“A good street photograph needs to have a story, a comedy moment and/or a strong graphic composition to be noticed these days. Although it’s hard to get noticed with the many aspiring and emerging street photographers.”
Keith Lloyd Davenport is a Scottish street and commercial photographer currently residing in Glasgow, Scotland.
In this interview he talks about his series “Streets of Paris” and explains why generations of photographers have felt attracted by the charm of the French capital.
To Keith Lloyd Davenport photography means “life and passion”.
He has recently been featured on Document Scotland with “Gone Fishing”.
Interview with Keith Lloyd Davenport
Keith, your portfolio shows a great variety: wedding and documentary photography, commercial works – and street photography. What does each genre mean to you?
The commercial work and wedding work pays the bills and allows me to pursue my love of being creative on the streets or shooting a project.
As far as style of shooting, wedding photography and street go hand in hand for me, as I shoot the same, the only difference is people at a wedding expect the camera to be on them at some point. The documentary work is developing for me, it’s a challenge as there is a combination of street and fine art with modern photo essays.
Let’s focus on your street photography in this interview. What was your most memorable moment shooting pictures out on the streets?
In London, aged about 21 years, I spotted a man on Oxford Street, standing, wearing only his boxer shorts, clothes and shoes folded neatly by his side, striking body builder poses in the large exterior mirror of the dept store. I got one shot, then moved closer for another, he spotted me in the mirror and proceeded to chase me down Oxford Street.
What’s in your bag when you go out shooting street photography?
My Leica is my go to camera, so I wear it with either a 35mm or 50mm attached, in the bag are the FM2 with 35mm f2 lens, spare film, spare memory cards, spare battery and a white balance card.
You recently shot a series in Paris, called “Streets Of Paris”. Can you tell a little bit about the process?
“As I moved around the city I had the camera focus and exposure preset to enable me to only compose and shoot.”
It was my first time in Paris that was more than a couple of days, so I was keen to explore, in some locations I knew what shot I was after, so just had to wait for a short while, the image with the Eiffel Tower in for example, most other shots I just had to be alert to my surroundings and to get close enough, everything was shot on my 35mm lens on the M9-P. As I moved around the city I had the camera focus and exposure preset to enable me to only compose and shoot.
Paris has always attracted street photographers. What is it that makes this city so special?
Paris is a city with real character and atmosphere, the people all fit, they have an unparalleled style and grace that matches their location.
What does a good street photograph need in your opinion in order to stand out and get noticed? Especially keeping in mind the abundance of visual imagery in today’s society?
A good street photograph needs to have a story, a comedy moment and/or a strong graphic composition to be noticed these days. Although it’s hard to get noticed with the many aspiring and emerging street photographers.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at your images?
In my street photography I want the viewer to see and appreciate the same beauty in the everyday that I see.
How do you handle uncomfortable situations while shooting street photography? People, for example, not wanting to have their picture taken or not understanding the concept of street photography.
Tough one, I explain what i am doing, I carry a press card so that usually eases a potentially uncomfortable situation.
What’s your strategy when you walk up close to people? Do you interact with them or take the shot and move on?
“I sometimes ask someone for their portrait if I find them interesting or read them as objectionable to a candid street shot.”
Usually take the shot and move on, I find that if you are taking a shot the camera is not usually pointing directly at the subject, as they are an integral part of the image, I tend to include them in a scene that they add something to. I sometimes ask someone for their portrait if I find them interesting or read them as objectionable to a candid street shot.
What’s the biggest challenge shooting on the streets?
On a poor day, bad light and frustration at getting nothing, just keep head up and alert as you never know when your luck may turn and something may occur.
You shoot both color and black and white? Do you have any preference and what does your decision depend on?
My work can be moody so it suits black and white, especially in cities, I use colour more when I am on the coast or in a rural location. I shoot a Colour RAW file in camera and a full size Monochrome Jpeg simultaneously, so when I import my images I can see both in front of me, I can then make an informed decision.
What qualities and characteristics does a good street photographer need?
Patience, luck and an optimistic outlook.
Street photography is very much about seizing the moment. Things usually happen unexpectedly. How do you train your eyes to “know” when a special moment is about to come?
“Good luck also has a part to play, you have to be in the right place at the right time, and be ready.”
I have always been a people watcher, before I had ever picked up a camera, that helps, also when I shoot weddings in my documentary style I am preempting and looking for things constantly, this helps to see. Good luck also has a part to play, you have to be in the right place at the right time, and be ready.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Q: What are your dreams and aspirations for the future?