Note: Every Wednesday, I feature street photographers with great skill and soul. For this week, I decided to feature street photographer Piotr Golebiowski! I met Piotr by an insightful comment he left on my blog regarding using his Olympus EP-1 for street photography. I took a look at his work and was blown away! Check out all of the other featured street photographers of the week here!
1. How did you get started in street photography?
Photography has been my hobby for more than 20 years now, but my adventure with street photography started in July 2009 with one photograph I took during a walk near my home. It is titled “On the watch” and it shows a cat and a dog looking through a window. There was something magic in that moment. It lasted only for a couple of seconds and the guys in the window reminded me of some elderly people who like to sit in the window and watch the world passing by. Later I received a comment on Flickr saying “I think the cat is keeping the dog captive.”
At the time I was already fascinated by great photographs of Elliott Erwitt. I admired his ability to capture irony in our everyday life and I was amazed by the way he photographed dogs revealing their human character. I started digging more into the street photography subject and one day I found a very interesting interview with Joe Wigfall – New York street photographer, where he explains how “he sees with his hands”… I strongly encourage you to listen to that interview here or look at this short video where he explains his shooting technique here.
2. How do you shoot in the streets?
After “On the watch” photography incident I wanted to carry my DSLR everywhere I went, but it was just to bulky and to heavy to be carried around. Also, the DSLR makes you “look like a photographer” and after listening to Joe Wigfall’s interview I tried to avoid that. This is how I ended up buying a smaller micro 4/3ds camera Olympus E-P1.
When I shoot in the streets I try to remain invisible. I compose the images without looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD, often shoot from the hip or with the camera hanging from my neck. I learned that you have to be always ready, as you never know when the right moment comes. And when it comes, it’s to late to switch the camera on. So I turned off the “sleep mode” in my camera :) I do a lot of candid shots. I try not to show my photography intentions to people in the streets, because I think the moment they notice the camera, they stop being themselves, stop behaving naturally. They subconsciously start to pose, act unnaturally, not to say they simply wouldn’t like to have their picture be taken.
Believe me or not, but the “Father & Son” photograph was taken without these guys knowing they were being photographed. I was standing in front of them in the crowded place, fascinated by how bored they were and at the time I pressed the shutter I was looking in a different direction. Sometimes such photographs require a lot of luck, but I think it is worth trying despite the fact that some of the shots are totally messed up.
Besides shooting in the streets while walking, I often shoot from the moving car or bus/tram while panning the shot. I do it not only because I don’t have much time for photo walks during the week and I shoot from the car (passenger’s seat) on my way to work, but I love how the movement of the vehicle I’m in adds to the drama and emotions of the photograph. When you pan the camera only the subject you’re panning on remains in focus, while the background, foreground gets that additional motion blur. I love that movement in the frame.
And last but not least, I sometimes visualize my street photographs before I take them and wait for certain character to enter the scene like in the “Creepy elevator” image for example. When people start to look strangely at what I’m doing, I smile. It helps… sometimes.
3. What do you love most about street photography?
I love capturing these moments, often lasting only a fraction of a second, moments when you would think that nothing special was really happening, and an interesting character suddenly walks by with that unique look in the eyes. If not captured by the camera, these moments are lost forever, often people wouldn’t even know they happened. I try to look for interesting characters in the streets even when I don’t have the camera with me or when it’s dark. I try to visualize the photographs I could have taken at that moment. Such visualization helps to improve and train the photographer’s eye.
I’ve noticed that street photography had opened my eyes. I see more interesting people in the streets, sometimes I even recognize the same strangers and when it happens I feel like they are not strangers to me any more :)
Liked Piotr’s work? Show him some love and leave him a comment below! :)