Focus on Thomas Leuthard - Street Photographer

Focus on Thomas Leuthard – Street Photographer

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.

I hope the images above have inspired you as much as they’ve inspired me. Don’t forget to checkout 85mm to see more of Thomas’ beautiful work.

Thomas Leuthard

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Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! I am also thrilled to be an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA. Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram. And listen to my Podcast!

Some Older Comments

  • Valérie Jardin June 4, 2013 02:06 am

    Phil Williams, thanks! This article was indeed written a while back, in November 2011!

  • Alfredo taylor June 3, 2013 03:00 am

    Good stuff. I liked his work. Check out some of mine...... at

  • Phil Williams June 2, 2013 11:38 am

    Valerie: Thx so much for this interview. It was very interesting. You asked good questions.

    Was the interview posted done over a year ago? The reason I ask is that it seems the shots Thomas has posted on 500px for the last year have been shot with an Olympus OMD E_M5 with a 17mm or 24mm lens.

  • Akshay January 6, 2012 10:06 pm

    Thanks for such good info...Good to know such great artist's perspective towards Art of Photography....

  • Suraj Shakya December 8, 2011 07:32 pm

    Really inspiring shots, just wondering how it looks in real colors.

  • George November 23, 2011 06:45 am

    This is not a sarcastic comment in any way, but what does he do with all his street photographs afterwards?

  • KenP November 21, 2011 01:27 pm

    Another good street photographer:

  • Streetogger November 21, 2011 06:26 am

    Thomas Leuthard has a eye for taking photographs there is no doubt about it. He's also very encouraging to new street photographers and has published a couple free e-books to help others in the craft where most photographers are very protective about how they do it preferring not to give advice. Kudos to Thomas on this one. This is an example of just how genuine he is.

    However, he seems to have forgotten his experience on the New York streets unless 'a bit frightened' is different from being "scared". (See "The Experience")

    It's interesting watching photographers evolve. As they become more well known they forget the very details which should NOT be omitted. Getting in someone's face with a camera CAN be dangerous. As a photographer who has decided to help others there is a level of responsibility to those others that means no omissions. There can be risks.

    There can also be some excellent results when you take a reasonable (use the dictionary for an accurate definition) risk. Thomas is an example of what getting out there can produce and how proper marketing on social media can push your name to the top of the pile quickly. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.

  • Mike November 19, 2011 03:23 am

    I think it is not five stars streetphotography, may be two stars. I miss the stories behind the photos (one point), I miss the painting wiht light in most of the photos (second point), I miss the art of portrait without to be recognized (third point). Positive is I did not find violating scenes of the persons and sometimes I find a geometrical structure. So I miss 3 points and I found 2 points.

  • Paul November 18, 2011 11:01 pm

    Many shots have eye contact, do you end up having to explain what you are doing and why?

  • Shankar November 18, 2011 08:27 pm

    Street photography is my favourite..... Nice Interview... nd Thanks for the Interview......:)

  • Mike November 18, 2011 05:28 pm

    Sorry may be that this is "street" photography in a new way.
    But this has nothing to do with the good classical street photography.
    The reason you find here

  • Robert November 18, 2011 09:17 am

    I have been thinking about these photos now for a few days...ever since I read this article. I've been wracking my brain trying to think of the word to describe them...and the best I can do is haunting.

    These photographs are haunting.

    They are not static...they tell a story...each one.

  • Ahmie baum November 18, 2011 04:16 am

    Do you need to get model releases if you are shooting people on the street?

  • Imad Haddad November 15, 2011 05:21 am

    I first met Thomas during his Trip to Beirut where he was a Guest Speaker in a Street Photography Workshop, I consider that meeting this Street Photographer had changed my Life as because of him my photography skills have shifted 180 degrees, His work is a Great inspiration!! I am honored that I have such a generous mentor and most of all such a great friend!!!

    See you in December in Beirut for a great Street Photography Workshop.
    Great Interview Again...

  • dok November 15, 2011 01:20 am

    These interviews are always very interesting, thanks :-)

  • jann November 14, 2011 02:31 pm

    Wonderful article. I'm crazy about street photography. I just downloaded his 2 books and am having so much fun looking through them. Amazing and generous guy. Thanks for drawing my attention to his work.

  • ccting November 14, 2011 01:37 pm

    WOW... a great inspiration.

  • Jake November 14, 2011 08:03 am

    Here you can see my little aproach to street photography:

    In the last two month I started learning to observe the streets. Think that really helps a lot.

  • Balaji November 14, 2011 02:53 am

    Just the inspiration I needed!!!! went for a short photowalk today!!! enjoyed it. Here are the results!!!

  • leila November 14, 2011 12:44 am

    excellent interview and nice pics, thank you. I do not take pics, but a huge fan. I am a big fan of Orlando Uy- and now my list is growing. I will be following your world, it is exciting! I do not even own a camera for that matter but I pride myself in having good eyes for beautiful things and arts in any medium. I love the story behind street photography.

  • Kapil Suvarna November 13, 2011 06:54 am

    Nice interview. Such interviews give a inside peek in the photographers mind. I have read both the books by Thomas who I keenly try to follow.
    Infact I just finished a Street Photography workshop with Eric Kim, another superb street photographer from LA in Mumbai, which was fantabulous. Street photography was unknown and unexplored world for me. Hopefully, I can manage to take some pictures sticking to basic rules of street photography. And ofcourse, I am a big fan of Valerie's work by which I try to learn and absorb as much as I can.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck November 13, 2011 04:46 am


    This is a fantastic article - I have learned again a new vision! I have done some "street photography" but mostly just being in the street. I will have to try some new things to get the Human Element into play!

    This one is in traffic in downtown San Diego, California. I think it qualifies as street.