Whether you’re a happy snapper, eager amateur or budding David Bailey, Peter Kyte’s creative photography sessions will encourage you to capture the urban environment from a different perspective.
Town planner Peter Kyte’s career has focused on urban development, but since he turned 50 he’s as likely to be taking photos of buildings as enabling projects to get the planning green light.
“I first got serious in 2008. I wanted to do something creative so I bought a new Nikon and use it with the lenses my father left me when he died in 2003,” says Drovers Centre’s creative photography tutor who now has a qualification in adult learning, has become a member of the British Institute of Photography and had recent exhibitions at the East Finchley Artist Group and Muswell Hill Photographic Society. He’s even considering doing an MA in photography.
Peter, 60, specialises in photographing urban scenes, although these are not documentary shots. He might focus through a glass block, deliberately overexpose or look out for patterns (eg, utility covers) to add to a grid of pictures, inspired by the German photo duo Bernd and Hilla Becher, who are best known for their industrial shots of water towers, lime kilns and cooling towers.
Peter may always be on the hunt for a great industrial shot, but he also loves running community courses. Which is why his popular sessions start again in September. For the new course the group will be working on photos depicting ‘Summer London’. “They will bring six carefully composed urban shots to edit on Photoshop,” explains Peter. Any new members will also be shown how the camera works and how to control light. “The mechanism hasn’t changed since the 1840s, it’s just got more digital bells,” he says reassuringly. “So if it’s a bright day you need an ISO setting to let light in slowly and if you are out in the evening you will need a high ISO to let light in quickly.”
Most of the group bring their own cameras (old models are often very good to use, although a phone camera could also work) and there is a laptop for editing, although Peter would like to add to Age UK’s studio equipment.
“This is creative photography,” insists Peter. “It’s not about snapping a photo. We might go on a photo walk to St Paul’s, Caledonian Park, the South Bank or Trafalgar Square and develop a work flow where for the first 20 minutes we are just observing and absorbing the surroundings. Then the group comes together and chats about what they’ve seen and what interests them photographically. Then we capture it. Typically people on a digital camera take 300 shots and then edit the best six on Photoshop. But we don’t do that. We slow down and look for patterns in a measured way. We make decisions what to do with the camera and build up a set of shots, which we constantly review on the back of the camera. We creatively review and delete. So instead of having 300 shots we will have 60. I often creatively delete on the tube so that by the time I’ve got home I have the best 15.” It’s the best ones that then need Photoshop editing.
“The nicest moment was when our group exhibited Movement photographs, taken at King’s Cross station, at Hymans’ office, by group members Ginny Garmany, Gertrude Jones, Raiyo Shroff, Sheona Josiah and Edward Mence. When I introduced it the staff all burst into applause. It brings a tear to my eye even thinking about it.”
The Drovers creative photography class is on Wednesday from 10am-12noon. It costs £1. Examples of Peter Kyte’s photography can be viewed at www.fotog.info, or for more on his planning business see www.enablinguk.com
Join us at the Drovers Centre for a special presentation of Peter’s work and an exhibition of the group’s artwork on 13 or 20 October (tbc), 5.50-7pm.