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Posts tagged ‘Alex Webb’

#17 PAVEL KOSENKO, Moscow (Russia) Street Photographer

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Leica Liker is honored to have Pavel Kosenko, a Moscow (Russia) Street Photographer as our #17 guest.

I first discovered Pavel Kosenko through his Russian website No, I can’t read Russian but Pavel is a blogger and photo discoverer himself. I came upon his post from another post of “4 x 5” Kodachrome slides of the American war effort during World War 2. They are stunning examples of color and subject matter by industrial and military photographers. You can check it out here. It was from there that I found Pavel.

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What drew me to Pavel’s work is his sense of color. When you look at his images, you can just eat the colors. They are exquisitely rich and velvety or harsh and poppy. It’s as if he took them with Kodachrome, except it’s digital.

Pavel talks about the harmony between colors. He is devoted to the study of color. Not just with color wheels but how master painters, who have command of color, are able to combine colors to compliment each other.

Many of us start by contrast of forms, objects, composition, shadows and irony within the frame of story telling. Pavel on the other hand starts with color and in a way, emotions. Not emotions like happy or sad, but a kind of internal stirring. If you study many of his photographs, they are simple observations. Yet some of them have a subtle yet powerful complexity to them because of the variety and depth of colors. His colors define details that would have been overlooked had the image been too contrasty or over exposed. So you are pulled into the image wanting to explore every corner.  That’s not to say that sometimes Pavel also loves to make colors pop in high contrast shots. But when he is able to capture the digital version of that ‘Kodachrome’ magic, I can’t stop poring over every pixel of his photographs.

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Here is my interview with PAVEL KOSENKO:

Nick Name: No, I just have my real name – Pavel Kosenko.
Currently living in: Moscow, Russia
Motto: “You can only be happy here and now.”

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Street Photographer since: 2011
Profession/Job: Photographer
Organizations or Group: None

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What do you do as a photographer professionally? Technically photography does not pay my bills. I do many things to pay the bills as a photographer. For instance, I organize photography tours in a variety of countries like Turkey, Vietnam, etc.. I also teach master classes in color for photographers. I have written a book, titled THE LIVING DIGIT, which is presently only published in Russian. I want to translate it into English to get a larger audience.

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I also do color consulting for print. I have a small photography school in Moscow. I have a popular blog with 15,000 readers and 50,000 views posts per day. I have people who pay advertising on my blog. Camera companies give me cameras to use to write reviews about. I also have projects that are photography related. I have a friend in advertising who thinks my sense of color could be utilized in film. As you can see, I do a lot of things.

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Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Canon EOS 1D X with Canon 35 mm f/1.4 lens, Canon 50 mm f/1.2 lens
Back-up Street Camera & Lens: Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon 18 mm f/2.0 lens
What and when was your first camera? Zorki Russian camera. I don’t remember the number.
Favorite photography gadget: iPhone 5

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Favorite street food: Italian
Do you listen to music while shooting? Sometimes, but not often.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: Royksopp, Delinquent Habits, Moloko, Cypress Hill, Depeche Mode, Die Antwoord, Pink Floyd, Royksopp, Django Reinhardt, Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show 🙂 etc.
Favorite photo software: RPP (Raw Photo Processor)

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3 Favorite Master Photographers: Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: The same
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? Unfortunately, I don’t have any.
Color or Black and White? Color

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(Square images = Instagram)

Shoot Film or Digital? Basically digital because film does not have the abilities that digital has to offer. With digital, I have more possibilities to push the limits of color as well as provide the best quality. But sometimes I play with film because is has an inherent aesthetic component which digital does not have. Film allows me to improve my visual experience and I try to apply what I learn in my digital work.

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If Film, what type of negative? Last time I used film it was Kodak Ektar.
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? Any time. But lately I like to shoot without sun light (in the evening and with candlelight in rooms).

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How do you define street photography? Exactly like Henri Cartier-Bresson defines it.
How did you get into photography? Actually my life was originally not destined for photography. I was born in the small Russian town of Protvino in the Moscow region. It has around 37,000 people. Protvino is a town of scientists. The main business is the research institute. It’s a tradition for young people in this area to go to the Moscow Physics Institute to become a scientist. The parents force their children to follow their footsteps. I left because I studied in Moscow at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute where I was for 1-1/2 years. But after attending the institute, I realized I needed to be creative. I went to music school for 5 years instead. After that I realized music was not my thing.

When I was 6 years old my father gave me a camera. I was shooting everything from family to friends, but primarily for myself only. While I was in music school I figured out photography was my where my passion and interest lied.

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What is it about the medium photography that attracts you? What are you trying to express in photography?  For me it’s like drugs. I need it. I wake up and grab my camera. Or I switch on the computer and search for photographic images. I need to improve my visual experience all the time.  Even when I was studying physics and music, I was taking photographs. Sometimes I leave my camera at home and then I have to have it a few days later.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? I did not choose only Street Photography. It was my interest for the last 2 years, but I like art photography too. I try to mix it up.

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What motivates you to photograph the streets? My interest in ordinary people and their lives.
Is Street Photography an obsession? I think yes.
Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? Both

Are you an invisible photographer or visible? Visible. I like to communicate with people. I believe that photographer cannot be invisible. You can’t shoot outside and think you have no effect on it. Each photographer sees his own particular way. We all get different photographic results, even if we all shoot the same place and in the same direction.
Favorite street photography city: Istanbul

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What inspires your photography? Art, especially by Russian painters. I was a jazz musician in my past life. Although, I haven’t played the guitar for 6 years, the idea of art as an expression of me is extremely important. I love music. Sometimes I shoot while listening to music in my headphones. It is important what I listen to because the combination of the music and what I shoot is the process of my artistic expression.

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Here are some painters I look to for inspiration: Konstantin Korovin (, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Victor Borisov-Musatov, Nicholas Roerich, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Alexandr Rabin, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexandr Zavarin, Caravaggio, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, etc.

Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I think it is better to quote Gueorgui Pinkhassov:  “Shoot the bad pictures, you might get a good one.”

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What is your style? I don’t think I have a style. Often photographers don’t see what they see. It takes others to see what the photographer saw. My reaction to my fotos is often much too critical, sometimes dismissing good shots. I need to have a curator.

In general, I look for color and “chiaroscuro”. I am interested in light and dark colors. For showing light we need dark. I experiment in colors, dark, light. I always think about dark and light in my color compositions.

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How has it changed over time? I think like everyone, I took travel photos first. After that I realized that they were good but they were like postcards. You know, National Geographic-type. It’s the first level of photography that everyone reaches. I realized I had to go to next level. I then went to one town and stayed a long time whereas before, I stayed 1 day in each town like a mindless tourist. I extended it to 3-4 days to a week. At first, I responded to anything exotic. For instance, if you come to Moscow, your first day would be spent at the obligatory Red Square. It’s not a deep level of understanding of our city. It’s only after spending a year can you have a chance to see life that’s not at a touristic level. I consider myself now  at 2nd level. I’ve been to Vietnam 9 times now. At first 2 weeks, then 2 months at a go. In the beginning, it was ‘pop’ like Britney Spears. Now it’s more impressionistic because I am getting the feel of the real Vietnam. SO I would say my style has moved from travel photography, to street photography and it’s moving towards art photography. I am more interested in impression and not information. I call it art.

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What do you look for in a good photograph by others? What makes a color photograph look good? I don’t look for anything specific in other photos 🙂 I rely only on feelings. I am drawn to pictures with vivid colors, but I like b/w pictures too. With colors, I like harmony and rich variation (not many difirent colors, but many variation with lightness and saturation). And I don’t like supersaturation. In b/w I like geometry, texture and rich variation of shades of gray. Composition for me does not matter, because it is pseudo-science. The important thing is feelings and emotions.

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How does color play a role in photography? Funny you should ask. My book THE LIVING DIGIT is exactly about that. When modern photographers look for colors they go to post production books to study histograms. This is the wrong way. The main idea in the book is to question the colors you find in museums. I mean, you need to study color through painters and history of art. Study the visual experience. After you have enough visual experience, your eyes can actually see what colors are in harmony and what not. And what works with each other. Then you can use digital tools to help you. It is about the aesthetics of color. In my book I start off with psychology of perception. I write about saturation and perception of colors – blue works better in dark regions while yellow is better in light situations. For example, I show how people normally see and perceive, from art to post production. Then I show the ‘art’ of perception followed by raw files and how it works. I use language of the modern digital photographer to explain a complex language in simple photo language. I talk about this in my master class.

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How do you go about shooting a street photograph? Sometimes I like to sit at a café and watch for around 1-3 hours. I see. I look. If I find an interesting background, I wait for some people to walk into my frame. But some times, I like to talk to people. For instance, last time I went out to shoot, I walked on the street and immediately spoke with people; to connect with them and to learn about their lives. While we were talking I noticed they had relaxed. That’s when I took a relaxed portrait of them. Not passport photos. Of course it’s very important for me to form interesting geometric frame. So while I’m talking to them, I am constantly looking for an interesting viewpoint. I am more interested in the art of the shot and  not the classic street frames. So my shots tend not to be classic street captures. Sometimes it’s just the color. I like to take impressionistic images. For instance, Vietnam before bedtime.  That’s the direction I am more interested in.

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Can you describe the entire process of photographing these photos, from preparation to when you pressed the shutter button?  I took this picture in Colombo. It was the last day of my two-week trip to Sri Lanka. By this time I thought every shot I made were all “masterpieces”. I just walked around the city with a camera in hand, and assumed the images would somehow make interesting photo-stories. As always, I am interested in texture and color. So when I walked past the garbage, I took about ten shots, not counting on any one to make a good photograph. But when I worked the Raw-files, I saw a good picture. It was  interesting, not only in color, but the scene itself (crows and cats).

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In this photo (below), what is interesting is not so much the picture but the story behind this woman. Her name  is Kulipa. She lives in the village of Jeti-Oguz on Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. She is 80 years old and raised 11 children in the one-room apartment with total area of about 30 square meters. Now  her kids have grown up and gone to different cities and countries, but sometimes they come to visit their mother. They come with their wives, husbands and children, so in this tiny apartment sometimes there are 20-35 people. In this case, sleeping on the floor, one next to each other. It sleeps 10 people, therefore 10 or more are awake. They all take turns sleeping.

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I managed to get into the Kulipa’s house, because I was working on a project in Kyrgyzstan at the time. The project was linked to the search for information about Soviet astronauts who trained at the local air force base. Kulipa worked at the base as a cook from 1960 to 1970.

I was visiting Kulipa for many hours. We looked over all of her family photo albums. She told me a lot about her life. We drank tea. After 2 hours she was used to me and stopped paying attention to my camera. That’s when I snapped the picture.

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How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? This is the most complicated process. On the selection of photos I spend 100 times more time than processing them. I try to focus only on my gut feeling.

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Stay in the moment. Use mostly wide angle lenses. Treat people well.

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Best single advice on how to improve your work: Visit the museum and look at paintings.
Best single advice on how to edit your work. Excuse yourself from work and go shoot some photographs.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Study the classic street photographs.

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What’s the best moment in your street photography career? I do not have a career in street photographer. I shoot for pleasure.
What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? See the answer to the previous question.
What projects are you working on? Now I’m interested in a whole series rather than single shots. It’s the direction I am taking.

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Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I am not sure that in 5 years I would do exactly street photography 🙂

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Are there exhibitions planned in the future? I am not ready for a serious personal exhibition. However, I have been repeatedly invited to participate   in group exhibits. As soon as I’m ready to show a body of work, I’ll do it.

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Leica Liker thanks Pavel for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in with him in the future.

You can check out Pavel’s book here.

You can check out Pavel’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.

This is Pavel’s self portrait.

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# 12 MARIUSZ “MARIO” JANISZEWSKI, Warsaw Documentary and Street Photographer

Leica Liker is honored to have Mariusz Janiszewski, a Warsaw (Poland) Documentary and Street Photographer as our #12 guest.

When you view many Mariusz’s (Mario) images, you can’t help but stay a while because there is so much to look at in a single image. He takes full advantage of his 28mm wide angle lens, capturing  a fairly wide view to emphasize space and ambiance. In a sense, some of his photos hark of Atget’s visual document of Paris. The one thing they have in common: people going about their lives against the large backdrop of their environment.

In Mario’s photographs, the environment plays an equal, if not crucial, role to the humans who inhabit them. As if he is saying we are shaped by where we work and live.

What is fascinating is his choice of environments: shipyards, brickyards, fishing villages, etc.. Places where the environment is larger than the individual. Some of them have an epic quality to them. Yet, you can feel the quiet spirit of each person within the space. In our western world of automation, we forget that there are places that still build or deconstruct amazing things by hand.

Mario rarely shoots one-off images. He spends hours, days, weeks capturing a series of photos so we can experience not fragments, but segments of life. It is the combination of the images that create an overall impression of the subject rather than the reliance of a single image to encompass the message. His slow and patient way of documenting his subjects has given us a glimpse into the resilience of the human spirit.

Here’s my interview with MARIUSZ JANISZEWSKI:

Nick Name: Mario
Currently living in: Warsaw, Poland
Motto: I don’t have one.
Documentary and Street Photographer since: More than 10 years

Profession/Job: Commercial photographer
Organizations or Group: None
Having grown up in your formidable years (first 16 years) under communist rule before solidarity, how has it affected your photography?
I have never thought about it. I just remember the tanks on the streets and and people being arrested for having solidarity leaflets. However, for me, it’s the distant past and I do not connect it with the present.

Did you study photography or take seminars? How did it help shape your photography? No, I am self-taught, an autodidactic. I was a graphic designer working in a company when my boss told me he needed a photo of t-shirt with a logo. So I taught myself how to make the photo and from there I photographed things for the company. Over time, became a commercial photographer and gave up the graphic design.

As for my personal photographs, 10 years ago I started to photograph typical travel and vacation images in places like Egypt, China and Mexico. But when I saw the pyramids and visited many museums, I saw that there were other things to photograph. It was a pivotal time and bit-by-bit I began to delve deeper into the world of photography. I soon found people more interesting to photograph than old buildings. I started off using a long zoom lens from a distance. Then I met an experienced photographer who convinced me to shoot closer with a wider lens.

Favorite Camera & Lens: Leica M9 + Leica Elmarit 28mm/2.8
Back-up Camera & Lens: Zeiss Ikon + Leica Summilux 35/1.4 aspherical
Favorite photography gadget: Small dilapidated camera in hand, I do not need anything more and certainly no gadget.

Why do you like to shoot with a Leica M9? Do you own any other Leica film cameras? I use to own the Leica MP but abandoned it in favor of M9.
For me it is the only digital camera with analog look i.e. with the elusive flavor of analogue film. Another reason for the M9 is, it makes me invisible. Running around at dawn with a large DSLR camera is a bit like telling everyone – “Hey look, I’m a photographer!.” I photograph dilapidated areas, places of ruin and waste. With a DSLR it looks like I want to take a picture of their decline. It’s not the case with the M9. The small angular box hiding in my hand does not stir anyone’s attention and everyone feels free to continue with their work. I’m just a harmless passer by with an antique camera from the attic. Of course I know the weaknesses of the M9: low ISO range or when I shoot too much, it hangs up and doesn’t allow you to shoot for a few seconds. However, this is where I pay the price for what I need.

When do you choose to your Zeiss Ikon or Contax 645? The Zeiss Ikon is only an accessory backup which is more used to not being used. But the Contax is another matter. I love medium format. Here is the real power of negative film. Contax (or earlier hasselblad 203F) has a different approach to photography. It’s not a spur of the moment camera. It requires time and is therefore mainly used for portraits. It is always a compliment to documenting in quantity.

Favorite street food: Hindi (Indian) food
Do you listen to music while shooting? Never
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: Hindi music when I edit.
Favorite photo software: Nik Silver Efex 2

3 Favorite Master Photographers: Josef Koudelka, Sebastião Salgado, Henri Cartier-Bresson
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: Alex Webb, Francesco Zizola, Mariusz Janiszewski 😉
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? I do not have any. At my house I only have my photographs. But I passionately collect albums of other photographers. I love to have my morning coffee in hand with an album – slowly turning over page after page, and contemplating on each image.

Color or Black and White? I shoot 80% black and white. Black and white photography is much more pronounced while color draws attention.
Shoot Film or Digital? Digital. But only because using the Leica M9 feels like using a film camera and the final image is similar to analog film.
If Film, what type of negative? Kodak Portra, Kodak Tri-x Pan, Ilford HP5 Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? Best time is after 6PM. I love the beautiful color of the sun and great dark shadows.

How do you define street photography? Street is pure truth, without pretense, and it expands unnecessary beautification.

Why did you choose Street or Documentary Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? My photographs teeter between two styles- documentary photography and street photography with an emphasis on the first. Street photography can frame humor in life whereas documentary photography frames bare reality.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? It needs no motivation. It is pure pleasure, catching in the frame of truth is in some sense to me escape from work. I am an advertising photographer where truth recedes. I love the uncertain factor of what could happen in a particular moment.

Is Street Photography an obsession? Obsession is a strong word but it really fully reflects my approach. When I leave the house I can forget everything but never the camera and keys.

Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? A group attracts attention. We become visible from a distance. It’s best to photograph alone or in pairs, but no more. Only then do I feel I have the opportunity to make a good photo.

Are you an invisible photographer or visible? Depends on the circumstances, but I try to be invisible. Only then is there the biggest chance for a good picture. You can then assimilate into the environment and wait for the right moment. Street or documentary photography is not racing.

Favorite street or documentary photography city: Calcutta, India. It has a classic blend of modernity, swarms of people, chaos … I generally like to shoot in the crowd. And Calcutta offers the ideal place in between a crowd of people.

What inspires your photography? Great photographers inspire me. Studying their sensitivity increases my awareness of photographic opportunities. It’s not about copying their ideas in a certain direction, but to open our eyes to other ways of showing the world.

Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? Philosophy implies too much said. It is more about the beauty I see where to others it might only be dirt and chaos.

You do product photography. How does advertising photography affect your work? How does it affect how you see light? Product and promotional photography is all about taking care of details. Every little nuance there is important. Every mistake can make the picture be perceived positively or negatively. I think this is what is most important and it is translated into my pictures. When I shoot, I try to pay attention to the little things. Of course, there is no way of correcting fact. It matters more when composing the crop, looking at nuances in the background which could be an added advantage. Mastery of light, is also important. However, I’m not a fan of flashing in documents.

Do you shoot a lot? Certainly much less than one or two years ago. I’m not a fan of shooting a series and then hoping that something will come of it. Trust your intuition and try to predict when to press the shutter button.

What do you look for in a good photograph by others? A good photo must stop you and ask you to focus on the vision. It encourages you to reflect. It induces one to think. The image must have a message. The story in the photo should stimulate the imagination.

How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? I choose the pictures that arrest my attention for a long time. The images also should not be limited to one strong focusing point. I like to look at an image that allows my eye to jump around. Like trying new flavors.

Why do you choose to shoot in underdeveloped places? Why not in Poland? I always liked the exotic. Of course, in my country you can find lots to shoot. But Asia and Africa has always fascinated me. One can say just go out on the Indian streets and the camera will the rest. Only those who were in those places, know that’s half the knowledge of the truth. I love the contact with the locals. The cultural gate opens completely different problems, problems which you aren’t familiar with. Additionally it is also pulling away from everyday life, from domestic issues, from problems. The phone is switched off, the internet does not tempt. It’s just me and the camera.

Why do you prefer to shoot a series or photoessay? Can you give some advice on creating a series or photo essay, rather than a one-off photos? I think the photo essay is the next step on the path of photography. Anyone can shoot one photo, even if only by accident. A series requires you to study a subject. It asks you what you want to achieve. You have to report on it, to focus on the many aspects of which with a single photograph is not achievable.

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Patience, reflexes and smile. A positive attitude is very important. It’s how we are perceived. If we are positive, half the work is already done. Then just wait for the right time and make quick decisions to capture that one single moment.

Best single advice on how to improve your work: It’s important to be in critical terms with your own work all the time. Don’t be quick to say it’s perfect because you can’t go back.

Best single advice on how to edit your work: No matter how many times we play with the sliders for contrast, light or dark, or how many layers we work with in software programs, the final result should look natural from an invisible hand.

Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street or documentary photography: The picture has to tell the story and not be an empty cage. Without the story, then everything else goes by the wayside, such as whether the subject is valid, exposition, and other aspects. Today, unfortunately, there seems to be greater emphasis on whether the picture is sharp and hit the point than on what content it presents.

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? Bangladezi bazaar. Amidst the background of poverty 2 girls stand out, collecting waste from the ground. I approached them with my friend and we told ourselves that they can choose whatever they want, and we’ll pay for it. We ended up walking the whole bazaar and escorted them to a rickshaw carrying their nets filled with food. Watching these girls, which started from helplessness and emptiness in their eyes, through fear of an unusual situation, turning into unimaginable joy in their eyes… oh, it was an unforgettable moment.

What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? Visiting the bazaar in my town. The hostility I’ve encountered from my own people was incredible as I was the epitome of the evil photographer.
What projects are you working on? I’ve begun collecting material on the mines in the world, plus a few other ideas which are too early to tell.

here do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? On top 😉 The future is too far away. I am focusing on preparing the nearest project. On the one hand it’s important that progress is constant. On the other hand I want to stil find pleasure in photography the next 5, 10 or 15 years.

Are there exhibitions planned in the future? One of the galleries in Warsaw will exhibit my photos, probably in the fall. You’ll also be able to see them somewhere else but the details are not known. And who knows about the plans for the 2013 crop. I don’t want to speak about them lest I jinx them.

Leica Liker thanks Mario for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in on him in the future.

You can check out Mario’s’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.

Here is Mario’s self portrait.

# 9 ED PETERS, New York Street Photographer

Leica Liker is honored to have Ed Peters, a New York Street Photographer as our #9 guest.

I’ve written much about how street photographers try to capture the decisive moment, sympathizing with life of others on the street. This time I would venture to say that we are looking at quite the opposite: we are looking at the emotions of the artist/photographer, Ed Peters, expressed in an artistic way.

Ed is drawn by color. His compositions are impacted by the advertising and commercialism surrounding our environment. His images imply that everything and anything, including a colorful plastic bag, every day objects, can be seen as art. Even pure advertising, whose sole goal is to lure in a customer to spend,  can be seen as art. Something to be celebrated and enjoyed as well as function as a thought provoker.

When you look at Ed’s photos, you can’t help but think: pop, poetic, lyrical. Some of his images are like metaphorical mirrors of our own creation. Others stir something intangible in us. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of a simple and grounded  life against the complex and superficial quality of our society as demonstrated in billboards, graffiti and advertising.

Ed’s images have one thing in common though, they spark our existential imagination. Opening our minds to new ways to look at our world,  color, and anything else that comes to mind. This phenomenon help add a kind of authenticity to our busy daily lives. What a wonderful gift of a man from Patterson, New York.

Here’s my interview with ED PETERS:

Nick Name: None
Currently living in: a suburb of New York
Motto: None

Street Photographer Since: The 1980’s
Profession/Job: Retired photo journalist.
Organizations or groups:

Favorite street camera & lens: Leica M9 with 35mm lens, or Canon 5d Mark II with 24-105mm lens (not usually carried together)

Why do you like the Leica M9? I am not wedded to the Leica, and other cameras intrigue me. When I shot film, I used the Contax G2. I do, however, like the viewfinder of the M9. With it, I can often zone focus, and get the camera to my eye very quickly. The sensor is also good, but you start picking up significant noise when you get past ISO 800. The Canon 5D Mark II is cleaner.

Favorite back up street camera & lens: Canon 5D or Ricoh GR2 (taken only when traveling)

Favorite photography gadget: Plastic freezer bags (purchased in supermarkets). They’re great for organizing everything.
Favorite street food: Nothing special.
Do you listen to music while shooting? Never

Favorite Music When Shooting and/or Editing: My tastes are varied, but unrelated to photography.
Favorite photo software: Lightroom. When I first began working with digital images I used Photoshop. A few years ago I purchased Lightroom, and can’t remember the last time I used Photoshop. I just upgraded to Lightoom 4.

3 Favorite Master Photographers: I couldn’t pick only three.
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: I have to give the same answer, but would like to elaborate on both questions. It’s possible to “name names”, and round up the” usual suspects”, but I think it’s important for photographers to see their work as part of a broader visual tradition.

All too often, photographers mention a handful of well known photographers that they admire. I too have been influenced by many of the same people, but I’ve also been influenced by the work of other artists. Anyone, for example, who wants to see color used in a masterful way couldn’t do better than viewing the paintings of Henri Matisse or Pierre Bonnard.

Which three photographers prints do you own? I don’t own any, but I do own a ridiculous number of photo books. They seem to pile up everywhere. One day I’ll have to organize the chaos.

Color or Black and White? It’s been color for a long time, but I don’t know what the future will bring.
Shoot Film or Digital? Digital. For many years I used film for my professional and personal work. I’m not the most technologically sophisticated person, and it took me a long time to adapt to digital. Once I shot digital, I never looked back. It’s so much more flexible, convenient and inexpensive (no film and processing costs). I know that some photographers are still fans of film, but I’m not one of them.

Is there a special time of day that you like to shoot or is any time good? My preference is for early morning and late afternoon/evening light. Harsh midday sun is the worst.
Do you ever shoot on non-sunny days? Yes, to some extent, but if the weather is really terrible, I probably won’t go out. When it’s sunny, and I can set a small aperture ( to achieve great depth of field) I like to use the M9. If I have to slow things down, because of low light, I prefer the Canon. It’s a shame the rangefinder doesn’t have auto focus. I know that would be a heresy for some, but I just don’t think that a person can manually focus as fast as a camera that has autofocus. I know I can’t.

Why did you choose street photography and not another form of photography like stamp collecting? I find it enjoyable. Otherwise why bother? I like the process of walking, the challenge of making successful images, and the element of gamesmanship involved. If my circumstances change maybe I’ll practice another form of photography – or take up stamp collecting. Perhaps I’d love it.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? Read my previous answer.
Is street photography an obsession? That depends on what you define as an “obsession”. When I look at the work of a photographer I don’t usually care what their state of mind was when they made their photos.

Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or groups? I’m a lone shooter. I can’t photograph on the street while socializing with other people. There are too many distractions. Yesterday, I was at a parade with some friends, and felt like putting my camera away.

Favorite street photography city: I live in the New York /metropolitan area, so I do most of my street photography in Manhattan. It’s a great place to photograph, but ( like Paris) is one of the most photographed cities in the world. There’s a history of great photographers using New York as their subject, so I sometimes feel that I’m walking on all too familiar ground.

I also think, however, that photographers can approach their subject matter like a jazz musician interprets a familiar standard, and through improvisation, create unique images. The other city that I’d like to mention is Oaxaca, Mexico. Whenever I go there, I always return with images that please me.

What inspires your photography? I guess it’s primarily an interest in the visual arts. I’d also describe myself as a voracious reader, and that’s probably also influenced my choice of subject matter.
Since you look at a lot of photo books, then obviously you’ve seen Constantin Manos and Alex Webb- were you influenced by them or did you develop this high contrast imagery by yourself? I think I saw Webb’s work first, and admired it very much. Maybe he was an influence, but a lot of other people were too. By the time I got to Mexico, where there’s always this dramatic light, I guess there were parallels developing .

That raises an interesting point about the influence of place. The location itself is important. If you look at Alex Webb’s work in Istanbul, the photos have a different quality than those taken in Cuba, or Mexico. And for me? I’m very curious about India. It’s a high energy place, and I’m curious about the contrasts of traditional culture and modernization.

Is there a philosophy or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I wouldn’t call it a philosophy. We all have particular strengths, weaknesses, and subject matter that we’re interested in. I think my work is quite graphic. That’s not a philosophy, it’s just a quality that it possesses.

How does journalism affect what and how you see? I always practiced street photography. I appreciate the work of many photojournalists, but I don’t see myself going back to that.

What do you look for in a photograph by others and by yourself? That’s not a simple question. It depends on what the purpose of the photograph is. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that I just appreciate photos that are well composed, timed, etc.. I also appreciate photos that function on more diverse levels. If you look at a book like Walker Evans’ Many are Called, the individual photos look like haphazard snapshots. In a way, that’s what they are. Evans made those photos with a hidden camera, and didn’t even look through the viewfinder when releasing the shutter. He later sequenced those photos for the book, and it’s in that context that they took on power, meaning, and relevance.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph? It varies. Sometimes I raise the camera to my eye quickly, and there’s only a brief opportunity to take one or two exposures. At other times I can be more deliberate, frame my composition more carefully, and wait for events to unfold.
How do you go about composing a shot? See the above answer.

Best three tips for shooting the streets:
1. First study your camera, it’s potential, and limitations.
2. Be ready for the photo. You don’t want to be fumbling with camera settings, focus, etc. while taking your shot (unless for some reason you have that luxury). Most good street photography requires being quick.
3. Be patient. If you think that there’s a potential for a successful photo at a given location, but that extra something hasn’t arrived yet, hang around.

Do you shoot a lot? When I’m traveling, I shoot every day. At home,, my schedule varies.

Can you give some advice on creating a series or photo essay rather than one off photos? I usually don’t photograph with a fixed agenda in mind. What separates street photography from photojournalism is a certain “open ended” quality. In photojournalism, you photograph a previously defined subject matter. It’s more explicit than street photography. Some people have compared the two genres to poetry and prose. Prose is more specific in it’s meaning; poetry is less precise. This ambiguity invites viewers to more freely interpret an image.

At the completion of either type of project, it’s important to edit photos. I think a good place to start (at least for street photographers) is to look at Robert Frank’s The Americans. When he published the book, he was very aware of how each image related to the others, and what their collective meaning might be.

Best Single advise on how to improve your work: Study the work of photographers, and artists, in various media. As I said above, we’re part of a long tradition. This is one of the most important things that a person can do. An ignorant photographer is probably a bad photographer.
Best single advise on how to edit your work: Look at a lot of photo essays and books.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Do it if it gives you pleasure, but don’t expect to make much money from it.

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? Nothing stands out.
What is the worst moment in your street photography career? Once again, nothing stands out, and I’m reluctant to use the term “career”.

What projects are you working on? Besides my day to day practice, I’ve begun photographing in Calcutta, India, and I hope to return there before the end of the year.
Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to your street photography? That time frame is too distant.
Are there exhibitions planned in the future? Not at this time, but I might put together something with my colleagues at Street Photographers.

Leica Liker thanks Ed for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in on him in the future.

You can check out Ed’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.

This is Ed’s self portrait.

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