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Posts tagged ‘Fuji’

#18 RUI PALHA, Lisbon (Portugal) Street Photographer

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Leica Liker is honored to have RUI PALHA, a Lisbon (Portugal) Street Photographer as our #18 guest.

As you might guess, I often scour the web in search of images that touch my heart. I will drop whatever I am doing to find out more. I distinctly remember seeing the image below on Flickr. It instantly drew my attention. It was like a movie still.

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The director couldn’t have done a better job, starting with the window frame and the scratched and worn glass from which we look through. The actor’s hand in pocket, the other holding a newspaper, keeping it close to himself; The hunch – something weighing heavy on his mind; The backlight putting him in silhouette giving him an anonymous feel – perhaps it’s what he’s feeling;  People ignoring him – what life often is about – you’re on your own… I was moved by its simplicity and its complex emotion of loneliness.

So I was thrilled to find that it wasn’t just a one hit wonder but part of a whole body of work from a true humanist.

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Rui’s images seem to be devoted to that independent soul. He is drawn to the loner, the one who stands out from the crowd. Man or woman against the environment; against the world.  The underdog. Rui has a connection to them. It’s deep in his Portuguese soul.  And he wants us to share the humanity of his “people”- the way they conduct their lives.

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When I spoke with Rui, I asked him about this recurring theme. He told me indeed it is something he yearns for. He believes solitude is a prevalent condition not only in Portugal but throughout society. People are generally lonely in crowds. It’s a sad fact of life. A state of affairs that we must live with. There’s even a Portugese term for it – “Fado” which literally means ‘fate’. It’s a Portuguese national symbol really.

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FADO: a type of Portuguese singing, traditionally associated with pubs and cafés, that is renowned for its expressive and profoundly melancholic character.

The singer of fado… speaks to the often harsh realities of everyday life, sometimes with a sense of resignation, sometimes with the hope of resolution. – Encyclopedia Britannica

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What I admire is Rui’s ability to juggle between street photography and street portraiture.  He’s able to give us the beautifully lit and composed master shot- the overall observation and then come in for the close-up – to catch the quiet humanity of a person.

Most street photographs and portraits convey something of strangers in the moment. But many of Rui’s images come from deep empathy and sharing of an unforgettable life. I love to see them as a collection because together, they tell us a story that transcend the photographic medium and gives us a glimpse into precious souls.

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Here is my interview with RUI PALHA:

Nick Name: None
Currently living in: Lisbon, Portugal
Motto: Live the day like it was the last day.
Street Photographer since: Photography has been a hobby from 13 years of age, with great interruptions up to 2001.  Since then, I have devoted myself to street photography almost all the time.

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How did you get into photography in the first place? I loved photographing since I was 13 years old. I even had my own dark room. Many, many years ago I invited all of my colleagues to photograph with me in the streets. Over the years working, I saw my friends become mad, become crazy. I ran away to escape. Instead of watching tv or going to the movies, I photographed the streets. I always worked with multi-disciplinary teams in my main job (mainframe computer technology advisor). I created a union between us via photography. I organized the groups to walk the streets during the weekends or breaks from hard work using the same type of film – after we developed the film we met to see the results of the images of the same place – small places. It is always amazing to see the results of shooting in the same place. It’s different from each person.

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Profession/Job: Retired data processing and technology adviser

Websites:
http://www.ruipalha.com/
http://1x.com/member/ruipalha
http://www.fineart-portugal.com/author/1405
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruipalha/
Book: “Street Photography”

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What was your first camera? I remember very well… a small Minolta 16mm. The negative was small and very thin. I was 13 years old and I loved that camera. I learned a lot using it. I wrote down every shot, time, hour, sunny or not, the exposure and afterwards I developed and saw the errors I made- lots of errors. We only learn from errors. I make them still. It’s awful. You spend a whole day in the streets. You think you can’t fail and when you put up the photos in the computer they all look terrible. You can’t fix every shot or moment that was important for you. As a result, very often I would delete the whole card because all I wanted was that moment, which I didn’t get. Fortunately we are not perfect. Otherwise life would be too boring.

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Favorite Street Camera & Lens: I don’t have a favorite street camera. I use several cameras in the streets depending on what I pretend to do each day. Lately I have been using a Sony RX1, I am testing it. Sometimes I use a Nikon D800 with a 20mm or a 35mm, other times I use a Fuji X100 (with a 35mm) or a Fuji XPRO1 with a 27mm or a Leica DLUX 5.

I want to say, any camera is fine. I test cameras a lot. What matters is to use very good lenses. The most important thing is your eye. Because, in the end, all gear have the same qualities. And most people, me in particular, don’t use the digital camera’s full abilities. To be honest, I don’t know 90% of the menu on my Nikon D800. I tend to use the camera the same way every day.

I have a big passion for rain: My favorite weather for photography. Every one goes home but I go to the streets. I’ve lost many cameras in the rain. I think there is always special lighting on raining days. It provides me reflections and refractions on every surface. Some people call me the “rain photographer”.

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Back-up Street Camera & Lens: When I use the D800 usually I take with me a Fuji camera (X100 or XPRO1) or a Leica DLUX5 or the Sony RX-1. If I don’t use the D800 I don’t have a backup camera. I take just one with me… the Fuji XPRO1 or the Sony RX-1

Favorite photography gadget: I don’t have any gadget.
Favorite street food: Black coffee and water.

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Do you listen to music while shooting? Never. In street photography concentration is fundamental. It is necessary to “see” every moment and to “listen” for every street sound. Sometimes listening the sound allows us to anticipate a moment. This is fundamental.

Favorite music when shooting and/or editing photos: When editing… always jazz.

Favorite photo software: FastStone Viewer and Paint Shop Pro with b/w Styler as a plugin.

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3 Favorite Master Photographers: Henry Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand and James Nachtway

3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: James Nachtway and Sebastião Salgado…

As well as Henry Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand , they will be my favorite eternal contemporaries…They never die…

Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? None, unfortunately.

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Color or Black and White? Black & white… always.

Shoot Film or Digital ? I love film, I belong to the “old school”. I used film for many years and of course, I had my own darkroom. Now I only use digital. It’s cheaper, faster and as I don’t have darkroom anymore… I think whether digital or analogue, it is mandatory to develop the films ourselves. I don’t like to send them to the commercial labs. To be honest I never liked the darkroom work, I always prefer to be in the streets “pressing the shutter” …

Also, I only work with jpeg and never use raw. As mentioned earlier, I can fail with lighting measurements. When I fail, the photo is basically garbage. I don’t like raw because I don’t like to post process. I have thousands of photos. Had I shot them in raw, I would have no room in my small house to store it. I prefer to work the lighting in-camera. I then convert to grey scale and the photos turn out pretty nice if I shot it right.

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Do you remember the first sensation you had when you took photographs and then saw them after you printed them? Yes- it’s fantastic- I remember that time. I use to spend many hours in dark room developing and print my own film. I never liked the work but when I saw the image appearing in the tray was simply magical, developing and printing, It’s hard work but fascinating too. I haven’t developed my films for many years now. I prefer to walk in streets and capture the moment.

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How has digital changed your way of seeing compare to film? It’s curious, because in the beginning I was very disappointed in digital. In film you must be disciplined. 36 fotos take 2-3 days to shoot. Now 36 take ½ hour to 1 hour. But when this sensation goes away, you become disciplined again. I am more worried about controlling the light than to press the button. I can see with digital, how some people can make 100 clicks in one second. It doesn’t cost more to click more. But you lose sight of the composition and content.

I use film philosophy to guide my photography. Now I take around 60-100 photos per day. Of course there are exceptions. For instance, one time I was surprised by a street performance by a group of rappers. In 1 hour I took 150 photos. I shot for them and for me. I sent them the photos afterwards. When you photograph the streets, you are photographing for yourself as well as for your subject. Often I come back to the same place with copies of photos to give to the people I took pictures of. You’ll be surprised it’s like a door opener.

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Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? When I can choose the time, I always prefer early morning and the end of the day.
But, since I can’t choose all the time, I have to shoot under any conditions.

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How do you define street photography? I think there isn’t a “formal” definition for Street Photography. I agree completely with Eric Kim when he says:

“There is not one definition which defines street photography. Depending on who you ask or where you find your information, you will come upon conflicting responses. Some street photographers will say that it is about capturing the emotion and expressions of people, while others may put a higher emphasis on the urban environment. However I believe that the most effective street photographs are the ones that synthesize both the human element as well as the urban environment. To capture a moment in which a person is interacting with the environment or in which the environment is interacting with the person is a true mark of a skilled street photographer.

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But when it comes down to it, it is basically taking photos on the streets. So instead of chasing sunsets and exotic creatures, you look for ordinary places and ordinary people and creatively compose them in a clever way. Anybody can take a good picture of a sunset. Although there are many technical details, which go into capturing a perfect sunset, anybody can simply point their camera and capture a sunset, which is inspiring. But when it comes to street photography, you must constantly be looking for contrasting elements in the environment, which make a photograph interesting.

Simply put, the main focus of street photography is taking the everyday and the mundane and making it into something unique and beautiful.”

It’s the way I “see” it…

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Henri Cartier-Bresson said photography is like “…putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis”.

We have to be able to anticipate, to understand, to “see”, to “feel” a street scene in a fraction of time and we must capture that moment in a meaningful frame. The composition is also fundamental. Not only is it about the capture of the moment. It’s also the perfect combination of having your head, eye, heart…and your finger in the same axis. I think this “axis”, this characteristic, is indispensable to be a street photographer and not an ordinary “street shooter”.

Here is a very special Robert Capa quote that I try to follow in my photography work: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

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Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? Street is Life. Street is always different every day. It is always surprising. I never know what I will find and that attracts me. I love to walk; I love people; I love life. I need the street & people to live.

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What motivates you to photograph the streets? First of all I like People: real People. Second, I am always looking for THE moment, I never captured and, probably, I will never find. Third, I like low light conditions – rainy days and problematic places.

Usually I walk on foot about 10, 15 to 20 kms a day… walking, talking with strangers, photographing what I can and what I feel. Sometimes it’s easy, other times not.

Many times I repeat the route. It is always different in-spite of being the same…the people always change as well as situations, lighting, sounds … It is and it will always be a challenge to try to make something different when exploring the same places. It’s fundamental to be innovative in the same spots. The “glance” the “way to see” must be creative every day. It’s a challenge, not only for me, but for everybody who also shoot at “my” favorite places… I am always hoping that someone can see something I never saw in my usual spots. Creativity is so important, isn’t it?

My type of photography is a little bit solitary. But I always feel accompanied by the world that surrounds me.

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Is Street Photography an obsession? Completely. It’s a way of life… my way…

Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? For me street photography is a solitary task. I can’t do it in groups. I always do it alone.

I am often invited to be with more people. When we talk, they are surprised to find out I don’t have my camera. I tell them I have to concentrate and not talk when I photograph. So when I am with them I am also equally as concentrated to talk to them.

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I also like to walk into dangerous places. If I go with other people I can’t predict how others will react in situations. I had experiences with foreigners who want to walk with me and things became complicated. I recall one interesting visit from a guy who lives in England. He came to Lisbon to meet me. He asked if I liked dangerous places and if I could take him there. So I took him there .. to a “not very dangerous place”… He was scared and shaking all the time…

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Are you an invisible photographer or visible? Many times you must be invisible. Be part of the scenery…this will allow you to be more aware of what’s going on. It allows you to recognize any kind of problematic situations. Hopefully none. But you never know. Other times you have to establish a fantastic connection with “street People”, talking with them, hearing them, respecting them.

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I just want to say, we are here to learn and you have to share what you learn – it is the way. It is the only way to grow up. If people are too confident then they never grow as a person. It happens with everyone everywhere. In my data processing days I talked IBM, UNIVAC (Unisys), ICL languages. In order for others to learn this new language from me, I had to write down my experiences. I had to in order to share. People who left my company would leave no instructions. So it was difficult to correct errors. Just like in life- you have to share, analyze the experience. Compare notes. And you have to love people. I can’t accept those who don’t like people on the streets. It’s impossible! You can’t be a street photographer for more than one or 2 hours max. I know some of these people. I call them street shooters. They shoot everything that moves- they don’t think about the emotions.

Favorite street photography city: Lisbon and Paris.

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What inspires your photography? The work of photographers I admire and the People.

Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? Of course! Everybody reflects his own personality in the Art they can produce. Photography is a reflection of our souls, of our way of being in this world and our own individual aesthetic sense.

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Can you describe your style? Your aesthetic? I don’t know if I can describe it. I think others can describe better than me. Only thing I can say, I’m always searching for the special moment. I don’t like to shoot just to shoot. Sometimes in my sleep, I dream about a special framing of a place where I go many times. I see a composition I never saw before. Then I go to the spot of my dream the following day. It turns out weird and surreal.

Lisbon is a very beautiful and small town with a special light. It’s challenging to see something new when you walk the same places all the time. I repeat the same route day after day. But it always looks different.

I do think when it comes down to it, photography is a challenge to yourself. It is self portraiture.

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What do you look for in a good photograph by others? As in any piece of Art: emotion. I don’t have to explain why I like some photograph. For me it is enough to be emotionally affected, to feel all my senses revving up… and chills in the body.

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Can you describe the entire process of photographing these photos, from preparation to when you pressed the shutter button? For me, this is a very emotional photograph (below). I do not know the old man. He is a very poor man who collects pieces of paper to sell afterwards. He is rather famous in this particular area, because everyone would say he is a bad man. At first I was a afraid to photograph him, but I could not resist. Then I saw how the dog loved him and vice versa. I took 3 shots even though I thought maybe it would be my last photograph. At the time I was thankful he didn’t see me.

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This area is called Cacilhas where the river is in the middle. I went back with a print for him and discovered he had died. I found the family and gave them photograph. They cried. This kind of situation happened to me many times, especially when I photograph old people.

As for the composition, I can tell you the area in itself is not beautiful. It’s difficult to shoot as here is only the wall. At the time I instinctively knew how to frame it and shoot it. I have never thought about it until you asked me. Now that we are talking about it, the man on the right made the composition although the emotion speaks for itself. Up until now, something made me push the button.

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How do you go about shooting a street photograph? I have my favorite spots, as everybody has, I am sure. The composition is very important as well as to get “THE” moment framed in a composition that attracts me.

I try to present myself the little scenes of the streets in which the people and the typically southern urban environment built by the people, form a perfect unity. Cobbles, walls made of stone, graffiti, children playing carelessly, old people reading newspapers or playing cards, etc.. In my photographs I present all people as unique and the most important part of my photographs. I try to gain an insight into their feelings, and thoughts with the help of their gestures, motions…

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How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? First the image must attract me provided it has achieved the following aspects: It has to be emotional, the lighting has to be just right, the composition is perfect and there is a story behind it. I usually shoot during the day. While at night, I look over the photographs. I give a quick look and try to choose one or two that I like more over the others. To be honest I have some thousands of photos I have never seen.

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Best 3 tips for shooting the streets:

Always be alone.

Always be concentrated.

Always try to anticipate the moment.

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Best single advice on how to improve your work: Always carry the camera and use it. Always be very critical with yourself.

Best single advice on how to edit your work: Less is more…

Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Choose a project and never forget: Love and respect People.

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What’s the best moment in your street photography career? The most important is the friendship and respect I feel everyday from the occasional “street models”. Usually I try to give the photographs I made before to the people I photograph.

Besides this I think it was very important here in Portugal that my first and only book “Street Photography” book was the winner of the award of Authors 2011, sponsored by the Portuguese Society of Authors in audio-visual category, for the “Best Work of Photography”.

What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? When I arrive home and I don’t like any photograph made during the day.

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What projects are you working on? I have always a sociological interest on my street “work”. I am involved in some social projects in problematic neighborhoods of Lisbon. I always look for real People and I learn a lot everyday with the anonymous people in the streets.

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? In this world, doing exactly the same I am doing now, so help me my legs…

Are there exhibitions planned in the future? Maybe, if my sons and my girlfriend will oblige me…

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

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

This is Rui’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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