Tom Plevnik – The Interview

Tom Plevnik is an amateur photographer with a major passion for photographing the streets of Paris, the Old Town of Ljubljana, as well as a number of other cities throughout Europe. Tom’s muses are some of the great old masters: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Robert Capa, Jean Claude Gautrand and Vivian Maier. He lives in Trbovlje, Slovenia. Tom’s site can be visited at: https://tomplevnik.wordpress.com/

The Interview

You live in Slovenia and have taken many images of the beautiful old town of Ljubljana: what are your favorite parts of the Old City and which ones captivate you the most to photograph?

I lived in Ljubljana for almost 15 years. Now I live in my home town Trbovlje, which is about 60 kilometers from Ljubljana. I have a daily work in Ljubljana so I’m there every day. Ljubljana is a small capital city with less than 300,000 inhabitants. Many tourists compare it to Salzburg … but I don’t know, maybe.

In fact, the whole area of Old Town is my playground. Having a full-time job, I do a lot of photography on weekends. During the weekends, I walk up through Gornji Square, Stari Square, Mestni Square or by the river Ljubljanica. I try to mix up my walk but it’s hard in Ljubljana. If I have to say a favorite location, it would be Stari Square.

How did you get started in doing street photography in Paris?

For the first time I was in Paris in 1998, I saw black and white photographs in a some gallery. Later, I purchased the first book in an antique shop and found out that it was Henri Cartier-Bresson. I was in love. I really admire the old masters of photography like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Robert Capa, Jean Claude Gautrand and Vivian Maier. I love black and white photography, although I am also focusing on color in recent times. It fascinates me how you can catch a fraction of a second of a moment on the street. I’m still trying to catch “The Decisive Moment”.

What are your favorite locations for capturing street based action in Paris?

Paris is now my second home. If I have to say a favorite location, it would be Le Marais and the surrounding area. Of any neighborhood in Paris, it still has a look and feel of what the city was like when Robert Doisneau walked along the streets.

Are their particular principles of composition that you use in framing your photographs or do you rely more on spontaneously capturing the action or feel of what you are photographing at street level?

For me, street photography is candid photography of life and human nature on the streets. I use an aperture of 1.8 to 3.5 so I can quickly catch the moment. I don’t deal much with the composition, because I can miss a moment in the meantime. I don’t have a official photographic education. I learned everything about photography from books and internet. I’m just a visual guy on the street.

Who would you cite as your major influences in terms of the practical and/or theoretical development of your style?

My influences are many. I have already mentioned some of them in the beginning… fashion photographers Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel, Mario Sorrenti, Peter Lindbergh, documentary street photography Arne Hodalic, James Nachtwey, Manca Juvan, Rui Palha, Thomas Leuthard, Instagram Dave Yoder, Simone Bramante, Cocu Liu, Brandon Woelfel, Sean Tucker and so many more…

What are your preferences in terms of equipment?

I always prefer Nikon cameras. Currently, my prime camera is the Nikon D500 and of course Iphone X, small enough to carry no matter what other camera I might have with me. I also use a Fuji X-Pro1, Nikon Coolpix P7700, Nikon D7000 and Samsung Note4.

How do your subjects react to the notion of having their image captured on the streets in Paris – have you had any strange or memorable reactions?

I usually move slowly on the street and watch what is happening around me. I never interfere with my presence or what’s happening on the street. I don’t hide myself on the street and what I’m doing, but I also don’t want to intrude on others. I like candid street photography because people are relaxed at that time and don’t burden themselves with posing. A smile or some nice words are very helpful on the street.

Do you have a preference for working during the day or at night or do you enjoy both equally as much?

I enjoy working in the morning because the streets aren’t crowded, just a few people and the light is so beautiful. In the evening, the light is also beautiful, but the streets are full of people. Though there are times I like to explore the street at night especially when I’m traveling. I travel to Warsaw in July and to Vienna in October. And when I travel, I usually take pictures all day long because you never know what you will find or discover.

What words of advice would you give to people who are interested in starting out in the discipline of street photography and do you feel it is necessary to have some formal training to enter this genre at a serious level?

Be yourself, study the masters of photography, take a lot of photos and most of all enjoy!

 

DSC_0426-01-01 Something new on the phone – Paris

 

DSC_8735
Grocery – Paris

 

DSC_3100-01 Rainy days – Ljubljana

 

2018-01-15 07.12.37
Walking home – Ljubljana

 

 

DSC_0195-01Kiss – Paris

 

TOM_7077
Menu – Paris

 

DSC_0335-01-01.jpeg
After the rain – Paris

 

DSC_9741 Waiting for the master – Paris

 

All images © Tom Plevnik 2018

Interview: Marcus D. Niski, Naked Cities Journal, June 2018

 

Keith Goldstein: New York Street Photographer – The Interview

Keith Goldstein is a New York based street photographer who photographs his subjects in various locations in and around Manhattan. His images are candid portrayals of New Yorkers as he encounters them throughout the various boroughs of a city famous for its intensity and diversity. In the interview below I asked Keith how he got started, his style of working, his favorite locations and the equipment that he uses in his work. More information about Keith can be found at: www.keithgoldstein.me

The Interview

How did you get started in doing street photography in New York City?

I got involved with photography in high school. I was always interested in art and was given a collection of photo magazines to draw from. Instead, I began reading them and became quite interested in this medium. After graduating high school, I spent two years at a small upstate college. I felt the need for more experiences and diversity in my education, my life, than what I was being exposed to there. I left the college I was attending and moved into New York City. I finished my undergraduate education at the School of Visual Arts. It was there, through instructors, friends, books, galleries, that I began to become exposed to many genres of photography.

Photographing the city just became a natural progression as I was living there and immersed in its culture. Back then what I was doing was not called “street photography”. The term, to my knowledge, wasn’t very much used then or not at all. I believe it was referred to as “urban photography”. It was sort of patterned after the term “concerned photography” as used to describe this genre outside of everything else – nature, landscape, portraiture, etc. It was also the term used to describe the work that the International Center of Photography was founded on.

What are your favorite locations for capturing street based action?

Any location that is readily accessible is my favorite! My main locations for photographing are generally around where I work, Herald Square. I work as a content reviewer for a large stock photography company, reviewing still imagery and video clips from the contributors. When given the time, I love exploring other neighborhoods, especially those of the other boroughs of Manhattan. Having a full time job, I do a lot of photographing on my lunchtime, and when going to pick up my son from school. During the weekday, I walk up through Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, or midtown. I try to mix up my walk everyday. You never know what you will discover. If I have to say a favorite location, it would be Chinatown and the surrounding area. Of any neighborhood in New York City, it still has the look and feel of what the city was like when I was a small boy growing up in the 1960s.

Are their particular principles of composition that you use in framing your photographs or do you rely more on spontaneously capturing the action or feel of what you are photographing at street level?

I do not adhere to any principles of composition or framing. My vision, my instincts, and my work guide me. I do not like to feel locked into visual principles, though I learned many as an art student. Rules and such are meant to be broken if one is to let their own vision, one’s visual style develop and shine through. I do notice in the work of others that they might stake out a stationary compositional element or area and photograph people as they enter those spaces. I just cannot do that. To be out on the street for me is to feel its energy, the spontaneity and the need to keep moving. Being out on the street is a physical experience for me, as well as a visual and intellectual one. Life doesn’t stand still. If a situation presents itself grab it because in an instance it will be gone.

Who would you cite as your major influences in terms of the practical and/or theoretical development of your style?

My influences are many. The books I read, artists and photographers whose work I enjoy looking at, or music – jazz, blues and world music. I am a big fan now of Robert Frank, but as a young photographer, I couldn’t really get into much of his work. William Klein profoundly influenced me when I discovered his work. I love the physical in your face attitude of his imagery, whereas Frank is somewhat more cerebral. I love the work of many Japanese photographers, especially Daido Moriyama. There are so many others, Atget, Max Pam, Koudelka, Winogrand, Freidlander … I could go on and on. As for reading and theoretical style, as well as his imagery, Nathan Lyons would be at the top of my list. The writings of Robert Smithson were an early influence when I was a graduate student as were the readings of Roland Barthes and other semiologists.

Music plays a big influence on my work. Jazz and blues mostly. It is what runs through my head when I am working. People become like notes and scales as on a sheet of music. Though when out on the street, I adhere to a kind of Zen philosophy of emptying myself of most thoughts and being open to my surroundings. It is easier to connect to people and situations on the street if I try to stay out of their way and just let things happen.

What are your preferences in terms of equipment?

I always prefer small cameras and try to be as unobtrusive as possible. Currently, my prime camera is the Ricoh GR. Small enough to carry no matter what other camera I might have with me. I also use a Fuji X100T, Leica M, or the Olympus Pen-F. Digitally these are superb cameras and give me less to think about on the technical side of things. I find them reliable, the optics superb, and allow me to customize their settings for easy control of any situations that I might encounter.

How do your subjects react to the notion of having their image captured on the streets in NYC – have you had any strange or memorable reactions?

I usually move so quickly and unobtrusively that subjects do not know they were photographed. I do not hide what I am doing, but I also do not want to intrude.  There are occasions where I do ask, but as a rule, I adhere to not interfering. If someone does notice, I usually reply with a smile and say something flattering to diffuse any thoughts of unwarranted impending hostility.

Do you have a preference for working during the day or at night or do you enjoy both equally as much?

I enjoy working during the day mostly, though there are times I would like to explore subject matter at night. Having a family prevents me from this at this time. I hope in the foreseeable future that is something I can do. 

What words or advice would you give to people who are interested in starting out in the discipline of street photography and do you feel it is necessary to have some formal or academic training to enter this genre at a serious level?

The only advice I could give to someone starting out in this discipline is to follow your heart. Do what you need to do and not follow trends. Your heart, head, and imagery will tell you if you are on the right path and whether that path is your own. I would recommend academic training to learn about history and what your place in the world might be. This is something I see that is lacking in a lot of contemporary work I look at. There is no connection to the past or furthering historical context to a new step towards the future.

We do not live in a vacuum. Everything we do, eat, read, affects us in some way that might not be readily apparent. When one thinks nothing has come before, even as some political leaders would have us believe, you are doomed to fall backwards. Society must advance forward for one to live fruitfully. Technology forever advances. What we do with it is important. Learn what has come before. Digest it and distill it into your own vision, your own future. 

Keith Goldstein, New York City, New York, May 2018

 AcrossThe Ilse snapseed-2

Across the Aisle

 

Broadwayr017253efex2

Broadway

 

The Tenderloinimg_6789

The Tenderloin

 

Broadway r017123

Broadway

 

sailors veterans day manhattan300

Veteran’s Day, Sailors

All images © Keith Goldstein 2018

Interview: Marcus D. Niski, Naked Cities Journal, May 2018