The Art of Seeing, A TDM Photo Awards Collection
by TDM Magazine
The book details can be found here: https://tdmawards.com/product/the-art-of-seeing-a-tdm-photo-awards-collection/
INTERVIEW EXTRACTED FROM BOOK
1- Thank you for asking me for the interview. I do not work in the photography industry. I am an amateur photographer but my involvement and immersion with photography is at the level of a full-time job (without responsibilities).
I began photography at a serious level at the age of seventy when I wandered into The International Center of Photography in NYC without a plan and stayed there for about ten years enrolling in as many courses as possible. After a few years focusing on portraits and studio lighting, I discovered street photography and realized that it was a perfect fit for me. As a child and quite some time thereafter, I was very shy and instead of being with others, I would walk around on the streets alone observing people. In a sense, I had begun street photography early in life but without a camera. I did have a camera and took a few pictures as early as age eight, but I never stuck with photography until over a half a century later. Once I began street photography about twelve years ago, I was totally addicted and have a constant urge to pursue it.
2- When I began street photography, I did street portraits with permission. That was followed by candid street portraits with context, and finally my style developed into street scenes with multiple people, interaction, and layers. I seem to be drawn to busy complex photos that fill the frame. I rarely achieve good complex photographs, but the quest is always there. It occurs to me that there is some history that may explain my attraction to “busy” photographs. I have no art education at all and have rarely been exposed to art (family dynamics accounts for this.) However, I arranged to have two posters of paintings hanging in my room as a child. One by Bosch and the other by Dali. Both were complex and full of stuff throughout the frame. I have a hunch that this informs my photographic preferences.
3- My greatest strength as a photographer is persistence. I believe that truly worthwhile photos are rare and the constant pursuit to achieve one is addictive. Street photography is mostly about failure and the possibility of a worthwhile photograph in the context of primarily failure, is a recipe for addiction. I prefer to call it “persistence”. Another strength is consideration of context. This “strength” may be a weakness as well because I sometimes get too involved with composition at the expense of content.
4- Choosing locations to photograph is simple for me as I rarely travel, and since the pandemic, I have not been anywhere except close to home in New York City. In Manhattan, where I live, I photograph in the usual haunts of street photographers. I believe that the subjects in my pictures find me, in a sense, rather than visa-versa. The more I actively search, the less I see things. I am a big believer in letting it happen.
5- Almost all my photos involve people. I love a good landscape or cityscape as much as anyone. However, I am constantly drawn to looking at people. I have always been fascinated by people, first as a child walking the streets and later in my profession as a clinical psychologist.
6- Somewhere along the way in my development as a street photographer, I started to lose interest in attending primarily to individuals and started to prefer broader scenes with multiple people involved. I believe that was always my primary interest, but I lacked the skill necessary to perceive multiple things at the same time. I believe doing so is a more complex perceptual act. Fortunately, the camera is a partner in achieving this sort of perception. I am constantly amazed at how frequently the camera “sees” things that I don’t see. To give myself a bit more credit, maybe my vision is largely unconscious (as opposed to attributing perceptual power to the camera). There may be a technical element that helps. I used a 35mm prime lens for many years. A few years ago, I started using a 28mm lens. The wider lens enhances the possibility of multiple people and layers in the photograph. Of course, altering vantage point can achieve the same thing.
7- Staying inspired and motivated to create new and unique images is built into the process. By this I mean that I am pulled along by the hope of creating an exceptional photograph and the possibility of a meaningful series. I will repeat what I said in a previous interview. (As with photos, writing tends to get repetitious).
In Ernest Hemmingway’s short novel, “The Old Man and The Sea”, the old fisherman says: “My big fish must be somewhere” and “It is silly not to hope”. I feel like the old man and the street. The hope of a worthwhile photograph around the corner keeps me going. The act of photographing may be a sufficient motivating force regardless of outcome. Looking and seeing something that perks my interest and the feel and sound of pressing the shutter are pleasant sensations and is an enjoyable activity in and of itself.
8- It is not for me to say what sets my work apart from other photographers. I often feel that I am merely one more street photographer creating photographic clutter. I do have a photograph of a family on the subway that has won lots of acclaim (“Q Train”, 2019). My subway series apparently is noteworthy too.
9- The biggest challenge I face is the tendency to take a variation of the same photo over and over. It is difficult to do something new and different. Another challenge which may be more unique, is that I began serious photography late in life and as I age further into the middle eighties, the physical aspects of photographing become more difficult. I can no longer chase after potential photos in the distance. Instead, I rely more on finding a spot with an interesting background and good light and waiting for the picture to emerge.
10- The photo “Soho” was chosen as a winning photograph by TDM in 2021. I try to title my work by location only so as not to plant ideas in the viewer. However, this image could have been titled, “Waiting for Kate Moss” The celebrity model was about to emerge from a hotel. Paparazzi gathered as their network revealed her location. I joined in but soon I realized that I couldn’t get close enough with my wide-angle lens among the long lenses of the hoard of photographers. I intuitively recalled that the great street photographer, Garry Winogrand, sometimes turned around to photograph in the opposite direction from the point of interest. I did that and pressed the shutter without more thought. The camera did the rest.
11- As I mentioned previously, candid street photography is primarily about failure. Achieving a handful of truly worthwhile photos in a year is the best that can be hoped for. I often compare street photography to a sport. In almost all sports, failure is more common than success even for world- class athletes. Slumps occur with the very best in their given sport. That is true for street photographers too. It is easy to get discouraged after a day of shooting results in zero photos worth showing. That is inherent to what we do though. What feels like a slump, is practicing street photography. Realizing that, enables me to go out with my camera day after day and that is essential for any kind of success.
I just used the word “success”. That can mean many things. So-called success can be enjoying being outside, enjoying the thrill of not knowing what may be seen at any minute, getting a good picture, the feeling of shooting, winning a contest, and not to be ignored, friendships made by belonging to a community of photographers.
The blog post can be read in full here: https://www.thephoblographer.com/2023/08/08/a-look-at-how-famous-street-photographers-work/
EXTRACTED FROM FULL STORY:
It’s easy for photographers of a certain age to romanticize the ideals of those like Garry Winogrand or Bresson. Others instead might stray towards the questionably cult-like cliques formed by photographers like Eric Kim or Thorsten Overgaard. But famous street photographers know that this is a long game — and that it’s not just about making it on social media. They take this idea with them holistically through their journey onto the streets to capture their images worthy of being a blockbuster for their career.
All images in this article are used with permission by the photographers in our interviews.
Not every photographer goes out to shoot the most candid moments they can find. Street photography works in a very similar way to cinematic stories. The images are either character-driven or story-driven. You might have heard Bruce Gilden speak about characters while Joel Meyerowitz would try to tell a story instead. They’re two different approaches, and they formulate different stories.
INTENSE FOCUS AND THE HUNT
“Early on, I was often crippled by shyness when deciding whether to bring the camera to my eye,” says Melissa O’Shaughnessy to us in an interview. “As time went on, I overcame my fears by realizing that I wanted the picture more than I feared the consequences of taking it.” Conquering fear is a big part of being a street photographer. Finding a way to do it will often yield you some of the best photos, as she’s demonstrated. This mentality is prevalent with many street photographers. But Melissa also finds a way to do her subjects justice in the photos she takes. For example, the theme of the strong woman was big in her book Perfect Strangers.
Some photographers go out to shoot with a very specific thing in mind. But others, like photographer Dimpy Bhalotia, try to react as quickly as they can when they encounter a scene. In a previous interview with her, Dimpy told us that develop a sense of unconsciously moving with the subject. “You have to be very quick and invisible in the streets,” she told us. “To capture something natural, your subject shouldn’t know someone is watching them. You have to merge yourself in the crowd.” Dimpy likes capturing movement as it happens.
Looking at one of Dimpy’s images provided to us in our previous interview, we can notice several things. Firstly, she’s focusing on shooting only in black and white. This not only immediately draws the eyes to specific things in the scene, but it simplifies the photo to the human brain. Dimpy is also using natural light to figure out how shadows will affect a scene. As is evident in the scene above, she used reflections to tell a larger story within a small frame. All this, combined with specific framing and understanding of the culture around her, all work out well for her.
In fact, Dimpy tells us that she goes to a place and tries to understand the people and the culture before getting more into photographing what’s in front of her. This is a common tactic used by some of the best photojournalists as it helps people get used to the fact that a camera is in front of them. But Dimpy tries to more or less be a fly on the wall instead.
The idea of being the fly on the wall isn’t really a new one. If we analyze Paul Kessler’s “Q-Train” photo, which is the lead image of this article, we can notice many things that make it appealing across so many different fields of study. Just focusing on the idea of color theory, we can see various layers working in the scene. Steve McCurry tries to focus on three colors within a portrait to keep it simple. Though we can say that this is maybe more of a candid portrait, Kessel finds a way to make multiple layers of colors work and have them uniquely all stand out from one another.
More importantly than just the colors, there’s the candid moment. We are told multiple things about this portrait:
Who: It’s about a mother being overwhelmed by her children
What: The moment here is very relatable to several adults because they’ve either had children or they’ve had to endure hearing the results of someone else’s breeding.
When: This is a relatively recent photo. But it’s something that can stand the test of time.
Where: We’re in the NYC subway on public transportation. Many tourists and residents alike experience random moments on the subway.
How: Paul simply took the photo when he noticed what was happening. Paul told us that he estimated the distance and got the shot.
Why: This photo is so appealing to us because it’s holistically a beautiful moment around motherhood while also demonstrating strength within the chaos that is life and the NYC subway system.
Similar things can be said of many of Paul’s other pieces. His photos often show some sort of connection between people and work to tell a story within a larger frame. In cinema, it’s often said that New York can be a constant character in a movie. And clearly, we see that in many of Paul’s other images, such as the one above. Provided to us in our previous interview, the image shows how a family can find solace and peace while trying to get around public transportation. It’s a stark contrast to Paul’s other photo we previously discussed.
What’s evident in the work of both Dimpy and Paul is that they’re constantly looking around, gauging light, and being in tune with their environment. They’re probably both often taking breaks because it requires very deep concentration and understanding of what’s going on in front of them. More importantly, the photographer needs to connect their technical and artistic sides. Most photographers understand that this translation process can be very difficult.
Reclaim The Street: Street Photography's Moment
The book details can be found here: bit.ly/3qCQIzW
Image featured in book: Q Train
Featuring stunning imagery, this is a vibrant survey of the trends and talents fueling street photography today and a fresh take on what street photography can be.
A world tour of the very best street photography today, Reclaim the Street showcases work from more than one hundred contemporary photographers, from the established to the emerging, from all corners of the globe.
In Reclaim the Street, Stephen McLaren and Matt Stuart present a multilayered overview of street photography’s constantly evolving form. Together, they interweave individual photographer portfolios, in-depth case studies, and surveys of the hot spots where communities of street photographers are thriving today. Great photographic minds don’t think alike, nor are two streets identical: follow these photographers as they capture snapshots of people and places perpetually in flux.
Truly diverse in scope, Reclaim the Street pays long overdue attention to flourishing scenes beyond the West, including workby Indian photographer Swarat Ghosh, Thai photographer Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet (aka Poupay), and Brazilian photographer Gustavo Minas. The global, humanistic edge of Reclaim the Street is a love note to photography, as well as to the places and people captured through today’s sharpest lenses.
The book can be purchased here: bit.ly/3qCQIzW
The Highlands Currant
online version of the article can be read here:
Garage Gallery, Solo Show Press Release & Website Listing
UP Collective Interview
I began photography late in life. One day with little forethought, I wandered into the International Center of Photography in New York City and registered for the most basic photography course for beginners. I would turn 70 years old in a month and had been at a loss about how to spend my time after I stopped working as a psychologist and professor, coupled with my daughter now having her own apartment and no longer living with me. I had always owned a camera but, except for a few brief spurts of interest, rarely pursued photography. It never occurred to me that I would continue after this first course, but I never missed a semester of taking anywhere from one to three courses for the next ten years. The reason why I was so drawn to photography is multifaceted. When I first viewed a photo I took on a computer, I was amazed and excited about how the camera saw so much that was out of my awareness. It was a reflection, and I had never viewed a photo of a reflection before. My daughter was pursuing a career in photography, and that was another reason that spurred me on. Additionally, I suppose that there was always a latent interest.
After a few years focusing on portraits, I discovered street photography, and I almost immediately realized that it was a perfect fit for me. As a child and all the way up to my early 20’s, I was very shy. I spent a lot of time wandering the streets alone observing people. In a sense, I had begun street photography early in life, but without a camera. Once I began street photography about twelve years ago, I was totally hooked and have a constant urge to go out as much as possible to pursue it. A truly good street photograph is rare, and the constant pursuit to achieve one is addictive. Street photography is mostly about failure, and the possibility of a worthwhile photograph in the context of primarily failure is a recipe for addiction. Now at almost age 86, I have slowed down but there is never a time when I go out without a camera.
I have lived in New York City most of my life and almost all of my photographs were made there. During the CoVid-19 pandemic, a period of staying home was followed by a temporary move out of the city to a rural area. I like to tell myself that pictures emerge everywhere, and that location is not that important. However, without a busy city, my desire dissipates. I seem to need people to photograph. I consider that a shortcoming, but I accept that it is my need. Theoretically, I profess to believe that one can photograph anywhere at any time. Some street photographers are more conceptual and can make a photograph out of practically nothing. Others, like myself, require something outside of their head, to react to and take a picture. It is always a mixture of concepts and more intuitive immediate reactions with different photographers working more with one or the other.
In New York City, I photograph in the usual haunts of street photographers. Until the pandemic, I photographed in Frankfurt, Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark almost every year as well as Miami and San Francisco when I attended street photography festivals.
The short answer to “when” is “all the time”. I spend most of my waking hours (as well as frequent dreams) with street photography. Parenthetically, almost all my photography dreams are a variation of seeing unbelievably good scenes to shoot but the shutter will not engage. Please don’t bother interpreting this.
I will repeat what I said in a previous interview. In Ernest Hemingway’s short novel, “The Old Man and The Sea”, the old man says: “My big fish must be somewhere” and “It is silly not to hope”. I feel like the old man and the street. I am pulled along by the hope of finding my big picture. On a subway in 2019, I caught my “big fish”. The photo, “Q Train” has won many awards, much praise and criticism as well. It won events that I never dreamed of participating in, let alone, win. I suppose that I am sort of a “one-shot wonder”. I do have more photos and series that are good and others have liked, but none are in the same league.
When I began street photography, I initially did street portraits with consent. I moved on to candid portraits and then candid street scenes. My goal now is a layered street scene with multiple elements and activities going on. I almost never achieve it but again, the quest keeps me going. I seem to be after complex busy photos that fill the frame. It occurs to me that there is some history to this. I have had no art education at all and have almost never been exposed to art (family dynamics explain this). However, I arranged to have two posters of paintings hanging in my room as a child. One by Bosch and the other by Dali. Both were complex and full of stuff throughout the frame. I have a hunch that this informs my photographic preferences.
It seems that for me, whenever I pursue something, I become totally involved and I am satisfied to do only that one thing. That is so with making candid photographs in public places. I do it because I have reached the point in life where that is what I do. The alluring goal of finding or making better pictures is all consuming. It is a sport that I play all the time. I long for those rare times that I get “in the zone” where I easily see potential pictures and get them, undistracted by worry and other matters. I am aware that this activity is one of an almost perpetual “slump” because achieving an exceptional picture is so rare. On a day that I do achieve what for me, is a good picture, I love the feeling.
External factors pull me along also. Being accepted into a meaningful exhibition and being accepted by competent photographers, as a viable player are significant motivating factors. It is only recently that I have become aware of the most important reason I photograph. Since I began in 2008, I have accumulated friends and relationships that mean much more than any photograph or success in a contest. Although perhaps I have gone as far as I can go with photography, the friendships continue.
To read the interview online, please visit: https://upphotographers.com/interviews/interview-with-paul-kessel/
Weser-Kurier, Germany, March 1, 2023
Weser-Report, Germany, February 26, 2023
MIX, Germany, March 2023
Bremer, Germany, March 2023
The Cyprus Photographic Society – Pafos Branch organizes the contest The Wall 2022 aiming to exhibit large pictures in an outdoor public space for an extended period of time. Through photographers’ contribution both in Cyprus and abroad, a wall in the city centre will be covered with 30 colour photos. The event is part of the programme of events of the Months of Photography Paphos (MoPP2022) photo festival. This is the 7th edition of the event.
The photo installation will remain in place for 11 months and it is expected to be visited by more than 50 000 people.
International Jury Committee
To see all photographs featured and the original article, please visit:
By invitation, Dodho Magazine, 2022
New York City is considered as one of the best places to practice street photography. It has a history of being the breeding grounds of many of the finest street photographers over the years.
If one is proficient with the fundamentals of photography and puts in the time, interesting photographs will emerge. Individual talent and style mean a lot but in addition to this, persistence and patience are necessary. The more one is out with a camera, the greater number of lucky circumstances will happen and result in a few photos worth keeping. The project, “Street Scenes” represents an effort to cull out some of the better photos.
About Paul Kessel
After a career in clinical psychology and university teaching, Paul Kessel began photography late in life (one month shy of his 70th Birthday). On a whim, he enrolled in an introductory class at The International Center of Photography in 2007. He continued taking classes there every semester for ten years. About twelve years ago he discovered street photography and became immersed in it. He never goes out without a camera.
He has been in about 140 group exhibitions. Additionally, he has had 4 solo shows in New York Galleries. Kessel has been a finalist in many street photography festivals worldwide. He has been the winner of a few of them. Perhaps his most prestigious award is winning the Miami Street Photography Festival (2020).
His photographs have been reproduced in a few books and he has self-published eighteen books. The books represent the culmination of various projects. Kessel has been featured in a full-length documentary film (“Fill the Frame”) and has been interviewed a number of times by various photography organizations including “Street Photography”.
Before he began the serious pursuit of photography in 2007, Kessel always owned a camera since about age twelve. However, it was usually kept in a drawer and rarely used. There were brief spurts of photographing, but it was never sustained. A latent interest was always present. He dabbled in street photography for a few weeks in the 1960’s (He was unaware it was called “street photography”). There are old photos of the original Woman’s March and even one of Gloria Steinem.
A good part of Kessel’s education in photography involved portrait photography. This included studio photography, flash photography, and self-portraits. His early work in street photography was primarily street portraits with permission. This evolved into candid street portraits, and later street scenes beyond focusing on one individual. He favors more complex scenes with layers and multiple people interacting. Such photos are more difficult to achieve but every now and then such a photo emerges. It is the quest and elusiveness of a truly good photograph with some complexity that keeps Kessel shooting even in his mid 80s.
To view the online story: https://www.dodho.com/new-york-city-street-scenes-by-paul-kessel/