“Taking street photographs is an instinctive urge, an itch that needs scratching. It’s simply what I do. Some people walk round a golf course, some people take a dog for a walk. I walk with my camera because I’m curious about things and people around me and I want to record some of it. It is my visual diary. I also feel a responsibility to continue doing it.
I live in London and most of my street photographs are taken there. I know London well and although it’s a big, overcrowded city, I can isolate scenes fairly easily. However, somewhere like Oxford Street is too messy and crowded for me. I don’t like clutter in my images. Too many people require a greater orchestration and luck.
I believe that when shooting there is a mindset or zone, where you’re operating at a heightened state and working instinctively. Getting to that feeling is the difficult bit. Cartier-Bresson interpreted this feeling as something attuned to a Zen-like trance. One can get a little pretentious about such things, but I do get this feeling that something like a doorway does exist. This heightened state is also like a cloak of invisibility and not being overly conscious about being seen is part of the process.
Trying to absolutely describe what I look for is like hunting for the image itself, because it is often elusive. Maybe my themes have shifted over the years but my basic approach has always been ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ and I always take photographs that are pleasing to myself. However I do carry in my head ideas, hopes and a sense of what is possible, what luck might provide.
Essentially, I just go looking for ‘my’ photographs. And within the ones that work there are certainly recurring themes and styles. So I seek out elegance, graphic shapes and also often a sense of a story going on. I like photographs that draw you in, that surprise and delight and have you asking ‘what is going on here?”
David Gibson has been taking street photographs for more than twenty years. He is one of the founder members of in-public the international collective of street photographers and his work has been widely published and exhibited. He is commissioned by some of the UK’s leading design groups and he supplies several picture libraries with his images.
In addition David regularly leads street photography workshops in London. This has included Tate Modern and Photofusion and more recently workshops and Photo Walks in collaboration with the London Street Photography Festival. In the last few years David has also led 3-day workshops in Athens, Beirut, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Singapore and Stockholm.
“I was talking to my Auntie recently about exactly what this ‘teaching’ might be. Thinking that we were poles apart she actually got it about right by saying that ‘You teach the soul of photography’. Ill settle for that.
All this has gone into his book, The Street Photographer’s Manual, which was published by Thames & Hudson in 2014.
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