Posts Tagged trent parke

Seconds2Real: Guido Steenkamp

“The most exciting aspect of Street Photography for me is that there is nothing you have to prepare and almost nothing you could plan. All you have to do is to step out on the street and have your camera ready.” Guido Steenkamp
Guido-Steenkamp-Berlin-2011_1

This is part of an interview series with members of Seconds2Real street photography collective, in celebration of their forthcoming exhibition in Berlin in October.

How did you begin doing street photography, and why do you love it?

I started Street Photography in 2006. I wouldn’t say I consciously decided to focus on Street Photography, it’s more that I stumbled into it by accident. I like walking in the streets and I like to watch people. At some point I started to capture the moments when I noticed something unusual or funny – just small details of daily lives.

The most exciting aspect of Street Photography for me is that there is nothing you have to prepare and almost nothing you could plan. All you have to do is to step out on the street and have your camera ready. It needs a lot of patience, experience and mostly luck to get a decent shot. But when this happens, it’s fantastic – nothing beats that.

Guido-Steenkamp-Berlin-2009

And how do you pay the bills?

I am fortunate enough not to have to earn my money by working as a photographer. I work as a head of a consulting department at a Berlin based software company. That’s not the most fun job in the world but at least I am free to photograph whatever I want to in my spare time.

Which photographers inspire you?

I admire the works of Alex Webb and Trent Parke, I own every single photo book they ever published. There are also some less known (Street) Photographers that I found to be very inspiring, Lukas Vasilikos and Jack Simon just to name two. (ST84Photo notes – Jack Simon was recently announced as one of the winners of the Street Photography Now Project, a year long project run by The Photographers’ Gallery)

Guido-Steenkamp-London-2010

Editing/selecting which images to show is crucial for a street photographer. Has being in a collective helped you with this process?

Indeed, editing and selecting images is the hardest part. As you may know the Seconds2Real members live in different cities, some in Germany, some in Austria. It happens only once or twice a year that we meet in person. Most of the editing is done via the internet. We use a forum for discussions, Dropbox to manage and edit our picture pool and Skype whenever something needs to be clarified short-term.

We all know that Flickr is certainly not the best place if one is looking for serious comments. That’s why I show my work to other Seconds2Real photographers whenever possible. Of course honest criticism is hard to take, particularly when it comes from friends, but it’s always very much appreciated.

Guido-Steenkamp-Berlin-2011_2

In the UK, street photography has become very popular over the last year (the Street Photography Now book published, Format Festival dedicated to street photography, the London Street Photography Festival, your work on show at Look11, and lots of popular workshops). Have you felt that street photography has also been more popular recently in your own country? And do think that street photography will continue to be popular in this way?

That’s true. The recent one and a half years have been truly awesome for the Street Photography community in the UK. From my perspective all of this started when in-Public published their book ’10’ in 2010, followed by ‘Street Photography Now’ and the different festivals this year.

Unfortunately Street Photography in Germany is not as popular as in the UK. There are virtually no contemporary Street Photography exhibitions in Germany. Besides the very strict publication laws we have, I do believe the main problem is that there have never been such strong Street Photography advocates in Germany like you have in the UK with supporters like Nick Turpin and Matt Stuart. Hopefully this will change soon, at least we are doing our best to improve the situation. In the recents six months we already did Street Photography workshops in Hamburg and Berlin and we are working on two group exhibitions in Berlin and Vienna.

Guido-Steenkamp-NYC-2008.

Any tips or “words of wisdom” for other street photographers?

I don’t think I am the right person to give advice on this, but I am happy to summarize what worked for me:

* A good way to start Street Photography is to attend public events or to visit touristic spots. Photographers are expected at these types of events or places and no one will bother you when taking pictures.

* Learn to use hyperfocal focusing. A lens with a depth of field scale marked on it will help (like most Rangefinder lenses have).

* Learn to get close to the subject. Don’t make yourself think that a picture of someone’s back will look good – this is usually not the case.

* Find places with lots of people, know the times when they are present and the light is good.

* Make sure to read “Ways of working” at 2POINT8

* Learn to accept that getting a decent Street Shot is just a happy accident. As you get better you have more happy accidents.

Guido-Steenkamp-Berlin-2009_1

What would be your ideal gear for doing street photography with?

Ah, the Inevitable gear question. I guess I am now supposed to say “It’s the photographer, not the camera!”? This of course is true, but I am quite gear head too. Now then, I did about 95% of my work with a Leica M6, loaded with Tri-X and using Summicron 35mm or 50mm lenses. I must admit though that I found myself using digital more and more recently.

With analog the choice of camera is very easy, get a Leica and you are done. With digital it’s way more complicated. Either the camera sucks because of poor battery life, like the Leica M9 I owned for some months, or it’s unusable because it’s too big/too loud to be used on the streets.

My current digital gear consists of a Nikon D700 I use at bigger events and a Nikon D7000 that serves as my carry-with-me-always camera, both with 35mm/35mm equivalent lenses. The Nikons are decent cameras but they are not ideal for Street Photography. For me it still feels wrong using a DSLR on the streets. Camera-wise I certainly enjoy Street Photography the most when using my 25-years old Leica.

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Seconds2Real: Elisabeth Schuh

“I love to walk around and observe. And sometimes there are these magic moments, that only I can see and nobody else. That’s fascinating to me. Other people and me, we are in the same time on the same place, but however we are in different worlds.” Elisabeth Schuh

eschuh_boy_with_hat
This is part of a weekly interview series with members of Seconds2Real street photography collective, in celebration of their forthcoming exhibition in Berlin in October.

I started about 15 years ago with photographing in cities. My job as a journalist made me be more reflective about photography. Finally, my actual approach to street photography was very much influenced by the options of the internet.

I consider myself as a street photographer since around 2006.

I love to walk around and observe. And sometimes there are these magic moments, that only I can see and nobody else. That’s fascinating to me. Other people and me, we are in the same time on the same place, but however we are in different worlds.
eschuh_pillowfight
There was a pillowfight flashmob in the city of Vienna. I took this picture at the end of the fight. The square was completely full of feathers and the “fighters” were exhausted. This guy layed down in a bed of feathers, before they began to clean up. I like it, if viewers are confused about what‘s going on in my pictures. I seldom declare my captures, so viewers can create their own stories about it.

Which photographers inspire you?

There are so many good street photographers with completely different styles. I am – amongst others – really impressed about the work of Trent Parke, Alex Webb and Jens Olof Lasthein. Also the website of the in-public group has always been a great inspiration for me.
eschuh_masked_boy
This one I took on a carnival move. To me, carnival always has something weird, especially children with masks. Here I like the contrast between the laughing women and the strong face of the masked boy, who looks directly into my camera.

Editing/selecting which images to show is crucial for a street photographer. Has being in a collective helped you with this process?

Sometimes it helps to get a 2nd or 3rd opinion. But I’m very self-critical. So when I’m 100 % sure about my selction, I do not change my mind.

In the UK, street photography has become very popular over the last year (the Street Photography Now book published, Format Festival dedicated to street photography, the London Street Photography Festival, your work on show at Look11, and lots of popular workshops). Have you felt that street photography has also been more popular recently in your own country? And do think that street photography will continue to be popular in this way?
Last question: I hope so! Here in Vienna we‘re a little bit jealous about how things developed in the UK. In Austria we definitly have a huge need to catch up. In particular contemporary ‘young’ street photography is completely underrepresentated. I notice, that here in Austria street photography has become popular among photographers, but has marginal significance for gallery owners and museums.

eschuh_zoo_lion
I often visit the zoo, it’s always good for getting some captures. On my zoo visits I frequently notice, that people are more interested in imitations of animals than in the real ones. I have not found an explanation for this yet.

<bAny tips or "words of wisdom" for other street photographers?

On the street I always try to give the impression, that I’m just an amateur snapshooter. So people don’t take me seriously and I can do my work untroubled.

What would be your ideal gear for doing street photography with?
An unremarkable outfit, good shoes and – as much as possible – a small, lightweight but fast camera with a 28 or 35 mm lens.

eschuh_boy_with_hat
I explored this nice place in the city of Vienna some months ago. I was fascinated about the light and the red colour everywhere. So I decided to wait for a moment for something to happen. Minutes later, a boy with an chequered hat came around and gave me a sceptic look. Thank you litte unknown boy for this picture!

All images used in this interview: © Elisabeth Schuh, 2011
http://www.elisabeth-schuh.com

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