Like a British Film Noir: Moody Shots of London's Streets
First, please describe yourself. Where are you from, where do you live now, and what's your background in photography.
Having been born in Buckinghamshire, I moved to London in 2002 to study economics at university. After graduating, I spent ten years working in The City (London’s financial district), before finally deciding to pursue my passion for photography full time.
Although my interest in photography began at school, it’s only been in the last 12 months that I’ve started to specialise in street photography and realise the potential to turn these skills into a new career. Now I work on lots of exciting commercial and editorial projects, whilst pursuing street photography and teaching workshops in my spare time.
What interests you in street photography?
The most interesting thing about street photography is the unpredictability. You head out with no real expectations of what you may come home with. This makes street photography very challenging, but that’s part of the fun - it really changes how you look at the world, in that you start seeing and paying attention to things you were completely oblivious to previously.
What do you consider your own role as a photographer in the city?
I take most of my photos in a relatively small, compact area of Central London. I really like documenting the daily changes within this particular part of the city. On the face of it, the streets looks largely the same, but when you scratch beneath the surface, you find something new every single day.
What makes a great street photo for you?
Great street photos have to tell some kind of a story...
Street photography is one of the most accessible genres, but it’s also one of the most challenging to do well. After all, anyone can take photos of a street scene on their mobile phone, but if the image doesn’t convey a message or feeling to the viewer, it will be forgotten very quickly.
To take an image from ‘good’ to ‘great’, there has one or more special elements that enhance the scene and elevates it into something more unusual or unique. This could be done with light, colour, textures, gestures, etc.
How do you ensure such a consistent atmosphere among your shots?
Breaking with convention, I take all of my photos with a short telephoto prime lens. Using the same focal length for all your photographs creates a consistent look and feel. It will also help you better judge framing and composition during those decisive moments. I also enjoy taking pictures after dark, or during challenging weather conditions; recently I begun exploring ways to incorporate more light into my work.
You seem to like working with lots of layers when composing an image. How did you train your eye?
By studying people and streets, I’m constantly looking for extra elements to enhance the scenes in some way. I’ll often look for frames, then visualise ways to bring the background and foreground elements into play. I find that adding complexity to images creates greater interest for the viewer and brings the story to life.
When taking street photographs you have to consciously move into a heightened state of awareness - noticing details, anticipating and visualising scenes before they happen. It’s takes time to refine your vision but with practice, you’ll start to see more and more opportunities to take pictures that capture memorable moments.
What advice do you have for those looking to get into street photography?
The key things to work on are overcoming the fear of taking photos in public and developing an eye for a good scene. In the beginning, use whatever camera you have and forget about the technical side - it’s more important to upgrade yourself than your gear.
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