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If you like street photography, you’ve probably heard of Thomas Leuthard. He lives in Switzerland and, although he hasn’t been on the street photography scene for very long, he’s made quite a name for himself in the community worldwide. The guy has got quite an eye! When I see his regular posts on social media, I am always astounded by the number of quality of images he manages to shoot on any given photo walk. There is something very special about his photographs, some will make you smile, others will move you. He does it out of sheer passion for the craft. He loves to roam the streets of large cities worldwide and enjoys sharing his work and knowledge through social media and workshops. His generosity has even led him to publish two fantastic e-books about street photography that are downloadable free of charge! He agreed to answer a few questions for the dPS readers. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to check out his work by visiting his website from there you can find all the links to Thomas’ social media world.
Thomas is also running a photography contest this Fall, more info here, good luck!
1. When did you start doing street photography and why?
It was in May 2009 when I ordered a new Nikon 85mm prime lens and decided to make only street photos with this lens and upload it to a new online profile called 85mm. This was the start of 85mm Street Photography. The lens changed to a wider one over time, but the name remained.
2. What do you look for when you roam the streets?
There are a lot of things I’m looking for. I focus on Interesting characters, funny situations, graphical repetitions, matching colors and so on. I scan the streets all the time while I’m walking…
3. What drives you most, the actual shoot or the resulting images?
For me it’s the challenge to see interesting things, to capture life and to make an interesting shot of something ordinary. Sure the result makes you proud, especially when you know the story behind it and when it was a special situation to capture it.
4. If someone objects and asks you to delete in camera, what do you do?
Yes, I delete, when someone requests me to delete.
5. What gear do you use?
A Nikon D7000 with a 50mm prime lens for candid portraits. A Lumix GF1 with a 20mm pancake lens for full scenes. I’m in the process of using also the FujiFilm X100 which should replace the GF1, but I’m not sure yet. The GF1 is a great camera for the streets.
6. Do you spend much time in the digital darkroom? What is your work flow?
No, just 1-2 minutes per photo. I try to limit the time spent in front of the computer to a minimum and the goal is to make the photo as perfect as possible within the camera. I don’t like to crop, often take the original cutout. Then I add some contrast, sharpening, vignette, B/W and that’s about it. I use a preset in Apple Aperture 3 which save some time. But post processing is not the important part of my photography.
7. You started using flash for your street photography, how did that change your approach?
I tried it out, but I didn’t really like it. It was just for fun and to see how it works. It didn’t really change my approach. I was just flashing those faces instead of taking a portrait. For me flash is not something that I will use for the future as it is not a way that will improve the content of a photo. You cannot really tell a story, flashing someone’s face.
8. Do you have a favorite city?
Yes, the bigger and more versatile the better. I would not mention a name as there are so many of them.
9. What was your most memorable moment as a street photographer?
There were a lot, but there was one moment when we spend a whole day with a farmer whose wife we met outside of Yerevan, Armenia. This day really changed my life as I could once more feel how people can be open to complete strangers and provide a way of hospitality I would not encounter in my country.
10. What was you scariest moment?
There were no real scary moments. There were people approaching me asking questions, swearing and threatening me. But it was not scary.
11. Do you have a favorite image?
“Hitchcock” is my most favorite image I have done lately. But there are others which I like. It depends from which perspective you look at your photographs. There are many which I like because there is a big story behind it, which cannot be seen by the observer.
12. Who are the photographers who have inspired you the most?
I don’t know a lot of the famous photographers. There is one person’s eye I admire the most. His name is Siegfried Hansen and he is a street photographer from Hamburg, Germany. His work is different, but extremely outstanding.
13. If you could give 3 tips to someone who is going to try street photography for the first time, what would they be?
Have a plan/concept, what you want to shoot. You have to focus on something to get good results. It can be a color (Everything in Orange), an action (people reading newspaper), a body part (feet & shoes) or a light situation (Silhouette). This helps you a lot. Start small and don’t try to jump into everybody’s face at the beginning. Observe a lot and don’t shoot too much. Start scanning for forms, colors, interesting faces and so on.