I pretend to be Alvin Langdon Coburn

Okay, I don’t always pretend to be Alvin Langdon Coburn and when I do you wouldn’t notice it from the outside. I don’t dress up and pretend I’m a man, because I’m rather fond of being a woman; I can wear make-up, skirts, high-heels etc whenever I feel like it without getting odd looks from anyone. Obviously men can’t yet do that without the threat of being beaten up by some idiot/s, which to me seems rather unfair as it’s nice wearing green eyeshadow with purple eyeliner today and I liked the orange eyeshadow and brown eyeliner yesterday.

Anyway, back to topic. What I mean is that when I go to London I often look through the lens of my camera and I pretend to be Coburn in that moment. I am trying to see what he saw, the way he saw. I have the book ‘London’ written by G.K. Chesterton with photographs by Coburn on Kindle (the actual physical version seems to cost thousands of pounds), and I really like the photographs. I’ve tried to work out where he stood to take these images so I can make some kind of present day version of them. Those views don’t exist anymore, that London no longer exists, but I’m not after an exact copy, more of an approximation. Ideally I would take them on film. My real ideal would be to use the same process he used start to finish, but I don’t think that’s possible for me at the moment.

I found an image a few days ago though which at first glance I thought was one of his that had somehow made it’s way into my photos. Then I realised it wasn’t his, it was mine. So I was quite pleased.

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Me trying to masquerade as Coburn. With some work in Lightroom I could change the depth of field and crop it so it would look quite similar. But I think I’ll just retake it with my new camera next time I’m in London.

Coburn’s image

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Image by Alvin Langdon Coburn used for educational purposes

Another of mine.

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My image of Trafalgar Square taken last year when I’d just started the course. I’ve got problems with the sky; I think it’s a combination of a filter I’ve used and a poor camera.

I think I’m seeing an influence here. What has this taught me? Well, part of me feels like I shouldn’t look at the work of too many other photographers, especially near assignment time. It sort of feels like cheating. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s good to look through a lens and pretend to be someone else, to see things the way they see them. I think that goes for life in general really. In that spirit I have got myself a copy of ‘Street Photography Now’. Street photography feels like my nemesis, so I’m hoping that in it I can find some inspiration to overcome my fears and take some decent images.

 

 

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