Q1: Please state you name and occupation. Where do you live?
A: My name is Hugo Kintzler, I studied geography for 4 years at the University of Lorraine in Nancy (France). I am from Contrexéville, a little town in the Vosges known for its mineral water “Contrex” (Yuck…!).
Q2: Welcome to The One Photo Interview, by the way. Do you know what that means? It mean 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: It’s already difficult to choose one, so it’s a good thing, you spare me many other hesitations 😉
Q3: Any particular reason for taking that picture, Hugo?
A: I like images that leave a part of indecision. Here I found interesting characters, their attitudes, the immobility, the movement, the hat, the umbrella which has nothing to do here. They are independent and simultaneously in a close relationship.
Q4: Is this your style of street photography then? Do you think you have a style? If so, what is it?
A: I’m not sure that I really have a style. Most of my pictures are about the interaction between people and the background around them. The imposing decor is part of the picture here so in a way that is my style of street photography.
Q5. Tell me what is street photography? Have you got a definition? Let’s here it!
A: I don’t think street photography needs a definition. It takes actually many different forms and it is advisable not to stay frozen by a particular rule. I come from an academic world where we always theorize everything and to be honest it is often boring and restrictive. Maybe one single imperative: Keep an ethical dimension. Street photography is a humanist activity.
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: Open eyes and perseverance! My interest in street photography emerged three years ago, during a period where I was searching to guide my desire to practice photography. This interest came in parallel with my first photos and grew progressively. I have no mentors, but I spend a lot of time on the internet to see the work of famous and unknown photographers.
Q7: Let’s talk about equipment. Some have an almost religious addiction to it. Long lenses, short lenses, rangefinders, non rangefinders, compacts. Leica, Canon, Nikon, analog or digital. What is your opinion of this? What is your preferred gear? Don’t be boring when you answer this, please.
A: My gear is quite minimal. I shoot now with a Panasonic GF1 and two prime lenses (20mm f1.7 + 45mm f1.8). I have long had only one bridge camera, which also took the image above! I do not feel under-equipped for anything ! The 20mm allows me to capture entire scenes and I use mainly the 45mm for portraits. In this way, I am at an ideal distance from my subject , not too close, not too far off. I don’t hide myself and I don’t enter into the “private space”. More than the camera body, the importance in street photography is the lens you use. The “extremists” of very long or very short focal length can really harm the image of street photographers. I’m not sure it’s reassuring to see a “paparazzi” taking a picture of you at the other end of the street or see a lens on the tip of his nose and get flash!
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: Haha … No particular reason except that I take pictures in the street. I leave the birds alone in zoos but I sometimes picture something else, I work notably on two sets of abandoned buildings and minimalist landscapes.
Q9: Do you know what is the difference between photography and plain picture taking? If so, tell me what it is.
A: I do not think it is in the action itself as the question suggests, it is a combination of factors more or less manageable.
Q10: Why do you think that all the best street photos are shot in black & white? How do you explain that?
A: The “founding period” of street photography took place at a time when colour photography did not exist. I guess that is the major cause for its pouvre presentation. Today there are lots of awesome works in colour. Black and white is now an aesthetic choice only, I personally like it because it simplifies the pictures.
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 do not yet have enough insight to answer this question. But Bernard Jolivalt’sresponse a previous interview for The Edge is really interesting.
Q12: Are there any value in street photography you think, besides your own enjoyment?
A: My own enjoyment is already a good start !
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: Wait and see…things rarely go as planned.
Q14: One last question: What is the most important thing with a photograph? With any photograph?
A: The unknown parameter that passes beyond the rules of composition and technical details that will make the difference.
Q15: Is it true, do you think, that street photography was invented in Europe?
A: No idea, does it really change anything?
Thank you very much, Hugo Kintzler. Much obliged. Will you see yourself out?
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.
First published March 21, 2013