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Mark Seymour And Street Photography - We talk to Nikon ambassador and award winning reportage wedding photographer Mark Seymour about his street photography work.
Mark Seymour first spoke to us a few months ago about his reportage wedding photography. There is an element of street and documentary photography in all his work, and so we caught up with him again when he took time out of his busy schedule to tell us a bit more about his street photography.
Street photography has always been what Mark is most passionate about in photography. "Street photography is what keeps me fresh, in a way. Wedding photography is where I get my income from, but street photography has always been there in the background," he explains. "My wedding photos have always taken on the stance of more documentary style shots."
Mark says his style is very similar to that of legendary photojournalism pioneer Henry Cartier-Bresson. "I collected the books and prints of Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, but I've always thought my work more closely resembles that of Cartier-Bresson," he adds.
Mark's technique for capturing great street photography images is a simple, yet very effective one: "Firstly I try and find a location that makes a good backdrop for the image, like an ornate doorway or a tunnel. Then I'll wait there until an interesting looking person walks into the frame."
He continues: "You have to make sure the light is good, so I'll usually scout out a location to see when the light is at it's best there first. Then it's just a case of setting up and waiting for the right person to walk into the shot. The location almost becomes my studio."
So, how do you decide what the 'right person' for the shot is? "Some people will suit the framing you've gone for, and other won't. For example, with an ornate old doorway, a lady with a pram might walk past, and the mix of the old and the new just won't look right. But when an old man in a flat cap walks past, you've got your shot," says Mark.
Mark uses a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 35mm or 24mm lens. "I mostly use the 24mm wide angle lens. It's important with street photography that you capture the surroundings along with the person as that can tell you something about their character. You try to tell a story, putting the person in a certain environment," explains Mark.
Despite his brilliant street shots, you'd most likely not even realise you'd had your photo taken by Mark. "I tend to sort of hide away in a corner somewhere, and try not to get noticed," He explains. "In foreign countries this can be a bit more difficult, but a simple nod of the head and a friendly approach usually works. I'm not one to go and point the camera directly into someone's face."
Mark tends to use black and white for his street photography images for various reasons, as he explains here: "Part of it is just personal preference, I think it looks better. But sometimes you can't control your background, and bright colours can draw the eye away from the main subject of your images, which is the people. However, black and white lets you focus on the main point of interest, and then explore the rest of the picture. It makes you appreciate the lighting and tones of the photo more, too."
If you're new to street photography, Mark has a couple of top tips to help you get started in the genre:
- Start off with a longer lens, say a 50mm. This way, you'll not have to get as close to your subject to be able to fill the frame. This can be quite daunting if you're not used to it. Once you gain more confidence, move on to a 35 or 24mm. Lots of pro photographers love these focal lengths.
- Start off in crowds or at events. This way, you'll not stand out as much and It'll allow you to focus on taking good photos. Things like carnivals are great as they usually have a great intermingling of cultures and photographic subjects. Places like speaker's corner in London are great for capturing interesting people and expressions, too.