Many images we take unavoidably include identifiable people because they happen to be in the picture. Personally I think that if an image is taken in a public place, and is not defamatory in any way, then it is reasonable to publish it. If, by some extraordinary fluke it resulted in a request for the image to be taken down, then it should be removed without question. But that’s just my thinking – and on this topic, as on any other, we are all entitled to an opinion and to disagree.

  9. Jim Nix says:

    great timing but even better eye for the shot!

  10. Meanderer says:

    Well seen, Andy. Well done!

  11. shoreacres says:

    The contrast between the poster man’s demeanor and that of the cell-phone talker is quite remarkable. It made me curious about this “button up” business, and I found Ben Sherman and some of the advertising videos. I’m still ambivalent, but American me would choose phone talker over poster man any day for a coffee and a chat. It really is amusing that the button seems to function in the photo as a mark of approbation, and that it was given to the phone talker!

    It’s a wonderful photo. Given the matching colors and such, I suspect many people would assume it was posed.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks so much Linda. It was one of those posters that I wanted to photograph irrespective of any other ‘addition’. Such a strong image on its own, but finding a man with a coat that blended in was so unexpected but just right. it’s so nice when everything comes together.

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