Word on the street! – A street photographers’ story – Justin Curtis

I like to consider myself a street photographer. I do all other sorts of photography – parties, events, travel, landscape, portraits and more. But what I love most is street photography. That is my central groove. It is my art. That is what got me into photography in the first place. It got me out and about. It was also what led me to make the move to Fujifilm X Series cameras and bodies. I felt I had so much more creative control to capture my own style of art.

In reviewing all of the blogs that we have on the Fuji X Aus site, and there are a lot of highly informative and inspirational pieces, I have never pursued to write about street photography as a genre. I believe it will make for an interesting discussion and to find out why people become street photographers. Why does someone choose to become a full-time wedding photographer? Why does someone take hours and hours to create and style the perfect portrait shot? Surely it must be more than just commercial gain. For street photographers, there is no commercial gain. Or very little anyway. I believe it is all about the art. A frozen moment in time that will never exist again. An interpretation of life in motion. Or frozen in motion.

In this new series, I want to explore what street photography means to some of the street photographers that inspire me. Photographers whom I consider to be artists in their ability to control time, light and their own place in space and time to capture amazing street images. I want to get to know and share with your, dear reader, why they chose this genre, what their inspirations are and how they define this elusive field of photography. Our second interview is with Justin Curtis.  I have only known Justin a short while but have been incredibly impressed with his work not only in street photography but in almost every other genre.

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Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Born and bred in Melbourne and have travelled and lived across Australia and the World up until my current age of 55. I always had an interest in photography, but the “passion” really took hold approx 7-8 years ago.

I work in the Transport Industry Monday thru Wednesday and spend the remainder of the week working, shooting and growing my part-time photography business. I shoot anything from street to fine art to portrait and landscape. However, my two loves are probably at the far ends of the scale being street and landscape. Black and white, both digital and film from 35mm through to large format, is my vice 😉

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How did you come to find yourself shooting street photography? Was it an intentional attempt at the genre or did it happen more organically than that?

I read a lot of photography books, and I came across a Street Photographer by the name of Boogie, he is from Serbia and based in Brooklyn, New York. Mostly he is known for his doco and portrait photography of people in the, what I call, dirty side of town. His images are powerful and at times confronting, his style really appealed to me and off I went, I started out as a Street Photographer. My shooting on the street varies depending on my mood.

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How would you describe street photography to someone who knew nothing about it?

You always hear the old adage, “oh, its a moment in time” etc. etc., myself, and I have explained this many a time, I describe street photography as “street photography is just a label and so open to interpretation anyone can make anything of it depending on what you are looking for or trying to convey/interpret on the Street” Some days i venture into the “dark” side of town where I may shoot a series, or, depending on how I feel I may just go searching for light and shadows and immerse foot traffic into the scene, next day I may go looking for Street Furniture and Signage to incorporate people into the scene to tell a story. There are so many aspects to this genre, it all depends on the individual, some stick with one aspect, I like to spread it around depending on Mood, Conditions etc. etc.

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Is there a mindset you find you have to be in to shoot street? How would you describe it and other preparations you make?

I don’t force myself to go and hit the streets, I need to be in the mood and focussed. I generally know once I get off the train as to what I want, and where to shoot on the day. Weather conditions play a big part, and I prepare prior to heading out the front door. If the weather is terrible, rainy, overcast, blowing a gale, then I get excited. There will be large puddles of water about (reflections), umbrellas, always good to incorporate into shots, glum faces etc. etc

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What key elements do you try to incorporate in a street photography composition?

This is such an open question, just to name a few, Shadows/Light/Reflections/Mood/Facial Expressions/Hands/Feet etc. etc. I often shoot what is in front of me and then incorporate light and shadows into the frame. 90% of the time I shoot in Black and White, so I chase the light and shadows on most days I am out and about. I like “edgy” shots, so if often put myself in a scene or position in the hope I can get some type of reaction out of a person coming into the frame. I shoot mainly in two ways, Firstly, constantly on the move and shooting what comes to me or what I come across and secondly setting a scene and waiting for other elements to come into it, I do this a lot with street signage etc.

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What do you personally get out of street photography?

I find it very calming and exciting both at the same time. Always looking for that moment when I can say, without looking at the frame, “yeah, that’s a good one”, it doesn’t happen often. I have shot thousands of frames over the years, however (on a personal level) there will not be many more than 10 times when I have looked at an image and smiled  because of what I have been able to capture, you generally know when it happens, at the opposite end of the scale, you also know when you have missed that shot too so it can be frustrating as well but all in all, FUN

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Which is your favourite Fujifilm body and lens combination when it comes to shooting landscape? Why this kit?

I shoot both digital and film (in ref to Fuji of course) lol, I started out with the x100s which I loved, then migrated to the x100f and now the x70. All have excellent resolution and clarity, I just like the size and design of the x70 with its 18mm lens etc

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If people wanted to view your work online where can they find you?

  1. https://www.facebook.com/JustinCurtiStreet
  2. Justin Curtis (@justincurtistreet) • Instagram photos and videos

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