What drew you to street photography initially?
At the very beginning I was drawn to street photography by the color street photographs of Joel Meyerowitz from the 1960’s and 70’s. I was really amazed by how he can show us the really poetic, sometimes strange but always funny sides of life in the streets. Before that time I had never realized the street could be pictured with so much beauty and spontaneity.
Just like probably everyone in France that has never tried to go deeper in street photography, I used to imagine it through its clichés: for example black and white pictures of chidren playing in the Parisian 1950’s streets that you can buy everywhere in the tourists places.
Thanks to Joel Meyerowitz I discovered how much the colors (and especially the rendering of color films) could provide beauty in street photography. That’s why I started to shoot with a color film camera. I’m still taking almost half of my pictures with films, depending on what I want to do.
More recently I really got interested in the work of great black and white street photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand and fell in love with their work.
What do you think is the best way to capture the gestures and expressions that make street photos more human?
Being aware and curious about the things around you and not thinking about your camera. Your camera has to be set before you start walking and looking around. Otherwise, the camera will be a wall between you and your subject. You have to try to experience people’s feelings, forsee their movements and then shoot when it appeals to you.
You can wait for the good gesture when you feel that it could appear later or just be the quickest as you can when it comes right in front of you. Most of the time I just want to capture life in front of me without interfering with it. I think the closer you are, the more involved you feel with the subject. As I shoot with a 35 or 50mm lens equivalent, I try to be as invisible as possible.
I love this image:
Can you tell me a little about it?
In this case, I’m very glad she looked at me. I saw this woman waiting in colorful clothes compared to the rest of the scene, holding her neckband. So I approached her and I thought it might be a good shot when she will look to her left. I framed the picture but suddenly she turned to me. I instinctively took the picture just before the complete end of her movement when she still was natural, wondering what I was doing. Her hands are so expressive that we don’t even need to see her eyes. In this case I think the look she gave me is the strength of this photo. You can’t always be invisible and it’s sometimes good this way.
Where is your favorite place to shoot and why?
I don’t really have a favorite place. But I really enjoy taking pictures aborad. In your own country, it’s difficult to be striking because you are too familiar with the people or the lanscapes (even if I don’t forget that as Cartier Bresson said, you never know it enough). So you have to work harder to get something that interests you. On the other hand, you have to be careful when you’re working abroad not to take boring, touristic pictures. But if the place inspires you, it will certainly be good.
What has street photography taught you?
Street photography taught me not to be scared of people’s eyes and to be confident when I’m holding my camera in the street. It teaches me to see the street with a different perspective, to find interesting things that I wasn’t able to see before.
To see more of Vincent’s work, visit his Flickr photostream.