Thank you Julia Coddington for being the honourable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, January 2019.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview with Julia Coddington to know her view and approach to Street Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[Julia] I’m a street photographer from Australia and live in a beautiful place on the coast south of Sydney with my partner (and fellow photographer) Gerry Orkin and our two dogs. I’m a self taught photographer with no formal training but have always had a camera. Like all street photographers I find people endlessly fascinating and delight in watching and capturing their interactions.
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[Julia] Street photography is special to me for several reasons: I love observing interactions between people, tuning into these interactions and waiting to capture that perfect moment; the addiction to the fugue like state I reach when I’m ‘in the zone’; and the ability to become ‘invisible’ so that I can insert myself into a scene and become one with it.
A good street shot is one that stands out from the rest because someone has seen or is showing us something in a new way. I personally love clean, simple and graphic shots, photos that tell interesting stories and photos that are mysterious, ambiguous or magical in some way.
– These days we are so much bombarded with information and have masters images we look at on the internet for reference. So how does it affect when we are on the streets, how can we try to be original in our approach?
[Julia] It is almost impossible to be original amongst the millions of other street photographers and it is important in your development as a street photographer to try out all the ‘tricks of the trade’ to test your abilities. Some tricks of course are almost impossible to achieve and there are certain masters in street photography who are so consistent in producing great work that they will always be the masters.
It’s not so important to be original but to practice and practice so shooting (and the habit of observation) becomes so intuitive and second nature that your unique personality is allowed to be revealed in your work.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[Julia] I no longer worry about ‘getting that shot’ so I am now much more relaxed when I go out to shoot on the streets. This also means it is easier and faster to get into the zone because I’m not putting so much pressure on myself. It also means I’m more patient and can spend time looking for potential scenes, rather than just shooting randomly at whatever passes in front of me. My favourite scenes are those that are crowded so I can get in very close to people – one of my favourite things to do. Generally I like to get very close to a scene using a 28mm lens which means I’m almost within one metre or closer to my subjects. This is much easier to achieve in India where personal space is less of an issue than in Australia or some other countries. I find it a challenge which gives me an adrenalin rush!
– Projects or single images?
[Julia] Both. I have one main project, ’The Pool Project’ based at a sea pool close to where I live so it is very accessible. I rarely shoot there in the winter because it is too cold for people to swim, so it is a summer project. I also take a lot of photos in Sydney because it is close to where I live and there are more places to shoot there. My favourite place to shoot in Sydney is the Pitt Street Mall because the light there is beautiful, especially in Spring and Autumn. I also enjoy shooting around the Opera House and around Bondi Beach. Photos from Sydney and elsewhere are single images but I hope to build up a body of work from the Mall and Opera House. Gerry and I also love to travel and particularly enjoy photographing in India. We are trying to visit India every year.
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[Julia] Confidence. I’m not sure if this is a ‘lesson’ I’ve learnt but it is something I’ve become – more confident.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
[Julia] Learn from your fellow street photographers as they are your most valuable resource. Chat with them, shoot with them and learn from them. The more you shoot, the more confident you become, and the better you get. You can also learn so much from looking at photo books, listening to photography podcasts and reading articles and blogs.
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
[Julia] I have so many favourite photographers there are too many to list and most of my inspiration comes from my contemporaries and their photos I see every day on social media. I’m also influenced by Alex Webb, Maciej Dakowitz, Vineet Vohra, Ernesto Bazan, Harry Gruyaert, Josef Koudelka and Jason Eskanazi. Gerry and I have quite a few books and my favourites are ‘Suffering of Light’ (Webb), Violet Isle (Webb and Norris), “Isla” (Bazan), “Exiles” and the “Making of Exiles” (Koudelka). One day soon we hope “Wonderland” (Eskanazi) will be on our book shelf.