Today’s interview is going to focus with a quite famous photographer in the blogosphere, Marco Larousse, a street, fine art and documentary photographer as well as an official Fujifilm X-Photographer based in Hamburg, Germany. Some of you may know him for his Fuji X Files blog. The interview itself is going to focus on street photography in particular, but also on general technique and advice. Enjoy!
All photographs © Marco Larousse. Used kindly with permission.
Photograph IO : Hi Marco, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Marco Larousse : I’m a fine art street and documentary photographer based in Hamburg, Germany. I’m also one of the official Fujifilm X-Photographers and I am working both in digital and analog. And most of my work is in black and white.
Photograph IO : And how long have been into photography?
Marco Larousse : I’ve started photography around the late 70’s, so I guess around 35 years.
Photograph IO : How would you describe your photography style?
Marco Larousse : As as street photographer, I love to find symmetry in street photography scenes where people are going after their daily routine in an interesting architecture and or light and shadow scene. My focus is on the scene while keeping the person anonymous. This way the viewer of the image can make up his own story about the scene and what the person may be doing and what emotional mood he/she may be in.
Photograph IO : What drew you to street photography in particular? And do you do other styles of photography?
Marco Larousse : It is my interest in capturing contemporary culture. When I look at pictures that I took 10 or 20 years ago, I always focus on the people and what they are doing and what are they wearing. And on cars on the street and stores that may not exist anymore. At one point I realized that it was not the sunsets that I was interested in as they don’t say much about the time in history that they were taken. But the people in every day situtions.
Photograph IO : So its about documenting life, eh? Are there any techniques you use to go on unnoticed in street photography?
Marco Larousse : There are many and it always depends on the situation. First of all I dress to blend in. No bright colors! And I never take a DSLR but almost always take a small rangefinder with small lens to look less serious. The rangefinders I use are also fairly quiet so I can pretend to be focusing or changing settings while I actually already took a picture without anyone noticing. And there is the occasional shot from the hip if a situation comes up quickly.
Photograph IO : What gear do you use, then?
Marco Larousse : My favorite digital cameras for street are the Fuji X100 series and the X-Pro 1. And for analog 35mm I use a Leica M2 and M6. And for analog medium format a Rolleiflex or Fuji GW 690. I own a Hasselblad 503cx, but is too loud for street for my taste!
Photograph IO : Are there any techniques or tips you would recommend beginners for getting into street photography? And what about some advice for more advanced people?
Marco Larousse : For beginners there is often a natural barrier of fear as it may feel funny to take picture of strangers. As a practice to overcome this I suggest that they go out with a friend to places that are tourist spots. They can pretend to take pictures of the friend while turning 90° left and right and also capture other people close by. Then move on to a different spot.
Marco Larousse : For those photographers more advanced and more secure in the genre, they should start to focus on the little stories that happen every day around them. The person carrying a dog on their arm that covers their face when captured at the right time and angle. Or the moment when someone steals a look at another person and makes a facial expression that tells what he or she thinks about that person. And then there is my favorite to look at architecture, shapes, light and shadow and capturing the perfect moment when someone enters the right spot on the scene.
Photograph IO : That makes sense! What do you think is the most important thing to know as a photographer, particularly a street photographer?
Marco Larousse : I think that you should be aware of your surrounding and the people that you capture. Don’t capture anyone in a vulnerable situation. Be polite, smile when you get caught and think of what to say if someone approaches or confronts you about taking pictures of them. We want to do this to document and create art. So it is the responsibility of each one of us shed a positive light on what we do.
Photograph IO : Do you have any models or inspirations as a photographer?
Marco Larousse : Although I do look at a lot of photos I have developed my own style over the years that feels most natural to me, rather than to try to imitate others. When I go out on the street with my camera I’m in a photo mode that is controlled by my subconscious. So I guess from shooting all these years, not really anymore.
Photograph IO : How would you describe your photography technique?
Marco Larousse : I can best describe it similar to the view through the eyes of the Terminator in the movie. I see structures, shadows, lights and people moving. I adjust aperture and shutter time on my camera without looking at it. Then I anticipate the path my planned subject will walk and count in the rhythm of their steps until they hit my planned spot of exposure. And if they stop or someone else walks in the frame a little “abort“ signal comes up and I don’t take the shot 🙂
Photograph IO : Could you tell us a about your photography workflow? From capturing all the way up to final delivery.
Marco Larousse : This sounds a bit cheesy, but as I learned on film, I try to get as much right in camera as possible. I shoot jpg + raw on my digital Fuji cameras. I use the jpg when I’m on the road with my iPad or iPhone and need to get an image out quickly. Then I import the files into Lightroom on my 5K iMac an do some basic dodge and burn as needed. I don’t use Photoshop as I don’t like/need to massage my images to death. For my analog images I have just started to develop them myself at home again. Then I scann them and also load them into Lightroom and do the basic adjustments. I also print my own work up to 17″ x 22″ (43cm x 56cm) as I want to be in control of the workflow up until the final print.
Photograph IO : When its comes to photography, color or black and white? And why?
Marco Larousse : My natural mode is black and white because it lets me focus better on my subject in relation to the surrounding environment. Color often distracts from the scene and how I want to show it. For me there must be a good reason to use color i.e. if it adds important information to the image that would get lost or overlooked in greyscale.
Photograph IO : What have you learned all these years doing photography? How did it change yourself as a person and how long do you think you’ll still be taking pictures?
Marco Larousse : Photography has taught me to be much more aware of my environment. I pay attention to a lot of details that go unnoticed to many. I have also learned that you should not put off taking a picture of someone or something. Because the scene, building or person may not be there forever. And invest in backing up your work and printing those images that are most important to you. I have also got to know a lot of wonderful people and made great international friendships through photography.
Photograph IO : To wrap up this interview, where do you think you’ll be in 5-10 years, photographically speaking?
Marco Larousse : I will probably be still doing the same things that I do currently (street & documentary), but with 5-10 years more experience and hopefully a bigger portfolio of impressive images to show 🙂
Photograph IO : Thanks you for your time 🙂
Marco Larousse : No problem! Thanks to you too!
Marco Larousse is a street/documentary and fine art photographer based in Hamburg, Germany. With over 30 years of experience in the photo world, he is a very skilled artist and photojournalist as well being an official Fuji X Photographer. Marco is the guy behind the Fuji X Files blog as well as his own website which you can find here. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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