What drew you to street photography initially?
Ten years ago I got my first DSLR. I started traveling so a friend told me I needed a good camera. I never had much interest in photography but during my trip to Jordan, I got hooked. My journey into photography started. First the usual suspects: sunsets, zoos, flowers, birds etc., so I learned how to use a camera. When I went for a safari trip to Kenya and Tanzania I started to do my first “street” shots and to be honest I was more happy with those pictures then the ones of the wildlife. Those shots told a story, I could feel the emotion of the people I captured. That’s were I discovered street photography for the first time. Of course, the first few steps into street photography were a bit scary and I had to overcome a lot, especially my own fears and shames.
Where is your favorite place to shoot and why?
The streets of all big cities are my playground, but my favorite city is Tokyo. After my trip to Kenya I had to go to Japan due to personal circumstances, however, I took my camera with me. When I had some time off, I went out to do some street and it was an instant love affair with street photography but with Tokyo as well. I love it out there, the people, the rush of the city, modern, but also traditional in a way I had never experienced before.
On every corner I could find another small story to capture. A city of millions where you can get lost in the crowds in search of that one shot. I always try to find a good excuse to go back to Tokyo so after 6 trips a fair bit of my street work has been made there.
What do you think is the best way to become a better storyteller – to capture images that tell stories?
In my opinion the best way to become a better storyteller within your own photography is to learn from other photographers/artists. Go out to some good photo exhibitions, buy or borrow some good photo books. Study the work of photographers like Bruce Davidson, Michael Wolf, Henri Bresson Cartier and Bruce Gilden to name a few. Let other photographers inspire you and try to apply what you have seen and from there, try to create your own style of storytelling within photography.
I love this image:
Can you tell me a little about it? And how do you work around crowds to get this kind of image? How do you single out certain individuals?
My images are all about the people on the streets but I always try to blend in the surroundings in my composition. That’s why I love to get upclose to people and snap them with a width angle lens, so I have my portrait but also the surroundings.
When I was wandering around Harajuku, a district know for his youth and fashion culture, my eye felt on these scary looking “Halloween” images and I saw a lot of people pass them. Interesting backdrop plus a lot of people, so an opportunity for an a good image. So I stopped and made 15 portraits of people passing by. Loved this image the most because the girl looks a bit scary too.
And how do I single out a certain individual in a crowd? To be honest, that’s a hard question. Often you don’t have the time to think about it, because when you think, the moment is gone. I really listen to my instinct when I see an interesting person or situation. I act and make a shot without even thinking about it. That instinct will get better and better by going on the streets often and do a lot of shooting. So practice a lot and don’t be demoralized when you get home with no good images. That’s all about the process of learning how to make images on the streets. In the words of Henri Bresson Cartier: ““Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
What has street photography taught you?
Street photography taught me to respect the subject you capture. Of course 99% of my work is candid but after doing it for 8 years, I have learnt to respect the people I shoot. Whenever I notice someone isn’t happy with my present I will stop making pictures and I will never make a picture of a person that can harm him or her in anyways. When, by accident, I make such a picture, I just won’t publish it. When you publish an image, always ask yourself “if I was the person on that image, how would I feel if it got published”. If the feeling is negative just don’t publish it. In my opinion that’s on of the greatest responsibility as a street photographer.
To see more of Victor’s work, visit his Flickr photostream.