Hunting for words up and down main street

Kaleidoscope: front stained glass of the St. James United Church

Kaleidoscope: front stained glass of the St. James United Church

A friend asked me whether I would be interested in playing the alphabet game as a photo project during a walkabout downtown Montreal. Not one to refuse a photographic endeavour, I accepted of course. We started at Place Montreal Trust, a shopping mall, and proceeded to take pictures of stuff that reminded us of different words. We planned to follow the alphabetical order but it quickly became apparent that we were losing some excellent photo ops because we were not at the right letter. So although we sort of proceeded in order, I cheated and inserted better images to fill in letters for which I did not like the initial capture.

After a short while shooting in the shopping mall, we were kicked out by mall security. When I told the guard that we were only playing a game and having fun, he told me that my equipment looked serious! The worst part is that I had tried to be as stealthy as possible bringing only a lens mounted on a body, an extra lens (remaining unused) in a small messenger bag. Ah well… Actually, it was a blessing in disguise because hitting Ste-Catherine Street was much more productive and interesting. It was a nice snowy and mild day anyway. In the end we covered from Place Montreal Trust to Place des Arts and back in approximately three hours to complete the project.

Quite a few of the shots are noticeably askew. It was snowing quite hard, filling my viewfinder with water so I could not level the camera properly. I left the pictures as is as I do not mind the effect. It looks more like shooting from hip.

This exercise was great for me as I am not much of a spontaneous walk around shooter. It forced my out of my comfort zone and to closely examine things from different angles, both literally and figuratively since there needs to be a concept associated with the resulting image.

I plan on repeating this exercise in various areas of Montreal as it is an excellent way to discover our own city by hunting for words and images. When the nice weather rolls around, I would like to get into street photography so these walks are nice preambles.

The gallery below shows the resulting 26 images with accompanying comments when needed.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L lens, RAW conversion using Lightroom 4.1


17 thoughts on “Hunting for words up and down main street

    • Thanx Jo for your kind word and for taking the time to go through the whole gallery. I most definitely recommend this exercise when one runs out of subjects. Just go out there, anywhere and shoot. And I am telling you, if you go accompanied, the discussions about the words themselves such as ”Does that count for…” or ”what’s a synonym for …” makes for great fun. It’s given me some confidence that I do not need to plan and research everything and that I can just walk around and find worthwhile subjects out there. And I like to assign the images words as it forces you to think about what you are trying to convey before pressing the shutter.

      • It is a superb idea and it clearly get’s the creative juices going if these are anything to by. I really enjoyed reading about it and seeing the results. Inspired. Fabulous post and shots. Thank you very much for sharing.

  1. What a great game! I think this helps stretch the creative muscles by looking for art in some seemily unlikely subjects. You did a wonderful job with camera angles here and available lighting to create some interesting shots! I may have to try this as well. 🙂

  2. WOW, PASCAL! I agree this is your best project!
    Creative and interesting… Nice! Congratulations.. Keep up the good work!

  3. Nice group of shots.

    Your story reminds me of when I went to a mall a couple years ago, and while waiting for my wife to exit a store I sat on a bench cleaning one of my lenses with my cam on my lap. Security came out to cross question me and warns me to put my equipment away. I wasn’t even going to shoot in the mall.

    The whole thing about is that I got the feeling that the guard really didn’t want to have to approach me at all. I think his boss saw me on CCTV and ordered his/her subordinate to come to me. Maybe his boss is a psycho, and did it to amuse himself/herself.

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