Timing, composition and luck

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Multi award-winning Melbourne photographer Ian Kenins reveals why street photography remains unchanged, despite photoshop, digital cameras and the rise of the ‘selfie’

The introduction of the digital camera and smart phone has seen the ‘selfie’ soar in popularity, while photographic enhancement software has inspired a whole generation of amateur photographers to create spectacular landscapes. But the humble method of street photography has largely avoided the industry’s technological evolution.

St Kilda Beach play A Snapshot of Melbourne Ian Kenins street photography

St Kilda Beach play A Snapshot of Melbourne Ian Kenins street photography

Through modern advancements spanning over the last two decades, multi award-winning Melbourne street photographer Ian Kenins says photography has evolved into a hobby or career that’s more accessible and possible for amateurs and artists. However street photography has remained “incredibly challenging” due to uncontrollable circumstances.

“There are so many things that conspire against capturing that right moment for a street photographer. A landscape photographer can wait for the right light or keep moving around to get the exact composition and angle, and a portrait photographer can keep snapping to get the perfect expression. They can also move the subject around,” says Kenins.

“But a street photographer has to react instantaneously. There are days when I’ve spent 10 hours in the city with just a camera and found nothing, then there are other days where I’ve captured a couple of interesting photos within a few hours.”

The Melbourne based photographer has spent over two and a half decades relying on one timeless method – timing, composition and luck – to capture the quirky, artistic and humorous essence of vibrant Melburnians. By walking, cycling and driving the city’s streets, alleyways and beaches looking for moments to freeze in time, Kenins says he’s found Melburnians all have one thing in common.

“Melburnians love life. They love living in a city that has so much on offer – there’s a lot of variety for people with so many different types of passions and hobbies,” says Ian. “I love capturing a joyous moment. I like watching people enjoy life, and getting a photograph that shows happiness on someone’s face, or an image that would bring a smile to somebody else… that’s my favourite thing to photograph.”

He says despite the advancements in modern technology, apps and photographic software, the greatest and most difficult evolutionary shift for the street photographer has been adapting to a change in public attitude.

“The new challenge now that faces street photographers is gaining people’s trust. Parents are more wary of a stranger with a camera around their child, and have concerns about where those images might end up, and others may be worried about things like identity theft.”

Ian Kenins will be speaking at Readings St Kilda on Monday, December 5 at 6.30pm, about all things photography and the joys and challenges of street photography, followed by a Q&A. He will also be signing copies of his new book A Snapshot of Melbourne – an extraordinary photographic collection of Melburnians taken over 26 years.

Brighton A Snapshot of Melbourne Ian Kenins street photography street photographer

Brighton A Snapshot of Melbourne Ian Kenins street photography street photographer

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