• Mark Heathcote

Reading the Images

“I don’t have a philosophy, I have a camera” - Saul Leiter

I am not a documentary photographer (no time); I am probably what most people would refer to as a street photographer; I prefer just photographer. I wander the streets on my own for hours at a time. I have my camera with me when I commute, and when I go shopping. My wife finds it embarrassing when I suddenly run off and photograph a stranger while pretending to shoot something behind them. Sometimes she is annoyed when I run off in the middle of her talking to me. This is a by-product of becoming aware of the details in your surroundings.

I look for images that are interesting enough to stand alone. Sometimes there is a group of photographs which might turn into a sort of collection. Mostly, I shoot for the pleasure of sometimes getting something interesting. It makes me tingle.

Discovering a couple of good shots after five hours of random walking excites me. Many times I come back empty-handed. This is a numbers game, with a lot of effort and a bit of luck. We can all train ourselves to notice things around us, but it takes practice. I have come to lean that the world becomes a more beautiful place through the eyes of a photographer, something I did not expect when I started out.

I have selected the images below as a sample of styles that I produce. They are some of my favourite photographs, some in colour, and some in black and white. Sometimes colour gets in the way of the aesthetic of an image, sometimes it is a key component, but if I see it, I shoot it. I really hope you enjoy looking at my photographs. If you see something deep in them, it is of course intentional.

Photographers who have inspired me include Saul Leiter, Elliot Erwitt, Tony Ray Jones, Alex Webb, Constantine Manos and any, in fact all, of the Magnum photographers.

Caroline - Bright colours always attract me, and combined with the harsh light, deep shadows and vertical lines, I knew there was a photograph here on this Houston street. For me, this illustrated my impressions of Houston, from the art murals dotted around the edge of the business district, the construction and the quiet streets.

Red Riding Hood - Sometimes an image will tell a little story. Different viewers will sometimes see a different story. In this photograph, the dog heads were intentional, as were their positioning in the frame. The girl’s shadow was luck, but combined with the background scene that I was stalking, it reminds me of something menacing, like the story of Little Red Riding hood.

Chased by wolves

Zombie Love - Seeing a shadow stretch across the road, I saw the opportunity to try to use it on a pedestrian to produce something interesting. In this case, his sunglasses reflected just enough light to give a surreal feel. Another photographer viewing this image called it ‘zombie love’. His interpretation has stuck with me, and now I see a zombie every time I look. You never quite know what you will capture, but seeing the opportunity for something is key, then I try to let the magic happen.

Even zombies can fall in love

Pushing Someone’s Buttons - I have noticed some of my work becoming more abstract over time. I find this image confusing, but somehow compelling. There are several unrelated things going on which make the picture. The thumb perfectly pressed against the bright green circle initially grabs attention, but then the obscured girl’s feet jump into view. While these unrelated things are being processed, the women looks on with a strange expression and clasped hands as if slightly confused.

A crack in reality

Life’s a Beach - Using more traditional framing, this photograph from Brighton, UK, brings up thoughts of a carefree childhood, something that is so quickly lost.  The photograph works because of a number of factors; each subject is surrounded by space without overlapping; the subjects are evenly balanced across the frame, but at different layers of depth; finally, there are a number of specific activities of interest going on, like the girl’s leg hanging, the two children interacting, and the child mid run in the background.

If I could turn back time

Browsers Welcome - The title for this photograph is stolen from the sign in the photograph. It doesn’t mean anything, and the photograph is not trying to tell a story, it is purely about the aesthetic. It is another photograph with space around most of the subjects and layers of depth. This time however, some little mystery is added by the half dog

in the corner and different heights of the men that appear to be at the same distance but can’t be. Or are they? Sometimes we over analyse things, ultimately I enjoy seeing this photograph without really knowing why.

Never work with children, animals or boats

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Copyright Mark Heathcote