“Share emotions not pixels.” That’s the credo of Jens Krauer, a Swiss Fuji X-Photographer known for candid street shots and documentary.
“Street photography gives me lust for life and motivation to move on in search of meaningful images that represent what I felt or experienced in a place,” he says. “It requires taking everything in without prejudice and what crosses your path always remains unpredictable.
I met Krauer at the Fujilove Live conference in New York City and later interviewed him for Street Photography Magazine.
Krauer’s work is inspired by a strong background in painting and music. He began making images as a teenager, but really hit his stride as a street photographer more recently after getting some serious constructive criticism and sharpening his composition and personal style.
“You don’t become a street photographer,” Krauer says. “You become one.”
Here’s a brief Q&A with Krauer about street photography, his first photograph and the future of contemporary photography.
Q: I read on your website that you realized around 2012 that you had become a street photographer. Was there a specific moment or image that sparked this realization?
Krauer: It was more of a process for me but there was a moment when the process became a conscious one. First, I had the opportunity to start understanding and learning the craft through personal advice. Returning from an extended stay in Eastern Europe, I shared snapshots among my peers. Based on positive feedback I got into a conversation with a co-worker in which I learned a lot over the course of time. Receiving honest and constructive feedback on my images changed my point of view. I learned about the aspects of composition and the elements of a good frame.
Most importantly I learned that, at the time, I was photographing colors rather than composing consciously. After this feedback session, I returned to my hotel and the same night, converted my whole Lightroom catalogue into black and white and deleted eighty percent of my images. A lot of things suddenly became clear to me.
Understanding the elements of what makes a good image besides the initial instinct to take a picture started my process of seeing and framing more consciously. When I started to train, I discovered the second and more personal aspect that ties into this realization: The concept of street photography came easily to me because I had become aware that many of its components had been part of my life long before photography came into the picture.
Q: Do you remember the first image you ever took? If so, what was it, how old were you and what camera did you have at the time?
Krauer: The very first picture I took was probably at age 14 as part of a school project with what I faintly recall as some Nikon F model. We shot a roll of black and white film and developed it in the bathroom at my friend’s house, not sure if any of those images were going to show on the negatives. The one image I remember was a high contrast shot of a glass of water against the sunlight. The graphic nature of the image and what the element of light added to it has been etched into my mind ever since. It took another 20 plus years until I got back in touch with photography.
Q: Can you describe what shooting on the street gives back to you? Where does your passion come from?
Krauer: There are multiple elements to the joy of street shooting. One of the top three of my favorite things to do in life is to go out there with a camera. The journey and the process of finding those few good images is fulfilling and the camera gives me a reason to keep going. Exploring and understanding culture and people is very rewarding and fascinating. When „being out there“ becomes the main priority, the question of what to do and where to go becomes less important, the activity itself becomes the main focus, which makes it very grounding and calming.
Q: What are your thoughts about the future of contemporary photography and street photography specifically?
Krauer: I think we live in amazing times when it comes to development and new opportunities. I embrace change and diversity as an enriching element in creativity. I am interested to see how photography as a medium will develop over the coming years, presenting new tool sets, differing approaches and new output formats. In my view, much of what is happening currently in photography happened a decade ago to the music industry. Structural changes leave a lot of space for those who innovate outside of established paths. It is key to be on the forefront of innovation and change as a creative, embracing diversity and discovering new opportunities. Cartier-Bresson founded Magnum to work around industry structures at the time and Ansel Adams was probably one of the first photographers to hire a full time public relations manager.
This was cutting edge at the time. I am quite sure that both of those gentlemen would embrace today’s change and try to put their spin on it. Regarding aesthetics and content, I do not know how street photography will evolve, but I am convinced that it will be exciting.
Change is inevitable and I prefer to be a part of it rather than being a spectator of the evolution.