This is a premiere. In the first interview in English on the Gate7-podcast I talk to street photographer Valérie Jardin. Born in France, Valérie is currently based in Minneapolis. She teaches workshops all over the world, runs the hugely popular podcast „Hit The Streets“ and is the author of several books. Her latest one is called „Street Photography: Creative Vision Behind The Lens“.
In this conversation, we focus on the creative process in image taking. Assuming that street photography doesn’t require any special equipment, Valérie shares her techniques of capturing the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Among the topics we touch on are:
- Why the camera is just a tool.
- Why creativity requires stepping out of comfort zones and how you do that.
- Why being discerning and consistent is so important to raise the quality of your images.
- Why you shouldn’t take pictures to please other’s – but only for yourself.
- How to become a swift photographer being able to react quickly to rapidly changing situations on the street.
- How to compose strong photographs and what to do when you feel motive fatigue.
In the first part of her book „Street Photography: Creative Vision Behind The Lens“, Valérie lays out the fundamental principles of street photography. In the second part, she takes the reader on photo walks around the world. It’s a behind the scenes look that shows how the fundamentals are applied in real life situations.
To give you an idea, we talk about two of the images included in the second part of the book.
To this day, the feeling of loneliness fills my heart when I see this photograph.
Valérie Jardin: „This image was taken in Paris, near Notre Dame. I had just gotten to Paris coming from Minneapolis. To get into the rhythm I tend to visit the same places. This is one of them.
That day I was feeling a bit homesick and lonely. In Paris, there are lovers at every street corner and for some reason I was not drawn to those people. So, I turned to scenes that rather reflected my mood of loneliness.
When I spotted this woman sitting on a bench, I immediately felt connected to her because it really portrayed my inner state. To this day, the feeling of loneliness fills my heart when I see this photograph. In terms of composition I created a triangle, connecting the dots between the woman, the street lamp and the tree.“
It’s always worth going the extra mile for a good image.
Valérie Jardin: „I was with a group of workshop students in Paris and we’d just finished for the day. But then all of a sudden on out way back to the hotel we saw this gentleman coming out of a movie.
With his trench coat, the glasses and the newspaper in his hand he looks just like Inspector Clouseau.
He’d already passed us when I quickly ran back to get ahead of him. It was all about finding the best possible shot to capture him. Since he was walking at quite a quick pace it was quite a challenge to catch up. Then we got to the perfect spot: really deep shadows going into bright sunlight and a clean wall as a background. This is a good example that it’s always worth going the extra mile for a good image. We’d already put our cameras in our bags when the streets gave us this gift.
The lesson is: Don’t always capture the moment when you see it, because chances are that there are some cars or other disturbing objects in the way. Instead try to envision the best possible environment – even if you have to run in order to get ahead of your character. Of course, that person might not come your way because he turns before or enters a shop. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth trying to anticipate the best possible shot instead of settling for the mediocre one.“
Images from street photographer Valérie Jardin
Ever since she picked up a camera, Valérie Jardin has been fascinated by exploring the world around her one frame at a time. She started as a commercial photographer but the set out to build a career around street photography.
Valérie holds workshops in cities around the world, among them Paris, Rome and New York. Her podcast „Hit The Street With Valérie Jardin“ reaches a big and loyal audience and is among the most popular photography shows. Previously was the host of „Street Focus“ on the „This Week In Photo“-network.
Her latest book „Street Photography: Creative Vision Behind The Lens“* has just come out. It’s a great resource for all those passionate about taking pictures on the street. It combines the fundamentals of this genre with beautiful storytelling when Valérie shares the stories behind some of her favorite images.
Valerie is an official Fuji-X-photographer and has teamed up with London based hairstylist Joshua Coombes to support his charity project „Doing Something For Nothing“. The goal is to give free haircuts to homeless people in an attempt to brighten up their day. To learn more about the campaign, you can listen to the podcast interview with Joshua Coombes on „Hit The Streets“ or check out his Instagram profile.
If you’d like to support the project, please have a look at the limited edition of the Valérie Jardin camera bag recently released by CosySpeed. Part of the profits go to Joshua Coombes to help him carry on with his initiative.
Although this podcast is mainly in German, every now and then I interview photographers in English. Some previous episodes are with street photographers RE Casper („StreetPX: „The Street Is Like A Theater“), Rinzi Ruiz („Street Zen – Or Photography As A Meditative Practice“), Dimitris Makrygiannakis („Remembering Life Through Photography“), Marc Fairhurst („Why Did You Take That Shot?“) and Dmitry Stepanenko („Heavy Colour“ Street Photography).
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