This week’s featured street photographer of the week, Jacob Rodrigues, has a knack for capturing scenes that are striking and dramatic. Perhaps it is simply his vision. He takes the everyday moments on the street and turns them into images that embody the social and historic value we all hope to capture. I am sure you will enjoy his photos and thoughts on the art of street photography.
What drew you to street photography initially?
The very first time I picked up a camera as a young man I instinctively headed for the city. I had never heard Cartier-Bresson Frank or Klein, or any other of the great exponents of the street picture.
I was just drawn to take photographs of people and situations of interest. Shooting the countryside and landscapes was just too sedate. It was the excitement of that process that drew me to find interesting moments, the ones that we see but never normally observe in an artistic way.
Unlike landscape photography which is rather static, the street picture is like a soapy bubble – one minute it is there with shape and form, floating in time. The next, it has dispersed as if it never existed. However, when captured in its raw natural state, what remains is a static piece of social history/commentary. It can never be replicated in exactly the same way. This is the endless fascination of social documentary photography, the capturing of how people move through time oblivious to the way in which they could be observed by others.
How would you describe your street photography style?
I have never labelled myself with a particular style as I never set out to photograph in any particular way. A day out with my camera will be more of a thoughtless meditation, a frame of mind that allows the picture to find me rather than me trying to find something to photograph.
In that state, I have come to trust that where my eye is drawn there is a potential picture in the making. In that, I think my style might be referred to as ‘eclectic’, as there is nothing I will not take a picture of if it calls me to do so.
Today with so many people interested in and taking part in the activity of street photography, so many find it difficult to overcome the urge to take the cliched and often repeated style of picture. Keeping ones photography fresh, unique and uninfluenced is the never ending challenge that keeps me continually excited to keep walking the streets in anticipation of that image that keeps photographers doing what they do.
What would you say makes an image compelling?
This is a very difficult question to answer as each picture will evoke different or indifferent reactions from individual viewers.
When viewing any photograph, there must be an emotional connection that attracts me to stay with an image for an extra length of time without having to define its content.
One can analyse a picture intensely, intellectually and technically but without this quality there is no picture for me.
I believe another element to a compelling image is one that has a surreal component , starting from those subtle details one can never quite pinpoint but who’s presence strongly influence a picture in an undefinable way where the mind is suspended or disorientated, if only for a split second.
No matter how many shots I shoot in an outing, typically those with a surreal component combined with a specific detail are potentially released for others to see.
I’d say you’ve captured more than a few “decisive moments.” How do you do that? Also, how do you get so close to your subjects?
I have always been an observer of human behaviour. Often it is repetitive in nature and therefore somewhat predictable.
When out on the street, being focused and attentive helps to develop an instinctive anticipation predicting how a situation might unfold. Only when it all comes together and the timing is absolutely perfect do those elusive and rare so called ‘decisive moments’ get captured.
Getting up close to a subject has never been a challenge for me. Knowing when to engage someone prior to taking a picture and when to ‘shoot and disperse’ is just a function of experience. Regarding the latter, over the years I’ve learnt to think less and shoot from instinct, parking any fears which simply lead to hesitation that usually asphyxiates a potentially good shot.
What kind of gear are you using? Anything special?
My gear has moved from a Nikon DSLR To a Fuji XT1. At the moment I am bathing in the luxury and pleasure of a Leica Q. The 28mm fixed lens is a challenge as it requires that I get ever closer to the subject when compared to the 35mm that was the lens of choice on the Fuji. However this camera is still a joy to use.
Our heartfelt thanks, Jacob, for sharing your thoughts and images with our community. Be sure to visit Jacob’s Flickr photostream for more drama-packed images.