This week we are happy to introduce you to a relatively new street photographer who is taking some beautiful, minimalist shots on the streets of London. His name is Stephen Flounders (a.k.a. Stephen Jonathon Photography on Flickr) and if you haven’t seen his work yet, follow that Flickr link and get to browsing. I asked Stephen about a few of his techniques and whether or not he thinks street photography will stay relevant with the passing of time. Check out his answers, along with a small collection of his images, below:
What drew you to street photography initially?
I was initially drawn to street photography after trying various other genres. I have been shooting on the streets for just over a year. Being naturally curious and a people watcher, it just seemed to make sense to try street photography. I looked at the work of other street photographers, both old and new, and was fascinated by how images of people going about everyday life somehow seemed to conjure up stories and thoughts in my mind.
I decided to give it a go for myself and since then I’ve been hooked! I’m also just over 200 days into my 365 street photography challenge, which is indeed a challenge but is very rewarding.
Do you seek out the tunnels and arches that are common in your images or do you just come across them as you wander the streets?
I seem to be drawn naturally to tunnels, alleys and other underground locations. Whenever I walk through a tunnel I seem to be thinking about possible photo opportunities. I like the symmetry of round tunnels, and also the dark gritty feel to certain underpasses. In those images, the person is secondary to the scene, hence why I try to capture them from a distance or as a silhouette.
I also have a fascination with the underground in London. It is like a whole other world, particularly the larger stations where there are several tunnels and paths underground. Living and working in London gives me lots of opportunities to stumble across such locations, and I usually have my camera with me. If I don’t get the shot I want, I will go back again and again until I am happy.
How do you get your street portraits? Do you interact with your subjects? Why or why not?
My street portraits are all candid, and 99% of the time there is no interaction. I try to capture people candidly so there is no forced emotion or expression. I find people and their natural behaviours fascinating, so I try to reflect that rather than direct them to a certain position or to try a certain expression.
Where I do interact with a subject it is usually when they have noticed me taking their photo. Most people are happy enough if I explain what I am doing and show them the photo, and I will always delete it if they ask me to do so.
How would you describe your street photography style?
Describing my street photography style is a tricky one! As I’m relatively new to street photography, I like to think I am evolving and trying different styles. But I try to keep a minimalist feel to my work, regardless of what I am shooting. I’m not a fan of cluttered or busy images where it is difficult to pick out the main subject.
Wherever possible I try to only include only one or two people in my scenes, particularly if I am framing them in a tunnel or against a large negative space. Where I can’t isolate the person, I try to use a shallow depth of field to make the subject stand out, or sometimes I will use a slow shutter speed to create motion blur around my subject if my subject is still.
Do you think street photography will be relevant 50 years from now? Explain.
I definitely think street photography will be relevant 50 years from now. I love to look at old street photos, particularly of London.
Seeing how things have changed in and around London and other major cities over the past 50 years fascinates me, and as a street photographer I almost wish I could go back in time to capture London in previous ages. I think the same thing will be happening in 50 years again.
What we think of today as being modern and new will most likely be old, vintage and perhaps obscure to people in 50 years time. Sure, photography as a whole is much more accessible these days. We can all take photos on our smart phones; whilst the internet and social media means that anyone can shoot, edit and share their photos. But only a handful of those images will stand the test of time. I think that those images will be as important at documenting life as it is today as the images of Henri Cartier Bresson and street photographers of past generations are at showing us life on the streets 50 years ago.