Markets, of all kinds, are among my favourite photographic locations. They provide so many opportunities for a wide-range of subjects – people-shots, portraits, candid, abstract, architecture, documentary and so on. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, a market, for obvious reasons, will always be fairly near and readily accessible. They can also provide the perfect opportunity to develop your ability and style as a budding ‘street/documentary’ photographer. Market traders, for the most part, are not shy of having a camera pointed at them and this can help to build the photographer’s confidence. In some respects, though, photographing a market can seem a little ‘too easy’. You can fall into the ‘point and shoot’ trap of not thinking about the image you wish to create – something we all do from time to time (and not always a bad thing !). I find it helps, particularly in developing a personal style, to be consciously selective in the shots you take. Market images can work well in either colour (more easily capturing their vibrance and dynamism) or B&W (which gives that timeless ‘documentary’ feel) – so try both.
Having recently visited and photographed markets in Bristol and Tynemouth (both in the UK) I have attached a few images to give a flavour of my approach. I hope you like them.
Cafe – Bristol Indoor Market
The use of colour more effectively portrays the vibrance of the small cafe. On a ‘documentary’ level, just imagine how the chalk-board price-list may look to someone in, say, fifty years?
Cheesemaker – Bristol Farmers Market
The obvious pride of this trader is what attracted me to take this photograph – in particular, his wide smile and the rosette he proudly displays.
The mustachioed gent
This is Alex who I saw, in Tynemouth Market, sporting his wonderful waxed moustache. In order to get a close-up portrait, I asked him if he minded if I took his photograph and as you can see, he was happy to oblige. Thank you Alex.
Markets often attract colourful, eccentric characters. This Tynemouth market-trader was, I feel, best captured in colour.
Hammer & Sickle
Another Tynemouth market-trader – Graham – who didn’t mind me getting in close. While the image was suited to B&W, I couldn’t resist leaving the hat badge in colour (OK – I know it’s twee but I like it !)
Two heads ….
Markets offer plenty of scope for quirky images.
The wide-range of goods sold at markets can include those that conjure-up nostalgia. I loved the battered sandwich tin and worn football boots.
I am often drawn to the eclectica which can usually be found at markets. The goods can make interesting subjects for the documentary photographer.
There’s not just ‘tat’ sold in markets. This stall had expensive guitars on sale including a Gibson priced at just under £2,500.