One evening I found myself standing on busy Leicester Square in central London, UK, photographing crowds of people strolling along the lively pedestrian-only stretch. As a street photographer, my goal was to photograph people and it was like shooting fish in a barrel… or like a grizzly bear fishing for salmon during spawning season. I was in a groove and people just kept coming and not really caring or noticing that they were being photographed. If only street photography could always be that easy.
Only upon studying my photos afterwards, did I realize there was certainly something my subconscious noticed as I took these photos that my conscious mind was only partially cognizant of. Almost every photo showed pairs of human beings, as if there was an innate realization that, as social animals, humans are meant to exist in relation to the other, and my subconscious mind went for that theme wholeheartedly.
As one scans across this photo, one sees pairings repeated throughout the frame. The couple holding hands in the foreground is mirrored by another couple holding hands further behind.
Four pairings in this photo each reflect the similarities of each pairing, from the mother and daughter pair in the foreground, to the pair of women smiling on the right, to the pair of women looking up in center, to the similarly fair-haired and full-figured faceless women walking away from the viewer.
It is a simple joy (sometimes comical) to be cognizant of the similarities between couples. They can often seem as one.
This couple seems so similar in features and physical shape, the only noticeable difference seems to be that one has a healthy mop of hair while the other is completely lacking.
There are many pairs across this frame, but it is the mother/daughter pairing that stands out. Their similarly serious gazes and their arms linked yet with hands hidden seem to bind them together as one.
In a sea of pairings, this pair of women caught my eye. They walked in lockstep, each an image of a seemingly typical platinum-haired British woman, each wearing light colored sweaters over similar flowing floral-patterned dresses.
I love this photo. A pair of British women with similar platinum-colored hair walk stridently and confidently forward, parting to reveal a pair of women the opposite in nature. The pair in the background seem almost mousy by comparison. Bespectacled, holding each other close, and with serious faces, their body language seems to convey hesitancy and an inward-occupation in contrast to the foreground women.
A couple walking away from the viewer, one wearing a leather jacket and the other wearing a dark padded jacket part to reveal another couple coming towards the viewer, their jackets also one of leather and another dark padded. The nearing couple notices me taking their photo and make eye contact. Now you, the viewer, become part of this synchronous visual pairing of viewer and viewed. The couple’s clasped hands are mirrored in the clasped hands of the two women in the background walking in the opposite direction.
There are many elements that make this photo of pairs enjoyable, but it is perhaps arms locked in similar pose, or over shoulders and waist that seem to bind these figures together. The similarities in features and ages of the pairings also seem to enhance the sense of an inherent nature or order in human pairings.
One pair is marked by arms pulling close while another pair is marked by arms pushing away, yet both pairs are smiling happily.