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Dan | FramesMedia PRO 4:23pm, 6 February 2012
Interview with a Street Photographer - February 06, 2012
by Streets in Colo(u)r.

This week's interview is with Carlos Prieto, street photographer from Barcelona.

Here is the link to the interviews we have conducted so far.

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What do you like the most about street photography?
First of all, I like that when I go out with a camera, I must always be alert. I have to see what speaks to me and respond with my camera. It's about an attitude amidst the routine.

Another wonderful reason is that when I take pictures, I forget the other aspects of my life. It reminds me of the words of Garry Winogrand when he said that, for him street photography was like a therapy. Regardless of what happens in my life, when I take a camera, I’m in my zone. It’s that place where I can come back again and again and no one can stop or steal this from me; it’s my little refugee. So I really enjoy this aspect of it.


What do you look for in your potential image?
The “documentary” aspect of street photography is not so important for me. I know that there are a lot of street photographers who create wonderful stories on the streets daily. While I respect and admire their work, I try to play another game.

For me the light, composition and the colors are the most important elements. Of course, while I also try that people who appear in my pictures have some interest or for the activity they are doing just in 1/125 s, I’m not particularly interested about their lives. My main goal is to create a visually interesting frame in a 2:3 format.

I remember some words of Constantine Manos in the prologue of the book American Color: "I think that in some photographs, the picture is more important than the subject - the subject of the picture is the photograph". I really agree with this statement, and it's a great inspiration to me.

Woman, no head

Film or digital?
Digital, for economical reasons and also because I can improve much faster since I can analyze the work quickly.

That being said, when I first discovered street photography about four years ago, film was my choice. I used an old Olympus OM-4, which I believe was the best street camera that I've ever had.

When you make pictures in film or slide, you learn the value of a picture. A picture that is unique, magical and irreplaceable. With film, you learn to respect a picture, just because it's so difficult to take a good one...

What tools do you primarily use?
I used a lot of cameras, I need to change very often and I don't know why. Perhaps it is because I haven’t yet found a camera like the Olympus OM4 in digital format.

When I travel, I use a Canon 5D with fixed lenses (24mm, 35mm or 50mm). In my city I use a Lumix GH1 with a 28 or a 40mm.

After a big deception with the Fuji X100, I tested the Fuji X10, and I am very happy with this one. In Barcelona, this is my main street camera now because it's silent, small, discrete and with great image quality.

Wide or long lens?
Wide, of course. 35mm is my favorite lens, but I am now wondering if 28mm is better for me. I really like 28mm because you can insert more elements in the pictures. It is however, more difficult to take a good picture with a 28mm because it's wider.

I also like 50mm, which I don’t use very often. I like the focal length, but given an option, 35mm is my preference.

Do you get the chance to build a rapport with the subjects?
No, I very rarely talk to the people being photographed.

Reflections in Mercat de la Boqueria

Have you have ever been harassed by the authorities for photographing in public? If yes, how did you deal with it?
No, not with the authorities. Well, maybe with the guard of a museum, but I try to prevent that kind of situations now and take pictures when the guard is not there.

Have your photography subjects ever objected you from taking their photographs? If yes, how did you respond?
Sometimes people get very suspicious, especially in Barcelona. But not to the point where they stopped me from photographing.

Are you an in-camera cropper or do you prefer to do that in your darkroom or your computer?
I use Lightroom, but rarely crop with the software; I don't like it.

Black and white or color? And why?
Color. I am more interested in color because I see the world in color. I heard one time that if films were invented in color, they would never have invented the black and white film. I agree. Maybe it's the emotional part. Colors evoke an emotional response.

I think that sunlight or night-light has more possibilities for color than in black and white. At night, if you take pictures in color it is interesting to play with the shades of different kind of lights.

Do you extensively or minimally work with the post-processing software or in the darkroom?
I try to minimize the time I spend in front of the computer. I like taking pictures, not stay in front of computer post processing.

But it is so necessary that every photographer needs his or her own workflow. In my case, I really like "film-look" or better, the "slide-look" because I feel very closer to "new color". So I try to transfer this look to my digital pictures.

3 girls

What is your preferred time to shoot?
Late afternoon and night. But it also depends on the season; now in winter you can take pictures all day. The length of the shadows is important to me; the longest, the better.

Whose or what kind of work inspires you?
There are a lot of photographers I really admire. From the masters, Alex Webb is the best but there are more. Costantine Manos and his American Color 1 and 2 are really impressive.

Spanish photographers are also important for me; people like Jose Manuel Navia, Gonzalo Juanes or Ramon Masats.

I am really lucky to be part of a Spanish collective of street photography named Calle 35, where I have met wonderful photographers who have inspired me. I get to share my work with them and learn a lot every day.

If possible, link us to the first image, image series or a website that inspired you to take photography beyond a passing interest.
I am usually inspired by the images in a book than on a website.

Couple of examples: Alex Webb's Istanbul and American Color, by Constantine Manos.

Show us some of your favorite images.

The bikes

The bottle

Tourists

In the subway´s door

Two girls

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Carlos Prieto, street photographer from Barcelona's Flickr Profile:
www.flickr.com/people/cmprieto
g.dominguez [deleted] 6 years ago
Fantastic interview!
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