Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you live now? Your background with photography, how and when you were drawn to the street genre.
I’m from Denmark, and living in a small town. That forces me to be very creative about where to find locations, and I often drive for hours to get to a specific location.
I’ve worked with photography since the age of five. I have since then used analog and developed my pictures in a darkroom. In elementary school, I tried making a pinhole camera using a used can of raisins. But, I didn’t really learn or understand much about composition, shutter, aperture and ISO back then, just went around taking snapshots. I was very artistic, drew and painted a lot, and this background helps me when I compose my shots today. I got my first DSLR in 2011, and learned all there is to know about manual settings.
It’s funny, in the beginning, I thought street photography was very scary, and definitely NOT for me. The grain, the stories I didn’t understand, and the out of focus did not appeal to me. But after shooting pretty landscapes, nicely processed in Lightroom, I was sick of almost exclusively working with the rule of thirds, and I needed something new — something real, and to me, street photography is the only genre that shows something real. I have done street photography exclusively for a year now and learned so much. I find that the more I shoot with my gut, and without really thinking too much while walking around, the more keepers I get. I guess that’s why this genre fits me so well, I can’t really come up with any ideas that are more interesting than what is presented in front of me on the streets at random.
I have suffered from anxiety in public spaces, but walking around with my camera, this goes away. The camera is like my magic feather — so walking around and taking pictures has been a kind of therapy for me.
How do you define “street photography” for yourself?
Hmm. It changes as I learn more and more. About now, I would say street photography has to show something unexpected, funny or emotional in any situation. It can happen anywhere, and for me the people have to be strangers. Street photography can be posed, and it can be candid, my work is mostly candid. It is also okay to shoot urban landscapes, or things, as long as humanity is embedded in it.
Maybe it’s a bit foolish, but I am not a fan of shallow depth of field in street photography. If someone uses f/2.0, then it no longer matters what the background looks like, and I think it is important to include everything within the frame. Using a small f-stop like 2.0 is the easy way out I think. Still, I try out different styles, and I am on the search for my own.
Does your local situation affect your work?
I’m actually most drawn to the vibrant color photographs that are taken during the golden hour. But, living in Denmark makes it rare to photograph in these conditions, because the Danish weather is mostly cloudy and rainy. I find people living in the countryside and in small villages to be much more suspicious about my camera, and it’s very difficult to blend in and be invisible. However, in general, the people here are often very open-minded and welcome photography.
This autumn, I went to the West Bank in the Middle East for five weeks, and I have never experienced such a soft red light during the golden hour before. There were many people out in the streets, and it was the best time ever for me.
In what ways do you think being a woman has affected your work?
Difficult to say, I guess it allows me to get closer to my subjects, and to be able to linger around longer, but I really don’t know. I think people don’t find me as much of a threat as they might see men. I am a nurse, so it comes very naturally and easily to me to get close, and maybe to talk and to interact with people that I don’t know.
Color or black and white, digital or film?
Since Denmark is very gray, and is not a country with many colors, most of my best work is in black and white. I use color during summer, and black and white in wintertime. I never look while I’m out shooting, I only do it to check the exposure when the light conditions change. I always wait three months before looking at my photos. That way, it is easier for me to choose my best ones. I shoot digital, with a mirrorless and a 35mm lens. I prefer sharpness for color photography, and a lot of grain and out of focus in black and white.
What photographers can you name who are the most inspirational to you?
If it weren’t for Eric Kim and his “open source” philosophy, I would not have had any idea how to approach this genre. I love the work from Constantine Manos, Harry Gruyaert and Alex Webb for their color and for their layers. For black and white artists, it’s Josef Koudelka, and also Vivian Maier — for the way she shot for no one but herself. There is a less known photographer named Vendula Ralkova from Prague, who works mostly with black and white. She has the ability to capture funny and weird moments, and has amazing composition, and she has worked with Josef Koudelka long ago. I would love to attend one of her courses, and I really hope she will publish a book in the future.
Is there a special project you are working on? Or recurring themes you are often drawn to?
I love working with shadows, they add an extra dimension to my work. They can be used to highlight something, or even to hide things, as there might be something in the shade. Creating depth in photography is very difficult, and I’ve found that employing shadows can help me with that.
I would love to photograph more in the Middle East, like Morocco, Turkey and Jordan. However being a woman, traveling alone in these countries is not recommended.
I love to look at people with vintage cars, and have an ongoing project with the working title Tuesday Meetings — a project about people with classic cars, who meet every Tuesday during summer.
Tina Bojlesen | Instagram |