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An Interview with Street Photographer Belinda Corney from UK

RK : Say something about you. Belinda : I currently live in London but I am originally from North Queensland Australia. I have always enjoyed taking photos but it is only in the last 2 years that I have become passionate about street photography. Most of my shots are taken to and from work as these times are when the light is perfect for my style of photography which is very light and shadow driven.

RK : What are your favorite genres of Photography? Belinda : Street Photography, of course! Photojournalism (I especially like documentaries about the photographers behind the images) I also appreciate architectural and landscape photography.

RK : Was there anything specific that you can remember that made you want to become a photographer? Belinda : Years ago, I watched a documentary about Australian Photographer Trent Parke called Dreamlives which was about a series of work called Dream/Life & Beyond, it had me enthralled. I loved his fanatical passion for getting that perfect shot and how he uses light, there is something other-worldly about his work, he really knows how to work the light, if I had half is talent I would be extremely happy!

RK : What was the first camera that you received? Belinda : My first camera was a basic Canon EOS film camera with 18-55mm kit lens.

RK : What camera & equipment do you use now? Belinda : I currently shoot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and I use either the 23mm or 56mm lens.

RK : If you were told that you could only keep one camera and lens combination, what would it be? Belinda : My only camera is my X-T2, but lens wise, I would miss the wide angle of the 23mm but right now, I would have to say I would keep my 56mm.

RK : Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

Belinda : I have a few favorites for different reasons but if I had to choose my favorite right now it would be one I took of a gentleman looking out of a bus window in 2017. It is different from my normal style which is perhaps why is stands out for me, I normally shy away from close shots of peoples faces. I love how the harsh light inside the bus creates some lovely shadows and highlights, he almost glows. I also like how the condensation on the bus window has been wiped away in a circular motion which almost frames the man’s face.

RK : What does ‘street photography’ mean to you? Belinda : I still have so much to learn about Street Photography but I understand it to be about capturing a moment in your immediate environment, whether it be candid, comical, abstract or confronting. For me personally it is an artistic outlet I was missing for a long time, it is also a stress reliever, I love to walk off stress, now I walk and shoot.

RK : What do you want your viewers to take away from your work? Belinda : My only viewers are on Instagram, and what I have discovered is there is such an amazing community of likeminded photographers who are so supportive and sharing and to be a part of that is really rewarding, so, I would hope my viewers take away from my work what I take away from other photographers work which is inspiration, and appreciation for the art of photography.

RK : How does Black and White vs Color play into your work? Do you find them to be totally separate beasts—or complementary?

Belinda : I am a big fan of black and white photography, so much so that my camera is set to the monochrome film simulation setting 99% of the time, this is a nice little feature of the Fujifilm X series cameras! I find doing this helps me better see the shapes and light when lining up a shot. When I do decide to shoot in colour I am still drawn to light and shadow with the added element of a bright colour so when it comes to my work I would say they are complementary as my style is consistent in both.

RK : What do you think are some clichés in street photography you steer away from yourself?

Belinda : If you look online at what is considered cliché in street photography you could come away thinking what can I shoot that isn’t! With so many street photographers out there being unique can be hard, especially in the bigger, more popular cities which are saturated with street photographers. I tend to steer away from taking photos of street performers and the homeless, but other than that I tend to just take photos of what I like.

RK : Who are some of your favorite classic photographers, and how did they influence you?

Belinda : I don’t have a specific classic photographer who has influenced my photography. I have only just recently been introduced to some through other photographers so there are photos I have seen and love of course; Vivian Maier, Robert Doisneau and Elliot Erwitt’s work to name a few. I completed a Diploma in Visual Arts at college and I was especially drawn to the artist Edward Hopper and have taken influence from his work, he liked to paint empty cityscapes and isolated figures.

RK : When you are out shooting—how much of it is instinctual versus planned?

Belinda : Very often I have found a spot where the light was perfect but there were no people to add that human element, or I come across a scene where the light is perfect for the two minutes I am there then it disappears, so I have gone back to try and get the shot I want again. Then there are other times like any photographer that you stumble upon a scene and capture it as it happens. Most of the time when I am out shooting I have a destination in mind and without fail there is always something else along the way that catches my interest.

RK : What is your approach with the camera when you find yourself photographing strangers on the street?

Belinda : My preference is to stay at a distance and photograph my subject in the environment around them so they rarely even look my way. There are times I have gotten close and there are ways to remain discreet, you can shoot from the hip, or you can pretend you are filming the street around you whilst pressing the shutter, both these options keep the camera away from the eye so you can avoid notice. The filming tip I learnt on a street photography workshop run by two amazing photographers who are on Instagram: @joshkjack and @sixstreetunder, I have learnt so much from them and I highly recommend this workshop for any photographers visiting London. I think the most important thing when photographing strangers is to be quick, get the shot and keep moving!

RK : When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase? Belinda : Yes, I do sometimes have an image or style in mind. I normally rely on strong lighting to create highlights and contrasts, but if I want very strong contrasts I use my camera’s high contrast film simulation setting to enhance these. Sometimes I do this post production, but in most instances, I don’t do too much to my photos post production apart from tweaking on the highlights and shadows and cropping, when required.

RK : In a street picture, do you think the contrasts of light are important to tell a story or are just an aesthetic fact?

Belinda : Speaking for myself, contrasts of light are very important to me as my style of photography relies on them so I tend to avoid shooting on days when the light is poor. I don’t think you always need strong contrasts to tell a story but it certainly helps to pay attention to the light as it can transform an ordinary photo into something quite special. The more you get out there and take photos the more you will come to understand the importance of light and how to use it.

RK : Do you have any tips for photographers to help them grow artistically?

Belinda : Always have your camera with you and shoot every day, it is only since I have been doing this that I have noticed my photography style improve and evolve, it is still evolving! You will end up taking a lot of photos and only one or two may be good out of the hundreds you do take but when you get that shot you are proud of it makes all your efforts worthwhile and encourages to you keep going. I think it is also important to learn, whether it is from studying other photographers work or doing a work shop or two, I do both and what I have taken away from them is invaluable.

RK : Have you ever been to India and anything you know about Indian Art & Culture? Belinda : Unfortunately no! I have never been and don’t know a great deal about Indian Art and Culture.

RK : We (Retro Kolkata) are trying to make a bridge between National and International Art & Culture By featuring some National & International personalities who already have made their own path in their respective fields and we think your story and tips might help the newcomers to build their career. Please say something about our initiative and any special message for your Indian followers. Belinda : I would like to say a big thank you to Retro Kolkata for inviting me to be a part of their online magazine launch, I am beyond flattered. I look forward to seeing what will be achieved through this artistic cultural convergence, I am sure it will be a great success! A big thank you also to all who follow me on Instagram, your support and feedback are invaluable to me and I greatly appreciate it.


Follow Belinda Corney on Instagram

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