Welcome to the fourth collaborative street photography project on UPSP. In this article Tarek Labrighli talks with street photographer Vasco Leao. The series of street photos below are based on the idea ‘My Tube Days’, and taken in May 2013.
Tarek Labrighli: Does being a street photographer change anything about your personal life?
Vasco Leao: Yes, it channels all my spare time and sometimes the unavailable as well. It is my therapy, my shelter from everything else, my alter ego. I think everyone should have endless interests, and photography became mine long ago. It is something I know is there and I can always run to whenever I can or need. The feeling of trying to do better each time and following that improvement is very grateful, to the point that I feel a better person in everything else, in family, work and relationships.
We the Dark 54 by Vasco Leao
“The face expression and the black and white toning are give the photograph great feelings, and also I can feel your presence in the photo as a photographer, which is reflecting your personality.” -Tarek Labrighli
Tarek Labrighli: What is your favourite picture, and what makes it special for you?
Vasco Leao: I find it very hard to have a favourite picture made by me for very long, I might prefer one today and another tomorrow, it all depends on what you have made already and how do you feel that specific day. Either I like or I don´t.
We the Dark 55 by Vasco Leao
“I see a usual contradiction, togetherness and loneliness which is true in our society, I would love the photo more if it focused on the third character.”-Vasco Leao
Tarek Labrighli: What is your source of inspiration?
Vasco Leao: Everything around me, from the photographers I follow since kid, to the people around me, from what is going on right now to a certain idea I might have.
We the Dark 56 On by Vasco Leao
“Excellent composition, the way how she look gave to the photo a great feelings.” -Tarek Labrighli
Tarek Labrighli: According to your experience, what is your advice to the young street photographers?
Vasco Leao: Shoot as often as you can, pay little attention to what others say, go with your own feelings and flavours. Do not fear anything in the streets, do not skip that picture because of fear, shoot anywhere anytime.
We the Dark 57 by Vasco Leao
“Good idea to hide the face and show just the head of the necklaces”.-Tarek Labrighli
Vasco Leao: How long have you been shooting the streets ? And how do you feel when you´re out there?
Tarek Labrighli: I first began taking pictures when I bought an DSLR camera some 5 years ago . The street was my destination to photography , but the story began a long time ago. It was my dream during all my childhood to take pictures of strangers in street but, for some reasons I wasn’t able to start until I was 17 years old. The feeling which I had 5 years ago when I was in the street was totally different compared to how I feel now, I was going just to amuse myself by taking some funny snapshots or some funny faces of the village guys, but now I feel I am more responsible with my photographs. Because of the social network sites photographs can be seen all over the world, and if it is fake there is no use of doing that, the media already doing that, moreover my feelings to the people is a bit strange, I feel like I am close to their emotions and feelings though the camera, I like what Bruce Gilden once said ‘All these people I photograph are like my friends even if I don’t know them.’
Untitled – Tarek Labrighli
Vasco Leao: What are the most common elements you seek when you´re shooting? What is your style (if you have one)?
Tarek Labrighli: I think I am open about anything seems interesting to me, but I feel like I am focusing more on the emotions and the feelings, I don’t know if that is reflecting my personality or this is the right shoot in that environment, sometimes the colours tale my intention and it is one of my favourite elements in the photograph. To talk about a style I think it is a bit too early for me, I am still discovering myself in street photography and learning and developing.
Untitled by Tarek Labrighli
Vasco Leao: Do you feel you are addicted or dependent to a specific type of gear?
Tarek Labrighli: I think the equipment is a means to an end not an end to itself. I used to work with 50mm for more than 3 years and never thought about it. I am more interested in people rather than specific gear. I have seen a lot of topics talking about the best equipment and most of them talking about a Leica with 35mm, but in my opinion whatever gear you have can make a great work if you have a good eye.
Untitled by Tarek Labrighli
Vasco Leao: In ten years from now how do you see yourself in street photography? Still doing it?
Tarek Labrighli: If I would have 10 lives I would still be a street photographer.
Untitled by Tarek Labrighli
“Working with Vasco was useful, Even if don’t know him for long but, his photographs are telling a short story about him. I am not interested in complimenting the work of somebody, it is true Vasco has great shoots but, I believe in every photograph we take we miss something interesting. I took a look at Vasco’s work on his website and in Facebook, it seems to me Vasco is influenced by the old concept of street photography, he is copying what he sees in the street to his camera, it’s good, but, in this point I don’t see any different between documentary photography and street photography, and also, I noticed that he has enough courage in the street but, in some of Vasco photos his presence is felt, generally I can say that Vasco is developing.”
“First of all, giving anyone´s work a critique is something uncomfortable for me, and I don´t know Tarek too long, and it only makes it harder, but I tried to examine most of his body of work, from 500 px and Facebook and i made my own ideas.
It seems to me Tarek has started in street photography and it´s modern concept, very recent. But it already shows strong ideas, you can sense different worlds in his photographs, but that is very natural to anyone starting on the streets and it only shows the love for the streets.
His latest photographs show how Tarek is more concerned on human nature, on people, rather than playing with colour or geometry and you can see a development. I will keep tracking his work and I guess it will keep evolving, gettting better and better.”