I’m always curious about people and their movements in everyday life, with their reactions and expressions.
Q1: Please state you name and occupation, please. Where do you live?
A: My name is Fatima Salcedo…. I live in Porto, north of Portugal.
Q2: Welcome to The One Photo Interview, by the way. It is the TOP Interview. Do you know what that means? It means that you will only have the opportunity to show one single photograph and you will refer to that for the rest of this interview, right? Would that be ok with you?
A: I guess that is the way it is going to be done J
Q3: Any particular reason for taking that picture, Fatima?
A: As in any photo, there was a reason to click the shutter… it caught my attention immediately; they were playing, running around the bench… I was on the right place… the light was good… dad wanted him to stop, so the kid lifted his arms complaining… it was the time to press the shutter. It was a lovely moment that I wanted to capture.
Q4: Is this your style of street photography then? Do you think you have a style? If so, what is it?
A: I don’t have an established style yet; at most I’m still developing ‘my style’. My photos always show my love and respect for people and life… I also love black and white photography… I try to catch that moment that will stay forever and tells a story that will make you think about what happened before and after… I’m always curious about people and their movements in everyday life, with their reactions and expressions… and I try to find a surprise moment on the photos I make. One thing I always have is utmost respect for people.
Q5. Tell me what is street photography? Have you got a definition? Let’s hear it!
A: Street photography for me is a way to capture the stories I see around me when I get out and roam the streets. I have to let my eyes see, ‘feel’ the moment and capture it for eternity. Street photography has to be spontaneous, unplanned and not staged, trying to capture the individuals and their surroundings in a moment that will tell a story to the viewer.
Q6: Give me some basics. How long have you had an interest in street photography? Do you have any mentors that you have learned from?
A: I’m a recent photographer that found people and street fascinating… that said, always loved people and could stay hours looking at their coming and goings. My husband gave me a camera, five years ago, and that was the start of it…. I found that going around my city, wandering around the streets and paying attention at what was happening around me, made me want to catch those moments, the feeling of ‘fixing eternity in an instant’ fascinated me.
Well… I don’t have a physical mentor per say, I have photographers that inspire me like Henri Cartier Bresson, Vivian Mayer, Arthur Leipzi, Robert Frank, Sebastiao Salgado just to mention a few… and a Portuguese Street Photographer named Rui Palha that I admire and follow closely. Being with him on the streets and chatting with him is a privilege and a learning experience.
Q7: Let’s talk about equipment. Some have an almost religious addiction to it. Long lenses, short lenses, rangefinders, non rangefinders, compacts. Leicas, Canons, Nikons, analog or digital. What is your opinion of this? What is your preferred gear? Don’t be boring when you answer this, please.
A: I will try not to be boring… I only have a Leica M Monochrom and a few lenses. The ones I use the most are the 35 and 50 mm depending on the day and the situations. I don’t think that equipment is of importance, the way you use it is.
Q8: Are there any particular reason why you call yourself a street photographer? Many people picture landscapes, seascapes, birds caved in. Do you take such pictures as well? What I mean to ask is, do you in fact do much parrot shooting in the zoo? Or similar non street themes. Do you?
A: I call myself an apprentice, always learning … What I like to do is go out on the street and look around, trying to be invisible in a crowd, and take photos, catching ‘those’ special moments.
I may take an occasional photo of a landscape when traveling, maybe a sunset, a sunrise or some detail, but I always try to get people in the shot.
Q9: Do you know what is the difference between photography and plain picture taking? If so, tell me what it is.
A: Photography is about telling stories; plain picture taking is not. Compositions, finding good light, waiting and anticipating that special moment, telling a story in one image, are the most important elements to street photography. In plain picture taking I think nothing of what I mention before is important, you click and shoot without caring much about composition and light.
Q10: Why do you think that all the best street photos are shot in black & white? How do you explain that?
A: I don’t think one is better than the other. My feeling about black and white is the ability of making you pay attention in a different way to a photograph, less distractions and a different focus on what you want to ‘tell’ the viewer. Humans see the world in color, showing it in black and white makes one pause and look more closely. Black and white accentuates the light and shadows and those backlit subjects and dramatic shadows are brought to your attention in a more intense way, in my opinion.
I don’t do color at the moment, but love to see color street photography there are some very good photographers out there.
Q11: Do you think that street photography is a serious type of photography? Can anything good come of it? How do you see this?
A: I think that it is a serious type of photography. Good things can come of it, like knowing your surroundings and the social environment better. If you have an open mind, you are always learning from what you see and photography in so many ways. It also freezes a moment for future memory.
You can also publish books, articles that can help other street photographers…
Q12: Are there any value in street photography you think, besides your own enjoyment?
A: In my case I take photos for my enjoyment, pure and simply and for myself.
I think that there is value in street photography… you leave testimonials for the future about current society.
On a different kind of value, you can work on interesting street projects for exhibitions, books, prints, but if you want to make a living out of it, then you will need a very good marketing plan, because bad work well marketed will outsell good work poorly marketed.
Q13: Your vision? What is your vision for European street photography? What is the vision for your own photography? I am not going to ask how you see the future, but tell me anyway.
A: Street photography is not only European anymore, it’s worldwide. However, Europe is very diversified and will always offer fantastic opportunities for street photography. It will change and evolve over the years as it did until now. Cameras are fast changing and with that, the way photos are taken will change too. There are some amazing photographers going around our streets creating amazing works… Street photography will evolve but some basics rules will always apply, like composition, light and timing will always make a difference in a good street photo, be it black and white or color, doesn’t matter. In the end it’s all about telling a story and conveying an emotion.
About my own street photography, I want to learn more to improve my technique and ‘see’ faster what I want to shoot, clicking my camera at the right instant.
Q14: One last question: What is the most important thing with a photograph? With any photograph?
A: For me, the main thing is to touch people in some way: get them to stop and look at your photo, spend time exploring it and imagine a story through it… and if possible to get a smile out of them. A good photograph stays in your memory forever.
Q15: Is it true then that street photography was invented in Europe?
A: Most people think so. Paris is widely accepted as the birthplace of street photography, but that doesn’t make much difference these days, we have amazing photographers from all over the world.
Thank you very much, Fatima. Much obliged. Will you see yourself out?
Thank you very much…. Yes, I see the door right there.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.
First published October 13, 2014.