City Kids

Buddies, February 24, 1974

Back in the days when I was doing natural light street photography in South Baltimore (in squint-producing sunlight on this occasion), just about the only challenge I had was how to frame the image. When these boys spotted me and my Minolta they struck a pose and one of them yelled, “Hey, mister, take our picture!” With kids, I usually tried to lower my point of view so I was on their eye level, but if I had done that here I would have had a clutter of background cars, buildings and telephone poles to organize visually. Since those things added nothing of value to the image, it was not an option. With backgrounds, the ideal is to have large simplified shapes, so I stood erect and shot down at the boys and the sidewalk. Shooting either up (“worm’s-eye view,” ceiling, sky, or a forest canopy) or down (“bird’s-eye view”, floor, sidewalk or street) is a good way to eliminate unwanted visual clutter. In this image we still see a bit of curb, chewing gum spots on the pavement, and a pole shadow cutting diagonally across the top of the frame. But that’s fine; it’s just enough background detail to suggest an urban context, but no more. Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.

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5 Responses to City Kids

  1. Street Photographer says:

    Nice, natural picture.

  2. Jim says:

    Thank you. My “naturalistic” approach to street photography owes a lot to the work done by FDR’s “New Deal” Farm Security Administration photographers unit during the Depression. I still find their work very appealing.

  3. Anthony says:

    Nice capture and good work controlling your background elements. A good reminder that there’s so much more to portraits than just the subjects.

  4. Jacquie Roland says:

    I always love your kid shots… these boys are especially appealing… strange to think that they’d be in their 30’s now.

  5. Jim says:

    Yeah, late 30s even. I often have “Where are they now and how are they now and are they safe and happy?” thoughts when I look at my old shots of street kids. Thanks for checking out the blog from time to time, Ms. Jacquie.

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