Word on the street! – A street photographers’ story – Dean Knowles

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 first interview is the Dean Knowles.  Dean is an Aussie currently living and working in Japan.


Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Very keen and active in sports during my younger years playing high level cricket and soccer with keen interest in cycling later. Interesting enough, I work as a Contracts Manager and from 2007 till 2015 work overseas in many countries like Norway, UK, Korea and Italy. Recently acquired work in Japan for large project but ironically never really had any interest in photography.


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?

Funny enough, when abroad I was taking many meaningless shots on my compact camera, also saving as JPEG and smallest file size to save space….lol. In 2014 my wife asked me about what I will do once retired…..this lost me as actually I had nothing after sport and work.

Given my studies in Information Technology and software I then thought about photography. So this was now my beckoning to also capture my remaining journeys. When I moved to UK then decided to take some courses in Richmond on portraits, landscapes etc but it was the street course when roaming Brick Lane that got me hooked. So now you have it a IT guy whom become a Street guy.


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

This question have been asked many times, for me it’s all about “The Moment” and how you can tell a story through a picture. It’s the challenge of getting the “Capture” and when someone sees what you see in that shot or story.


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

Like many genres there are many times you go blank. In fact shooting street then becomes boring and monotonous. Especially when I was stuck working in Alabang, Manila. Of course living in Tokyo or London it’s totally different…oops back to the question. Yes you need to have some idea of what you want to achieve ie shadow plays or reflections or triangular plays or night shots etc. So using Manila as example, I used to focus on an activity or challenge myself such as shooting on street with people wearing blue etc. I think it’s important as also you need to ensure the correct camera set up so I always seek what next or which challenge.


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

As above it depends on my mindset, recently I have taken to double exposures in camera to have different perspectives. Composition is nice, but then I consider this more staged or planned, where I prefer to catch the varying angles which actually seem more natural. My biggest peeve is staged street or what people claim to be candid when its posed. Ala natural for me!


What do you personally get out of street photography?

The Challenge…..catching the moment or event or documenting life.

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

You mean street set up? Initially it was the Canon 5D MK3 with 35mm Sigma 1.8. Of course the 35mm for me is one of the best IMHO for street most of time. The Canon was too heavy so converted over to Fuji XT10 after looking at many alternatives. This is my go to camera with a 23mm f2 which is 35mm equiv plus always carry now a Fuji XT2 with a 18-55mm which I want to shoot at various ranges or for various styles. Just love the Fuji’s …….


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

Actually I started on Vivian Maier as an Admin then set my own Group at Street Shades of Black but it become too time consuming whilst working. I’ve kept this name but run my own pages as below. Thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences on street






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