Interview with Matt Lawrence

Question 1: When did you start taking street photography more seriously?


Answer: “That's tough one to nail down exactly. I would say that around 2014 - 2015 is when I bought my first mirrorless camera.  I wanted something small and discreet enough so that I could work unobtrusively in pubic, making candid photographs of strangers in their day-to-day lives. I knew that street photography was a thing, but I hadn't done any research beyond that. That changed when I discovered the work of Saul Leiter. I found his book 'Colors', and it completely changed my opinion of what an art photograph could be. There were no rules, no standards, just the open vastness that comes with looking through your viewfinder. The only thing that mattered to me after that point was what I put in front of the lens and how that image made me feel.”


Question 2: Do you think street photography is underrated?


Answer: “I think that real street photography is underrated. The term 'street photography' has recently been co-opted by a few other classes of photographer, most notably the long exposure, heavily edited city scape crowd, the people dangling their sneaker clad shoes off a building crowd, and the crowd who thinks taking cheap, invasive pictures of unsuspecting homeless people is street photography.  It may sound tough, but I cannot stand these types. It certainly isn't street. Are there really people who would enjoy these images in a book, or on their walls? I hope not.” 

”True street photographers know that the foundation for our form was laid decades back by the pioneers like Walker Evans, Elliott Erwitt, Joel Meyerowitz, and Gary Winogrand. They gave us a perfect road map to follow and build off of. True street photography is about being subtle behind the lens, letting your environment speak for itself, and staying true to your craft.”


Question 3: What camera do you currently use? Do you plan to upgrade or change in the future?


Answer: “I would just like to preface this answer with a statement; at the end of the day, my camera does not matter. It's simply a tool to capture what's directly in front of me, which is all that matters. With that being said, I personally use a Fujifilm Xpro-2. In my opinion Fuji has mastered the middle ground between film and digital. Their sensors interpretation of light and color is astonishing. I don't have any upgrade plans on the horizon.”


Question 4: What do you think the most important thing to keep in mind when you are out shooting in street?


Answer: “Be original, be an artist, and move quickly.  I see too many people clamoring over each other (often literally) to take the same type of image, if not the very same image. Be original!! Try something different. Go left when others go right. Stop going to the 'IG spots'.  Do your homework. Put instagram down and go buy photography books. When you're out on the street, move and think quickly. Evaluate a scene before you put the camera to your eye. Is it really a good photo? Is the composition there? Is it captivating? If you have any doubts, move on. When you do find a scene worth capturing, do it quickly. Take a single photo whenever possible.”


Question 5: What is one of the sketchiest experiences you have had?


Answer: ”Next to "what camera do you use?", this has to be the question I get asked most. Honestly very few sketchy things have happened while shooting. One that does stand out was the time a guy pulled a knife on me. He thought for some reason I was taking pictures of him, when in reality there wasn't a single person in the frame.”


Question 6: Why do you think photography is important in the world?


Answer: “It's the truest way to visually capture your own perspective. How you frame the shot, what you choose to include (or to not include), is what makes the photo. It's completely subjective. It's a viewpoint that is entirely your own.”



Edited by Carl Pack.

Head Editor of Crosswalks Magazine.

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