In Focus Friday - Helping Hand

11 May 2018

SIG: Documentary

This week we back track to February to this street shot from Peter Mudd. Peter submitted this for the first round of this year's Bi-Monthly competition (link).

Can you give us a little background about the shot?

My reason for taking the photograph was to add to my revised ARPS panel which will be assessed under the Applied Category later in May this year. My panel is based on Homeless People and is being revised from my first attempt which failed in October 2017. One of the criticisms of my original panel was there was a repetitive photographic approach with most images being taken from the same height. I have therefore been out and about over the winter trying to improve my panel. 

What was your plan for the day?

My wife is disabled and because she is paralysed on her left side she always needs someone with her. I have a carer for a few hours on a Saturday morning and because I had some hours owing to us I asked the carer to stay for an extra two hours whilst I went to Leeds from Sheffield where I live. I aimed to be in Leeds for about two hours wandering the streets looking for suitable homeless people to photograph.

While you're out what makes you press the shutter release?

I saw a group of about eight homeless people together and there was some shouting going on amongst them, so I knew there was some tension around. Some looked to be suffering the after effects of either drugs or alcohol. Two others, who eventually moved on, had previously been arguing loudly. I knew it was a real opportunity to photograph a real action shot displaying a really sad situation, one that is becoming all too common in some of our main cities. 

At first I walked on not wanting to attract any trouble but later my curiosity and determination to get a photo made me return. I was chatting to one of the group and had already taken a photo with their permission when one of them who was sitting down collapsed on the floor, one of the others laid him on his side and held on to him so I took the shot. His friend spotted me and told me to f--- --f, so I did! 

Where can we find more of your work?

Although I have made tentative enquiries about developing a website I don’t have one yet. I am a member of two photography groups: Penistone Camera Club (PCC) and the Yorkshire Monochrome Group (YMG). Because the PCC website has recently been hacked and is in the process of being rebuilt I am not sure if there are any of my images still there. However on the YMG site we have a gallery of members’ images and I have some in the Gallery under my name (link).

What do you think photographers don’t do but should?

It’s the old maxim: do what you always do and you’ll get what you always get, in other words move out of your comfort zone and try something different. In the case of documentary photography I think you have to be brave as well, going somewhere where you know that danger might exist. I am not saying be reckless, you have to consider your own safety – so be wary at the same time as being bold.

What essential piece of advice would you give your novice self?

Get out there – don’t put things off for another day.

Which camera has been your all time favourite?

The Canon EOS 5 range, I have had a Mark II, III and now recently acquired a IV – the Mark III was extremely successful for me in terms of club photography and getting the LRPS distinction. I have recently bought a Leica M10 because I have wanted a Leica for over 20 years – I am just getting used to its manual nature.

What’s the best purchase you’ve made for less than £100?

Equipment comes and goes has things get improved and refined and my kit bag is forever changing, but the one thing that hasn’t changed in over thirty years is my annual camera club membership (currently about £40). Although I have had three different clubs because of house moves in different parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, I have been a camera club member – the knowledge and friendship I have gained through the club networks has been invaluable.

Thanks Peter, that's great advice. We're also happy to let you know that Peter was successful with his updated ARPS panel. 

If you would like your work to feature in a future edition, please email us (docweb@rps.org ).