This is Wide Aperture, a little corner where we get closer to experienced and talented photographer. This is where they, kindly, share their insight in a very direct way, straigth from behind the viewfinder.
This is where the XXI Century kicks in, blending the classic vintage work with the latest techniques and media, from unorthodox work to borderline street portraiture, always keeping in mind the most engaging unstaged and candid photos with a narrative we call Street Photography.
Today we met our friend JD, Jean-Daniel Beley.
is a talented and inspiring photographer based in Lyon, France, and an excellent person.
How did you find street photography, and how do you describe your photographic style?
I started photography with travel photography some 25 years ago, but had almost stopped when digital SLRs appeared. That was a shock - shooting for free, trial and error was instantaneous - and I started shooting like crazy, macros, portraits, signs, humor. After a while, I realized that I was valuing much more photos of people than anything else, and street more than portraiture, and that's how I started doing almost only street.
I try to capture people in the society, not that much people interacting with other people. That's why I shoot people giving a strong role to the man-made background, and I oppose the human element to the urban architecture that looks to be far away from the way people are in their heads.
How do you find your subjects?
I have on-going series - Humans and architecture is one, street portraiture is another one - that get me out and shooting. But while out, I'll sometime find some of these situations that make the bulk of street photography - interaction between people, humorous street,...
Do you hit the streets with a first theme in mind, or it just flows?
For me, going with no theme is like fishing without bait. I often find a place first and then only find what to shoot there.
What kind of equipment do you use, do you carry much gear? If you had to stick with one lens for the rest of your life, which would it be?
I have one APS-C digital camera with a 28mm, which is my usual gear. I have a 10-20 zoom, that I enjoy using from time to time, but overall, I don't like zooms. Aperture and time are already two parameters. Zoom distance is one two many.
I have also a rangefinder film camera, that I use for black and white and for color street portraiture.
I very seldom take both digital and film at the same time. Again, one two many parameter, that prevents you from being ready.
Do you use hip-shots? Describe how you shoot from the hip?
No. I shoot almost always openly, but sometimes I do things fast. I don't like randomness, so even if that makes me loose some opportunities, I take the time to compose.
Who are your influences?
I am familiar with the work of the classics, but I am more influenced by some particular images than by the entire work of one particular photographer. Some photographers are however inspiring me more than other: Alex Webb, Saul Leiter (both using colors), Raymond Depardon for his very human side and his way of interacting with people.
What draws you to do photography in the streets?
As said before, looking at how people are influenced by the society.
Any top tip for the SP out there?
Tuco once said in "Once upon a time in the west" when you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk. Well, for street photography, I am not sure it applies so well. I recommend to think twice before shooting. Random shots don't do any good. I believe in looking through the viewfinder, far before shooting, and as I usually don't use a zoom, I first move around before finding the right spot. I can sometimes leave marks on the ground, so that if after my first shot, I move and follow my subject, I can always come back and be ready.
Once I have that spot ready, I can start waiting for the decisive instant, and sometimes I can wait half an hour in the cold and leave without having made one single image, but that's the price to pay.
In the next publication we’ll met a Portuguese photographer, but for now keep in mind THE CONTESTANT GALLERY, and make sure to submit your work and participate.