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 fourth interview is with Abdullah Kececi or Andrew as his friends call him. He has become a regular participant of our Melbourne get toghethers and events and as it turns out, has a knack at street photography.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a resident of Melbourne, and at this point, I have only really lived in Melbourne on this stint for the last 7 years. However, I’m actually a native of Melbourne but left this town when I was young and travelled overseas for a few years and eventually settled in Sydney for the majority of my time. I love this city and its such an excellent city to shoot street in, but that is not what my original intention was, in any case, one day while overseas I made an off the cuff decision to settle in Melbourne again. The first six months in Melbourne were interesting times, but eventually, I settled in and found a job in the gaming industry.
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?
My earliest memory was in primary school although not photography, I remember a good friend (bless his soul, and I’m hoping his in a better place) and I set up a lot of pots, pans, glasses, dishes, wooden spoons etc. Basically whatever we were able to scrounge from our mum’s kitchen, in the attempt to scratch out a tempo, melody, beat in a primary school competition. From an early age, I have always had this need to be creative or be a creator in some form or another. Along the way, I remember learning the guitar although not so good but enough to get through high school. Taking classes in painting, videography and developing film in a dark room. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the drive to be a creator, learn, create and interact with people in public or not in public has been the catalyst that has made me settle on and love street photography.
How would you describe street photography to someone who knew nothing about it?
The way I would describe street photography. It’s an interesting question but what comes to mind at this moment, is telling people to do things and also not to do other things. You might ask what a strange response to such a question, however, the response is not so strange in a way. When learning street photography there should not be any type of constraint, and one should be able to try various styles and techniques and explore every aspect of what they are trying. Street photography when learning and I’m constantly learning, in my humble opinion comes out of a sense of play or experimentation. This is where rules that are learnt are used and then broken without constraint. When constraints are removed, and experimentation is conducted, you are not shooting for others, but you are shooting for yourself. This would be consistent with what was mentioned to me where the “decisive moment” is an extension of oneself.
Is there a mindset you find you have to be in to shoot street? How would you describe it and other preparations you make?
There are many thoughts on this mindset and preparation when shooting street photography. Ask ten people, and you are probably going to get ten different answers on mindset and preparation. However, I tend to look for the consistencies in the answers I receive. Street photography can be experienced in a multitude of ways using different techniques. Two commonly used techniques are called hunting and fishing. Hunting is literally what the word describes where one goes out and hunts for shots of interesting people or scenes that fit in your frame. This technique is usually more upfront or confrontational, where the people or person are the main subject within the frame. Fishing again is exactly what the word describes where one sets up the camera frame on an interesting scene like a fishing net and then waits for interesting people to walk through their frame. The technique is usually less confrontational, and the people are either the main subject or coincidental within the frame. I try both techniques to varying degrees of success and failure, but in general, my heart says hunt and my mind says fish, but I guess both are relevant based on what you are trying to achieve in your street photography.
What key elements do you try to incorporate in a street photography composition?
Being someone that is on a constant learning curve, trying different methods and at this time there are about five things that I would like to mix in my frame. These are subject, layers, highlights, shadows and story. The first four can be based on location and time of day or night and can be fairly consistent most times. The fifth thing is usually much harder to achieve and can be what makes or breaks the picture you make. Making a picture that consists of all five things in the same frame in my mind is what could be compared to chasing the holy grail.
What do you personally get out of street photography?
In short basically, I love street photography. As far as what I get out of it well there are a few things. I tend to be a pretty outgoing type of person and not afraid of engaging with total strangers, in fact, I’m driven by this engagement whether it’s verbal or non-verbal. What a lot of people don’t know is my outgoing nature is often also fed by the people that I hang out on the street with, like other street photographers or total strangers. Those interactions are what excite me the most, and the pictures I make are like the icing on the cake. However, at the moment I am in two minds, consisting of constant trial and error in learning or change. Do I interact with the subject and lose the candidness of the picture I make? Do I step back and make pictures that are more candid? Or do I try and combine the two somehow.
Which is your favourite Fujifilm body and lens combination when it comes to shooting street photography? Why this kit?
Right now there are two things. What I have and what I want. Street photography typically a small bodied camera with interchangeable or fixed wide lens is what is preferred. Like the Fujifilm Xpro2, X100F or XT-3 camera bodies and a fixed focal length lens that can range from 24mm to 50mm, with an aperture range of f1.2 to f2.8 again like the Fujinon 23mm f2 or the Fujinon 35mm f2. In my experience, most of the time, the smaller the camera body and lens the less intimidating it is to strangers. Hence the camera bodies and lenses I mentioned above, these items would be what I want. As far as what I have, it seems I make a Fujifilm X-H1 body with battery grip and a 16-55mm f2.8 lens work for me. However, in the future, I might snag one of those X-T3 bodies where I can mount smaller primes and sometimes zoom lenses.