Street Photography with Kevin Mullins

Back in May 2017, I attended a street photography workshop with Fuji X Photographer Kevin Mullins. I’ve mentioned Kevin once before, and I will probably do so  in the future. When I started with Fuji, Kevin was part of the reason for my obession as you can read here. His approach to photography greatly appeals to me. His documentary style is some of the best around. If you have seen his wedding work, you will know what I mean. If you haven’t then check out his website. He is also an excellent street photographer, so I figured if I was going to invest in learning it should be with someone whose work appealed to me.  We met at 10:00 at Charing Cross Station and headed for a quick coffee to do some introductions. It was a small group with a great variety of experience. Absolute beginners through to seasoned photographers. Not that experienced mattered on this day. With no time to lose we headed quickly over to Trafalgar Square.  We were given the task of shooting anything red. Something simple to focus our minds. My mind was anything but focused. Kevin had very kindly lent me his own X100F for the morning.  I was far too obsessed with my shiny new toy to really get a decent shot.

We moved around Trafalgar Square and changed the theme of what we were looking for. Sadly I don’t remember the second theme.  I was still engrossed in the X100F. So much so I actually managed to lose the group. It didn’t matter.  I knew where they were headed so made my way down Whitehall to the Junction with King Charles Street. If you are not fmailiar with this part of town there are some beautiful archways at this junction which, on a sunny day, create some excellent opportunity for light and shadow. Here Kevin gave a quick lesson on metering, how he uses it and how the combination of light, shadow and composition come together to make a great shot.

From here it was on to Westminster Station. Kevin encouraged us to get up close and personal with our subjects. He gave us hints and tips on how not to get noticed and how to blend in with the crowd. He also talked about how to layer a photograph and not merely shoot one subject in insolation. I chose my spot and waited for my subject. I didn’t have to wait long before these chaps passed by.  It turns out they are high ranking members of the Nigerian Air Force. Everyone noticed them. Well except for the chap on his phone.

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Then it was over the bridge towards County Hall where we attempted some panning shots using the plethora of buses and taxis passing by. This is something I’ve always struggled with. It turns out my technique was entirely wrong. Once promptly corrected by Kevin I gave it another shot. I still failed. This is a technique I must revisit.

As we walked along the river towards Southbank, our challenge was to get up close and personal with a nice large aperture. Thankfully the X100F goes to F2, so this was perfect. Kevin also talked about zone focusing, how it applied to street photography and encouraged us to come away from autofocus. This part of London is also packed with tourists who are wrapped up in their own world which made hunting a little easier. I quickly spotted these two who were separated by the London Eye.

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I particularly enjoyed that this girl actually pushed her friend out of her selfie. No one wants their friends ruining their new profile picture.

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It was now time for lunch. I wasn’t interested in food. I just wanted to keep shooting. Sadly I had to give the X100F up so that someone else could try it out. Back to the XT2 for me.

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As we regrouped, I managed to grab one final shot before we got our next briefing. I think it’s my favourite from the day too.

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We positioned ourselves under Hungerford/Jubilee Bridge. The aim here was to look for colour and contrast. Kevin talked through his own approach to this type of task and shared some ideas. I didn’t get anything I particularly liked from this little element.

It was now time for our final task of the day. Kevin reached into his bag and pulled out a well used notebook which contained various themes all numbered. The concept was this. You pick a number and get a theme. Sounds easy right? Nope. There was a catch. We had to pretend we were shooting film. We had 10 frames left. If we didn’t shoot a prize-winning photo for the magazine we worked at then we were not getting paid, and our families went hungry. My theme was ‘reflections’. I’ve never really shot reflections before. It didn’t go well. I triple exposed the last shot by accident. My family had nothing to eat that night.

Sadly that was the end of our photographic activities. However, the day was not over. We headed up Villiers Street and ventured into All Bar One for a well-deserved pint, very kindly purchased by Kevin. We sat down and talked about the day, what we had learnt, and then Kevin went over some of his editing workflow. He also shared a few secrets on how he creates his look. I used one of his tips on the photos above, but I’m not telling you what it was. You have to book a day with him to find out!

The fact that I am writing this 8 months on and can still recall most of the detail is a testament to Kevin and his teaching skills. He is patient and explains anything you need to know to know in plain English. He spends time with everyone individually too. There are lots of people in this world with talent, but very few can effectively teach. Kevin manages to do both. If you have the chance to get on one of his workshops I highly recommend you do. It will be some of the best money you ever spend. Plus you will get to meet a Welshman, and we are all awesome!

(Don’t borrow his X100F. You will end up buying one a few weeks later)

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