Where do you live?
7 years ago
What is your motivation for making images on the street?
Finding beauty in monotonous settings. Making unrepeatable images from every day situations. Going about tedious routines and expecting to see something that makes my heart flutter. All these things form part of a challenge for me.
Making tidy images out of total chaos is something I find satisfying too. You never know what is around the corner. I love it when I come across something that has probably been in the street for an hour and will remain there for an hour after I leave yet I can bet I’m still the only person who saw a photograph. That gives me a kick.
Do you have any special techniques that you use?
Not so much techniques but ways of thinking and certain things I learnt to do. I always have my camera round my neck for my own benefit as well as others. When I get off the bus in the City I walk around for 10-15 minutes so I feel embedded in the atmosphere before I start trying to photograph anything. I find these things help me.
Do you look at your work immediately or to give it time before you examined the results of the day’s shooting?
I only use film so there’s never really the opportunity to see my stuff the same day. It depends on life at the time. At the moment I have around 50 rolls of film to develop which has been bugging me for ages – If I don’t see any of my work in a while I start to feel a bit useless.
It’s healthy to be disconnected from the experience of making the image, but I think it’s also important to review what I’ve been doing to see what is/n’t working.
How long have you been working in this area of photography?
Five years now. I’ve dabbled in many art forms. I loved the act of taking a photograph before I learnt to love ‘street photographs’ – but photography isn’t something I think about much anymore. It’s just the medium that best complements how I am (restless) and how I want to work (outside). If we’re talking about documenting the monotony of every day life, then any American Splendor comic or a song by The Smiths is as valid as a photograph, to me.
Do you have any particular photographic (or other) equipment to you prefer to work with?
I use an old M6 with 35 or 40mm lenses. I found the right combo for me about 2 years ago and I haven’t really thought about it since.
Why do you call your photographic approach “urban photography”?
Urban because it’s not just on the streets. Though it’s not just in the urban areas now that I think about it…I’ll probably change that soon. (Crap answer, sorry!)
Your website http://clairejatkinson.wordpress.com features images that you have made in a variety of contexts, what was your motivation for creating this website?
It’s just like a scrap book really. Keeps people in the loop with what I’m up to. It’s nice because a lot of people who aren’t hardcore street photographers also visit my blog and I find their responses to my photographs uplifting.
How did you get to be approached to be in the book “The New Street Photographer’s Manifesto” by Tanya Nagar?
Tanya contacted me just before Christmas to see if I wanted to be involved in the book. I think she knew my work from the Deviant Art street photography group, which is encouraging because I always felt like those websites were a waste of time. It’s been a dream of mine to see my work somewhere in a bookshop, so I’m well happy about it.
What was the reaction to your images in the exhibition “No Britain Is An Island”?
I’ve no idea to be honest. Sometimes the people that organise these things are just going through the motions. (Another crap answer, sorry!)
How did you decide you wanted to be a photographer?
I’d always had a creative drive but never found the right medium. I got into photography when I was 17 on holiday in Cornwall, England. I took a photograph of the cliffs and the sea and I remember how satisfied I felt taking this grand scenery and putting it perfectly within my own little frame.
Do you have a favorite camera & lens combination?
Rangefinders work for me. If you’re getting into street photography and struggling, then the Konica Hexar AF is a wonderful camera to start with. There’s no way I’d have started taking photographs of strangers with any other camera.
Who has influenced your development as a photographer?
I don’t have a mentor or anything. I did a degree in photography but I knew more about street stuff than any of my teachers. I can’t really say anybody influenced my development other than myself.
What photographers would you consider as early influences when you where developing your style?
Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank because they were the only street photographers whose books I could find in the library. Tom Wood really brought it home to me though, being from Northern England too. Later on people like Frederic Lezmi, Todd Weinstein and Jeff Mermelstein.
Color or Black & White which is your preference?
Colour, definitely. I shot for a long time in black and white, but colour is a new world and I’m still learning more than ever.
Do you Shoot Film or Digital?
Only film. I hate digital.
If you were to shot Film, what type of film did (or do you) prefer?
Well film is so expensive now in Europe. I prefer Portra 160/400, but at £6 a roll? Only on special occasions. I use Superia 200/400 now. It’s good and cheap.
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good?
The time of day makes no difference to me. Rush hour can be fun though. The light is gorgeous just before dusk too.
Why did you choose to work on the Street/Urban environment and not another form of photography?
Reality is surreal enough for me most days.
Are you a lone photographer or do you like shooting with friends or a group?
There’s advantages to both. I like shooting with friends because they take me to places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. It’s good to be alone too because some people can rush you. My friends and family put up with me amazingly well though.
Would you prefer to be an invisible or visible photographer?
I think part of the satisfaction of working in the streets is in dealing with people and seeking permission, even if it is not spoken. I don’t tend to bother anybody even as a mortal.
What inspires your photography?
The fringes of society and the monotony of life. Reality vs the medias conception of it. Stuff like L.S Lowry paintings and Raymond Carver books. That movie American Splendor.
Do you have any philosophical, conceptual or aesthetic consideration that you bring to making your images?
Aesthetically, I like colour film and cities full of rain and sleet and neon. Philosophically, I’m sure that what I do doesn’t hurt or defame any of the people within my images. Conceptually I think a lot of street photographers work subconsciously. What I am feeling usually comes out in the images, good or bad.
Do you have any particular approach to shooting a street photograph?
I’ve learnt to just go for it. Don’t hesitate or go back. Focus manually and constantly compensate for exposure.
Best piece of advice you could give someone on how to improve their work?
Find what really interests you about the world and then tell everyone about it.
Best piece of advice you could give someone who wants to get into street photography?
I’d don’t think there’s such thing as a good, half-arsed street photographer. As long as you are comfortable with what you’re doing then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t just go for it.
Do you have any projects that you are currently working on?
I’m working on a few, I’ll start sharing them when they’re complete.
Where can we find information on exhibitions planned for the future?
My blog is the best place to start: http://clairejatkinson.wordpress.com
I haven’t updated it in a while, but business will resume in October!
Street Photography Workshops would like to thank Claire for her patience and perseverance in answering all our questions.
We hope you find this interview as interesting as we do, here at StreetPhotographyWorkshops.info