What inspires you in photography, what are your themes?
I’m inspired by city streets in sunlight: light, colour, form. The best ones are the ones that have the potential to yield the kind of images I like. It would be hard to say which comes first – the immediate appeal of the subject matter or the idea of what sort of image that can be created from it. They’re sort of bound up together. I don’t have themes, at least not consciously. I know what pleases me when I see it. It will be low in content or the potential to tell a story. It will be more about form, structure, colour and atmosphere. It’s a kind of street photography but the aesthetic and formal elements will be to the fore. It will usually emphasise two-dimensionality. People will feature but their individuality will be minimised and they will function more as motifs.


A moment from your photographic journeys and processes that seemed surreal or had the quality of a deja vu?
I’m not sure I’ve had that experience as such. That’s because when you’re looking through the viewfinder your concentration is such that nothing seems surreal. You accept everything. You get excited when you think the potential for a good picture is there. That’s the only thing you think about. It’s total immersion in the moment. To see things as surreal requires a certain perspective that you wouldn’t have if you were truly living through the viewfinder, which you need to be. However, there’s one picture I took of Manhattan Bridge in New York with the shadow of Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground that I like because it looks just like an old postcard. So it’s a little strange to think I took this photograph quite recently that looks mysteriously like something from the 1960s. I remember the truck moving across the bridge and deciding when to take the shot. Only after it was processed did I notice that the truck was bright yellow and its cab was bright red like a toy and it was almost as if they’d been hand-tinted. And the sky was perfect blue and there were very few other colours. All in all it’s like something I took in another lifetime.


A photograph is a miracle. What do you think about this statement?
Nothing is a miracle in the literal sense obviously – either that or everything is. But figuratively speaking I sometimes think of certain photographs as little miracles. I use film so I don’t get to see the pictures straight away. So when I do get them back after the wait for processing, and if they work particularly well, it can seem miraculous that everything is arranged in the just right way to make them (hopefully) so mysterious and beautiful. In reality it’s about an amount of skill and a certain sensibility and a lot of luck. But as in so many areas of life you do make your own luck in photography a lot of the time.


What is the quality you most admire in a person and why?
Thoughtfulness probably. Having a regard for others’ feelings is a superior human trait that is often sadly lacking in people. And it’s great for quelling the paranoia and anxiety that lurks inside us all somewhere.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Share with us one of your favourite photographs and something that you experienced as you took it.
One of my favourite photographs is of a woman reflected in the window of a pub in Berwick Street, Soho, London. The pub had reinforced glass windows and the wire mesh makes it seem as if she is wearing a veil. As luck would have it there was a piece of paper on and adjacent window at the entrance that announced that the toilets were for customers only. This provided the light for her face as she went by and her reflection passed over it. I only had one chance to take it and the camera I used was a Pentax 645 medium format one, so quite unwieldy. I took up my position because I thought there was something special about the light in the window and I thought that if I could catch someone walking past too it could work well. All I remembered afterwards was a very beautiful face filling the viewfinder for a split second, hardly any time at all. I tried to keep her face in my mind during the week-long wait before the film was processed. When I got it back there did seem something slightly miraculous about it.


Which are the best skills or qualities a photographer must have?
I can only speak for the kind of photography I do. I don’t know about other types. Firstly you’ve got to really love doing it. You have to have an insatiable appetite for making photographic images and be always on the lookout for something to photograph. You’ll never stop. But you will not photograph just anything that looks appealing. You will be rigorous about your choices. Consistency is important. You have to develop your vision and know what you want and not the kind of pictures that anyone could take. Technically there isn’t much to know though. You could learn it in quite a short time.


See more of his work at www.julianwakeling.com