Every now and then I’ll be asking one of my workshop students five questions about street photography. I feel quite strongly that it’s just as relevant to hear the views of ‘ordinary’ photographers as it is to hear from the big names. So, in this post I’ve asked Richard Keeling for his views. Richard has been on several street photography workshops in London with me, the first being around three years ago. I’ve watched his work develop over this time and have to say I’m impressed. You can see some of Richard’s work on Instagram here. Here’s what he has to say about street photography:

1. Why are you a street photographer?

Good question. I don’t even think I was really aware of street photography before I moved to London 11 years ago and I’ve never consciously thought ‘right, I’m going to be a street photographer’. I suppose I started taking what’s referred to as street photography about 7 years ago. I was going on a lot of Instagram meet-ups with various groups which mainly concentrated on building, architecture, symmetry, London landmarks and that kind of thing, and this was my style for quite a while. I think I just started to find it all a bit uninspiring and started gravitating towards including people in the shots and was hooked from then.

I think i find the genre a lot more exciting than others, with the constantly changing subjects matter and maybe even like the little thrill from possibly being busted. The anticipation and excitement when you’re on your way out  for a days shooting and not knowing if you’re even going to get any decent shots. Cant beat it.

There’s also something about having to have your eye constantly on the ball and observing everything from a completely different perspective than you would normally do. I find that quite exhilarating. I don’t think I would get this kind of excitement from any other genre. I suppose that’s why I’m a street photographer.

2. How do you approach street photography?

My camera is pretty much an extension of my arm. I very rarely leave the house without it, even if I’m going to get some milk from the shop. I have it in my sling on my ride to work and as I work all around London spend most of my lunch breaks looking for shots, though if I do plan a day’s shooting my approach tends to be, go out with the camera and see what happens.

I will know where I’m going but I never plan specific routes for when I’m there or have any idea of what kind of shots I’m going to go for that day. I find this approach has always worked for me, and think I might find sticking to a set route quite restrictive. I tend to just wander. I’m also not very patient, so don’t tend to enjoy the ‘sit and wait’ approach that much, and if I do its not for very long as I fear I might be missing potential shots elsewhere if I do. I generally tend to only take one lens with me as I believe this helps train your eye and forces you to be a bit more creative. 

3. Who has influenced you?

As far as influences go I was quite late to the game when it came to looking at ‘the greats’ and had been shooting street stuff a while before I started looking at these guys, so a lot of my first influences were probably from Instagram, Craig Whitehead, Joshua Jackson, Josh Edgoose, Shane Taylor to name a few. These were the guys whose work I was and still am in awe of. For someone new to the genre these guys’ work just leapt out at me. When I did start checking out the well known classic street photographers I was definitely drawn to the colour work of the likes of Fred Herzog, Alex Webb, Joel Meyerowitz and Jeff Mermelstein. I also definitely prefer shooting colour myself. I think if the colours are there why not use them?

4. What gear do you use – and why?

I currently use a Fuji X-pro2 with either my 35mm f2 or 27mm f2.8 lens. When I first started shooting in London I had a Nikon d3200 which I thought was a great camera at the time but was then shown an Fuji X-T1 by a guy on an Instagram meetup. I loved the look and the feel of the camera and was amazed by the shots the guy was showing me. I must have very subtly hinted something along these lines to my girlfriend as she bought me one for my birthday that year. I got a good 5 years out of that X-T1 and feel it really motivated me to get out more and I honestly think it raised my passion to another level. Recently the rear LCD packed up so rather than repair it I decided to get the X-Pro2 on another recommendation and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m definitely a Fuji man now . . . no going back. I still have the X-T1. I couldn’t bring myself to sell it. It now sits on a shelf looking cool.

5. What are your long term goals / projects?

I’m pretty useless when it comes to thinking of projects. I think I need to wait for an idea to pop into my head rather than pressure myself to come up with one. When I do try to think of one I normally decide they’re lame or are very cliched or done to death so never end up starting any. One will come along though, I’m sure of that. Just not sure when. 

As far as long term goals go I’m not really sure either. I suppose I’d like to exhibit some work one day (when a suitable project /theme comes along) and maybe sell some stuff. I think I need to pull my finger out with short term goals first like getting a website maybe get a nice book made and just get myself out there in other ways other than Instagram and Facebook .
Most importantly though I hope I’m still as enthusiastic and enjoying it as much as I am now in years to come.

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