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Bruce Gilden at work

For our photography class at uni this week, we took to the streets of Belfast. We were shown some examples of Bruce Gilden’s work, informed that there is no legal restriction on photography in public places and told to go out and get snapping.

Street photography is something a lot of people are misinformed about. The most common retaliation we received was “Hey, you’re meant to ask for my permission first!” It’s generally assumed that it’s illegal to photograph without consent. However there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place at all. If you’re outside, you’re fair game for any photographer.

Regardless of the legalities though, if you snap their picture, there’s a chance they’ll snap back. We encountered a few people who really didn’t want their picture taken and wouldn’t hold back in telling you so. To be honest though, you can’t blame them, it’s undoubtedly intrusive to give no warning and just take their picture, especially at a close range and with the flash on.

If street photography is meant to be observing true moments, candidly and unstaged then it’s not really possible to capture that the same way if you give warning. Looking back, it feels mad that I partook in this. I can’t think of a time before this where I just took the shot without knowing or asking the person first. I had to get close to my subjects as I didn’t have a zoom lens and that was nerve-wracking. Here are a couple of the photographs I got that day.

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Today I attended the Drawing Unlimited workshop held at the University of Ulster. It lasted around three hours and had people from Foundation Art and Design for Visual Communication participating. The whole theme of today was making links. We had some warm up drawing exercises where we would do 30 second drawings using your other hand i.e. if you are right handed, you used your left. I’ve done this before at life drawing classes and it’s oddly freeing. Even just in the sense that you can feel more experimental because if it goes wrong you can blame it on using the other hand. We did self portraits and portraits of others in the class. Mostly using ink with a variety of tools – paintbrush, sponge & cocktail sticks, the work was nice and messy; lots of inky fingers. We made a final piece at the end where we brought our work together showing links between us. I forgot to take a picture of that though so you’ll have to live without.