“Street photography, that’s mainly because I love people watching. And I live in London, so not much chance of shooting landscapes!”
Gary Perlmutter (born in 1955) is a street photographer currently based in London, England. He studied photography at Twickenham College, England. Gary Perlmutter is represented by Stephen Bartells Gallery.
“A professional photographer for most of my working life, my passion when not shooting commissioned work is street photography. I find a day wandering the streets of London where I live both relaxing and exciting in the expectation of capturing a great photograph although more often than not I come back with nothing worth keeping.”
Interview with Gary Perlmutter
Gary, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures out on the streets?
When I spotted a beggar sat in the middle of one of the most busy streets in London, with people rushing past her, almost bumping into her. I knew it would make a great shot.
Why did you become a photographer? And why street photography?
I became a photographer thanks mainly to my father’s love of cameras and also friends and family saying I had a natural eye. As to street photography, that’s mainly because I love people watching and I live in London, so not much chance of shooting landscapes!
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to say with your pictures?
Photography is my way of communicating, I want people to smile at my images. Photography is my creative outlet. It’s a way I can express myself and my sense of humour.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I love the work of Elliot Erwitt and the humour in his images.
Balance of light is the problem, not the amount. Balance between shadows and highlights determines where the emphasis goes in the picture…make sure the major light in a picture falls at right angles to the camera.
What’s you your favorite quote about photography?
“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
If by voice you mean style? Then I like my images in the main to have a message either serious or funny.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
That you are not too influenced by other people’s work, just go out and shoot what makes you happy and your own style will come.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I particularly love black and white images for street photography. I shoot mainly with a 35mm equivalent lens, as I find 50mm too constricting and 28mm too wide.
What qualities and characteristics does a good street photographer need?
Patience, comfortable shoes and the ability to cull ones own work.
What does a photo need to be a great street shot?
In my opinion it should say something, cause a reaction. Either good or bad.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Other people’s work.
What’s the biggest challenge shooting on the streets?
The weather! Don’t like it too hot or cold.
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
Presently a Leica M8 with Voigtlander 28mm.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
What book about photography would you recommend?
Magnum Contact Sheets. It illustrates how even the great masters of photography don’t get it right first time!
Have a look at the photography book “Magnum Contact Sheets”
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) street photographer?
Don’t! Stick to your day job and do street photography in your spare time, you’ll enjoy it more without the pressure of putting food on the table.