I have always been fascinated by cities and the pulsating energy that emerges on the streets of those cities. That, in turn, has lead to a fascination for street photography. Last year I turned that fascination into a new project that I have called Transitions.
It started during a workshop I attended in Rome last May, taught by the devoted and passionate Swedish photographer Martin Bogren. After the workshop, I displayed some of the images from Rome here on the blog. Since then I have photographed for the project in every city I have visited—or at least tried, not always succeeding. Like last year, I had an overlay between flights in Panama City for about 14 hours, which I had planned to use to photograph for the Transitions project. However, a delayed arrival put a spoke in the wheels for that plan.
Nevertheless, I have enjoyed photographing for the project wherever I have had a chance. Well, enjoyed as well as dreaded. Because when you go out on the street with a camera, you put yourself on the line. I don’t mean literally risking anything (that is, you can of course). What I purport to is the emotional risk; you own insecurity when facing strangers and wanting to photograph them, the discomfort of imposing yourself on others, or even just stealing a moment of their lives.
One of my ideas behind the project is to capture how we human beings are formed by the culture we live in. For instance, our appearance on the street is different in Calcutta than say in Panama or New York. It’s the way we clothe, but also expressed through attitude and temperament. Of course, in our modern, globalized world these differences fades, but still, on a general level, it’s mesmerizing to notice the kaleidoscope of different forms our appearance take from one place to another.
Generally, cities act as interfaces for human beings. They are places we congregate, but not the least places of transitions. We pass through cities to get from one place to another. While transiting, we continuously encounter other fellow human beings, randomly and only for brief moments. Most of them we will never meet again. Yet, we move through cities with acute awareness about how others will conceive of us. We put up a façade; make a display of what we want our fellow human beings to think of us. Thus, cities also become vehicles for a personal transition, from private to public person.
I just read something that stroked me personally. It was words by David Campany, writer, curator and artist, in a foreword written to the book Easy West that showcases less known images by the photographer Harry Gruyaert. Campany writes: “Observational photographers are often lone figures themselves, never quite sure of their aims, hoping something will happen. Through a kind of empathy, they will photograph people in similarly existential or marginal situations. But to be drawn to this in a town so explicitly dedicated to the pursuit of enjoyment is an act, conscious or not, of distance. Wariness, even.”
Here are some of the images I from my last shoot in Seattle. They were actually captured before Christmas, but only lately have I had time to edit and process them.