When Thomas Hackenberg heads out to do street photography, he’s a lone wolf and he’s fast. Armed with his Sony A7 and only a 35mm lens, he keeps things simple and unobtrusive. With this approach Thomas captures humorous street photos with quirky details and a real storytelling component. But there’s so much more to it than just gear and speed.
During our conversation, Thomas and I discussed the fact that there are a lot of cliché street photos out there. You know the kind – the ones filled with graphics, shadows, and silhouettes. Thomas believes that while everyone has their own taste, street photography should be much more personal than that. Instead of making images that are easily interchangeable or easy to replicate, he argues that street photographers should create images that are about people and the fleeting moments that happen on the street. He says that the key to making that kind of very personal image is to use your heart, your empathy, your emotions.
We also talked about a concept Thomas discussed in an article for the June issue of Street Photography Magazine called “Searching for My Very Own Rue Mouffetard” – the quest to make one iconic image as a street photographer.
Thomas has been practicing street photography for years and he gets much of his inspiration from a beautiful collection of photo books he has. A few of his favorites include:
- Personal Exposures – Elliott Erwitt
- Wild Flowers – Joel Meyerowitz
- Perfect Strangers – Melissa O’Shaughnessy
- Winogrand 1964 – Garry Winogrand
- All That Life Can Afford – Matt Stuart
- Stags, Hens & Bunnies – Dougie Wallace
- Cardiff After Dark – Maciej Dakowicz
Truly, there’s so much to this interview, I know you’re going to enjoy it. Learn about a German saying that translates (roughly) to “don’t give into your weaker self” and how it relates to street photography, what it means to have good street photography ethics, how to develop your personal street photography style, and more.
Give it a listen and enjoy this small selection of some of Thomas’ photos.