X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Matt Hart

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

I was born in Hammersmith in London, England UK. I was born Dyslexic and I struggled at school with the more academic subjects, but did very well in the Arts and Science. I found being Dyslexic more of a gift than a disability. My Dyslexia was one of the more rare forms where two areas of the brain are not connected in the Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area, so there was no hope for me to improve my academic skills. After I found out Einstein was Dyslexic along with quite a few photographers at the time, there was no holding me back. I had a dream of one day becoming a photographer. I left school with average grades and started out shooting events and weddings with 35mm film. This was short lived due to starting a family so the photography was hit and miss over the years. I am now a professional photographer shooting events and street photography, as well as teaching photographers on training courses and workshops in Street photography.

I moved to the North West of England about 9 years ago to be with my girlfriend Jane, at first it was quite hard to adjust but now I find that Liverpool inspires me to take more and more images. The North West is also in a great position in the UK for me to travel up and down the country to teach courses and talk at events.

I have always been a people watcher, it’s in my nature to want to know what is going on out there on the street, and I feel at home out in the streets of our cities. I think Street is very important even to this day of digital. There have been so many amazing Street photographers in the past and if it had not been for them documenting the streets of the world we would not be able to look back at our history.

What I love about Street is that you never quite know what you are going to get. Things happen all the time in fractions of a second that will never happen again, and only the person who is there that day with a camera can get that shot. No one can recreate or set up some of these amazing Street moments and that’s what makes Street photography unique. So my style is still developing, I was heading in one direction but now I use the X Series, I have slowed down to re-evaluate where I am going.

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Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

I was shooting with Nikon for over 30 years but started to get fed up with the weight of the equipment. I had a fall on the Isle of Skye whilst shooting landscapes on holiday and broke a few ribs; this was down to the sheer weight of camera gear on my back.

When I got back home I started to look for new options and bought myself a Fuji X100 – Wow! What a great little camera. I started to use the X100 more and more and found myself leaving the Nikon D3s in the bag.  For street photography, the X100 was amazing.  Soon after that I bought the XPro1 and shot Liverpool International Music Festival with the Fuji and the Nikon D3s. Following the festival, I decided to shoot Fuji only. I sold all my Nikon Pro gear! It was a big brave move but one I do not regret. I shoot mainly black and white and the Fuji X series are perfect for my style of shooting.

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Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

I learnt my craft from the days of film, so I guess my philosophy is to keep it real. I would much rather go back to a landscape 20 times in my life and capture the perfect landscape than to create the landscape in Photoshop. When I look back over the years, the images that mean the most to me are the ones that are the most real. I don’t always look for the sharpest most perfect images, I want the images to speak to me and tell me a story that means something to me as well as the viewer. So its got to be right from the moment of capture, that is why I love Street and Fuji cameras, its all about keeping it real.

 

Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

Most people can come up with list of great names for inspiration but I always struggle with this question. David Bailey was my inspiration as a young lad and also Michael Boys. I guess I love how creative these guys were and still are. I do admire some of the great Street Photographers work and styles but try not to let their images change what I am trying to achieve in my work.

The images my parents took of each other and myself as a child are the images that are stuck in my head from childhood. So I guess I draw my inspiration from family street photography.

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Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

  1. My style of street photography is more candid so I try and dress for the area I visit to blend in. This is why I love to use the X100T it’s so very discreet. I very rarely ever ask to shoot a portrait. I try and shoot the subject as naturally as possible, but if they do notice me at the point I am taking the shot, I will just smile and say thanks. On these occasions I have made many new social media contacts, given out business cards or even sent a print as a thank you.
  2. I like to pick busy days in the city or town I choose to shoot my street photography. This opens up the options for lots of opportunities and subjects. People tend to be busy going about their everyday business and won’t even notice me, even if I am standing right in front of them. The busy towns always have great side streets where people walk in and out of town to shop or visit friends.
  3. If I find a great area I like to spend a lot of time just hanging and blending in, just taking a few shots like a fumbling tourist so that people lose interest in me, that way I can catch them as naturally as possible. Train stations are very interesting especially the seating areas, as people are thinking more about their journey or their day.
  4. I like to look for interesting subjects, someone who stands out from the crowd, people dressed in an interesting way or with an interesting look that will compliment the background. Flamboyant, outgoing people make great subjects, but are also very aware of cameras and photographers so are better subjects to ask for a portrait.
  5. I like to find great atmospheric areas that have lots of character, I then wait for the right subject to walk in to frame. This can take quite a while, sometimes hours on some occasions. I can revisit great areas a few times before I have success. Some days you get great light in a fantastic area but no subject, the next day lots of subjects and poor light, it’s a waiting game but worth it, every time.

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What’s next for you?

I always do a yearly project and this year its natural light street photography with a bit of a twist. I am starting it towards the end of march and the images will be on my website here and I will be talking at the photography show for Fujifilm on the street stage in March http://ow.ly/JcdsE

Contact info

Blog: https://matthewhartphotography.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/matthewhartphotography

Twitter: @matt6t6

Website: www.lighttraveler.co.uk

Email: matt@matthewhartphotography.com

Google +: https://plus.google.com/+MattHart/posts

 

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Interview with Tom Lazar – Street Photographer

Photographer Tomasz Lazar finds that the Fujifilm X100S is the best choice for his brand of street photography

Tomasz Lazar is a photographer from Poland and a graduate of the West Pomeranian University of Technology. His black & white documentary images of street culture have won numerous accolades, including placing in the Sony World Photography Awards and the International Photography Awards. “I also took second place in ‘People in the News’ category of the 2012 World Press Photo contest and received Picture of the Year at BZ WBK Press Foto 2012,” he tells X Magazine.

X100S Lens: fixed 23mm Exposure: 1/15 sec  ISO: 400
X100S Lens: fixed 23mm Exposure: 1/15 sec
ISO: 400

 While Tomasz was still at university he planned a trip to Spain with his girlfriend, but didn’t own a camera. “I was given [a camera] by my parents, a Nikon D50 – and that’s how it all started,” he said. “After coming back from Spain I wanted to learn more about photography. I read books, looked at photo albums, talked to people about it – and I still remember the first photography book I bought, by Jeanloup Sieff. I really felt that photography was what I loved and what I would like to do in the future. I’ve always liked to talk to people and listen to their stories, but photography also enabled me to capture their stories.”

Street life

After a year living in Warsaw, Tomasz is now based in Szczecin, and tries to constantly be on the move. “I travel around Poland and Europe, and try to visit New York at least once a year,” he explains. As a long-time member of the un-posed photography group, which focuses on street photography, Tomasz devotes most of his time to taking pictures. To Tomasz, the street is an almost magnetic place, which he describes as being like a ‘living organism’. “Everything is constantly changing,” he says. “Street photography gives you a kind of freedom but also allows you to converse with people and observe situations.” He also points out that despite the name, you don’t have to be on a street to take street photography. “Street is a combination of factors that are relevant to each other – moments that together, give you this kind of mood.”

Whether on the street or not, Tomasz is always searching for images that, in his words, ‘enchant reality’. “The photographer Ernst Haas said of photographs, ‘the less information, the more allusion; the less prose, the more poetry’, which works to stimulate the imagination,” Tomasz explains. “This is what I’m really looking for. Some people say that I’ve got my own black & white style in photography, but I think that I can try different approaches to develop my consciousness. With my pictures I like to tell stories about places and people or try to show the mood.

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Question time

Tomasz has come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of photo projects: “One kind answers questions, but the other aims to force the viewer to think, and actually asks questions. My Theatre of Life is such a project – its point is to raise questions and make the viewers consider what to do next, what impact is had on our lives by technological development and the media.” Theatre of Life is a project that Tomasz has been working on since 2008, an exploration of surrealism. “It’s an essay on my experiences and thoughts about what surrounds me,” he says. “As a result of fast-changing technological developments, many people seem to feel disconnected from the world. Some seek refuge and create alternative realities: some dress in costumes, play role-playing games or pretend to be heroes from movies or Japanese anime. We all find our ways to cope, but these ‘off’ moments are what interest me.”

Tomasz frequently works in black & white, enjoying the dark and mysterious perception that people have of monochromatic pictures. “I also like to use natural light mixed with a flashlight,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot of my black & white technique from the classical darkroom – such as how to develop and work on the images. I like to work on all the details to make the picture better. To make really good black & white, everything is important: composition, light, people’s faces – and that’s why I like monochrome images.”

Tomasz often works with the Fujifilm X100S and has high praise for the camera’s capability at delivering black & white images. But it’s not just the inner workings of the cameras that Tomasz enjoys: he loves their style and size as well. “I like the way they are built. When I’m going on assignments for The New York Times I take the X100S: it is small, but the quality of the images, even set to high ISO, is very good. That’s why I like to work with it on the streets and during my journalism work.”

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Trying the X-E2

During a series of workshops run by Fujifilm Poland Tomasz was able to spend some time with the new X-E2. “Last year I was working on Beer Project, a collection of images about beer culture in Prague for Fujifilm using the X-E1, and for me it was a very good camera – but after holding the X-E2 I can tell it is even better. For me, lenses and cameras are like kitchen knives, pots and pans for cooking: different projects mean I’ll choose different cameras and lenses.”

Along with a decent camera in his pocket, Tomasz recommends any keen street photographers find themselves a good pair of walking shoes – “because sometimes you can spend more than eight hours shooting” – and also advises that in order to be as creative as possible photographers shouldn’t close their minds to other genres. “I’ve tried many types of photography – I share the view of Alec Soth from the Magnum agency that you should try everything, because you never know when you might need this kind of skill,” he says. “Besides, this opens up your mind and makes it easier to become a ‘humanist’”.

VISIT TOMASZ’S WEBSITE HERE

X Magazine Issue 3This interview was first published in issue 3 of the Fujifilm X Magazine. Click here to read it for FREE.