Since 1979 I have worked predominantly in color. While I was initially inspired to work in color by my experiences in the tropics, I now respond to color everywhere. For me, right now, black and white just isn’t an option. I see in color and I feel in color, so I have to work in color.
There are times when my senses are totally focused on what’s going on around me, like someone just put me on a drug that intensifies everything. When I’m in that mode, many photos happen instinctively. Looking at my scans, in most cases I remember why I took a photo, even if I had no time to think about it when I shot it. I guess that instinct is simply an honest way of photographing strangers. I try not to judge people by taking their photo or compromising anyone’s privacy. I’m simply interested in life on the street.
He moved and photographed and it was all so physical, balletic and magical because I thought you had to say hold that pose and freeze that frame. Instead, he just moved with these two young girls that he was photographing and I was so bowled over by it that when I left the shoot everything I saw in the street – “Taxi!”, “hello”, “goodbye”, adjust the baby’s bonnet or bib – seemed to have meaning to it.
My wish for the future of photography is that it might continue to have some relevance to the human condition and might represent work that evokes knowledge and emotions. That photography has content rather than just form. And I hope that there will be enough produce to balance out the visual garbage that one sees in our current life.
When you’re starting you are so eager and want to do anything just to get a foothold. Then as time goes on, you become more discerning and are no longer satisfied with what you’ve done. From my experience, many publications of my work were important to me at a first glance, but as time passed the coverage of assignments became smaller and smaller. Much of what I viewed as achievements early on has evolved and I’ve continued to push myself further.
One of the things I love about street photography is going home and finding people, things and situations in my photos I didn’t notice initially. There’s almost always dirty looks, strange socks, pretty earrings, people arguing in the distance or, my favorite, people staring back at me with unease. When I come across these things it reminds me of a scene in a movie where a photographer develops his photos only to find mysterious markings he later discovers to be foreshadowing.
Photography is not a technical exercise. Many people are drawn to the media because of the whiz-bang nature of cameras, lenses, software and printers, but a great photograph is about feeling. It is about the feeling that the photographer had through the lens at the time the image was made and subtly outlined to the viewer in the final print.
The street is truly at the core of my work. The wonder and the random encounters of the streets are at the heart of my fascination with photography – especially within the context of the human condition. This is where it started for me and where I still go to this day for inspiration. To me, there is nothing like going for a walk with music in my ears and a Leica in my hand.
We had just recieved word from a rather uncoordinated NLD (National League for Democracy) in Rangoon that all interviews have been cancelled for several weeks on. Our hearts sank as I had spent over a year working with the Burma Commitee in Norway to get an interview and portraits of “The Lady”, as she is often called.
Anders Petersen is correct in that we should find what we are afraid of and use it as a springboard forward. This fear is all part of a process of professional and personal change and most importantly I am making pictures for me, even if I don’t know exactly where that will lead.
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