Tell us more about Fireflies, why did you name your ongoing series Fireflies?
Fireflies are regular ordinary insects by day that transform into beautiful, mystic creatures at twilight. Growing up in Sri Lanka, I was always fascinated by this beautiful magical creature.
Fireflies have captivated humans for centuries with their beautiful light: the essence of photography…
To me, street photography is turning regular, ordinary moments of daily life and freezing them in a split second to make them extraordinary, somewhat like a firefly on a perfect summer night.
Interesting, how long have you been working on this series?
I must begin by mentioning that the images in “Fireflies” have no connection to each other. I do work on long term projects, but when it comes to street photography I like to keep my options open and avoid limitations of a project when going out to shoot. Having said that, I have been working in street photography for two years now, but more importantly, I intend to shoot for the next 40 years or more – that is, if I don’t die before (Laughs).
40 years is a long time…
Exactly, I’m no genius but I have my ideas clear. I don’t want to be someone who is shooting only three to five or 10 prime years and then stops trying. I shoot as if there’s no tomorrow but am always thinking that I will be still shooting when I’m walking with my grand children someday. A good example is Daido Moriyama. I wish to have his hunger when I am old…. I mean older
Sounds like a plan – and a good one. Tell me, how did you get into street photography?
That happened when I came across the work of my father-in-law made in the 80s. A series he made about a rock band named “Beatrice” from Hungary impacted me so much I started with photography. Later on I discovered the work of Matt Stuart. I’d say both had big impacts in my start.
What gear do you use?
Something small and black preferably. To me, street photography is already complicated enough, so I try to use cameras fairly small in size. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way after throwing away a lot of cash. Currently I use a Leica TL2 or the Fuji X70 or the Ricoh GR. Everything that can fit in my jacket pocket. When I’m not shooting street I use a Leica M6, mostly with my kids or close family.
If you were to give any advice to someone starting street photography, what would it
Well, to be honest, I’m no one to give advice, in fact I need advice myself. But if someone can learn from my stupid mistakes, I’d say you don’t need a Leica to take better pictures, all you need is to spend time and never stop searching.
Also, buy a lot of books and if you cannot afford them, search for the images on a computer. Not on a 1-inch Instagram screen but a PC and Google would do.
It was nice talking to you, any wishes for 2019?
I have many but something really important that I wish will change in the near future in the number of female street photographers representing Collectives and Festivals. The numbers are a horror to look at. We’ve done a short study and there are 175 men to 15 women in major street photography collectives and looking at all the active great female street photographers this representation doesn’t seem fair or right to me. Will work on getting the message to the collectives personally. Here are the numbers if you were wondering:
- iN-PUBLiC: 25 (living) members, 2 women (Graciela Magnoni, Narelle Autio)
- VIVO: 15 members, 1 woman (Alison McCauley)
- OBSERVE: 15 members, 2 women (Kristin Van den Eede, Danielle Houghton)
- BURN MY EYE: 18 members, 2 women (Ania Klosek, Diada)
- STRANGE.RS: 15 members, 1 woman (Ludmilla Morais)
- FULL FRONTAL: 12 members, 1 woman (Michelle Groskopf)
- SECONDS2REAL: 11 members, 2 women (Elisabeth Schuh, Natalie Opocensky)
- THE STREET COLLECTIVE: 9 members, 0 women
- STREET PHOTO THAILAND: 20 members, 2 women (Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Sirma Chaipreechawit)
- NYCSPC: 22 members, 2 women (Cat Byrnes, Laura Fontaine)
- SFCPC: 14 members, 0 women