I met Leeds’ best known street photographer recently.
In the street.
It’s the only place to get the job done and a lunchtime spent talking to and photographing random strangers has to beat shoving a Greggs’ pasty in your mouth while scrolling through the BBC news headlines at your workstation.
Clearly a man with a mission, he approaches people, takes their picture and gleans something of their story to share. He runs a fascinating photography project called Humans Of Leeds and agreed to answer some questions for the website. Despite his desire to share people’s stories, he prefers to stay anonymous himself, leaving a clear path through to the images.
Do take a look at his work and the stories behind the faces you pass on the pavement.
What made you want to start your project in Leeds?
I was looking to take on a photography project having just completed a 365 project where I took a photo a day for an entire year. I kept on seeing Humans Of New York posts in my feed and I really liked the idea of doing street portraits. So I researched into the street photography genre, specifically in the UK and discovered notable photographers such as Daniel Meadows and Chris Killip. I could only do so much research so after a while I went out with my camera one afternoon and that was it; the project began.
What do you get out of it?
I get to meet and photograph a wide variety of people. People who I’d walk past on any other day and not know a thing about. But through the process of photography I’m able to interact and sometimes connect on a deep level.
What have you learnt?
People are, in general, decent. We carry a lot of preconceptions of others but take a person as a human; nothing more, nothing less, and you’ll get on fine.
What hopes / plans do you have for your project / your work?
I had my first exhibition opening at Lambert’s Yard (an arts space in Leeds www.lambertsyard.com) last month so I’m busy doing all the press and interviews for that at the moment. At the same time, I’m trying to pull together a photobook for the series so it’d be nice to get that out in the next few months. As for the future of the project, I will continue as long as I have the capacity and interest to do so.
What do you hope people get out of your posts?
I hope people find the posts interesting. Sometimes, a story isn’t so bold or revealing but I believe everyone has something interesting to say.
How do you choose people to approach?
It can be a number of factors: their style, their walk, a flash of colour, their energy, and sometimes it’s none of those things. There is no real formula.
What sort of responses do you get from people in the street?
I make it easy for people in the first instance. I’ll ask them for a picture and explain what it’s for in a brief sentence. People will either say yes or no at that moment in time and I can proceed further depending on that. You get the odd rude person but it is rare.
What is your number one tip for street photography?
Don’t let the fear of others ruin what you want to do.
How do you find the time…….?
I try to split my time across the day so that I have lunchtimes or a half hour here or there to go out and grab a portrait.
I can see there are quite a few similar projects around the world – do you follow them?
Yes, most of the ‘Humans of’ photographers are part of a social group and we interact regularly. We take inspiration from each other, ask questions and guidance on matters and follow each others work, it’s a great community.
There is a physical exhibition in Leeds until the start of July at Lambert’s Yard.
Or visit his webpage or Facebookpage