(analogue) Photographer of the Month - Andy Monk
- How did you get into photography?
When I was a kid, around eight years old I remember that “one” thing I wanted to do, as kids do; was to be a photographer (like those in National Geographic) and later on, 4 years or so, I wanted to be a war correspondent – partially due to the desire for a connection to both my father and grandfather and their respective experiences. During that time I was a big consumer of Man Ray, Capa brothers (Robert & Cornell) and Lee Miller photographs so when it came to getting into the darkroom, I was already a romantic about the process of film photography and I still am.
- Your street photography features a lot of portraits, do you ask permission or snap in a ‘Bruce Gilden’ kind of way?
I always try to ask permission, have a chat about who they are and why I’m taking portraits on the street. I do have a point & shoot minolta (flash always on) that I use for the Bruce Gilden’esque method but I’m not really that comfortable with the style of ‘ambush for the image’ - I want people to know that they are important and I am just a vehicle to record them in this moment in history.
- Do you find you get much push back or negative responses when you ask or when taking photos in the street?
I have to admit that about 60% of the time it is a flat ‘no’ but sometimes this is an opening for more of a conversation about why I’m doing street portraits. It is often an aggressive no when shooting on the street because people just don’t know why you want the photograph - Approach with an open heart, smile and authentic reason and about half will take the time to talk and have their portrait taken.
- When shooting in the street what do you look for?
Interesting light casting first, then leading lines followed by rule of thirds… unconsciously you perform these whilst sizing up a subject but if it’s not a street portrait; my ultimate goal is to have at least five things happening in a composition but I think I’ll need another ten years at least before I get that shot ;)
Your work is predominantly B&W, why is this? Do you prefer B&W over colour?
Well I’m colour-blind so I have a bit of difficulty seeing how colours can empower an image - Over the years however, I’ve learnt to use tone and contrast when making a composition and Black & White always accentuates those subtle expressions without the distractions of colour.
How do you think your colour blindness affects your photography?
Ahh the question of colour blindness - It seems impossible to explain for those who can see Reds, Greens, Browns, Blues etc but in a way; it has helped me with my B&W photography - I look at a scene and instantly see tones and contrast within those colour fields that some people will be naturally distracted by, I can see leading lines in the division between these colour fields immediately and it helps with creating some cool compositions. It doesn’t make my photography better but it does seem to give me more good shots per roll :)
Quick fire ten questions:
- 35mm or 120? 35mm
- Colour or B&W? B&W
- Zoom Lenses or Fixed? Prime 28mm please
- Portrait or Landscape (Orientation)? Landscape
- Flash or Natural Light? Natural
- SLR (or TLR) or Rangefinder or Point and Shoot? SLR
- Must be razor sharp or more about the aesthetic? Aesthetic
- Favourite Camera? Pentax LX
- Favourite Photographer? Elliott Erwitt
- Favourite Photo Book? The Photo Book by Phaidon Press Ltd