How exactly did you get started with street photography?
First off, I’d prefer to call it “fine art photography”, since I’ve started the profession as a fine art photographer. I’m an urban traveler and I like wandering around and losing myself within the city. Hence, I naturally developed an interest in street photography and my style has evolved around that genre.
You’ve been doing street photography for over a decade now, how has it changed? Or how have you changed as a photographer?
There is no doubt that things have changed. First of all, it’s getting harder everyday to be a street photographer since nowadays anyone who has a camera or a smartphone labels themselves as a photographer. Sure, everyone can take photos, but do you think is it right to be called a photographer just because you have the latest gadgets? Also, I think it’s even harder now to find yourself, your vision and style.
I’ve changed as well. I always look for the next best thing and follow the new and up-and-coming trends in photography. Because time passes and things change in their own peculiar ways, I can look back at my old works and realize that my sense of visualization has changed as well.
Where is your hometown in Azerbaijan? What is it like to do street photography there?
I’m from Baku and I have lived here all my life in a small region called Bayil. It was very difficult in the beginning because it was hard to express myself to the questioning eyes, to let them know that I’m just doing what I’m passionate about. People tend to put up barriers when they see you doing things independently and in your own will. I was trying to do my own thing, but I’d had to deal with stuff that’s not even related to my art.
But nowadays people are more tolerant and open to street photography thanks to social media. Yes, there are still some problems, but I’m observing a more relaxed audience.
In your opinion, what makes a street photo interesting?
It must be composed proportionally. It must give a sensation that makes the viewer not just see it and pass it by, but it should engage and even mesmerize them. And this all comes down to the photographer’s style. I believe I have a distinctive style, which developed over the years, and my followers could identify my style from others’ when they see one of my photos.
What are your biggest challenges in street photography and how do you overcome them?
I think this would be the authority’s power over everything – of those in authority not understanding what I’m after and making it difficult to shoot. By that, I mean giving permissions; or rather not giving them.
Are there any street photographers you draw inspiration from?
This is a difficult one. I wouldn’t give names but generally what draws my attention from a photo is the theme that it’s trying to pass through me. That also defines the way that photographer sees around.
What is your most memorable moment doing street photography?
Sometimes when I’m working on a scene people come up to me, tap on my shoulder and say “I know you, I’ve seen you earlier taking photographs,” and that makes me feel great. I’m known by my work and my subjects as we may call them. I travel a lot and these small moments make me proud of what I’m doing.
What has street photography taught you?
Patience, definitely. I used to be an impatient person and would try to finish the work as soon as possible. But now I know that excellence is my priority. Also, the ability to make quick decisions – sometimes things don’t turn out like I originally expected and my critical decision making, my risk taking, you might call it, helps make that frame turn out to be perfect despite any surprises.