Tag Archives: unstaged

Lukas Kuzma and Tom Wood – unaware, but not covert

Two of the photographers that the course materials mention are Lukas Kuzma and Tom Wood. Both produce portraits that are  both unstaged and unaware, but apparently neither of them hide what they are doing. Wood uses familiarity with his subjects to arrive at a point where they are sufficiently comfortable to be uninterested in his presence, while Kuzma takes images through windows, and blends into the background to become part of the scenery. I particularly like Kuzma’s cityscape images, which show vignettes of ordinary life that beg questions of the viewer about what is happening off-camera or prior to the shutter being closed.

Looking back at some of my own recent images, there is a mixture of different styles. On the whole, however, the subjects tend to be entirely unaware of my interest, and not posed. I like to take photos of people going about their business, rather than set up staged situations in the style of Parr or diCordia, and then to wait for people to enter my theatre arena.


Philip-Lorca diCordia’s Heads

In this series, diCordia carefully sets up his stage to highlight a specific point in a crowded place, and then waits to see who will stroll into it. He uses shafts of light to capture passers-by in an instant when they are completely unaware of him and what he is doing. His work as been the subject of some debate, and a court case by one of his subjects, as they felt that their privacy had been invaded by him. However, the right of photographers to take photos in public places was successfully invoked and the subject had to accept that diCordia could use their image without permission.

Here are three of his Heads images, as examples.

And here, below are a few of my own version of the premise, all taken from the walkway from Charing Cross to Waterloo stations. Unfortunately, the light was poor so there is a certain amount of blur, but it is interesting to note that the feet are clear in all the images, regardless of what is happening to the rest of the body. What I find striking about them is the way they interact with each other, the body language and also how the baldness of some of the men’s heads makes them look vulnerable. I would be keen to return at a busier time, and better prepared, to take more images of groups and people passing each other. For instance, in this first image, the man with the shiny shoes is striding out assertively, perhaps on his way to a meeting, while in the one at the bottom left, the couple heading from left to right have been parted by the other man passing between them.