It is easy to see a fascination for life in the images shot by this week’s featured street photographer of the week, Taieb Mokni. Taieb also has some excellent thoughts on what to look for when out on the street and how to simply have a good time while capturing our own life experience in the people and places around us. I know you are all going to thoroughly enjoy this mini interview with Taieb and this selection of his images.
What drew you to street photography initially?
“When I was at the university, one of my friends asked me to put in my name along with some pictures he took to the annual photography competition (he wanted to increase his chances to see one of his pictures would be selected by the jury). Some of these pictures were effectively selected, and I officially had to pretend that I was a photographer! It was a bit humiliating…but in the end, that friend sold me a small camera and I became interested in photography for real!”
How would you describe your style?
“My style? I don’t think I have a special one, I just try to be patient and opportunist. But I love to see the work of famous photographers, I cannot say that they inspire me because I don’t have enough talent, but I truly do find pleasure in seeing their work. I would mention: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Martin Parr, Vivian Maier, Diane Arbus, Araki etc.…I also love more and more seeing the beautiful work of illustrious, yet anonymous photographers we can find on the web (on Flickr for example). They give me the inspiration and force to work more and more to try to improve my pictures.”
What do you look for when you head out on the streets? (i.e. specific places or kinds of people?)
“The first thing I look for is the attraction of the unknown scene: you don’t know what is going to happen, but you have to find something, to be aware, to feel the street, the place: to feel comfortable with yourself and your camera… This is not so easy, but when you find that state of mind – your pictures are better and you are happy!
“More concretely, I like to take close pictures of strangers, but it can be a portrait, or a piece of their clothing, their shoes or any originals details. I also like to create a story with the context, by placing the character like an actor in a middle of a scene (this is easier to do in a museum, which is why I love take pictures in museums or galleries).”
Do you have any tips on composition, camera settings, etc, for beginner street photographers?
“I use most of time the same camera because I know how to use it, which is not so complicated because I only use two modes: automatic or aperture priority. When I see something interesting, I must be quick! The pure technical part of the photography is not what I like the most… for the moment.”
Why do you think street photography as a genre is important?
“I love street photography, because it is a way to share how I see the world around me. It is objective, because what I photography really exists, but at the same time it is close to my inner world: what attracts my attention, my interest, what makes me react, what fascinates me. My hopes and my fears are in my pictures. I think we can learn many things about the psychology of a person just by looking at their pictures… (but maybe I’m wrong).”
I don’t think Taieb is wrong at all! In fact, I would have to agree whole-heartedly. As is the case with any form of art, a photographer captures what speaks to him or her and more often than not, those are things linked inseparably to their own life experiences, opinions, hopes, dreams and fears.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this small selection of Taieb’s photos. To see more, give him a follow on Flickr.