"Slow down..."

"Slow down, the next picture may be very quiet and close." - Bruno Quinquet

Businessman with a parking ticket, Belfast, 2011 (SPN Challenge 20)

Week 20 was a tough one. Bruno Quinquet's statement was a more open brief than most of the recent posts in the Street Photography Challenge. Plenty of of the early posts in the Instruction No.20 Flickr pool, and discussion boards, were aiming on a 'good' street photo because of the openness of the brief (or so I gather from reading the threads), and the results have been good.

Bruno Quinquet, Salaryman Project, 2009

I first came across Quinquet's work at this time last year when his series on Japanese salarymen, Obsession of a salaryman otaku, was published in the 1000words Photography Magazine (Spring 2010). I was instantly hooked. Here was a photographer who was exploring a breed of working man bound by cultural constraints, constraints imposed by a distinctly Japanese view of the working world. Quinquet's poetic portraits documented the salarymen but also embodied, through his choice of composition and colour, the fleeting and transient beauty that is magnificently celebrated within Japanese visual culture.

Bruno Quinquet, Salaryman Project, 2009

In his artist statement for the series Quinquet wrote: "On one hand, it explores the identity of the average Japanese male office worker, called salaryman, letting mystery and poetry blossom in the supposedly boring corporate world. On the other hand, by concealing the subjects’ identities, the project tries to adapt in a creative way to the increasing constraints of portraits rights on candid street photography."

Woman waiting on a bus, Belfast, 2011

So, with the Salaryman Project in mind, I began shooting this weeks brief with the intentions of ferreting out workers seeking quiet and peaceful moments during their working days. Since the salaryman phenomenon does not exist in Northern Ireland my challenge was harder, but not impossible. I also wanted to avoid the repetition of a previous SPN challenge that urged the photographers to find people who were lost in thought amidst the new urban environment. The woman above was photographed through a bus shelter window, hence the strange lightened area where light has been reflected, and I loved how her cap covered just enough of her face to conceal her identity.

My entered image for this week, found beneath the brief at the top of this post, had some of the mystery of Quinquet's salarymen with the man's face being obscured by shadow. The layers within the portrait come from the green mesh fence, which protects the car park, and the glistening reflections upon the car. The colour in the image comes across more as a barrage of turgid tones than the simple palettes found in the Salaryman Project; however, the red brick is a stalwart in Belfast, and the blue sky reflecting on the car only highlights the fresh weather we are experiencing at this time of year. The simple action of searching for and reading a parking ticket is probably something he does every single day... Again, this leaves me celebrating the transience of things. Mono no aware.

Another week bested... Only 32 to go!


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