Drama and comedy, two key elements that drew me to Becky Frances’ images the moment I laid eyes on them. Becky is our featured street photographer of the week. She has some wonderful images to share with you as well as some interesting insights into image titles, women in street photography, interaction with subjects and more. Take a look for yourself.
What drew you to street photography initially?
I started taking portraits of my daughter in 2003, using London as the backdrop for my images. Over time I started noticing colourful characters and situations that were happening around me and I started to document them. I’m not really sure if I knew to label it street photography at the time, or if I even knew what that was.
You say you take shots on a whim, yet I’d say that quite often you capture that decisive moment. What makes you shoot? Is it a certain feeling, certain people, a glance from a stranger?
When I’m out, I look for something that really catches my interest, something I hope would set my image apart. This can be anything from how light hits a subject, to the use of vibrant colour, to interesting interactions between people. I shoot fewer frames now than when I first started, I’ve learnt to edit in my head before I press the shutter. I still have frames that don’t work but I always know when I’ve hit the jackpot and will have something I like – that’s an exciting feeling.
I love that some of your images and captions are quite funny (take “Pug Life” for example). Do you look specifically for funny situations? And, how do you come up with your image titles?
I don’t look specifically for funny situations but its always a bonus if I come across one. The photograph of the dog in Pug Life was a lucky catch in a way because he was an excitable puppy that didn’t want to stay still for the camera. I have my camera set to take multiple frames and that’s how this image came about. Sometimes the tiniest change between one frame and the next can make all the difference.
I struggle with image titles most of the time. I have a pet hate of using a flat out description of what is happening in the scene. I rely a lot on song titles and lyrics.
Street photography is a field most often dominated by men. Why do you think that is? What do you think women can contribute to street photography?
I think women can contribute exactly the same as men to street photography. It should make no difference at all which sex is behind the lens. All it takes is practice and a bit of confidence and maybe that’s what some women find difficult. Getting into confrontational situations is not everyone’s cup of tea. Having said that, there are plenty of great female street photographers out there so maybe we’re just not as good at self promotion as we should be?
Do you ever interact with your subjects? Why or why not?
I tend not to interact with my subjects before I take a photograph. I like to have as natural representation as possible of a scene. I will sometimes wait for a person I’m photographing to notice me though, reactions to photographers can produce some priceless moments.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration when it comes to street photography?
I admire the work of both Bert Hardy and Don McCullin who have produced some beautiful social documentary work shot mainly in London in the latter half of the last century. I also admire the documentary work of Mary Ellen Mark whose photographs I sometimes find difficult to look at because the struggle of her subjects is so obvious to see. Diane Arbus’ surreal portraits are images I revisit again and again too.
Be sure to give Becky a follow on Flickr. There you’ll find many more images filled with that special something we’re all trying to capture.