Ian Brumpton (born 1969) is a photographer from England currently living in London. He’s self-taught.
In his street photography, Ian Brumpton prefers a rather non-confrontational approach as opposed to an aggressive “in-your-face”-style.
Respect for the subject are is very important to him.
He’s an attentive observer of everyday life on the streets looking for extraordinary moments.
“I am a photographer particularly interested in street, documentary and reportage.”
Interview with Ian Brumpton
Ian, why did you become a photographer? And why street photography?
I came to photography quite late in life having only started seriously in 2008, before then it was just holiday snaps.
“I settled on photography as my major creative focus.”
Around 2007-2008 I had a creative rebirth as it were and developed a lot of projects, these included writing for TV, Cinema and Stage (Largely unsuccessfully) and I began to draw and paint having never thought I had any artistic ability (the jury is still out on my painting!).
Writing I found very time-consuming and difficult to slot in at a time when I had a demanding full-time job and eventually I settled on photography as my major creative focus.
In my younger days I did write comedy for television and I guess the two have similarities in that they both require close observation and interest in people, what are they doing, what are they saying, what are they thinking etc.
What does photography mean to you?
I guess it’s become a major part of my lifestyle, it’s extremely rare for a week to pass without my taking photos.
I record what I see as interesting in front of me and only time will tell whether other people find what I have recorded interesting too!
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
I’d certainly like to do more documentary type projects but at the moment I work full-time so confine myself to shooting at weekends and in holidays.
As such my work is more ad-hoc than pre-planned.
However currently I’m looking at a couple of projects both involving colour which will take more pre-planning.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
There’s been a few! Early photographic influences of mine were Oscar Marzaroli who worked in Glasgow over several decades, particularly the Gorbals (a notoriously poor area of the city) and became famous in the 80’s after his work was picked up by the band Deacon Blue and used for a number of their record covers just before he died.
Nearer to home Jimmy Forsyth was a near blind documentary photographer who worked in Newcastle and recorded life in the city’s West End from the 50’s onwards – I was lucky enough to meet him once at a book signing, sadly he too was only really discovered long after he had retired but enjoyed his time in the limelight.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
There are two I find very truthful. Dorothea Lange:
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
and Ernst Haas:
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
Just a cheap and now elderly Panasonic LX3. It’s the only camera I’ve ever used for street photography though it has its limitations particularly in low-light situations.
Currently thinking about switching to a Pentax or similar with a single prime lens.
What’s your favorite website about street photography?
I more often look at the work of people I follow on Facebook, twitter, Flickr etc. though I do dip into groups on Facebook and Flickr when I get the chance.
The work that most excites me is the ongoing release of Vivian Maier’s work which is awe-inspiring.
What book about photography would you recommend?
“Vivian Maier – Street Photographer” (John Maloof) as above. There are also two documentaries which are both excellent.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with street photography?
No need to spend a lot like starting any hobby/vocation start with cheap gear, learn from the professionals, look at the Masters and try to figure out how they took their shots and why their work is engaging.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to imitate the work of those you like, your own style will only develop over time as you find your own voice and way.
“Show your best work, not every photo you take every day.”
If you live in a bigger city get out on some photo walks and meet other photographers and study how they work.
Master your camera and don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun while you’re finding your way.
Candid work isn’t for everyone if you’re happier asking people to take portraits go for it – there isn’t a wrong way or a right way just ways of working that suit you.
Lastly when you are a beginner try to exercise a little control on how much of your work you show the general public – less is more – show your best work, not every photo you take every day.
Critiquing your own work is very difficult but it must be done.