Thank you Dmitry Stepanenko for being the honourable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, February 2019.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview with Dmitry Stepanenko to know his view and approach to Street Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[Dmitry] I became fascinated by photography in 2009 when I moved to the UK to do my master’s degree. At that time, I wanted to document the world around me, as it was so different from my previous surroundings. I took photos of everything: architecture, landscapes, and my fellow students. Gradually I realised that I was mostly interested in the people around me, and it was soon afterwards that I looked at Cartier-Bresson’s photographs for the first time. This led to a decision to move to street photography.
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[Dmitry] I love street photography for its unpredictability, for a chance to capture the beauty of everyday life at any given moment of time. It is also a very easily accessible genre of photography, equally open to everyone. In photographs, I looks for beauty. It is difficult to explain what beauty is and it is much more than just the aesthetics, besides it is very subjective.
– These days we are seeing so many great works of current photographers and masters available on the Internet and otherwise. As such, how can we try to be original in our approach?
[Dmitry] It is indeed a great opportunity to learn from the works of others these days, and we are lucky to have it. At the same time, it is important to listen to yourself and not try to please the viewers, be honest to yourself and others. If you work hard, this will pay off. In addition, it is very important to keep learning every day and stay curious.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[Dmitry] I am more on the observing side, I usually don’t take too many photographs when I am shooting as with experience you can feel how the photo will turn out before you take it. I am always on the move and I don’t tend to stay in one place for a long time, though I can come back at a later time.
– Projects or single images?
[Dmitry] Both are important, I don’t think it is like comparing a novel to a poem. They serve different purposes.
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[Dmitry] People are strange.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
[Dmitry] Don’t give up, practice a lot, show only the best, listen to the people you trust and don’t try to please the audience.
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
[Dmitry] This is a difficult question as my preferences change over time. Some names though always remain in my personal top. I enjoy the works of classic colour street / documentary photographers such as Harry Gruyaert, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Alex Webb, Saul Leiter, Ernst Haas etc.