Note: Every Wednesday, I feature street photographers with great skill and soul. For this week, I decided to feature amazing street photographer Thomas Leuthard. I first met Thomas online when he decided to generously donate a large sum of money to help support my street photography trip to Beirut, Lebanon. After meeting in Lebanon, he was my guest speaker for my Street Photography 101 workshop and we became great friends as well. His technique and vision is exceptional, and I am constantly inspired by his work.
Also feel free to check out all of the other featured street photographers of the week here!
1. How did you get started in street photography?
This is difficult to say as there is no real start “date”. I was shooting a lot of things when I started in early 2008. I was 3.5 weeks in Beijing during the Olympics and there I somehow got infected to shoot people in their everyday life on the streets. But I didn’t realize that at that time. On a trip to Hamburg Germany in October 2008 I take probably my first street photo on purpose, which I still like very much. A little bit later I got my Nikon D90, took another course in photography and I remember very well, when we went to Strasbourg, France, with this class. There was a beggar outside of the cathedral asking for money. I gave her 1 Euro and take some pictures of here. This was the moment when I started to shoot people’s portraits from short distance. But it really started when I bought my 85mm lens in May 2009. Then I decided to shoot only with this lens in the streets and call me 85mm.
2. How do you shoot in the streets?
I take a lot of portraits as I like people’s faces and I like to go very close (up to 1.5 meter). In the meantime 85mm got to close and I use a 50mm to shoot in the streets. This have been my favorite lens for more than a year now. Apart from portrait I also take pictures of scenes, details and interesting backgrounds. Due to the 50mm lens this is all pretty close and it’s seldom that a person is on it with its full body. I like to use unusual perspectives and angles. Often I shoot from the floor or hold the camera diagonal.
3. What do you love most about street photography?
Street Photography is always different, it’s unpredictable, unique, happens only one and is always “there”. You can go out nearly all the time to a place where there are people. I also like to travel to different cities of the World to take photos in the streets. Like that I can combine two of my main interests. Since I like taking photos of people, even strangers, it is the curiosity about human nature which drives me. I want to see what people are doing and how the look like. The diversity of human out there, the different faces and what people do and not do. I also love to go out in the lunch break to just take some pictures during one hour. The advantage of street photography is really that it is there every time and you just have to go out and capture these moments.
4. What is the #1 tip you have for aspiring street photographers?
Don’t bother about the camera and the technique. Go out and shoot, shoot a lot in the streets. Take a topic or a theme and focus on something. Like that you will get better photos because you know what to look for and you will soon realize how many of such things are out there. Like when you choose a color, like I once did in Hamburg, Germany with the color Yellow. Suddenly there was a girl in front of me with yellow sunglasses. I would have not seen here not having this topic for that afternoon. There are so many things out there, which you don’t realize when you don’t focus on them. Also try to get a different angle and perspective. When 100 people would take a photo of something, 99 would do it in the same way. You have to think of a different way to make your photo to stand out of the crowd. It’s all about composing and not about technique and settings. If you are not used to shoot people, just try it, it is not as hard as you think. Most of the people won’t say anything.
Check out Thomas’ work on his website and add him on Flickr and Facebook as well! Not only that, but he recently published a book on his travel to Beirut, Lebanon titled: “A Trip to Beirut: To Worship Street Photography.” Check it out!