Blog #105 Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign
“Signs, signs, everywhere a sign…”
went the the song by Canadian group The Five Man Electrical Band in 1971. This song was written in the same year as my birth. Now, before you go doing the math, remember that age is just a number #tongueface.
Urban environments fascinate me. Cities are never just finished. There is constant growth, decay, re-growth, and the cycle repeats. Urban environments are constantly bristling with activity like a human sized bee hive of commotion. This is what makes cities so awesome to make pictures in. There is literally never a dull moment. Dull moments are not dull at all. The absence of activity can be as or more striking than activity in a cityscape due to its rarity.
Signs of all shapes and colours surround us. Walking down the street is like living inside of a kindergarten child’s colouring book. Many of these are brightly coloured to simultaneously grab the attention of drivers and warn them of what's ahead. Form follows function in a simple but elegant construction that functions as communication.
I am a bit of a hoarder, photographically speaking. I collect images that I place in series. These are studies on a theme or subject that I enjoy collecting and collating from time to time. I have about a dozen of these. Birds, shadows, signs, architecture, taxis, and other common objects that you find in and around cities are the subject of my series. Trying to vary the images while staying with one subject can become an exercise in creativity. I will present some of these sets in subsequent blogs.
Here, I will share some images of ordinary road signs. You know the great old master William Eggleston? Well, he had one of the first and most significant photography shows in colour at the MOMA. This dude lived in a pretty simple and boring place called Memphis, Tennessee. However, through Eggleston’s lens, Memphis was anything but boring. He made simple and gorgeous images focusing on common objects, using line, form, and colour in a truly masterful way. He was so influential that is could be said that he launched colour film into the mainstream art community who, prior to his show, mostly rejected colour altogether.
I’m no Eggleston, but I do enjoy the challenge of finding shapes and colours to work with in a cityscape environment. Street signs offer themselves as a great subject in which to work with. Construction sites are especially dense and rich with signs and colours. Geometry shapes and color, what's not to love! It's like living inside of a box of Lucky Charms Cereal.
If you’ve been shooting for a while, you might find that you gravitate towards dogs, or buildings, or reflections, or whatever. Work these subjects and work them long and hard. You might find a new angle, perspective, or point of view [POV] after a while. Work the scene, or work the series. Either way, something wonderful just might be in that next frame.
The light is always right.
*Images: © Jeremy H. Greenberg
Where: Hong Kong
Subject: Signs Series, Streets of Hong Kong
Gear: Nikon F100 SLR, Minolta CLE + Leica 28mm lens, Kodak Ektar 100 35mm Color Film, Kodak Portra 400 35mm Color Film, Cinestill 800T 35mm Color Film