Where are you from and how did you get into street photography?
I live in a small town called Carluke which is in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. I first started photography when I was at high school in the late 1970’s and I suppose some of the frames that I was making at the time were street, although I wasn’t aware of that term until much later in life, when I made a return to serious photography about fifteen years ago. While I was at school I took a keen interest in documentary photography, and that has stayed with me to this day. I have also worked in other photographic genres, but a few years ago I made a conscious decision to concentrate solely on street, and since doing so I feel as though a new world has opened up for me.
How would you describe your street photography style? What do you hope to transmit with your images?
I’m not sure how I would describe my style, maybe others would be better placed to do that. However, I would like to think that any style that I do have is constantly evolving, as I’m constantly trying out new ideas and taking inspiration from new sources. There are a couple of aspects of my photography that may constitute a style of sorts, I always work in strict 3:2 format and I like to get in close with a wide lens, often with a low viewpoint. I like to invite the viewer right into the frame, to live in the scene.
Are there any street photographers in particular that you draw inspiration from?
Saul Leiter is probably the one well known photographer who I admire the most. I’ve always experimented with new ideas, most of which remained well hidden from scrutiny. However, when I first discovered his work, I was astounded, and this gave me the confidence to pursue and share my own ideas. I have an ever-growing photo book library featuring all the big names and this provides a constant source of inspiration, but more importantly assists with my own development and learning. I am particularly fond of the colour work produced in the second half of last century, Tony Ray-Jones, Alex Webb, Harry Gruyaert, Fred Herzog, Joel Meyerowitz to name a but few. There are also a lot of photographers whom I know of through social media, both here in Scotland and further afield that I admire greatly.
Looks like you aren’t afraid to go out and shoot in the rain. Got any good tips for rainy day street photography?
Yes, I love working in the rain, some of what I consider to be my best work has been taken in inclement conditions. This is when people are lost in their own worlds, whether that be behind window condensation or hiding under umbrellas. The biggest problem is keeping the camera dry while shooting in heavy rain. Although my main camera and lens is weather sealed, I use Op/Tech rain sleeves for added protection. Good waterproof clothing and footwear is essential, I find that as long as I’m comfortable I can carry on through bad weather. However, if you are cold and wet then it’s hard to concentrate and get into the moment
Where is your favorite place to take photographs and why?
Most of my photography takes place in Glasgow. It’s only a 30-minute train journey away from where I live and is a wonderful city to work in and document, both in terms of architecture and also just how friendly the people are. Earlier this year I took early retirement from work, so this allows me to get out more frequently, usually three or four times a week, and work at a more considered pace where I can really explore ideas. Glasgow has everything from very old buildings through to new glass ones, and the street orientation in the city centre allows for some fantastic light, when it’s not raining! The old city that I knew is rapidly changing, so I’m currently working on a series that will hopefully document the city as it evolves through those changes.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in street photography and how have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge by far was time, when I was working full time, I could only get out at the weekend, and time was always against me. I never really felt like I was putting the necessary time in to allow my work to evolve beyond a basic level. As mentioned earlier I’ve now retired. This followed a cancer diagnosis and treatment, so now I take a different view of time. I have plenty of time to concentrate on my own work, study the work of others and generally get much more exposure to what’s going on in the global world of street photography, and in those six months I feel I have made huge leaps in my own work, particularly when it comes to producing more complex frames that ask for some thought from the viewer.
What is your most memorable moment or photo from street photography?
My most memorable moment and photo of it was when I was in Glasgow city centre, very early one Sunday morning a few years ago. I heard a couple who were walking towards me along Argyle Street arguing very loudly about some very personal business. Both were slightly the worse for wear, he was carrying a child’s plastic chair that I assume they had stolen from the MacDonald’s restaurant further along the street and she was nursing a can of lager. Some subjects are best discussed in the privacy of home. It was really funny and still makes me smile today when I look at that frame. This may sound like stereotypical Glaswegians but thankfully not so nowadays.
What has street photography taught you?
Apart from the improvements made to my own abilities as a photographer, I’ve met many wonderful people through street photography, some with cameras but many without. There are some real characters in Glasgow with amazing stories, some of whom I’m now on first name terms with but have never actually photographed. Sometimes it’s nice just to be a part of the life on the street.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Cameron and see more of his work, be sure to visit his Flickr photostream or website. This photographer was selected from our Flickr group (Street Photography Magazine), where we regularly choose photographers’ work to be published in our magazine.