Word on the street! A street photographer’s story – Trinh Le

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 interview is with Trinh Le.  Trinh has a broad range of photography styles and likes to dable in all genres. It was his street photography images of Melbourne and a recent trip to Japan that really caught my eye.


Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I came to Melbourne four years ago to study Media and Communications at Melbourne University, and now I’m working part-time as a radio presenter for a Vietnamese radio program. I enjoy travel, photography, and musical theatre.


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 love travelling to different cities and countries. My photography journey started as a way to “document” my trips, and as I learned more about it, I started to experience with other genres, such as portrait and street.


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

I would describe street photography as “capturing life as it happens”, which means no setup, no posing. It’s unpredictable, but it feels more rewarding when you come across an interesting subject or composition. And who knows, sometimes it’s even better than a planned editorial shoot. After all, life is unpredictable, yet full of wonderful surprises.


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 try to make my street shoot as enjoyable as possible – it’s more like a pleasant walk than a photography excursion. Sometimes I even act like a tourist, so that people are less suspicious when I raise my camera. However, when I spot an interesting subject, I imagine myself being a journalist at work, which means I really have to get that shot! I remember once I was walking along the street of Gion when I noticed a geisha passing by. It was dark, and she was walking briskly. While everyone else was raising their phones trying to capture her blurry movements, I decided to run a few metres ahead and pre-focus my camera. In the end, I did get the shot!


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

When I’m out and about, I always look for the light. I believe that under the right lighting conditions, even an iPhone shot can shine, while the most expensive cameras are likely to struggle under bad lighting. Of course, colours, shapes and moments all matter, and the more you shoot, the more it feels like second nature. You’ll think less about the techniques, and just shoot.


What do you personally get out of street photography?

What I love the most about street photography is that you can practice it anytime you like. You don’t need to arrange a model, hire a studio, or even be restrained by weather conditions. So it’s a great way to hone your photography skills – you can try out new techniques or approaches without fear of being judged or displeasing a client. I believe my photography skills have greatly improved thanks to those spontaneous street shoots, which eventually add up over time.


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

The Fujinon 35mm f1.4 is my go-to lens for most projects, be it a commercial prewedding shoot or a holiday trip, and of course, street shoot. I used to pair it with the Fujifilm X-Pro2, but recently I have switched to the X-T3 due to its improved autofocus capabilities. I find the set up light enough to carry around every day, yet reliable and capable of producing great images.


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

Instagram is where you can find most of my photos. However, sometimes I can be lazy and upload a whole album to Facebook to avoid hashtag each and every photo.


One thought on “Word on the street! A street photographer’s story – Trinh Le

Leave a Reply