For me, “Street Photography” is capturing a moment that usually has 2 or more different photographic elements combined - lines, shadows, silhouettes, facial expressions, movement, blur to name a few. What makes it special is combining those elements. It’s almost like a sport sometimes. Identifying a scene and catching those elements playing out.
RK : Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, We’re excited to speak to you. Let’s have a jump into the past. What first attracted you to photography?
Laurence Bouchard : Thanks for reaching out to me. I’ve always loved the visual. Be it films or stills. Photography is the easiest route into that visual world. Film is much more dynamic and is something I’m trying to get into but film is also more complicated. So photography was a way to get instantly into that visual world.
RK : How do you cultivate your vision?
Laurence Bouchard : With great difficulty! Lol.. It used to be easier. I pretty much developed my photography in Tokyo and there were (and still are) all these amazing locations to explore. After a while though it gets difficult to get inspired by revisiting the same locations. I think if you’re traveling and seeing new places then it definitely make things easier.
The hard part is trying to find new ideas and ways to shoot things that you might have shot before where you live. One thing is to keep up with any events that might be happening and think about what photography opportunities they might provide.
RK : What is “Street Photography” for you? What makes it so special ?
Laurence Bouchard : For me, “Street Photography” is capturing a moment that usually has 2 or more different photographic elements combined - lines, shadows, silhouettes, facial expressions, movement, blur to name a few. What makes it special is combining those elements. It’s almost like a sport sometimes. Identifying a scene and catching those elements playing out.
RK : Most of your photographs are in black and white, high contrast but very clean and refined. Why do you prefer Black and White?
Laurence Bouchard : I prefer Black and White because, visually, it simplifies photos. Colours in the urban environment can often clutter and, in turn, distract rather than add to an image. Also, there’s a timeless element that’s hard to achieve with colour photography.
RK : Where do you think the soul of street photography can be found ? Do you think that every picture must have a story to tell or is the moment the most important thing for you ?
Laurence Bouchard : I’ve no idea where the soul of street photography can be found.. but I’d be willing to do a deal with Satan to find out!
I don’t think every picture needs to have a story. A lot of pictures don’t have stories but are visually captivating and that’s enough - so, for me, capturing a moment is the most important thing. But photographs that tell stories are great and, in photo-journalism, that can lead to change in society.
RK : What attracts you to a subject?
Laurence Bouchard : Clothes are important. I love suits. Suits have a timelessness about them. Fortunately in Japan a lot of people still wear suits, but I fear (for photography reasons) that the suit is being phased out slowly. I was shooting around the imperial palace recently and I was only taking pics of people wearing suits. At the entrance was an on duty police officer and, after a while, he approached me and asked me why I was only taking pics of the people in suits. I tried to explain (my Japanese isn’t great) that the suit was timeless and that I didn’t want scruffy, casual clothed tourists in my shots. He didn’t understand but I’d had enough of the rain by then so I left. But it’s not just suits, certain people stand out and can be the difference between a good and bad photo.
RK : If you were told that you could only keep one camera and lens combination, what would it be?
Laurence Bouchard : It would be my Sony A7rii with the 16-35 lens.
RK : Describe an incident that has left a lasting impact on you.
Laurence Bouchard : I think that incident was discovering how good the iPhone camera was a few years back.. despite investing in a Sony A7rii I still like to shoot with the iPhone and for certain pics I’ll opt for the iPhone. It had a big impact on me because it was the thing that got me back into photography. And, as I’m sure you’ve heard before, it’s the one camera that’s pretty much always with you.
RK : Independently from all that camera hype created by the marketing industry, which skills does a good street photographer need to have ?
Laurence Bouchard : Creativity is the key. Patience is also really important for photography - being willing to wait in a place for an hour to get that shot. And, maybe not a skill as such, getting inspired.. finding inspiration is really important. Of course there are all the camera settings but those are things you can learn.
RK : Regarding social media trends… Where do you think street photography is aiming for ?
Laurence Bouchard : I’ve no idea.. but I hope that a new platform comes through that can rival Instagram.
RK : In a street picture, do you think the contrasts of light are important to tell a story or are just an aesthetic fact?
Laurence Bouchard : They are important. The black areas in a photo lend themselves to mystery which helps create a story.
RK : Viewing the way you transmit and teach to others, What advice you’d give to a novel street photographer ?
Laurence Bouchard : Have fun with photography. Don’t get caught up with likes and followers on Instagram. It’s important to remember why you started taking photos in the first place. A lot of the time it’s like the end game for many people is Instagram. Was this the reason they started taking photos? Getting too caught up with Instagram can have a restrictive effect on your photography. Also, experiment as much as possible. And don’t be afraid of looking stupid if your kneeling by a puddle trying to get a cool puddlegram.
RK : Do you have any tips for photographers to help them grow artistically?
Laurence Bouchard : I think with any hobby if you want to grow then you have to be open to change. Technology is continually evolving and that’s exciting as it means you can evolve with it. So I think it’s important to keep up with new technology and use that to grow artistically.
RK : We (Retro Kolkata) are trying to build one single stage for all artists, because we believe that artists are the most beautiful creation of God and geographical boundaries can never break their unity and harmony. Please say something about our initiative and any special message for your followers.
Laurence Bouchard : I think it’s a great initiative. Any platform that aims to inspire and focus on creativity is a good idea in my opinion. After all, what’s the world without art.?
For any followers that are interested I’m currently running an ‘Urban Geometry’ workshop in Tokyo. Bookings can be made via eyexplore.com or on this link: www.eyexplore.com/adventures/tokyo-photo-workshops/urban-geometry/
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