This month’s featured artist is suspectdevice. A street photographer from North America!
Be sure to follow suspectdevice and support his work!
City and country where you live
Washington, D.C., United States
How you started with street photography?
Street photography is something that I acquired an interest in very, very early in my life. It wasn’t because I was interested in photography per se, it was because I was in a band. When we would play shows, one of our fans, John Fox, would always make flyers for us using found street photography or photojournalism type work. I can’t say with absolute certainty but I am pretty sure he mined images from books by Wee Gee, William Klein and Diane Arbus. These were hard impact images that reflected the nature of our band.
Why street photography?
When I got into actual photography many years later I wound up going to protests, demonstrations and punk shows to capture photos hoping I could create images in the style that John Fox used for our posters. At this time I still wasn’t familiar with who the famous street photographers were, but this kind of candid, gritty photography, is something that inspired me and I always come back to and strive to create it myself.
What and/or who inspires you?
Since I have now been doing “street photography” for many years, I am finding new inspiration beyond the folks I mentioned above. I am currently reading American Prospects by Joel Sternfeld, a street photographer who turned to landscapes later in his career. I also have been into Anders Petersen, Antoine D’Agata and Dash Snow lately. Also, Alec Soth’s LBM Dispatch is pretty great. Ultimately though, if I have to narrow it down I’d say Lee Friedlander is the bee’s knees.
How much do you feel other artists influence your work? The artists you mentioned have different styles and careers.
It seems all artists that I have admired influence my work to some degree. It’s hard to avoid really, especially when you see the potential for an image and it references something you have already seen, either consciously or subconsciously. For example, whenever I see harsh light and shadows with lots of angles I channel my inner Ray Metzker. Whenever I am at an odd ball event like the Crab Derby in Crisfield, MD, I can’t help but think of Martin Parr. That doesn’t mean I try to copy them. I want to add something different, something more to that visual vocabulary that they hopefully have already established.
How often do you go out to capture moments?
Everyday. I am with a camera 90% of the time. In fact I have been shooting for the past year from my neighbor’s car window when we commute into work together. I thought it would be a fun project to make something interesting out of those in between moments we have between work and home. It helps keep my mind sharp and kills the time. When I am not doing that, I’ll walk around my neighborhood on weekends, go to public events like parades and parties, and work on longer-term projects that are more documentary in nature.
This is a very interesting concept, taking pictures from a car so you keep sharpening your eye. This also makes you think faster in order to take a picture, controlling so little about the scenes that you want to take as you are in constant movement and angles change so fast. I’m guessing there’s a lot of trial and error (for now). Looking forward to seeing the progress of this project. What’s your approach for this project? Tell us more about it. And last but not least, who’s driving?
Honestly, taking pictures from a car is nothing new. Lee Friedlander has a wonderful book called America by Car. Rebecca Norris Webb’s My Dakota has several images in it taken in a car. Todd Hido loves shooting from his car in bad weather. And NYC taxi driver David Bradford has a great book called Drive By Shooting. You are right that there is little you can control (especially since I am not the driver!), but there is also little you can control in street photography. It is similar in that aspect. I have been doing this just over a year and I am still discovering new things to try, for example how can you use motion blur to your advantage or shallow depth of field - or a combo. This seems to be evolving for me and hopefully I am coming on to something unique and different from the previous artists I mentioned above.
What do you look for when you go out on the streets?
Anything that will elevate a photo beyond the obvious where its elements add up to more than the sum of its parts. With that said I love juxtapositions, layering, puns, shadow play, reflections, abstractions, emotion, shock value and the bizarre.
When you find a scene that you like/are interested in, do you work the scene and move around or you take as little as possible and then move on? Many photographers struggle with multi subject scenes. Maybe you can tell us more about your process into building up a scene?
Great interview with suspectdevice