My affair with social documentary photography

Every photographer remembers the moment they fell in love with the art. For some, it’s the first time they caught the golden hour on a beach, while for others, it’s about capturing the rawness and truth of human emotions. My love story with photography truly began in 2004 and, more specifically, with the day I got my first Leica camera. Although, my father gave me his old Pentax K1000 when I was just 11 years old. I remember one of my first shots with it was standing outside Elton John’s mansion, in Wargrave, UK, snapping away.

The Leica Affection

2004 marked a turning point in my interest in social documentary and street photography. That was the year I laid my hands on a Leica, a camera that’s become synonymous with precision and timeless design. For many, a Leica is not just a camera; it’s a companion, a tool, and a storyteller. It quickly became an extension of my arm, accompanying me on my strolls, adventures, and everyday moments.

The Streets in Black and White

There’s a raw, unfiltered beauty to street photography. It captures life as it happens – the fleeting moments, the unnoticed gestures, the smiles, and the tears. While color has its place, my heart has always been set on black and white. There’s a timelessness to monochrome that seems to strip away the distractions, letting the soul of the image shine through.

In the grayscale world, contrasts become more pronounced, shadows play a more defining role, and every texture tells a story. The streets became my canvas, with every passerby, vendor, and child turning into potential subjects, embodying tales waiting to be told.

Social Documentary: Beyond Just Pictures

What began as a love for capturing spontaneous moments slowly morphed into a passion for social documentary photography. The camera became my tool for storytelling, allowing me to delve deeper into the narratives of the people I met.

Through social documentary photography, I found a way to shine a light on societal issues, to capture the essence of communities, and to document the changing times. Every shot became a chronicle of human existence, an exploration of cultures, and a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

The Lure of the Darkroom

In this digital age, there’s a certain nostalgia associated with the good old days of darkrooms. The magic of watching an image slowly come to life on paper, the dance of chemicals, and the play of light and shadow is unparalleled. The tactile nature of developing photos, the red light, the enveloping smell of developer and fixer; it’s an experience that’s become rare.

Lately, the idea of rebuilding my old darkroom has been on my mind. Perhaps, it’s the allure of blending the old with the new, of bringing those monochromatic street tales to life in a room bathed in red.

The Future

From the day I got my Leica in 2004 to now, photography has been a journey of growth, discovery, and passion. It’s taught me to see the world with different eyes, to find beauty in the mundane, and to always search for the story beneath the surface. As I continue this journey, one click at a time, I invite you to see the world through my lens – a world of stories, contrasts, and timeless moments.

I still love my Leica, however I have just invested in a new Sony DSLR and selection of very good lenses. Not particularly stealth for street photography, but let’s see how I get on.

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