How did you start taking pictures on the street?
A love for art, photography, observing people and wanting to progress my camera skills, a working trip abroad, the purchase of a new camera, a HCB photobook, a Vivian Maier exhibition, the encouragement from loved ones, a determination to get something even if it’s bad and then show people.
Of all your images you have made, can you share with us your own personal favourite and the story behind it?
One of my favourites is a shot I took in Tokyo’s subway whilst teaching English in Japan. Standing on the platform using a remote flash and slow shutter speeds, I was shooting into the carriages speeding in and out of the station. I was working on an instruction set by Simon Kossoff, as part of the Street Photography Now Project’s 3rd year on flickr. The brief was to take a safari (not literally of course) and photograph the Human Zoo, luckily for me I’d found a section of the platform where there was a poster of a wildlife theme park with animals on it, which I thought was a genius idea to juxtapose in the background against my human zoo of rush hour workers. I played around with a few shots, panning the carriages as they pulled in and left the station, but it wasn’t working, I was getting stale boring shots of the poster with nothing of interest from the packed carriages. I took a few more shots, and then one when the carriage was leaving, I noticed the girl in the hat and aimed for her, hoping to get the poster too. Instead I got her in front of the poster, but with some other interesting elements either side. I hadn’t noticed the uniqueness of what I had captured until about 5 minutes later, because it was at that point a guard came racing towards me uttering the words dame, dame, “stop that” in Japanese, and signalling with his hands. I smiled and played my tourist card, whilst packing up and leaving the platform, I studied my captures, and noticed that something quite nice had occurred with my last shot. The street gods had smiled for me that day!
You are from London, do you like shooting in London or more so when you travel?
If I’m honest, I’d say recently I prefer shooting more when I travel. I think the most obvious reason is the buzz I get from new surroundings and culture. I get a bit restless with my own location, sometimes it’s hard to see through the familiar streets and sites, I do need to venture round London more though, it’s a big place with lots to explore, but I guess it’s hard trying to find fresh ways to present the same streets is what I’m saying, or maybe I need to look at ways to do that, or find new streets. Until then I appreciate the good fortune right now in my life, that I have the opportunity to work and live abroad every year. My next destination is Chengdu, China.
Do you have any other hobbies other than photography?
Yes, I have been doing meditation for over 5 years, a form of Vippasanna. Meditation is a key for unlocking a lot of doors in my life, and it grounds me generally speaking. I see a lot of parallels with street photography, for me it’s quite a meditative practice sometimes. With both techniques, I’m aiming to let go and just observe the experience without forcing it, the more I do this, the easier it is to slide into “the zone” and sometimes this presents magical moments! 🙂
Who is your inspiration (photographically or otherwise)?
Photographically, apart from the likes of some Magnum photographers that I have come to really admire and like, including Parr and Webb, no real shock there, as well as the usual street legends and present day collectives , I would have to say some of my inspiration and motivation comes from viewing the work of and interacting with other street photographers, they inspire me a lot, in particular, I’d like to give a big shout out to all my good friends at 14 Street (a private flickr group), made up of extremely talented photographers from all over the world, including the UK, USA, Ireland, Germany, Argentina, Turkey, Canada, Greece, Israel..Their talent and support continues to motivate and inspire me to do better work.