B. Image: Interview: An insight from the lens of a Street Photographer
I have featured the extraordinary work of street photographer B.Image twice on the blog now and I am glad to bring you an interview directly from the man himself! Enjoy this insight into the work and life of this inspiring photographer.
How did you get into photography?
My interest in photography started during my school days when I did some portraits and street photography with a semi-automatic camera (it wasn’t my machine though). But it stopped for a good number of years because there wasn’t anyone to share this interest with. A handful of my colleagues who took up photography shared their skills and it was one of them who introduced me to flickr back in the year 2009. My interest for photography came back and shortly after that, I got my first camera, the Nikon D90.
What inspires you to create the work you do?
The people. Lives of people. To document where they have been to and what they were doing, the attire they were wearing on that particular day at that very second through my lens. “This is you. You were there, on this street and a street portrait of you was taken.” And when they look back (hopefully), they will remember that this event has happened in their lives and they are part of the street portraits series.
What is the most satisfying part of the photographic process for you?
The moment when I know that I’ve got the shot.
What do you aim to capture in your images, are their specific messages in your photography?
Nothing pretentious. Every street portrait that was taken portrays the stranger in his or her natural state/emotion. “Be yourself, be natural”.
Do you use any specific techniques in your work? (i.e. HDR, Long exposures)
There are not any special techniques. It’s the usual aperture priority or manual. I wouldn’t want to hold the stranger up for more than one minute.
What are your future ambitions for your photography? Where do you want to go with your work?
Portraiture photography is one area that I will continue to pursue, especially street portraits because there is no end to it. I have been doing this in Singapore, some in Malaysia and a good handful in Bangkok. I do have plans to visit other places to keep the street portraits evolving.
I see you mainly focus on ordinary people on the street in your photography and you clearly have great people skills. How do you approach people you wish to photograph? How do you help them to relax in front of the camera?
A lot of people have asked me this question from time to time. This is what I do…
I walk a lot on the street. Yes a lot, from one spot to another and sometimes I will go to another location within the day if I have too. I stop by at different areas for breaks while still paying attention to the people. I observe the things that they do, be it reading something, talking on their mobile phone, texting, hanging out with friends, walking alone, how and the way they walk and at what pace. I observe the behavior, personality, aura and body language. Now that I’m doing street fashion, I will have to observe the attire as well. Yes, there are lots of factors that need to be taken into consideration before I step up to ask for a portrait. I can’t ask for everything, but I will be selective to choose the appropriate person at the proper time without invading their privacy on the street.
“Excuse me, can I take a picture?” When I ask, I look in the eyes of the stranger and smile at the same time while holding my camera in front of me. As you can see, three things are during the few seconds when I present my request. Looking in the eyes shows your sincerity, smiling makes the people feel at ease (people love a smiling photographer, this is very true!) and holding the camera in front of you allow’s the person to identity your interest immediately.
Do people question my motive? Yes they do, most of them do. And I have spent a long time thinking about how to convey my request across to the person in the shortest and most effective manner, to strike curiosity and make them want to be part of my street portraits collection. I also have to make sure that I do not fumble when I’m asked about the purpose of my image making process. I still remember back in the days when I started my “Street Portraits 365 Days”, I’ve used various opening lines and trying to explain my purpose behind the project. While I may have some success, I wasn’t too happy with my lines. But the idea became more apparent as I step out for more street portraits every weekend, and finally, I found my magic word.
It is almost impossible to get the people to feel relaxed in front of the lens if you are feeling tense behind your camera. I tell them what I want, to have them relate to my emotion and express it on their own. A little connection is all it takes to earn that trust between you and the intended person whom you approached. At the end of the day, they get the picture, I get, The Shot!
Thank you for very much for taking time out for the interview, Boong.
To see more of B.Images work, visit his Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/b-image357/.
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