in 35mm… had an interesting interview with Charlie Kirk, aka two cute dogs. He talked about his work as street photographer and his Japan tour.

Hello Charlie, to start introduce yourself to the readers of in 35mm.

Thanks Alex. I’m 38. Originally from Essex, UK and have been living in Japan for the last 9 years. I’m currently on a sabbatical from my legal career to see where photography takes me. I’ve been shooting for 2.5 years.
Street Photography today: you do not have hidden little interest in juxtapositions or shaft of light type shots, which now represent a cliché.

Yes. That’s right. I guess I’m interested in beauty and strangeness. I think my work could be described as street portraiture more than street photography. I perhaps wouldn’t go so far as to say that those types of shots are cliches though, just that good ones are incredibly hard to pull off, given what’s gone before.

 

To me, juxtaposition-type photography is often all about the joke; like the “Where’s Wally” of photography. You know there’s a gag there somewhere – look for it, find it, laugh and move on. I find these images lacking in soul (whatever that might mean) and am a little disappointed that influential street photography groups such as In-Public and seconds2reel seem to focus on this type of photography a little too much.

 

Shaft of light stuff is just overdone. While lighting is obviously very important, I find a picture of someone walking through a shaft of light only interesting if that person is interesting. Often the drama of the light is let down by the lack of drama in the subject.

 

Watching you work (thanks to the documentary online) is fun. We can see that you have fun: how much this helps you in your approach to photographing the street?

Photography needs to be fun. I spend hours every day on the streets and it can get lonely.  I like human interaction so I try to chat to people and have a laugh.  Conversation is rewarding in itself, and if that leads to a picture taking opportunity, so much the better.  Over time, more and more of my pictures are consensual.  It’s challenging to take a great picture of someone when they know you are there with a camera.  I’m far from being able to achieve this, but I like trying.  If I can take good portraits I can do anything.

Do you think that Japan is easier than other countries to do street photography? For example I consider better Mexico that Italy. Do you think your approach would be different in another place?

Yes. Japan is quite easy in some respects. I look like a tourist and the Japanese are very polite. I have had few problems here. But Japan is definitely not the best place in the world for street. There is very little reflected light here and people don’t show their feelings on their faces so often. New York or Sydney seem like the best places to me.  I would use flash less in these places as the natural light seems better.

read the entier interview: Interview with Charlie “two cute dogs” Kirk.

About the Author

Leon Baumgardt is a passionate amateur photographer and studied photo engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne. During his studies he works as an editorial assistant for the Leica User Forum.

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One Response

  1. Eric Oct 16, 2012 - Reply

    “I find these images lacking in soul (whatever that might mean)…”

    How can you be critical of photos lacking soul, when you don’t know what the term means yourself?

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