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Posts tagged ‘Ernst Haas’

# 13 KATE KIRKWOOD, Lake District (United Kingdom) “Rural” Street Photographer


Leica Liker is honored to have Kate Kirkwood, a Lake District (United Kingdom) ‘Rural’ Street Photographer as our #13 guest. Also Leica Liker’s second female photographer!

I think you will agree, when we speak of street photography, the first images or thoughts that come to mind are primarily humans interacting in city centers or city street scenes. Most likely because the majority of people live in cities. So the probability of photographs shot and published are naturally taken by city folk in their natural habitat. And if you are lucky to be living in the countryside or are a roving photographer, you might be shooting some from rural areas. Like Henri Cartier-Bresson who took photos of pigs looking out of their pigsty in Holland, a lone duck floating down a stream in the countryside of France or three geese walking towards an abandoned windmill on the plains of Tralee, Ireland. There’s a few rural life photographers out there. But these photographs are far and few between. Even the Flickr group, “Rural Street Photography”,  has just a handful of members. So when I was introduced to Kate’s work, it was like looking at gems.


Kate’s photographs gently leads us into the intimate life of northwest England, where the landscape is a national treasure. It is also the home of romantic poet William Wordsworth and children’s book writer Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit. Their words and drawings conjure images of bucolic England. Kate’s images aspire to the same.

Surrounded by pure unquieted landscape and animals, where humans are far and few between, the idyllic life has definitely helped shape Kate’s vision of the world. The rich colors and raking light combined with powerful compositions showcases her emphasis of animals and humans living in harmony with nature, giving landscape photography new life. More importantly, she has been able to offer her unique definition of rural street photography.

an·thro·po·mor·phic  [an-thruh-puh-mawr-fik] adjective
Ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human, especially to a deity.

However, what really draws you into Kate’s work is the unique voice she has given to her subjects, especially animals. Kate talks about looking for the “minuscule, heightened moments in rural spaces, where seemingly little happens…” Whether it is two doves having a chat about their day as they cross the country lane, or the silent response to her car light on a lamb caught enjoying a private moment. Subtle humorous moments. Each character has its own secret life.

Through Kate’s eyes, we can see a complex story being lived. We realize that, like humans, animals have a deep intelligence. Their lives are unwittingly anthropomorphized through her lens. And our empathy comes from connecting their daily routine with ours.

When you look at Kate’s work, you can’t help but feel you’ve shared a glimpse of ‘sublime life’. As if to say, as stewards of earth, we have a responsibility to respect all living beings. Perhaps it’s because Kate understands the devastation of prejudice when she and her ex-husband published anti-apartheid literature in their past. Or maybe it’s because she lives in a remote area where she interacts with animals more than with humans. Most likely all of the above. The result is not ‘minuscule moments’ as she modestly comments, but a profound look into the richness of life at its simplest.

Here’s my interview with KATE KIRKWOOD:

Nick Name:  None
Currently living in: The Lake District, United Kingdom
Motto: Never seek what you’re expecting; set your camera and your heart to serendipity.

Street Photographer since: 2007-ish
Do you have formal photography training? No I don’t.  I run a Bed and Breakfast where I live and had some fishermen stay with me who were gear heads. It was interesting overhearing them talk about equipment and techie things for hours, despite most of it going over my head. I try to keep up with developments, but things move fast. I think I have enough basic  knowledge of how to use the camera so I can just get on with actually looking at the world. Perhaps I’m missing some tricks, but my primary pleasure is in fishing for images, trying things out, and then seeing what I’ve caught that day. I don’t mind bumbling along, learning as I go.

Profession/Job: Book production/design
Websites: www.katekirkwood.com
Organizations or Group:  None

Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Simply what I have: A Nikon D60 with a Nikkor 18-55mm lens.
Back-up Street Camera & Lens: Ha ha, my old little Fuji E900 P&S, which is held together with tape. I’m not very good on the techie side of things and find the options and discussions of such things overwhelming. I prefer a simple camera, simple settings (I use ‘Programme’ mostly), and concentrating on subjects.
Favorite photography gadget: A large farmer’s raincoat that I can zip up over my camera.
Favorite street food:  A pocket of salted licorice, if I’m lucky.

Do you listen to music while shooting?   Sometimes, but my old Shuffle went in the wash last week so that’s kiboshed that.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: All sorts – Bach; PJ Harvey; Cinematic Orchestra; Mercedes Sosa; Cocorosie; Bill Evans; Lou Reid, Schoenberg Anouar Brahem; the Pixies…. I’m listening to Jocelyn Pooks as I write.
Favorite photo software:   I’ve only ever used Photoshop and I currently have version CS5.

3 Favorite Master Photographers:   Only three? I’d like to mention Helen Levitt, Fay Godwin and Ruth Orkin as there are few women in the usual lists and organisations. There are many whose photographs I look at again and again.  I love Robert Frank, Saul Leiter, Ernst Haas, many others … (and of course HCB goes without saying).

3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers:   Only three? How about Pentti Sammallahti, Sally Mann and Josef Koudelka.


Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? It would be easier to answer the question ‘Which three prints would you like to own?’ I have wonderful prints from my photographer boyfriend who is one of the best in the street field. Otherwise, I have plenty of well-loved postcards of favourite images on my pinboards – does that count? And a lovely poster of Sirkka-Liisa Kontinnen’s photo ‘Girl on a Spacehopper’, and one by Lee Miller from a V&A exhibition.

Color or Black and White? Colour, though I’d like to play with monochrome.

Shoot Film or Digital? Digital. For me the absolute magic of the immediacy of digital still thrills; I remember very clearly the afternoon that someone showed me a small point-and-shoot in operation for the first time.  It was as riveting and exciting as the occasion, when, as a small child, I saw a zoetrope in action. I began trying to photograph more than just family snaps in the age of digital so it was hardly a consideration, and it’s more affordable and simpler, though I’d love to experiment with older cameras.

Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? I enjoy shooting in the first and the last light of day; right at the edges.

How do you define street photography?  Perhaps many genres can be “street” if you don’t determine what you’re going to shoot before hand. A few years ago I had the experience of seeing the best photographic exhibition in my life; was a huge show of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work. I was immediately afflicted, I wanted to try this art, street photography, too.  But where I live, I see the postman once a day and sometimes I don’t see anyone else for days. When I go to the city, the best treat is to simply wander the streets. However, because I live out in a rural area, I enjoy what I have, approaching moments and unfolding spaces in rural spaces with the mindset of a street photographer, even though I don’t live in a place with people. I suppose I try for a kind of rural street photography, although I’m also trying to find fresh ways with the possibilities of landscape photography.

Street photography requires an abandoned sense of wonderment, an openness. But you can’t just click away and assume that the act in itself will muster up an image. It’s so rare; it’s that little crucial moment that I think might be symbolized by the way Cartier-Bresson used to pop up on his tippy toes as he pressed the shutter. Seldom, if ever, can I claim to have snaffled what Roland Barthe’s calls ‘punctum’. Street photography offers a kind of slow accretion of modest wisdom. The more you photograph, the keener your observation, the more you notice about the world … perhaps you grow a little wiser each time because you’re in a state of watching out.

Decades ago I was involved with an anti-apartheid publishing house my then husband ran and some of the ground-breaking young photographers of that time in Johannesburg had a dark room at the back of the place and they offered my first understanding of what documentary photography is about. I often consider and puzzle over the difference between documentary and street photography. Documentary photography has a responsibility while street photography doesn’t. Yet it tells a lot of truths. Street brings attention to our foibles and reminds us of delight. It’s lovely to go to exhibitions of street photographers you know and see the public responding to the delight in everyday life.  It’s like enhancing all the little things that happen when we don’t have our cameras.

I’m not so keen on street photography which is malicious, grossly intrusive or that pokes fun at vulnerable people. I prefer and enjoy photographs which are taken with a kind of tenderness and respect. This is a tricky differentiation; I enjoy much of Martin Parr’s work and he’s a great one at poking fun, of celebrating our ludicrious possibilities. Perhaps it should be celebratory rather than derisory, although I strongly believe we should always deride misused or misplaced power….

Some of your images remind us of the comic strips of Gary Larson, where the animals take on human or at least anthropomorphic intelligence. Is that how you see them? Perhaps. I have this one very tame hen that sits next to me when I am in the sun. So I painted her nails. One day a builder was here fixing the chimney and after a cup of tea and a chat he bounced off in his van and ten minutes later he came bouncing back and in a rather matter of fact way handed me the hen through his window. She had got into the van and settled down in the passenger seat when he wasn’t looking. I suppose she wanted a little expedition.  Yes, animals have huge intelligence but it’s of their own complex sort. I love being in a position to try and capture some of that.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? To me Street is more an attitude than a genre, a way of encountering the world, without too many preconceptions, wherever one happens to be. It invites intuition rather than rationality; it requires an emotional response before an understanding. I also love the excitement of anticipation, seeing a moment coming.… What I do to earn a living requires planning, organization, parameters, words; wandering around with my camera is an antidote to that. We don’t have to prepare anything, and we don’t have to tell the whole story – suggestion and puzzlement are good intentions.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? The world is a different place when we’ve a camera in our hand. I love having this reason to be out in the world, in the sun and the rain, instead of hunched at my computer where I spend my working day. It’s a bit like taking a dog for a walk. I live a quiet life in the countryside and when I get out the world has a wam-bam! impact on me. I think, crikey! look at what’s going on, look at what all these people or dogs or cows or buses or road signs are up to! What havoc, what strange order, too…Photographing out there is a sort of gesture of love; kind of blowing a kiss to the world.

Is Street Photography an obsession? Perhaps, yes. I drive with my camera on my lap. I feel undressed if I chance out of the door without it, and return in panic to fetch it.

Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? I find it a meditative practice – if that doesn’t sound too pretentious – best carried out alone. I get into a ‘dwaal’, as Afrikaners say. But I take my camera where ever I go, whether I’m in company or not; I just don’t go on group shoots. I don’t go on ‘shoots’ per se, I just take my camera along in life.

Favorite street photography city: I don’t get about much, and photograph mostly in rural areas. I enjoy the quirky small towns on the coast near where I live, and I get to London when I can.

What inspires your photography? I think everything we encounter can inform our photography; current politics for example. I enjoy all sorts of art and literature and go to galleries when I can, and if I can’t, well, I count myself fortunate that I have Google Search and the Internet, which can be like making a big Christmas pudding every day; loads and loads of ingredients at our fingertips! Recently I saw Grayson Perry’s tapestries; and marveled at the small details of contemporary life he’s observed in them. I also saw Munch’s paintings and was very moved and also inspired by the daring and photographic points of view in his compositions.  Things I’ve read recently? Will Self’s  Psychogeography was big for me, as was Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space. Of course I read a couple of blogs, and I try to find out what other photographers are saying, and enjoy their biographies, but mostly I soak up their images, as much as I can and as often as I can.

Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I suppose the isolation. In the last 4 years I’ve been mostly on my own here. Roaming around the area is very solitary. There is a state of grace to be learned from that. England is a small, crowded place but the gaps of space and silence and minimalism are there. I find it easier to compose with simpler and fewer elements.

When I am in London I like to go out early in the morning. If you go out to somewhere like Oxford street in the middle of the day and people stream by you can invariably dredge up  an image. But perhaps because I am used to country life, I find the empty streets of the early hours more manageable. Maybe it’s a bit of a cop-out, but I find myself doing it.

On the other hand, I have a problem with some landscape photography which is often quite dull or clichéd. Landscape images become beautiful or beguiling or special when something unique happens in them, when the photographer invests some emotional intelligence in her or his summoning of the landscape.  Some of Ansel Adams’ photographs manage that; a small spark, that tiny black horse, a living spirit.

Do you think your work in typography, proofreading and publishing  has an impact on how you shoot and view street photographs? Perhaps because I’m making decisions about color, line and form in the earning work. The world can be compositionally structured through a viewfinder much like the graphics on a page. I work on academic books, mostly about Africa and global issues So I often browse for images for book covers and illustrations, looking through stock photos, finding fresh elements for design.

What do you look for in a good photograph by others and by yourself? A difficult question, often asked. I know the effect of a good photograph: it’s a sort of searing prod, like with a branding iron; a prod in the head or a prod in the heart or even the funny-bone; and then the day is different after that.…

How do you go about shooting a street photograph? I do not have a plan or a way of doing things. I just make sure I have my camera and that the battery is charged, and I try to remember to check that I haven’t left exposure compensation on, which I frequently do! I simply take my camera along and don’t feel a desperation to find a shot, to make a catch. I take quite a lot of photos while en route on country roads – grinding to a halt, reversing, causing mahem, plunging into muddy fields ….

How do you go about composing a shot? If there’s time I’ll check if there’s an alternative point of view; an element that could be included, a framing shape I might not have seen at first. I once took a landscape photograph, which ended up in the Tate archives, of a farmhouse and snowy mountains in the background, but I was bothered by some pesky black silage bags and old tyres cluttering the foreground. Then, as I adjusted my position, I realized that filling half the frame with this detritus actually made a better photo. This can happen in street situations, when you take a few shots and then notice that things might line up or juxtapose or create a better shot if you just shift a little. But you need the luxury of time for that. Mostly taking a photo is a sort of blurred panic.

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets): When I got my little DSLR a friend picked it up to admire it and promptly threw the lens cap in the bin. ‘You won’t be needing that’, he said, ‘you won’t take street photographs with a lens cap on’. So perhaps that’s some good advice: throw away your lens cap and get a UV filter to protect your lens instead. Another tip I learned is to carry on shooting even after it feels like a moment is over. I’ve found that if a person who’s in my shot is curious or put out by my including them they mellow if I try find something nice or respectful to say, to explain that I thought they looked wonderful there in that light, or that I liked their nice jumper or that their kiss looked so loving.

Best single advice on how to improve your work: I don’t really like the word ‘work’; people who toil away in paddy fields or down mines or in garment factories do ‘work’. We photographers who’re not doing it to earn bread or rent, are just enjoying ourselves, making our projects, dilly-dallying, learning to look and understand a little more.

Best single advice on how to edit your work:  I spend some of my working time cutting and paring book texts down to the bones, and it’s good to try to do this with photographs. I find it a good challenge to be really strict and honest with myself when it comes to sorting through images. You know that an image is actually not very good, you just do, and it’s better not to try to persuade yourself it is and to just move on. So being ruthless helps. Distilling, from a big fat mush of stuff, just one brief succinct or poetic phrase.

Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: I’m not sure what you mean by ‘get into’. There’s no right way to do it, no club, no certificates. Just walk out with a camera and see what happens.  It’s fun to share the results and learn from others on websites like Flickr, to become savvy and enter competitions and things, but it can get hectic and misleading.

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? It’s not a ‘career’, it’s a hobby really; I don’t have grand ambitions. I do take it seriously and am passionate about it, but I have no pretensions to a career. Street photography is not really about that; even master street photographers do mostly commercial work to survive. The delight in getting a satisfying photo is a very rare and ‘best’ moment, every time.

What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? I haven’t had any ‘worst’ moment I don’t think. Being shooed off down the street in a local town by two big lads who could shout ‘fuck off’ and fire half-eaten chips from their mouths simultaneously was a bit exciting.

Other than that, because I live in a small community, the people, farmers, are all generally wary about being photographed. The older folks aren’t too bothered by it but the younger ones are.

What projects are you working on? With street images things perhaps become projects as they accumulate. I am also trying to start a couple of documentary projects about things that I feel are important and if anything I’d hope to develop in that direction.

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? Simply to still be looking, snapping and learning for the enjoyment of it. With perhaps a little more technical savvy and perhaps a project I’m proud of…

Are there exhibitions planned in the future? A small presentation in Amsterdam, and a selection in Life Force magazine are coming up soon.

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

We also want to thank Richard Bram for introducing Kate to us.

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

Here is Kate’s self portrait.

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# 8 MARTIN MOLINERO, Barcelona Street Photographer

Leica Liker is honored to have Martin Molinero, a Barcelona (Spain) Street Photographer as our #8 guest.

When I saw Martin’s photographs in a small Flickr group called the ‘Small Growers Street Association’, my first reaction was,’ wow,  so beautiful’.  I immediately had to find out more about this photographer and his work. I didn’t know I was in for a treat when I saw his other photographs. They overwhelmed me by their deep reverence for each moment of life he captured.

Martin’s photos are contemplative and temporal in nature.  Although the street moments are fleeting, you get the sense that many have been thoughtfully and carefully captured because he’s looking for something deeper.

Martin talks about reading between the lines of life: A kind of subtext behind the unfolding action. The result is often small but fragile and vulnerable moments of people’s lives that somehow touch you.

Through his eyes, people’s loneliness, fragility, surprise, concerns and whatever feeling they are experiencing at the moment, no longer disappear into oblivion. Instead, they are the protagonist in a play about them. Maybe it’s because Martin has experienced the ups and downs of life himself – giving him the great advantage to recognize people’s vulnerablilities without ever thinking about it.

What I admire most of all is how Martin quietly and eloquently shares that moment with his subjects. His empathy for others comes through, making the images indelible.

Here’s my interview with MARTIN MOLINERO:

Nick Name: Enantiodromos.

Does Enantiodromos mean “many contradicting characteristics”? Yes, sort of. “Enantiodromia” (from Greek: ἐνάντιος, enantios, opposite + δρόμος, dromos, running course) is a psychological principle introduced by psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (who took it from Heraclitus’ philosophy). It’s a sort of compensation between the conscious life and the unconscious life. It’s like an homeostasis: any excess is compensated by the system in order to restore balance. I like to think that, at a certain point, chaos becomes order and vice versa! In some way, when you want too much of something, you will get the contrary. I like this concept for photography.

Currently living in: A small town outside of Barcelona, Spain.
Motto: I don¹t have one.

Street Photographer since: Around 1996. Back then I began shooting analog in Buenos Aires, Argentina, not knowing that what I was doing had indeed a name. I just walked a lot with my old rusty Canon AE-1 and a 50mm lens, taking snapshots and enjoying the darkroom process.

Then came the Argentine economic crisis (1999-2002), which wrecked the whole thing. In 2003 I moved to Barcelona, Spain. I abandoned my photographic gear (among other things) in Buenos Aires, where I never returned, and started a new Life in Spain. I always longed to return to photography, but was always too busy struggling to survive to have any time to spare for my economically unproductive photography walks.

In 2010 my wife gave me a Nikon D90 as birthday gift and since then I’ve been back in the game.

Profession/Job: Book editor for publishing company.
Websites: www.enantiodromia.es
Organizations or Group: Calle 35 and Street Photographers

Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Not favorite, it’s just what I have. A Nikon D90; a Tokina AT-X 17 mm 3.5 and a Nikon 18-105 mm lenses.
Back-up Street Camera & Lens:  I don’t have one.
Favorite photography gadget: I don’t have one.
Favorite street food: It’s better to be light. I think there is an English expression: “being light on your feet”. Occasionally I stop to rest a little and take a coffee.

Do you listen to music while shooting? No, it would distract me. Once, I almost got hit by a car while crossing the street to take a picture. I think that listening to music would make my “sightwalks” more dangerous.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: Not anymore now. Back in the 1990’s I listened mostly to jazz (Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, etc.) and Argentinian musician Luis Alberto Spinetta (sadly died a few months ago) while working in my darkroom.
Favorite photo software: Not my favorite. I currently use Photoshop but I would like to try out Lightroom, which appears to be more useful.


3 Favorite Master Photographers: I could say Garry Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz and Robert Frank; But why not Lee Friedlander, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliott Erwitt or say, Saul Leiter, William Eggleston and Tony Ray-Jones?
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: It’s the same thing. Maybe I could say Alex Webb, Trent Parke and Jeff Jacobson, or Georgui Pinkhassov, Cristóbal Hara and Richard Kalvar, or the guys of In-Public. I think I can learn different things from all of them.
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? It’s a shame, but none.

Color or Black and White? Lately, I’ve been shooting color. When I use to shoot film I only shot in black and white, because printing color is very tricky, especially controlling temperatures. I wanted to develop all my work then.

When I started to shoot digital I still “saw” everything in black and white. But alas, the sensor gave me color, so I became used to seeing in that way.

Shoot Film or Digital ? Now I shoot digital. Film is very expensive and time consuming. I just can’t afford it. I would love to shoot film again, it’s a completely different experience. Perhaps in the future.
What are the main differences between film and digital? I would prefer to shoot film. I like the tangible, physical aspect of film. But it’s all about time and money.
If Film, what type of negative? Back in the 1990’s I used Ilford HP5 and FP4.
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? I prefer early in the morning and late in the afternoon. But I don’t have the luxury to determine in advancewhen I will have some spare time to shoot. So, I take what ever opportunity comes my way regardless of the weather.

How do you define street photography? I think it’s best defined by Nick Turpin – “… ‘Street Photography’ is just ‘Photography’ in its simplest form…” For a full explanation check it out here.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? I think it wasn’t a choice. I was introduced to photography by my uncle when I was 17 years old. He taught me the technical principles and sparkled my interest in photography as a medium for both self expression and self-knowledge. On the other hand, I always loved to walk, and in that time I took long walks in Buenos Aires, I mean really long, like 20 or 30 kilometers. So the combination of photography and walking was very natural.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? Because of my editorial work, I spend many hours sitting at my desk, reading. I guess at some level, walking and watching is a good complement or compensation to sitting and reading. Besides, I live in a very small town, almost a hamlet about 100 km outside of Barcelona. The Llobregat River flows just below my window. There are ducks and swallows, poplars and oaks…To drive occasionally to Barcelona’s chaos is a perfect way to break the “routine” of what I see every day, and to confirm and renew the enjoyment of living in such a beautiful place.

Is Street Photography an obsession? I prefer it not be but maybe yes.

Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group?  I shoot alone.
Are you an invisible photographer or visible? I would like to be invisible.
Favorite street photography city: I love Barcelona. I shot for three days in London and it was great. I think New York must be incredible. I wish I could visit there someday.


What inspires your photography? I don’t know. Probably the great photographers I admire inspire me in a deep way. In fact, everything we read, enjoy, fear and love somehow, at some level, influence the way we see. In that respect, Jung, Rilke, Rimbaud, Proust, Kafka, Tarkovski, Faulkner, Goya, Coltrane, Van Gogh, Brancusi, Palestrina, Jaco Pastorius, Paul Celan, Georges Perec, Juan José Saer and, say, Julio Cortázar wouldn’t be more significant than bicycling, chocolate, football (soccer), olive oil or “yerba mate” (traditional South American infusion), in affecting the way I shoot.

Is there a philosophy, concept  or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? Not consciously. I think there is no concept or aesthetic, with regard to the form. But I do believe there is something when you ask me about content. For instance, I like to find interactions between people, and between people and things. Photography gives me the chance to read these interactions in a certain contemplative manner. In some way I try to understand what the hell I’m doing a hundred of kilometres away from my home, holding a camera and walking aimlessly. And the way to find out is through the pictures, with hindsight of course.

What kind of style would you describe your photos? The light in Barcelona is strong. Combine it with shooting digital and the result is strong shadows. But when I shot film I tended to go out specifically when it was overcast because there is no shadow. So it forced me to think about composition and forms.

How do you compose a shot?  Most of the time I don’t have time to compose. It’s all about reflex. Things are happening so fast it’s difficult to compose. But when editing, I choose the takes that works compositionally in some way. If it’s possible, sometimes I shoot many shots of the same thing. So it’s not a conscious decision to shoot it one way or another. It’s more a reaction.

What do you look for in a good photograph?  I don’t look for anything in particular, although I’m usually drawn by good light. Chance is crucial in street photography and you can’t pursue chance. In some way, street photography is about failure. It’s about how you endure constant failure. How can you spend so much time walking aimlessly with a camera? How can you go out to shoot knowing that in all probability you will be back home, after a whole day walking and shooting, with nothing, not a single photo?

I don’t look for anything in particular because, when chance and surprise is part of the equation, then as a consequence, you don’t have any control. If you look for something you will probably not find it and you will miss what appears, what reveals itself. Or, even worse, if you look for something you will find it, and it will be only what you already had in your mind. One thing that I love about this kind of photography is, that when it works (and it almost never works), you get much more than what you put in.

“It is the photo that takes you; one must not take photos”, said Cartier-Bresson.
“I don’t press the shutter. The image does”, said Arbus.
“Good photographs get made despite, not because”, said Garry Winogrand.
Asked how he chose the things he photographed, Paul Strand replied: “I don’t. They choose me”. I think that is a clever approach to photography. So, what do I look for in a good photograph? I don’t know until it appears. In Barthes’ words: until it, “pricks” me.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph?  I know some quarters of Barcelona pretty well. I know in which hour the light will be good in certain places. I walk in those areas to see what happens. There is a wonderful place in Barcelona called La Boqueria, a small place with beautiful light. I often stay there for about 15 minutes and then move on.  So in that sense, I tend to stay for a while in places with good light, and walk back and forth to see what unfolds. But lately, I prefer to walk constantly, taking shots as I go.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph?  I know Barcelona pretty well. I know in which hour the light will be good in certain places. I walk in those areas to see what happens. There is a wonderful place in Barcelona called La Boceria, a small place with beautiful light. I often stay there for about 15 minutes and then move on.  So in that sense, I tend to stay for a while in places with good light, and walk back and forth to see what unfolds. But lately, I prefer to walk constantly, taking shots as I go.


How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? In most cases I know it’s a bad shot. It’s not common to see a good shot. So when there is a good one out of a thousand, you notice it.
Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Just one: enjoy the walk.

Best single advice on how to improve your work: Be patient? Don’t give up? Try new approaches? I don’t know. I’m still struggling to improve my work, how could I give any advice to others?
Best single advice on how to edit your work: I think you must be somehow detached from your emotional connection with the picture. I have the invaluable help of my wife. Her detailed analysis and thoughtful critiques help me to be detached while I edit.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Get a good pair of shoes?

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? I wouldn’t say I have a street photography career. What would that be? I’m very glad to have been selected as a finalist in the 2011 London Street Photography Festival. That showed me that I was going in the right way. I’m very happy to be part of Calle 35, a Barcelona based street photography collective, and Street Photographers, an international collective which has recently launched a E-book at Blurb Books: Street Photographers.

What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? I really haven’t had even one single bad moment. Sometimes people get upset or ask me to explain what I am doing, but nothing bad at all.

What projects are you working on? That’s a tough question, I’m still asking myself that. Maybe something will appear by itself soon?

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I will be fortunate if I still have the time to go out to shoot. I would like to have developed a consistent way of seeing. I would like to be able to articulate the pictures in a strong, solid and coherent discourse.

Are there other exhibitions planned in the future? Alongside my fellows at Calle 35, we will exhibit our work at the Biennal Xavier Miserachs 2012 from September 15th to October 14th in the City of Parafrugell here in Spain. Everyone is welcome!

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

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

This is Martin’s self portrait. He likes the mystery of life.

# 6 SIEGFRIED HANSEN, Hamburg Street Photographer


Leica Liker is honored to have Siegfried Hansen, a Hamburg Street Photographer as our #6 guest.

Syn·chro·nic·i·ty
“an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are casually unrelated” (dictionary.com)

When I came across Siegfried’s work in Flickr, the first thought that came to my mind was the word “synchronicity”. It’s a word that Swiss psychologist Carl Jung coined to describe what he called “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” (Wikipedia) I love to page through his images to vicariously experience these serendipitous moments.

Capturing synchronicity is really difficult. It requires an acute awareness of the environment. But to capture it more than once comes only with a lot of experience. After 10 years of shooting, Siegfried has trained himself such that it’s wired into his psyche. Combine this and his art influences and you see what Siegfried sees. He even has a term for the resulting images: “expected coincidence”.

So much of street photography is about the individual (sometimes forgotten) experience within a community or environment. Perhaps, even the shared moment in a party or a gathering. But many of Siegfried’s photographs celebrate our connection to someone else or thing, like a grain of sand touching another grain of sand on a beach. Which in turn exists on our planet floating in a vast universe. He often reminds us of being a part of something greater in our most mundane moments.

I know Siegfried doesn’t think about these things when he’s shooting and he chuckles when people read deep into his photos. He’s even skeptical. Maybe it’s because of his upbringing in the small country town of Meldorf in northern Germany. But he presents a piece of art. And good art provokes and asks questions.

Here’s my interview with SIEGFRIED HANSEN.

Nick Name: Siggi
Currently living in: Hamburg, Germany
Motto: I am always curious, what will happen around the next corner.
Profession/Job: I have a regular job but it has nothing to do with my photographic life.

Street Photographer since: 2002.
Website: www.siegfried-hansen.de
Organizations or Groups: Seconds 2 Real, Street Photographers, and Public-life


Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Digital: At the moment a Fuji X100; Film: Leica CL with Leitz Wetzlar Summicron 1:2/40mm Lens
Favorite Back up camera: I don’t have one but if my main camera breaks, I’ll buy a new one.
Favorite photography gadget: None
Favorite street food: When I stop for a break, I like to drink a cappuccino.


Do you listen to music while shooting? Never
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: I like to edit in the quiet of my space.
Favorite photo software: Photoshop Elements 2

3 Favorite Master Photographers: Ernst Haas, Saul Leiter and Ray K. Metzker
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: Alex Webb, Jesse Marlow, Trent Parke
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? I don’t own any prints. I prefer books.


Color or Black and White? Both
Shoot Film or Digital? I shoot mainly digital because I can process immediately. I do shoot film occasionally but there is too much effort to get the film processed. I have 40 film rolls, which I shot with my Leica CL and I have yet to develop them. I understand why Garry Winogrand had thousands of rolls of film unprocessed. The process is more interesting.

Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? If you live in Hamburg, any time and place is fine. I’ll go outside in any weather. But, I love snow because verything looks new especially when sunlight breaks through the clouds. Red looks like deep red in snow. If I had to choose, I mostly like the sun because of the dark shadows. Light is like a switch. It adds another layer like shadows.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? It was a lucky circumstance that I found my way to “street photography”. About 10 years ago, I was a “typical” snap shot photographer. I use to shoot a lot of sunsets with my Minolta X300 in both black and white and color. But I wasn’t really engaged in photography. Then I visited an exhibition of André Kertész and his pictures completely changed my way of looking at my environment. Since that day in 2002, wherever I go, I carry my camera with me so I can catch all the moments I see and like.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? The unbelievable great variety of possibilities and the idea, that any given moment, something unusual can happen.
Is Street Photography an obsession? Yes, I am guilty, it is an obsession. 🙂
Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? Alone.
Favorite street photography city: I live in Hamburg and it is the city where I take most of my photographs. But I also travel often to London, Paris and other cities as well to get new inspirations.

What inspires your photography? I love painters like Lyonel Feininger and Egon Schiele, two major figurative painters in German Expressionism of the twentieth century. I like the abstract ideas that Feininger presents in his paintings and the amazing colors and views of people of Schiele’s work. I also love the “Bauhaus” style, especially Maholy Nagy’s work. Feininger was also part of the Bauhaus movement.


Is there a philosophy or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I don’t consciously apply any philosophy to my photographs when I go out shooting. But in the back of my mind I’m sure I am influenced by what inspires me. For instance the Bauhaus philosophy of experimenting with new views of ordinary things that have clear structures. If you were to find an equivalent design today, then you can look at Apple or Braun products. When you inspect them, they have a clear concept and design structure. The clarity of their concept is their brand. One thing is for sure, I try to transform our 3D environment into 2D via layering.

What do you look for in a good photograph by others? This is hard to explain. Input, which in general inspires, but also helps me to further develop my work and ideas. I try to be open-minded. I often visit exhibitions and look into many good photographers’ portfolios. Sometimes I see small things in a photo that inspires me to try a new angle or view something in a different way.


How do you go about shooting a street photograph?
When I go out to shoot, I don’t think about anything. I just go with the flow. Your mind needs to be free. I simply see what looks right to me and not think too much about it. So when I make a photo I just shoot it, then move on. I don’t stand around to analyze the scene or shoot from different angles. I usually have a feeling, I know it’s nice and I shoot it. I may capture a second one but then that’s it. I leave the analyzing until I go home and see if the shot worked.

Over the years, I learned to recognize the special moment or lines and space around me. I also learned to act immediately using available lines or graphic I see as the foreground and background. Then I wait for the situation to reveal itself. I call it “the expected coincidence.” Most of the time nothing happens, but you have to be patient and impassioned. So I often walk the same routes in my hometown, Hamburg, Germany. After 10 years I still see something new every time. Mostly small things, but the small things are often the difficult things.

I also try to arrange several layers in my photographs, the more the better. From my point of view, compositions with more than one layer are more interesting. Sometimes I like to compare things like a double pair, to make the pictures more interesting.

After so many years of being a street-photographer my eyes are well trained to catch situations, lines and graphics, in a fraction of a second, that help me make the compositions I envision. I simply love it!

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Learn from Master photographers; Vacation in big cities; Always keep your eyes and mind open. One more thing: keep shooting. When I shoot, I may not capture the big one all the time but I shoot many small ones to train myself to recognize the big one.

Best single advice on how to edit or improve your work. When you edit images it is the same as shooting pictures. You see the results of the day and some pictures are better than others. Some might even be top. But keep in mind, you just don’t see a good picture every time. And you don’t have to. It’s all about selecting the good ones. Quality over quantity.

Another thing I do. I often make small (13x18cm including 1cm border) prints of my favorite photos from Photoshop. Later on, when I look at them again and again, I print the ones I like most in a larger size (30x45cm) and hang them up in my apartment. And if I still like them after 3 weeks, then I’m satisfied and happy.

Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Get inspired by Master photographs.
What’s the best moment in your street photography career? To participate in the “Street Photography Now” book (Thames and Hudson)
What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? Each time when the battery of my camera is empty or my memory card is full.

What projects are you working on? There are many, but at the moment I’m not ready to talk about them. However on my homepage, you can check out the section “projects”, where you can see some photos of ongoing long-term projects. Some of the projects have been going on for 10 years.

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I would be lucky if I could still walk around, take good pictures, and have wonderful feelings about my walk. And I would be happy, if a lot of people like my style of art.

Are there exhibitions planned in the future? Yes, a solo exhibition at the end of August 2012 here in Hamburg, Germany, at the Gallery Kunst-Nah.

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

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

This is Siegfried’s self portrait.

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