Re: Re: assignment 2 – inspiration

Duncan Rawlinson


Assignment 2 – Inspiration – Fleur Serriere

“The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.”

I only realised that Robert Doisneau, the renowned French photographer and author of this quote, was probably an influence on my interest in photography – I’m afraid I can’t go as far as calling myself an artist just yet – through thinking over this assignment.

If being an artist is about wanting to capture “the marvels of daily life”, then it is what I am aspiring to be as a wannabe artist. Perhaps other
artists have influenced me, but not consciously. Being French, Doisneau was present around me for as long as I can remember, and thus played a big part in how I look at life around me.

When my dad gave me my first camera when I was 16, we lived in Western Africa. Right away, in spite of my shyness, I went on my own in densely populated areas, photographing the striking contrasts: bright smiles versus poverty, bright colours of women’s clothing versus the dull colour of the sand, camels versus four X fours.

Back in France, and in the Western world in general, I struggled to find those often incongruous contrasts. People hide behind shutters, blinds, curtains. The streets of Doisneau’s Paris have now more cars than people. But being constantly on the lookout for the right moment, the right emotion, enhanced my curiosity for my surroundings. I realised the curiosity of the photographer makes every place interesting, every moment worth living (well, almost…). And for someone brought up as a ‘nomad’, that meant an awful lot – not only did the lens train my eye to see the world in sharper details so as to not to miss any of its ‘marvels’, it allowed fleeting moments to linger on paper.

Identifying one particular piece of work which is of particular importance to me is a difficult one. I am drawn to the photograph I attached above, because it encapsulates for me all that I have described above: the fleeting moment, the sense of joy, the wonderment of childhood. I like the fact that part of the photo is blurry because of the movement, emphasizing the spontaneity of the scene and of its protagonists.

Doisneau’s work is seen so often and has been reproduced so much that we could become immune to its charm, especially with the myriad of images we are bombarded with everyday. And yet, somehow, the emotions remain. I haven’t yet got the technical tools to fully grasp what in his technique is so powerful. And that in itself is my inspiration to learn about theory and practice to grow as a photographer, and who knows, perhaps as an artist!