I first came across Ann’s work whilst playing in the F64 Group on Flickr. I was amazed at the shots she was putting into the competition, and did not want to be drawn against her for fear of being torn apart. I have followed her work since, and what a pleasure it has been. Luckily I still haven’t been drawn against her. I cannot emphasise enough how Ann’s work moves me.
It has been a while since the last Featured Photographers post. Well you can partly blame Ann herself for that. She has so many shots in her Photostream and there are so many I like. As with others it has been so hard working through the stream and then culling it to just 10. It is also made harder once again by Ann, in that she shows different versions of shots. They may be a colour & B&W, a difference in tones, or a change in composition. So even liking the shot is not enough, there may be 2, 3 or even more versions of the same shot, and I know how hard it is for anyone to decide when you are given the options.
Ann regularly posts her shots in groups that critique on Flickr. That is something I don’t do. Although most of the members are creatively critical some of the comments are diabolical, especially when you look at the photostream of some of those who post those comments, who in my opinion should be looking at their own work and improve that, instead of giving such negative comments on others. I have spoken to Ann about this, when seeing such derogatory and negative comments, and she said that the critiques she gets that help her, make the whole process worthwhile. That is the measure of this lady. I thought about putting some of those comments in so that you could see how unreasonable they are and also see the streams of those with such negative comments, but this is about the shots of Ann’s that I like and why.
All the photos in this post were taken by Ann and are copyrighted to her. © Annadelf
This first shot is one of so many that I have already spoken about, where there are several similar, and the decision on which is the best is so hard to chose.
This is such a beautiful shot of a beautiful woman. I won’t say how long I deliberated between this shot, and the next shot of Ophélie in Ann’s stream. They are both superb, but Ann has lit this shot so that we are drawn to Ophélie’s beautiful facial structure and classical Romanesque nose.
When I look at this shot, which I regularly do, I just have to stare and take it in, like a classical painting. I have a feeling of Ophélie turning her head as something has been said that she doesn’t agree with or has been offended by, or maybe just stubbornness, which makes me smile. It is just a beautiful pose that is made to look so natural, no smile, that would spoil it. I want to find out what is on Ophélie’s mind and why she has an expression like this.
What Ann has done is used her skills to show Ophélie’s beauty to its best, so that we can see what she is seeing. Usually I put my favourite shot of the Featured Photographer last, but in this case I have put it first. It is so, so beautiful. I, like you, have seen many, many portraits over the years but this is by far the best and fills me with so much pleasure every time I look at it. Often we say “I wish I had taken this shot”, when we see something so brilliant, but I am glad Ann did, so that I can look at it through my eyes and my thoughts, and create my own illusion, without the facts and the reality getting in the way.
This is why I had to deliberate for so long, and in the end had to put both shots in. I know this will mean another shot will have to be dropped, but I had to also include it.
Once again we have Ophélie’s beauty being shot so skilfully by Ann. Those eyes looking at you, with the hint of a forthcoming smile. I feel that as soon as the shot is taken that Ophélie will give a big smile or burst out laughing.
Although Ophélie is the same subject, the shots are totally opposite. A stern head turned to the side shot against a leisurely, friendly almost smiling shot. I just love the contrast between the two.
Those first two shots may have been a surprise to some of you who think my only interest is “Street”, but I do like other things. Now I’ll go onto Ann’s fantastic Street Shots.
I look at this shot and I feel cold. That is what is great about it. It creates that feeling, as if stirring up a memory that makes your brain & body react as if you yourself are in the rain. We’ve all been there, drenched to the skin, and a long way from home. I feel so sorry for these people, but when they get home they can dry off.
You don’t often see shots of people in the rain, and definitely not in torrential rain like this. It is so hard getting the camera to get clear focus due to the rain itself, similar to shooting through fog or mist. So to get such a clear, composed shot is excellent.
The title of the shot is “Sans Titre” – “Untitled”. If I had titled it, it would have been “Drowned Rats”, but I like the use of the French.
I am a great believer in the Rule of Thirds, but what I really like is when people break rules on purpose. This is a great example of that. The shot has the subject to the very far left, but we are then able to see a wider expanse of her domain. Once again Ann had several different versions of this, and people preferred different ones. I myself prefer a wider view.
The atmosphere is fantastic. A backstreet, or should I say sidestreet French Café, where the owner/waitress stops for a cigarette and hoping that some customers will arrive. She looks very dressed up for a waitress, more that she is going out for the evening. The café looks as though it has seen better days, with a rough wall and the old tables, but the table cloths look fresh. You can just imagine when it closes, the tables and chairs put inside, the doors shutting, and the outer doors bolted and you wouldn’t even know it was there.
This brings back so many memories of my travels in France over the years. Excellent Ann.
What I love about this shot is space. It shows how small humans are in the scale of things, not only compared to buildings, but how small we are compared to the size of the Earth. The building towering above them, they are so small. This was the reason that the Romans built their buildings so big, just like the church, to show their power. You wonder why the two men are sitting there. Maybe it is just because they can.
With only a few characters in the scene there is still a great story you can put in your mind. The distraction is the two guys sitting on the side of the Maison Carrée, but the real story is to the left. The man is maybe reading something on the wall, but look further to the left, in the shadows. Is that someone making off with a laptop or other valuables taken from the rucksack of the man? It’s great to make up your own stories of what you see.
I visited Nimes quite a few years ago, it is a beautiful city, and I have vowed to return. It was on my Bucket List to see the Pont du Gard. I also visited the Maison Carrée and wish my shots of it were as good as this. I took a look at google images to see any other shots, but they just didn’t have the power of this shot. So although I think this is such a powerful, clean, expansive shot, the memories it also triggers makes it a favourite.
Such a powerful shot Ann, and thank you for triggering my memories of Nimes.
Mother with child on her lap whilst Dad plays with her, with a big smile on his face, thoroughly enjoying his time with his daughter. A lovely family shot.
The woman looking towards Ann. Is she taking in, that Ann is taking the shot of them? Or is she just staring into space unaware?
The Dad has the big Manly tattoos, whilst the mother has what looks as though it could be the little girls name tattoo’d on her arm.
The tones of the shot are excellent, but what really makes it jump for me is the eye contact. Lovely!
The instant you see this shot you wonder what film is it a screenshot of, and what decade is it supposed to depict.
I instantly see a pure pretty girl in her carnival costume set against the dilapidation of the bus. The peeling paint and rust, a total contrast.
You can see others on the bus, but she is not interested in what they are doing but looking out, maybe with that feeling we all get after a party when the adrenaline subsides and the gloom of the everyday life begins to rear its head, and you wish you could be back there. Anns title “Can’t Go Back” is so apt, especially for me as it adds to that feeling.
All that, then look at the technical side of the shot and the beautiful composition with the positioning of the girl in the frame. It could have been easy to crop half of the shot, so as to feature the girl more, but that would have detracted so much, because as it is the contrasts show so much more.
I said earlier that you don’t often see shots taken in the rain, and here we have a second one. Although there is so much rain I don’t get that feeling of cold as I did with the other due to the girls attire.
She is not running, but casually walking in light clothing, which looks soaked through, and the water is turning to small streams. You immediately wonder, “Why is she putting her hand out, she can see the rain?” I cannot answer that. That is what makes the shot for me. I don’t know why!
The tones are beautiful and the girls shadow behind her in the road shows that it is not one of those dull dark days that we get in the UK, and more similar to the Monsoons that occur in the Near East. The way the rain is bouncing off the road and also the truck in front of her creating a haze as it bounces in all directions. Everything looks dark apart from the girl with her umbrella. Fantastic!
I will use Anns’ own words here.
“Homework, perhaps? I loved this scene because it reminded me of the “good old days” when I, too, did my homework in Parisian cafés…less distracting than at home! (n.b.: kids in France note their assignments in their agendas…and we can see the photocopy of what I imagine to be the article she’s supposed to be reading).”
That feeling is certainly portrayed in this shot. It is so beautiful due to the candid nature of the shot. The girl is so engrossed in her work, and this to me is what Street Photography is all about. You see everything in the shot and Ann’s description just confirms it for you.
I love the whole scene. Just looking over the back of the chair that is in front of the girl, as if it is me sitting there at the next table. Her coffee in front of her, papers and books laid out, and she is reading, with pen in hand to make notes. Such smooth skin with such a delicate necklace. The people behind her and the runs on the glass do not detract, they add, to show us this is a public place. All these things are clear to us all. Then comes the fun. What was held in the jars?
Everywhere today, we go into café’s and see people with their heads buried in laptops, so how refreshing to look at a scene with a beautiful young girl, educating herself and using age old skills of reading and writing to further her knowledge.
If it was not for the shots of Ophélie this would have been my favourite shot.
I started with a portrait, so I will end with a portrait, and what a superb portrait it is. I can imagine this as a Pen & Ink, or Charcoal drawing, and hanging in a gallery with people studying it. That is what I do when I look at it, study it.
It is so atmospheric. It tells me a story of a woman, tired at the end of the day. Having finished all her chores, that have taken so long to complete. Everybody else is out of the way doing their own thing and she is able to relax alone, with a cigarette and a glass of wine. I can see all this, but I can’t see inside her head to know her thoughts. The feeling of weariness is all consuming, the darkness around her eyes and the little finger on her lip just touching her teeth, she just looks like her mind has floated off and not thinking of anything, as her mind is at rest.
Add to that, the shot is candid. C’est Magnifique!
I implore you to visit Ann’s Photostream on Flickr to see these images and the other versions that Ann presents. You will then see my dilemma of which shots I should include and even when finding them, which version of the shot.
I cannot thank you enough Ann for allowing me to use your shots for this feature. It has been a trial, but if all my trials were as pleasurable as this I would be such a happy man.