About Julia Coddington
Julia Coddington is an internationally recognised street photographer from Australia. She is co-founder of the Unexposed Collective (with Rebecca Wiltshire), an online platform featuring Australian women and non-binary street photographers. She is also an administrator of @womeninstreet, a growing international community of women street photographers.
We interviewed Julia to learn the making of story of her decisive moment pool shot which was nominated as finalist in the Single Image Contest of the San Francisco Street Photography Festival 2018.
Making Of Interview
Where and when did you make the photo, was it a familiar or new location to you?
This image was taken over a year ago at the Austinmer Pool which is very close to where I live. I have an ongoing project at the pool and much of my work is focused there in the warmer months of the year so it’s a very familiar location. It’s probably my favorite place to photograph. It is a focal point of our community in the summer where people come to congregate and enjoy this special place. My favorite time to photograph is at the end of the day when the sun is low and the colors rich.
What was happening in the situation and what did you see that inspired you to photograph?
The day I took this was beautiful and a lot of people were still at the pool late in the day. If the day is perfect, I can spend hours there. I wander around to the different little areas of the pool where people congregate. This situation was one I saw and waited until it developed. The couple in the middle of the pool was there for at least half an hour or more, just cuddling and enjoying each other. There were people in the background and I just needed a foreground element. I have quite a few shots of the scene where different things were happening and I worked the scene which was developing nicely with kids jumping in and out of the pool. But still they were not close enough. I noticed a woman doing laps and positioned myself so that as she got closer I could include her as the foreground element. I leant over into the pool so I could get as close to her as possible. Just as she swam past she looked up at me. So lucky to capture that moment! The sun shone perfectly on her face and you can see her beautiful eye perfectly.
Did you prepare or was it spontaneous? What were your thoughts and actions up until you pressed the shutter?
I prepared for this shot – I watched the scene develop and positioned myself so I could capture it. What makes the shot however, is the woman’s eye looking up at me and this is something I did not anticipate happening.
In case you made more than one exposure, could you please share some of them and describe how you “worked the scene”?
As I mentioned, I made quite a few shots leading up to this scene. I always do this when I work a scene as it helps me see things and to compose them properly. Moving around the scene is something I also do to position myself in the best location. Many of the images I make are close up because I like to capture more intimate moments where I attempt to insert myself into the scene itself. I have developed a technique where I can do this without being noticed. Layering is also an important part in composing my images so I attempt to include foreground, middle ground and background elements.
What camera, lens, and settings did you choose?
I use Fujifilm cameras – an Xt2 with an 18mm lens and an x70 (which also has an 18mm lens). Most of my images taken at the pool are with the x70 because it’s a very small and discreet camera. I only shoot in manual mode and in order to achieve layering in my images I need a deep depth of field so I most often use F11 or F16. ISO is kept at 400 or 800 depending on the light. My shutter speed is never set below 1/500 so I can freeze movement.
Were you happy with the image, did it come out as you imagined?
It is better than I anticipated because the woman unexpectedly looked at me and this makes the image. I am very happy with the image and it has been included in the finals of several street photography competitions and exhibited in London, San Francisco and Sydney.
What post-processing did you do, if any?
My post processing is minimal because I’m lazy! I will sometimes straighten an image and perhaps crop out something on the margins. I then apply a standard Fuji profile which is the same for all my pool images so there is consistency.
What did you take away from making this picture?
It is important not to leave a scene when you see a possibility for a great image developing. Moving around the scene is also very important which proved to be the case in this image, leading to its success because I was close enough to capture that perfect moment.
Thank You for this Interview Julia!