Street photography has never come easy for me, especially capturing people without them noticing me. It's a style of photography that I love, but I feel way too self-conscious to be stealthy, and often times I miss great shots by poorly framing or exposing incorrectly before scampering off before anyone looks at me. I so greatly admire those photographers who bravely achieve what I cannot, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to chat with New York City street photographer, Jonathan Greenwald.On his photoblog, Shrued, Jonathan shares his view of the city where he now lives, New York City, and the city in which he will soon reside, Toronto. Full of beauty, surprise, natural wonder, and architectural triumph, Jonathan's photoblog is a virtual tour of the non-touristy sides of these two amazing cities. But each city has a different side, a side we as outsiders don't often see, and it is through his camera that Jonathan is able to bring light and truth to what goes often unnoticed in two of North America's largest cities. With two projects called "Signs of The Times" and "Forgotten" Jonathan reveals to us the homeless of New York and Toronto. Recently Jonathan and I talked about his project photographing the homeless. Here is what he had to say:Why did you start photographing homeless people?
I think the idea came from my fascination for photographing people. In my earlier work, I rarely ever photographed someone I didn't know. I was always fearful of the repercussions and would rather avoid contact with my subjects.
It wasn't until I was photographing for a little while that I decided to photograph people on the streets of NYC and Toronto. I love human interaction and sometimes the quickest movement, facial expression, or reaction could be captured by the camera and tell a wonderful story. I also enjoy how you never see the same thing twice when you photograph people and the same photograph can tell me one story, but tell the next observer an entirely different story. With everyday people, the story can be anything. With the homeless, the story is always the same; desperation, despair, and poverty. When photographing the homeless, sadness and compassion is a constant theme.Do you interact with the people you photograph... ask for permission, or say something afterwards?In just about every situation, there is no interaction. I never give the subject the impression I'm taking their photograph and almost always look past them when I [shoot]. They probably think I'm taking their photograph, but when I fail to make eye contact with them, they probably think I was photographing something or someone behind them. If someone does catch me in the act, I do my best to ignore them. I learned this method very early on from a good friend of mine, Nick Rhodes. When he and I first walked around NYC, I was pointing my camera up at the wonderful architecture and he was pointing his lens in peoples' faces. It worried me at first, but I quickly got over it and tried it myself.That's an interesting technique. For a lot of people, shooting people on the street can be very intimidating.I am always asked abut my method and I always give the same advice: never make eye contact. It changes everything, especially the way you photograph people. Make eye contact behind the camera.