The Rush of Black and White Urban Street Photography in Time and Space

A good photo is about content, not what time of day it is.

So if I can create a photo that makes the viewer forget about time, and think about the space.

Then, I’m getting closer to my goal as a photographer.

I often lose track of time. especially when I’m busy taking photos.

A photo is within a frame. The outside world has been eliminated, and the photo expresses an idea that has been stopped. That’s part of what makes it so fascinating.

The Fun of Street Photography

We often rush to take the shot, then everything becomes still.

Mehringdamm by Sean P. Durham, Berlin Urban Street Photography. Copyright; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2023
3 Minutes

The shot above, a person is waiting for a train. So is the photographer. So we must bide time and wait three minutes until the next train arrives.

Today, I waited three minutes, the train came, I got on. I then sat and looked through my photos.

When I looked up, I realised that I’d arrived at the wrong station, in the wrong direction on the wrong train.

I took it as an opportunity to go and explore Berlin from a different angle in a different part of the city. It was all fun.

It rained all day, but the spring clouds were bright. A deck of clouds covered Berlin.

I’m not an umbrella person. If I take one with me, it’ll feel awkward, then I’ll put it down and forget to pick it up again.

It’s seldom that I want to take umbrella shots in the rain — unless it’s an unusual situation. Below, this man was loping along the street with a silver umbrella above his head. It attracted my attention, so I took the shot — just in case I liked it later.

The worst is when you see something, are motivated to take a shot, but you don’t because you think it’s not your subject — later, you’ll regret it. The image will float in your mind for days afterwards. It was probably going to be a good shot. A moment in time.

Berlin, Bergmannkiez, Urban Street Photography, Copyright; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2023

I took the umbrella shot, and moved on. I’m glad I did.

The challenge of black and white is the endless possibilities with tones. Nuances of lightness and darkness that the camera can pull up in the textures.

Colour does this too, but we don’t really see it in the end result.

I tried to capture the many tones of stonework, and metalwork in this shot down by the River Spree.

An old boat with its bow parked up into the arc of a bridge, looked intriguing.

The steps leading down to the edge of the bank create a slight topsy-turvy feeling — if you look at them long enough.

Berlin Urban Street Photography Copyright; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2023

I’m careful about symbolism. But sometimes, it’s obvious. Steps leading down into a damp, tight corner can evoke feelings of intrigue and fear.

Artists are generally a step ahead of others in respect to fear. We love to explore, and investigate things. Then we capture them and keep them deep in our minds. There, they roll and tumble between the two worlds of consciousness and unconsciousness.

Many of the intriguing things we see can evoke unconscious fear. As photographers, we tend to like them, explore them, and jump in and find out what they are.

According to Carl Jung, the psychologist, the aim of our lives should be to build a bridge between unconscious activity and conscious activity. After that, we’ll all be right as rain.

Artists, photographers in this case, work at this as they chase the light and shadows through the streets.

(Sigmund Freud thought we were all nuts, and claimed he’d cure artists of their mania.)

Below, boating life rings, and steps.

I love the angles of railings, painted white steps and bright life rings that are all over boats and down at the docks. They reflect so much light from such small surfaces.

Life Rings and White Steps, in Berlin. Copyright; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2023
Life Rings and White Steps

I pushed hard to find the right composition for the above shot. Not quite there yet, but it’s not bad. I find that if I can’t get the whole right, I won’t find the frame within the composition.

More on Street Photography

The point of interest is always where the light illuminates something of greater interest. So, I think these life rings do the job.

I hope you find the photos intriguing, and inspiring enough to allow your soul to wander a little.