Note: Every Wednesday, I feature street photographers with great skill and soul. For this week, I decided to feature amazing street photographer Jurgen Burgin. I first stumbled upon Jurgen’s work when he left a comment on my blog, which made me check out his Facebook page. I was mesmerized by his great eye, and wanted to share his phenomenal work with the rest of you and the community. Check out his interview and leave a comment to show him some love below!
1. How did you get started in street photography?
It’s not too long ago, less than two years that I bought my first SLR. I started taking photos of birds, landscapes and so on, but living in a big city like Berlin, I soon started to shoot architecture – and finally people. To get some inspiration I went to my public library and read literally hundreds of photo books, of all kinds of photographers. That’s when I discovered the classic street photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai and so on. So those hundreds of photo books tought me everything I know about taking a good photo. And there was a lot of try and error, sure an advantage of digital photography: You can shoot hundreds of photos and try to find out how the aesthetics of photography works.
2. How do you shoot in the streets?
I think much of my photography is about the relation of people to their environment. It’s for example about solitude in a big city. So one of my favourites is to shoot lonesome people amidst depressing architecture. You have to find architecture first – and wait for the right people to come. But I think the most effective way to produce some artwork is – emotion. And that’s often still a secret for me how capturing emotion works. I’m sure often it has something to do with gestures, mimic, views. It’s all kind of different ways I’m taking my photos then: Often it’s a candid way, or I love taking photos at tourist’s places in Berlin, but not photographing the sightseeing places but the tourists themselves. Sometimes I ask people too, if I can take photos of them, but this is a hard thing, as most people have a photo face then which persists of an artificial smile.
Another thing that goes beyond emotion is storytelling. My exercise is: Tell a story with one photo. Bring some elements together, so that they evoke a story. That brings us to one of my key points in art: The role of the recipient, the viewer. The viewer is an active part in arts. He brings his experiences, his background, his emotions into the reception, into the interpretation of an artwork. So it’s my duty as an artist, to keep the artwork open to interpretation, open to a subjective, POV interpretation. The next thing that is important to me is love – love to the characters of my photography. I don’t like photos that expose or unmask people, be it for their ugliness or their stupidity or so. It’s like a good novelist does: Love your protagonists.
3. What do you love most about street photography?
As I started taking street photos, I began to take a new view to the world. Nothing is like it was before. I learned to become a much better observer, observing environments, observing people, observing their behaviour, their emotions, their actions. I started being much more interested in people on the street than before. So I love finding situations, find and tell some of the thousand of “untold stories” that happen every day in our neighbourhood – and normally no one realizes them. And I love to evoke emotions and telling stories with limited possibilities.
4. What is the #1 tip you have for aspiring street photographers?
Look at as much photographic artworks you can find every day. Find an audience to get some feedback. That will help you learn a lot. Show the photos to your friends and ask them to tell what they feel, try every Social Media possibility to receive some feedback. Go to facebook, twitter, any photo community. I’m sure every photographer has to find his own way, it’s something like your own style. Your style has something to do with your biography, your emotions, your situation in life, your experiences, but also about what you are thinking about arts and the role of arts.
At the moment he is also working on his website, which will be hopefully done by the end of the year here.
Do you know someone who may be great for the featured street photographer of a week? Leave me a recommendation in the comments below! And don’t forget to give Jurgen some love too! :)