Gulnara Samoilova is a street and fine art photographer and the founder of @WomenStreetPhotographers Instagram feed. She holds a certificate in creative practices from the International Center of Photography in New York City and a diploma in photography from the Moscow Poletech College.
Gulnara is a former Associated Press photojournalist and received national and international awards for her iconic photographs from 9/11/01, including first prize in the most prestigious World Press Photo competition in Amsterdam. Gulnara's work is a part of major collections such as the Museum of the City of New York, The New York Public Library, New York Historical Society, the Newseum, and Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
“Two kids enjoying their cotton candies that resembles the clouds, during Sabantuy, an annual celebration in Bashkotrostan, Russia.”
“Lexington Avenue, early morning, a wave of people chasing their individual dreams. They arrive at Grand Central station from all over NY, commuting from the outer boroughs or even other states.
They are full of energy but also of self- doubt… will this be the day of their professional breakthrough? Will their children get into the right school? Can they afford the health treatment they badly need? And most of all, did they make the right choice coming here?
Some are Americans, many are not. They have arrived from Brazil or Somalia, India or China, and many other places. They all have in common the hope that they will finally make it in NY. Is it just a dream soon to be disappointed?
They are thoughtful, even dreamy, some look already tired and even dejected. But they keep coming to try again and again. Will their persistence pay one day, for them or their children? They walk quickly, avoiding colliding with others, coffee in hand, newspaper in the other. Determined, in a hurry and yet hesitant. Some look scared to fail and be obliged to give up. But going away is not an option they even contemplate.
They have invested so much that a retreat would feel a big defeat. They have to succeed, their families depend on them making and extra effort, waking up earlier, focusing more on the goal. For as long as they hope, they will keep coming, early every morning to the big city of dreams.”
“From a far distance, I noticed a group of ultra-Orthodox youth. I walked towards them, as I approached, they were next to a big white modernist sculpture. the contrast was beautiful. Two of them were climbing up while the teacher in the background asked them to move on. Luckily I was there to catch the moment.”
“There is nothing better than being out with a camera on a crisp September afternoon in Manhattan. After months of sweltering heat and hazy light, fall brings relief to millions of wilted New Yorkers. The light lowers and sharpens, the temperatures turn cool and invigorating, and this particular woman donned a chic and graphic coat that I would have gladly stolen right off her back. The next best thing to my felonious impulse was to photograph her, but the challenge was to avoid making a cliched picture of an older lady—or a steam pipe—much less make a compelling picture of a person’s back. Luckily, this woman was deep in conversation with a friend and didn’t notice me as I took a dozen photographs of her. I love the contrast between the orange pipe and the clear blue sky, and how her lovely cloud of white hair is echoed by the wafting steam. Carrying a multitude of women on her back, she could be the metaphorical grandmother of us all.”
“Walking on the beach I saw two men hugging with an amazing expression. Magic happened when the kids in the background flew the floating Unicorn in the air! At that moment I realized that this was a strong image. It’s those rare moments and I felt my heart beating like crazy and my stomach swirling!
I just hoped that everything was in focus and within the frame.”
“I took this photograph in Havana, Cuba in a playground across from the Malecón. It was a Sunday afternoon and the playground was very busy. I was photographing children on a slide when the two girls began to pose behind the slide. I went over and took a photo of them, then the boy jumped behind the wall. I took one photo of the three children, and then, just like that it was all over. They all ran off. Everything came together for this shot. I loved the girl with the red bow and colourful clothes, the golden light, while the boy with the shadow striping down his front just topped it off. It was my experience in Cuba, that when people see you with a camera, strange and often very wonderful things happen.”
“I took this photo during my afternoon commute in San Francisco. I no longer have this commute, but when I did I loved to observe other passengers, the way the interact or just daydream by themselves. I was drawn to this women's intense expression, which I interpreted as lonely and sad, making up all kinds of stories in my head about what she must be thinking about. The truth is I'll never know and that is what's so great about photography of this kind, I don't really need to know. I enjoy the mystery of not knowing and just being with my own interpretations of a particular scene or human expression.”
“This image was taken at the sacred Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan, India. It was one of the very last days of that hectic year, and I very much enjoyed the quiet slow pace of the holy place, walking around it’s narrow streets and temples, when I stumbled upon this scene at the banks of the lake. It immediately resembled some theater stage to me – with figures and objects distributed in a perfect composition – as if there was a secret dialogue going on between the child and the woman, while the sacred cow is just watching the lake. I can see a human profile in the shadow cast by the walled structure, and the small details – a slipper in the foreground and a duck in the middle of the lake – are taking places in an imaginative chessboard, where all of this mind game is played.”
“As soon as the weather begins to warm, ice cream trucks begin to appear on many corners all over New York City. They attract customers of all ages. Food trucks of all kinds are places often surrounded by crowds waiting to purchase the delicious offering the mobile restaurant is serving that day. I often stop to photograph the developing scenes of everyday life that revolve around these food trucks while walking the streets of the City.
This image was taken on a very hot summer afternoon on the corner of 5th Avenue and 45th Street. On this day the ice cream truck was parked close to the corner partially obscured by the glass building. I recall that it was the time of day when the light evenly illuminated the scene. I have photographed from this location before as the glass of the building provides a wonderful reflective surface to add dimensionality to a scene. I waited and photographed in this place for at least 30 minutes as the people stopped to purchase ice cream. This image of the man with his double scoop and his apparition evokes the pleasure of ice cream on a hot summer afternoon.”
“I love the Tate Modern in London, I visit a lot and I thought I had explored every inch of it but I had somehow missed a small balcony on one of the upper floors. The ground surrounding the building becomes highly reflective when it rains and this balcony gave me an amazing vantage point to capture all the lovely reflections and colourful umbrellas! This couple's matching shoes caught my eye first as they approached, then they began to walk in sync for a few steps so I quickly snapped a few frames. When looking back at what I had captured, this frame stood out the most as I love how they mirror each other in every way’”
“I’ve always been interested in the way children use and take up space, the way they can take over a place with abandon. These children climbed onto this sculpture without taking a moment to consider whether or not this was even allowed. It was a summer day, heavy with heat, and as they paused for a moment to rest, I was immediately taken with the shape of them - all together, so confident - posed among the trees and plants. It made the scene feel almost otherworldly.”
“I look forward to photographing on Halloween every year and usually head over to West 69th street where the block is completely transformed with almost every building looking like a magical haunted house.
On my way to 69th Street I ran into a friend who I know from the dog world who has eight dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, and also walks a few more.
She dresses herself and her dogs in costumes every year and this was the 2018 Halloween photograph of her and her dog family.
Cat Byrnes is a NYC-based photographer and artist. Her works seek to procure a telescope into the lives and experiences of her fellow New Yorkers. Whether it is of fleeting exchanges of emotion, or melancholic meditations on the nature of solitude, Cat's perspective is all at once immensely personal yet also representative of the human condition.
“This photograph was taken mid morning on a summer day in Manhattan.
Her bubble gum power suit is something I’d see from right out of the 60s.
The exchange was quick and only one frame was taken.
“I love to find intriguing and unexpected moments in the everyday, wherever in the world I may be. This was certainly one of those. Growing up with the iconic Coca Cola red and vibrant advertising brand, the familiarity and attraction was still with me when I happened across this photoshoot in Fez, Morocco. The centuries old character of Morocco provided the backdrop for this juxtaposition of East meets West. The fabulous character, perfectly styled, provided the ‘quirk’ to make this scene particularly surreal. I love to wonder about what history may lay behind the red painted roller door too.”
“This photo is from my first time to nyc. A trip which I had anticipated since I took up street photography.
I stood on this street corner for hours so excited to have found the iconic nyc steam. I loved the way the steam transformed the scene into something otherworldly. As a photographer I am not so much interested in reality as in portraying what I call a parallel world. I consider the anonymous silhouettes to be citizens of an unseen world. A place of solitude.
"Like all Londoners, I spend an enormous amount of time on my daily commute being swallowed into the entrails of the tube. But there is beauty all around us and many of the stations have wonderful geometric patterns. This particular tube station's escalator is always packed, usually hiding the patterns on the wall. I had the ideal shot in mind: I wanted to capture the silhouette of a person going down the escalator against the patterned wall to emphasize the beauty of our day-to-day surroundings. Then one day I turned around and, for a fleeting second, there he was, with a hat to boot. I love it when ideas and reality meet in my camera!"
“I met Nana while working on a assignment for the Joop Swart masterclass, documenting lives of those living near the occupied borderlines of Georgia. While driving in the disputed Georgia-Abkhazia border village of Khurcha, Nana was standing outside her home with her siblings, I stopped the car the instant I saw her. She and her 7 siblings, along with her mother gave me a warm welcome, and while talking to Nana, she said she loves folk dance and wants to show me the dance she usually performs in school. She ran inside her home, changed, did her make-up and came out to dance. The weather was both cloudy and sunny, and the light made her dress more greener. I see Nana as an adult in this photo, even though she is only nine, she is also a grown-up, living in poverty, having a role as a second mother to her 7 siblings.”
“My digital camera, protected by a special housing that lets me shoot underwater, is my tool for exploring the human experience of the water. In my “Aquatic Street” series, shot at public beaches throughout the world, I am drawn to unguarded moments with my subjects as I capture beach culture from the vantage point of a swimmer. "The Queue" was captured in Maui, Hawaii in 2016. I swam out to Black Rock with the intention of photographing jumpers as they descended into the water. During a lull, I found myself in a unique position to capture the perfect line of bodies moving from one corner of the frame to the other. Young underwater swimmers on the left make their orderly way below the surface, emerging on the right to scramble up a rugged shoreline. My goal while shooting is to recognize what is in front of me, even if it’s not what I set out to capture. Photographing from the water presents a myriad of technical and physical challenges, but the hard work is worth it during moments such as this.”
“One could find this man everyday at the famous riverside of the Ganges of Kolkata beside Howrah Bridge. This very ordinary man comes with a mission. He brings food for pigeon and serves bucket of water to birds everyday. Because of pollution and less number of trees Kolkata is loosing birds specially pigeons and sparrows in an alarming rate . I am happy to capture this moment where this pigeon saver looks like he had disguised himself in a pigeon dress as if he is one of them. I waited patiently to get this perfect frame as every fraction of second is important in street photography.”
“I met James for the first time last year in union square ,nyc where he was selling street art ;I was interested in buying one piece so we started talking ; his face was really beat up that day and his arm was in a cast ; he didn t allow me a picture which I totally understood.I kept running into him over this past year but enable to take a picture because he was either too wasted or hanging out with the wrong crowd .
Finally end of this summer (2018) I was able to photograph him as he was sober as not in bad shape as usual (same spot union square).
Why I took this photo: I am always looking for interesting people in the street;I am obsessed with faces ; I like to show diversity especially in this time when racism and hatred are on the rise ;he has charisma and although he is a”Bad boy” he was always nice to me and he said he appreciate me for the support.”
“When I moved from Athens to Berlin, I had to understand and get used to both a different culture and a foreign language. Photography helped me to communicate and get closer to the people. It was the key to adjust to my new life and each day the streets would provide me with different experiences, each day I would discover new things.
One day, while I was walking quickly along one of the most beautiful streets in Berlin (Friedrichstrasse), a ladies’ impressive white hair caught my eye. As I saw her protruding from the high-rise buildings, I felt like she was in complete harmony with the city’s scenery, so I took a quick snap.”
” I took my image on the train when I was traveling to the Black Sea with my children about one year ago. We were on this modern (for Russia) double-decker train. In the evening we went out on a station to get some fresh air. I noticed how funny it looked from outside. I had my camera with me because on that day I worked on a project "One day of Russia" with other photographers.”
“This shot was taken in the summer of 2015 at a festival in the village of Kozlovo. It is a large village in the Tver region, life in it goes on. When there is a feast, the village arrange a concert, sell toys and sweets. Children always wait for this holiday and prepare for it. I took the photo of the girls after the concert - they bought cotton candy. At this time, a man came out of the doors of the club - my friend's father. A year later, he died of a heart attack.
“It was almost 7pm and I watched bus after bus filled with commuters leave the terminal in Kolkata. Some were happier than others! I must have stayed there almost an hour waiting for an interesting character, the right lighting, the right look. This ended up being the shot. I recently returned there this December, over a year later.”
“My photo was captured in Sultan Rushy in Kayseri/Turkey. This place lays down in the piedmont of the imposing Mount Erciyes and actually called as a heaven for birds. It ıs not only heaven for birds, also for one who wants to have a break from stressful daily life. You can find a peace in the twitter of the birds and even feel the freedom of the wind by riding horse.”
“I was in Coney Island this past June to do some street photography. It was quite but people will out enjoying the sun. The first thing I noticed with this couple was the way he was touching her butt. It seemed really intimate for being in public. As soon as I thought that a flock of birds started congregating over head in the distant, they were being loud and sounded like they were excited about something. In that moment I knew I wanted to incorporate the way he was touching her with the excitement of the birds.
I kept on shooting and before I knew it the birds were in formation!
“This picture is the quintessential New York City experience to me. From the disinterested woman reading her book, to the woman out with her curlers, yoga mat, and drink, and the man looking her over. There are so many stories unfolding every minute of every day. While commuting, I often imagine what type of lives my fellow commuters have, and make up my own stories about their circumstances.”
“Commissioned by playwright Gerald Lepkowski to produce images for his Melbourne International Arts Festival production Dark - The Adventures of Diane Arbus,
I contacted the Australian Multiple Births Association asking if they knew of parents who would be interested in having their twin children be photographed to be featured on huge screens as part of the plays theatrical set.
I was clear from the outset of the type of Arbus-like imagery I wanted to create. Subsequently I only had two families get back to me. Courtney and Kate, 6-year-old identical twin girls stopped me in my tracks. Like any kids their age, the twins mucked around between takes, joking and jostling with each other. It took a while before they could take direction, stand still and pose out on the street.
The bond was clear; Courtney would start a sentence and Kate would finish it. Or maybe Kate started, and Courtney finished. They were mirror images, perfectly symmetrical in their facial expressions, the way they held themselves.
I think this is part of why the image still provokes such a strong reaction from viewers, as I recently discovered when posting to my Instagram. The mystery and strength that comes from being an identical twin; the idea that you are simultaneously your own entity, as well as one half of a whole.”
El Paso, Texas (U.S.) and Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua (Mexico)
Ingrid Leyva is a Mexican photographer living in the border of El Paso Texas and Cd. Juarez. Trough portraiture, her work is focused in reflecting about the life and social justice issues happening -or not- at the border.
“I took this photograph in El Paso, Texas across from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, where I was born.
I had only lived in the United States for three years when I took it. It was at the beginning of the Trump presidency and I was taking a history class at the El Paso Community College that helped me understand the roots of racism, violence and injustice with which non-white people has been shaped.
I began to explore with my camera and lots of intuition my new home on the U.S. side of the border and I remember finding it after a long day walking through El Paso’s downtown. It was late already and hadn’t had any luck finding something worth shooting. Then I ran across this huge mural of a Mexican bracero and Lloyd standing in front of it, wearing a US flag tank shirt. To be honest, I hadn’t noticed the black and white cars in the background until after I got home. A good photograph is always a revelation.”
“I shot this image on one of my daily lunchtime walks. I have gone past this café restaurant many times, and I always make sure to look at who is sitting at that particular window.
It is one of those rare moments where all the pieces fell into place – having the right person at the right place at the right moment. Street photography is exciting because you never know when that confluence of elements would happen.
I clicked the shutter as soon as I saw this lady, and at the same time, she lifted up her glass and made eye contact with me. It was her striking appearance that drew me to her at first instance, and her gaze possessed such warmth and intensity that it stirred my heart. Without saying a word, her presence evoked a strong sense of nostalgia, and with a complementary setting, I felt for a brief moment that I had captured a scene from the old days.”
“I was hiking through the hills of Sapa in Vietnam on my way to Tavan Village, my Leica loaded with a roll of Kodak Tri X. I stopped for a break when I came across these young girls sitting on a bench overlooking the rice fields.
As I was about to leave and head further up the hill, the children picked up an old broken umbrella and started to play with it, and thats when I made this image.
It reminded me about making the most of what you have. These children seemed to have very little, but despite this they could still find joy and happiness in this moment with that old broken umbrella.”
Julia is a street photographer from Australia who is known for her strong compositions and her ability to work with colour, movement and light. She is a fearless street photographer, able to work close to her subjects without alerting them to her presence. Julia's major ongoing project, The Pool, explores an ocean pool in her home town south of Sydney.
Julia is the co-founder of the Unexposed Collective, a platform for Australian women and non-binary street photographers.
Red shoes and floating shadow
“While shooting in Sydney's winter light I spied these red shoes skipping over the kerb and crossing into the shadow. Caught them just in time, along with the floating shadow."
“I had been walking in Prague for the whole day, looking for situations to capture and of course didn’t find any. When I was almost home,
ready to take my shoes off, I saw these two standing there. At that time I was already curating the StreetRepeat account about repetitions in street photography
and this was definitely one of the repeated themes, so I hesitated for a moment. But then I decided to make my version of it anyway. Sometimes the hunt for originality holds back the creativity, it’s better not to think too much about it while shooting.”
"I was walking on the street at SoHo, NYC, then I found a giraffe as a decoration of the clothing store. When I tried to frame using the window display reflection, I saw that eyes staring at me. So I shot them all together."
“ The sea rages over the walls of the Malecón; the roads are closed, flooded, and empty. And yet nothing can stop young Julio from training in the abandoned José Martí stadium.
I made this photo in the midst of several days of flooding in Havana in the winter of 2016. Earlier in the day I paid a guy $2 to use his boots because in some places the water came past my knees. Around the corner from Hotel Presidente, where people were stranded as the water reached chest-high around the veranda, I encountered Julito jumping puddles as track practice, outside the José Martí stadium. Foreigners are not allowed to photograph the stadium, probably because it is in such a state of decay, but Julito somehow persuaded the guard to let me take a few quick shots. It's an incredibly beautiful edificio, like so much of the architecture in Havana, although many of the Cubanos I've met here lament when they see this image because they remember the stadium's better days. When the sun is out, grand pillars of light rise up to frame the youth who train there accompanied by some very dedicated coaches. Running, jumping rope, boxing. As foreign investment pours into restoring 5-star hotels, the structures that service the Cubans are left to the whims of excessive sun, high winds and floods. What moves my heart is seeing how the Cubans do not forsake this once majestic stadium; it's still put to great use--to strengthen both their bodies and their will to push themselves forward into a very uncertain future.
I've traveled to Cuba at least 15 times since 2015, often for a month or more. Initially, I, like so many other photographers, went to try and capture the island; yet in the end, it was the island that most certainly captured me. "Amado será todo lo que ama," is the title of my work in-progress. It's a quote from the Cuban's beloved José Martí, and can be translated as "Loved will be all that loves." This is the gift Cuba has given me.”
“While walking around Bhaktapur, Nepal I noticed a line of boys sitting on a brick wall during recess at school. I was drawn to the organized line of how they were sitting: in a perfect arrangement, precise order, evoking the sense of discipline, and I also liked the contrast of the vivid, lively play, with a little bit of chaos, that was happening in the foreground.”
“I took this photograph in late summer in Tate Modern museum in London. For only a couple of weeks a year, the setting sun shines through large windows into Tate's turbine hall creating wonderful light in a vast empty space. I noticed of how the natural and artificial light made an illusion of a tunnel and shot people coming up a slope into the light. But it was only when I saw this guy with his hat, hunched shoulders, looking down, I knew I had the story I was looking for.”
“This photo was taken during my time documenting the Roma lifestyle in Suto’ Orizari in Macedonia. The Roma community is widely discriminated against in this country, which limits the opportunities for many young children and adults. I took this photo to help bring to light the real narrative of Roma children who are often cast in a negative light. Children in this community may not have the luxuries that many of us do, however; they have the same talents and curiosities as any child worldwide. Most of the time when the subjects I am shooting are camera-aware, my presence is imparted in the story. This can sometimes cause a shift to the truth of the story, but in this case it helped to convey the truth of the scene. The little boy was such a talented drummer that adults and kids alike loved listening to him, all while the little girl could not help but be curious about my presence and my camera. After this photo was made, I took some time to enjoy the music of the little boy and to show the little girl what I was doing. It filled my heart with joy and sadness all at the same time. The arts are not included in the Roma children’s education as they are expected to become factory/construction workers or mothers."
“Taken in Sanur, Bali - I have been obsessed with the giant kites in Bali for a long time. They are one of my favourite subjects to photograph. Every afternoon during the windy season open spaces fill up with kite fliers. Some of the kites are huge - weighing over 100 kilos with tails that can be more than 100 metres long. It takes a lot of teamwork to get one aloft and to keep it there. You often see lines of kite fliers like this one working together to weigh the kite down - it's impossible to fly these kites on your own.”
“I often return home to New Orleans. If you grew up there the music never leaves you, you will always return and dance. This image was taken out on the dance floor of Cafe Negril on Frenchmen St. where you will find the local artist playing, mostly for tips! Here is a tip, go to Frenchmen St. when you are in New Orleans. I like shooting musician and scenes on the street or in the Bars here. It is heart beat of the city.
I shoot with a SonyRXV now , I think this was the RXIII. I like to shoot the street with a small discreet camera. I shoot in B&W mostly as I started with my B&W darkroom in Photography.”
“Cuban boys at boxing practice. Practicing five days a week, many of them dream of turning professional. But such dreams have been thwarted ever since Fidel Castro banned professional boxing, in 1961. A promising boxer had to emigrate from Cuba or abandon his dream. Recently, the restrictions have been relaxed, but earning a living as a boxer in Cuba is still almost prohibitive. After hitting adolescence, many aspirants awaken to the obstacles and hang up their gloves for good. These boys were still at the age where dreams could endure. I wanted to convey that sense of unbridled electricity, enthusiasm and invincibility by showing movement in the frame.”
“I took this photo in Muqam Shah Wali Village in Northern Kashmir. I had just finished photographing a family in their home, and as I was leaving, these children gathered in the window in curiosity. The small one room school was connected to the family’s home and served all the children in the village. Kashmir has been a flashpoint for over 70 years. It is a place often associated with conflict, heartache, and war. Turning the camera toward the children, I wondered if they would know a more peaceful future.”
“While traveling I always challenge myself to produce unexpected images. To "see" differently from photographers before me.
Hội An in Central Vietnam is an ancient port town normally celebrated for its colour and chaos. So my intent was to create instead a series of minimalistic, "de-cluttered" images in black and white. Using solitary figures, natural light and shadows to evoke a sense of peacefulness and elegance.”
"I travel to Varanasi every year for the past 6 years and every time I am there I am mesmerized by the energy of that city and the diversity of life there. Walking the streets and documenting daily life is a treat. I stumbled upon a group of children one afternoon and joined them in their games. They always love attention and their playful nature comes to life instantly. The boy on the image had a wonderful attitude all along. When I approached him he instantly grabbed the little lamb to pose for an image. The way he held that lamb left me speechless... he made me feel as if he was holding his prized possession, his childhood stuffed animal that gave him so much comfort. His eyes, on the other hand, betrayed a less carefree self, one he lost years ago."
“I was wondering in the streets of Harar, Ethiopia, and suddenly I came across these three girls standing and waiting for something. I was first attracted by the colors and then I saw how the one at the back was embracing the other and I just hit the shutter. I take time to select photos and it is only when I was going through some files a few months ago that I found this photo amongst others from Ethiopia that I had forgotten about.”
“I shot this in the Eur neighborhood in Rome on a day in which I’d promised myself I’d only shoot with a Dslr camera instead of with my iPhone. The girl worked at the cashier desk of an exhibition to which I was buying the ticket. As she looked up to give me my ticket I quickly took a couple of photos - needless to say...with my iPhone!”
“I have been traveling in all parts of India for many years and this photograph has been shot in march 2013, in the village of Badami in Karnataka. This village is very traditional and colorful just as so many in the region, and I used to stay and get soaked in the atmosphere of each of them for many days before I would move again. It allowed me to photograph this particular home several times during my stay in Badami, and each time was very different and with a different member of the family living there: the mother, the grandparents etc, laundry days, and even sometimes with the local animals passing by like cows, goats, dogs... The place is very lively and there's always something going on.
I chose to edit and publish this specific scene with the child in a swing at the doorstep because of its composition and the colors that were matching well, having a passion for complementary color themes and geometry in photography. I like my scenes to be quite simple and straightforward too. At the same time, I like pictures telling a story, even more when there's a spontaneous connection with my subjects: here, I clicked exactly at the first moment I got the attention of the child, when the genuine and candid expression is still preserved. Also, I liked the open door where you can almost enter the intimacy of this family's life, and little details inside in the dark. I want my images to celebrate daily life and human beings in the most poetic, genuine and spontaneous ways.”
“I had seen the balloons when I was still inside. They did not look red then as they were silhouetted against the sun. Along them came smartly dressed young women – something was definitely going on, but was it advertisement filming, wedding shoot, or? I was intrigued. The exquisiteness of the interior of the Zaha Haddid museum however kept me ensnared for quite a while more. It’s only much later, when trying to find another angle to observe the awkwardly beautiful organic outer shape of the building that the balloons appeared again. Far. But I knew there was a picture in this scene. So I ran.
Ideally I would have wanted a moment when the balloons covered the walking figure’s head. It did not happen.
Street photography is to shoot the moment as it happens, rather than search the streets for something to happen exactly the way you want it to happen.
The balloons were for a graduation party of the Baku technical University.”
Melanie Einzig grew up in Minnesota and moved to New York in1990. She has been committed to making art since her early teens. Photographing on the street for her is one of the many joys of a life-long diaristic use of the camera. Melanie has a master’s degree from NYU/ICP. From 1998-2001 she worked for the Associated Press in New York where she developed a clearer picture language but eventually left photojournalism to focus on more open ended personal work. Her photos have been exhibited in galleries and festivals in the US and Europe and are included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of the City of New York, the Incite Project amongst others. Her photos have been printed in several books about photography including Bystander: A History of Street Photography ( Laurence KIng) , New York in Color (Abrams) , Street Photography Now (Thames and Hudson) and Seeing Things (Aperture). Her work is currently traveling as part of an exhibition titled Street. Life. Photography: Seven Decades of Street Photography curated by Sabine Schnakenberg.
“We were walking in Central Park, New York when I came upon this scenario. There was music in the air and it was unclear what was happening and how the figures related to each other including the skeleton. The guy on the right playing the flute made me think of the Pied Piper luring the kids on their phones. I like photographs that know something. But I also like photos that invite the viewer’s imagination to move around and wonder.”
“I’ve always been drawn to the neon sign at this bakery near my home – and when I saw this apparition from the past daydreaming as she was cleaning, I was struck by the beauty of the scene. It was in the morning and I was out running, but I slipped my phone from my pocket and took the shot. A more rigorous camera might have taken a more precise shot, but the quality afforded by the phone seems well-matched to the feel of the photo.
Title: Untitled, from the series The Watchwomen, 2013
“Greg Lamarche painted this Coney Island wall as part of the Creative Time project in 2004. If you haven't been there, it borders a ramp connecting Deno's Wonder Wheel Park to Luna Park. On a Saturday in August 2015 I was trying to keep cool, taking pictures in the shade at the bottom of the ramp under the overpass. I liked the idea for the image more than the results I brought home. So the next weekend I made a beeline back to that spot with an agenda - to get a silhouette of a child running alongside that incredible mural.”
“An elderly woman is crossing an alley in the suburbs of Mashhad. In these areas, the streets are crowded, old buildings with high density still can be found, and even in the summer, flooded pathways catch your eye.”
“From my photo series "Women with headscarves". This square, black, transparent fabric will one day turn into headscarves for these girls. It is truly thin and practical, it isn’t slippery and can be easily attached to hair. The women from this region mostly start wearing them after marriage. This is a tradition, a symbol and an inseparable part of their lives. Since their childhood, they get used to labour, having respect for the elders and caring for each other. They share and preserve traditions.
In the mountainous Adjara, they say that everything slowly changes as times goes by. The people of the mountains are moving downwards and those who stay recount how fast the environment changes; what used to exist yesterday has already disappeared and even the things from today will be gone tomorrow. This is the reason why I wanted to photograph the black headscarf on the background of these women and girls, as today it is the symbol of their femininity, loyalty, simplicity and inner peace.”
“I love taking photos of birds, I went to a special place where there are always thousands of birds. This religious person who was there, was not afraid of the birds, he was afraid of me and my camera, this is why he put his hands on his face, not to let me take a picture of him and with all these birds, I caught a great moment “
“I was lucky enough to travel with my children to Italy two years ago … my children have spent all their life in a rural setting , so cities are an environment very interesting to them … especially the beautiful and very old cities of Florence where this picture was taken … I had to keep reminding them that the windows they saw on the street belonged to houses that people lived in (which is unusual for my children who are used to houses with lots of land around them … not on the very edge of a footpath) ..and my 11 yr old can’t help but swing or climb on anything that he can …. So he would often climb on the bars on window sills…and my eldest was agitated that he was not respecting peoples property … meanwhile my youngest … she would watch the 11 yr old and wish that she was big enough to reach and climb them too …. I wanted to try to capture the interesting way each of the kids approached this environment we were in.”
“It was taken in zagreb, the capital of croatia, in tram on a rainy day through the tram window while the tram was leaveing the station. In a moment when everything felt a bit disturbing and in motion. It is intuitive shot that happened in a moment.”
“The photo was taken close to the "Gare de Lyon" in Paris. It was midsummer, the sun was setting, and the light was very soft with a touch of orange. I was standing on the stairs that led to the station and noticed the shades of passengers on the wall. This wall had a faint blue color, which combined well with the orange light, and there were diverging structured lines that captured the shades in between. Almost immediately after I took out my camera, this woman with hat walked into my frame. I think the lines add to the sense of movement, and together with the shade and colors it results in a soft, romantic image that breathes summer and elegance.”
“The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.
- William Makepeace Thackeray
Reflection, Motion, Emotion, Activities go hand in hand to me while I'm shooting on the streets. With every action. I see a reaction of life and it engulfs me in a blanket of varied emotions - activities - moods... I spotted this and wanted to capture a in between life and shot too, so it creates mystery around the moment...”
“Regla made me feel at ease and they where home to me. I traveled day and night just to feel the magic ignite. This is Orlando, we talked about hopes and dreams, mine where abandoned and his where deep blue seas.
This photograph was taken one of the days we all spent in the park, I got a glimpse of him while taking Ana Maris portrait. Everything with them felt familiar, our connection was natural. I see this photograph and for a second everything stops, I sigh for days gone by. My dearest Orlando, what have I lost?
"This photograph was taken in a friendly neighbourhood in Baku, Azerbaijan. I took many frames at this one spot as the scene kept changing. I chose this photograph, because I like the way it continually takes your eyes on a circular journey through the image. "
“One morning of march 2018 arrived by bus in the small town of Sighnaghi (located in the wine region of Kakhetia) in Georgia by a thick fog, I couldn't see further than 100 meters.
Just as i arrived and left my bag, i decided to go and explore this city a bit.
The atmosphere was kind of ghostly, it was captivating and melancholic aswel but very photogenic i found.
I felt like there was something to catch but couldn't quite figure out what yet.
Like time has stopped.
I was feeling lonely.
I then took my camera out, walked through the few deserted streets to the main square when i saw this lady emerging from nowhere, coming out the mist, next to this old vintage car, and the dog in the foreground created the only animation in there.
I had to capture it one time, inspired by this suspended moment of movement.”
“I was born in Rio de Janeiro, a city that is also referred to by Brazilians as 'a cidade maravilhosa', the wonderful city. Its strong light, the water of the ocean and the hills on which it spreads, combine to create a setting with a peculiar quality that is hard to define in other terms than magic.
There is something I find very compelling in the way in which people interact with water. Its liquid surface reflects the light in ever-changing and unpredictable ways, that I enjoy to try and capture.”
"Last year I was in Oaxaca, Mexico for Dia de Los Muertos. It is a days long celebration steeped in tradition, pageantry, and family gatherings, with costumers and brass bands parading through the streets, and city dwellers and villagers alike preparing elaborate altars to their departed loved ones. I was fascinated by the children and their highly detailed makeup and costumes. Some, however, don't have the means for more than face paint and a plastic pumpkin and wait patiently all day for a donation from passersby along the busy streets surrounding the zocalo. These two young girls caught my eye with their earnest glances and decorative hats. I found it an interesting juxtaposition of youth and innocence, tinged with a hint of uncertainty and tension, against the backdrop of the social statement made by the wall mural which references the 43 students of Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College that went missing in a mass kidnapping and disappearance in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico in September 2014.”
“I took this picture in Washington DC in 2018, during the Chinese New Year celebrations. It was a cold winter morning, but the sun was bright. I was walking around when I noticed a spot where the sun’s rays were uniquely aligned. I got excited and stuck around. It was crowded. But I waited patiently to capture the right arrangement of light, shadow and people. I took a few frames but this one stood out for me because of how the light and shadows accentuate the sense of separation and isolation in a crowded context with so much energy and movement.”
“That place was my meditation spot. I used to go there sit down and literally wait for the Universe to surprise me.
That day was really special cause many people came, i shoot many pics but when i got this one i felt totally connected. The circle of life. Getting ready, Falling, getting up and trying again. As years pass by you recover faster and take less time on the getting ready or getting up...♥️ Its all about trying and falling ♥️
1 month after a big storm came and took away all that. That magic spot is not there anymore. But before he left he gave me this beautiful gift ♥️”
“The photo with the girl in boxtree I made in Vienna, in front of the Art Historical Museum.
While roaming the streets of Vienna, I came across this Building with ist its beautiful, giant boxtrees in front of the entrance. When I realised what was going on, two kids had climbed up on the inside of the boxtree and popped out their heads on the top, I ran against the scene, as fast as I could, as I was too far away. The father in front of the bush, laughing and waiting for them to come down. I stopped, pushed the trigger and got one single shot!
One of the kids had already disappeared, an instant later the other one as well. But I was lucky enough to get this beautiful picture with one single shot!”
This image was taken in Istanbul, part of my "She" series.
"I photograph my close friends because this offers an area of deeper intimate relationship between myself and my subject. Yet, I scrape their known identities and work with them as anonymous beings. The focus is on the mutual and natural interaction between the object and the subject, the one looked at and the one looking at. They are usually female in their 30’s, which is a special period in which one transforms into a certain level of maturity. Women are multi-character personalities who can switch between different identities fast, while sustaining an integrity. Under a veil of mystery, a unique blend of power and sensibility define women. Their body language drags me into a surreal world, feeding my fantasies and dreams. This fascinates me with different levels of narration, a mixture of dreams and reality."
In exploring and celebrating the beauty, humor and tragedy of our collective human experience, photography has become an unparalleled means of personal expression. I am drawn to people, their stories, and to finding those fleeting serendipitous moments that reveal themselves through a combination of intuition, luck, and devoted preparedness. My background studies in art and painting have informed the way I now photograph scenes and characters on the street. Sometimes I feel I try to frame people in the same way in which I would paint them.
“It was my first time visiting Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. I have traveled to many distant locations in the world but have seen very little of what is in my own backyard, in my own country. Whilst enjoying a brisk, sunny autumn day at a charming little park in Waterloo, I was both surprised and delighted to see a gorgeous historic steam train travel past. Having a rather serious lifelong love of trains, seeing this beautiful historic one clamber by lit a spark of inspiration in my heart, and I had to know more about it. After some inquiries, I learned that the Heritage Number 9 Waterloo Central Railway Steam Train was still in use during the weekends, with the purpose of carrying passengers to a local market. I was thrilled to know I would be able to see and photograph this gorgeous train once again. I planned my morning carefully, making certain to arrive early at the train’s departure point. What I hadn’t anticipated was a very fortuitous meeting with Mennonite families aboard the train. My love of trains had serendipitously led me to my other lifelong love, that of meeting with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. I was thrilled, and felt as though I had won a jackpot that morning. Captivated by the young Mennonite girl looking through the train window, I was also delighted to photograph what appeared to be her accompanying family who were very friendly and seemed quite amused by my interest in them! Following one’s intuition, and as cliché as it may be, listening to one’s heart often brings the most rewarding gifts, in both photography and in life. These gifts that unravel on our photographic and life paths are often unforeseen, but more times than not, are wonderfully exciting and profoundly rewarding. With certainty, I can say for myself, intuition is everything.”