Word on the street! – A street photographers’ story – John St

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 next Fuji X Aus photographer is brand new to the group but I am sure you would agree, has a striking style of street photography. John St resides in Adelaide and shares with us his thoughts.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m originally from South Shields in the North East of England. I was dragged to Australia kicking and screaming by my parents some years ago.  I’ve now lived in Adelaide – Australia for the majority of my adult life and feel blessed to live in such a wonderful country as Australia.

I’m married and the proud owner of a Rhodesian Ridgeback @ridgebackhalle who is also my running companion. My first true love is Everton Football Club (don’t tell the wife lol) I love to travel and see what this beautiful planet/world has to offer before we manage to destroy it all. I’m utterly addicted to good coffee and have at least 2 – 4 cups a day (more on the weekends) I was, up until recently, training to participate in the Yurrebilla 56km Ultra trail run through the Adelaide Hills unfortunately injury has stopped me from attempting this epic run but it’s still HIGH on my agenda to accomplish as is a full marathon! 

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 started on my photography journey taking pictures of coffee with my mobile phone ( Don’t judge me ) progressing to images of buildings/architecture in and around Adelaide before stumbling into the genre of Street/Urban photography. In June 2018 I bought my first DSLR camera (Nikon D3400) utterly clueless on how to use it. I merely twiddled the dials until I got a half decent image.

I recently had my first ever exhibition which was held in Melbourne as part of SITHOM 2019 and was most recently invited by the Adelaide City Council to be a part of their SALA 2019 exhibition. By pure chance photography has opened up a door and taken me down a path I never thought was there let alone possible.

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

It’s the ability to freeze time and capture a moment/feeling/emotion of something that happened right there in front of you within a single frame. That’s what street is to me….it’s what I try so very hard to master every time I press my shutter button.

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

My only plan is having my camera with me pretty much everywhere I go. Walking to the coffee shop before work, in the coffee shop, on the way to work, lunch times, if I need to run an errand for work. I see the need to walk somewhere as an opportunity to capture something that may happen so I take my camera. Everyone is different and many need an objective/plan/idea of what they intend to do before hitting the street but that doesn’t work for me as I find it stifling. I guess when I think about it I prefer to shoot on how I’m feeling on the day or more often than not instinct. If I was to give anyone any advice it would firstly be prepared, relax, have fun and enjoy the ride.

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

I’m going to sound like a cliché but mood and feeling. I’m attracted to lots of different things on the street human gestures (Saluting the sun), reflections, hands doing things in everyday life but I’m especially drawn to light & shadow and isolated subjects in street/urban environments. I’m just trying to capture a moment or an emotive situation that I’m witnessing which I then share with others in the hope that they too can maybe feel/connect with it as I did….

What do you personally get out of street photography?

Street photography allows me to remain in the present moment instead of living in the past or concerning myself with the future. It’s renewed my connection with the world and the people that reside in it. I would use music to block out and disconnect from the world I just didn’t want to know but Street Photography has reconnected me to my environment and the society I’m a part of and belong too. I’ve fallen in love with the genre of urban/street photography because it allows me a creative licence to capture the beauty that can be found in the most mundane and simplest of things if only you take the time to look.

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

I use a Fujifilm XT3 – 18-55mm kit lens or the 23mm F2 prime. My preferred focal length is 35mm and that’s what I usually shot at most of the time using the kit lens. I will purchase the 35mm F2 or F1.4 at some stage though! I prefer a prime lens because it makes me think more about composition and I believe you get a sharper image. Although in saying that I’m currently sticking with the kit lens because it’s excellent quality and it gives me more options to try different things!

Although I do love landscape photography I don’ tend to photograph landscapes very often. If I do then it tends to be NABS (Not another bloody sunset/sunrise) shot. I use my XT3 with the 18-55mm kit lens set at 23 or 35mm. I hope to be able to learn the skills on how to shoot landscapes because I love looking at images of nature at its finest! I just wish I was better at capturing it than I am!

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

Well, most of my images can be viewed on my Instagram account @giant_evertonian. I’m also looking at setting up my own webpage in the not too distant future (got to get my arse into gear) as well as having recently completed a couple of interviews for online sites (FujiXAus site – Thanks Greg!  and the JFK Street website hosted by Jens F Kruse) so stay tuned.

One thought on “Word on the street! – A street photographers’ story – John St

  1. I can’t thank you enough for goving me the opportunity to share my story not to mention my work with a larger audience.

    Thank you so much, Greg.

    Cheers

    J

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