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The magical aspect of photography is that it so effectively channels an infinite number of perspectives, interests and styles. With this in mind a deeper or second look at a photographers work can often reveal something to a viewer that may be subtle or mysterious. One photographer whose style and subject material builds off of such subtleties and mystery is Joseph Szymanski who specializes in dark moody black and white photography. Take special note of Joseph’s consistency and philosophical approach to learn an often elusive aspect of photography that gets lost in a lot of technical discussions… personal vision.
What gear/software do you use?
I’ve been working exclusively with 35mm Leica rangefinders for some years now. I typically carry two bodies, one with a 50mm and the other with a 35mm lens, along with a 24mm lens in the bag. Just recently I’ve also been working with a twin lens 6×6 Minolta Autocord. My film of choice has always been Kodak Tri-X 400. I’ve always worked primarily in black and white and rarely shoot any color. I occasionally use an orange filter to increase contrast, and from time to time a red filter to darken up the sky. Other than that I’m a bit of a
minimalist, I don’t like bells and whistles.
Describe your photography in 100 words or less.
My work tends to be a bit dark, though I don’t believe it is necessarily dark in nature. A great deal of my images focus specifically on light and shadow, and the shapes of things I find on the street. I often find that content is almost secondary, at least in my own mind, though it is of course often an important element in my photographs. I suppose my work is really about memories, places, and pieces of things along the way. For me, it’s always been the way I chronicle where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
What’s one quick tip that you’d give people getting into street photography to help them improve?
I don’t think there is any one tip that can improve your work. The best thing for someone starting out is to keep shooting, always carry a camera, but remember to take your time. Always be looking at good work, inspiration is a constant process. Remember that well thought out photographs take time and effort, and quality is always more desirable that quantity.
Magnum Photos is by far the site I visit most. It never fails to deliver, and is one of the greatest archives of photographic history on the net.
Alt.blog is another one of my favorites. I can’t read a word of it, but the imagery is consistently impressive, the photographs speak for themselves.
I also like to keep up with the Center for Fine Art Photography site. They always have interesting shows and exhibitions they’re putting together in a wide variety of styles and mediums.
View more of Joseph Szymanski’s work at http://www.josephszymanski.com