What drew you to street photography initially?
I am fascinated by people, by human nature, by human diversity. Richard Powers, a celebrated American novelist, once said that the purpose of art is to remind us that there are an infinite number of options that we haven’t even considered yet. By observing people in the streets and by photographing them I am reminded that there are many options that I never considered, or even conceived. That’s what drew me to street photography.
How would you describe your street photography style?
The city is a mess. What interests me is the individual. I always try to isolate a single person or a small number of people in the frame. Urban solitude is my favorite subject in street photography. That’s what I try to explore. Loneliness in urban environments fascinates me. It does so because we are intrinsically lonely. We typically hide that solitude behind small talks, cell phones and superficial relationships. However, past all of that, we are alone. The main challenge we face in life is how to deal with that solitude. That’s what I investigate through street photography.
I love the way you capture people. What do you think it takes to make sure your images include the “human element”?
The individual. That’s what matters to me. I am not interested in crowds. I look for interesting people in interesting situations. Sometimes I follow a person for a few blocks, I observe him/her, I try to predict what he/she will do, and I wait for the right moment to make the photo. I do not shoot in burst mode; it’s always a single click. It is not easy to produce a meaningful image. Everyday we see hundreds of uninteresting images, images that don’t tell a story, images that reveal nothing about human nature or the human condition. My goal is to produce meaningful images. If I can only produce a dozen of meaningful images in a given year, be it. Ansel Adams once said that twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop. I agree with him. That holds true even in the digital age.
I love this image:
Can you tell us about it?
That image was produced in Recife, Brazil. That’s where I live. I was doing some street photography downtown when a small group of people who are committed to some local traditions started singing and dancing among the people who were walking by. There were many people walking around and over a dozen of local artists singing and dancing. As I noted earlier, my interest lies in the individual, not in crowds of people. I then tried to capture one artist and one person who was walking around and seemed uninterested in what was going on. That’s what I tried to capture.
You have a lot of pictures with people staring at their phones. Is there some meaning behind those images (other than the fact that it is a common sight nowadays)?
Yes, there is: Urban solitude. Nowadays we hide our inherent solitude behind cell phones and social media. The illusion that we are never alone is the king of all illusions. That’s what I try to capture in my images.
What has street photography taught you?
Street photography has taught me that diversity should always be appreciated. The city is full of people who think differently, who have different outlooks on life, who have different life stories; and that’s fine. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to life. Street photography has also taught me that there are an infinite number of options that I have never even considered.
My images and my street photography blog can be accessed at www.cribari.com.br .
You can also see more of Francisco’s work on his Flickr photostream.