“In photography, the smallest thing can become a big subject, an insignificant human detail can become a leitmotif.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson
On the surface, street photography seems to be an enigma in the commercialised, fast-moving world we live in. It is something that most try, but few succeed in and is arguably more about chance than skill.
Street photography is always about the moment, for the perfect shot often only presents itself for a couple of seconds. For me, it is a way of revealing the microscopic, seemingly insignificant aspects of human life that pass by fleetingly and are rarely noticed. The medium's candid nature makes it the most honest way of capturing human emotion in subjects who are often never photographed in this way again.
My work is the result of the exhaustive process of taking thousands of photos and selecting just an elite few. Recently I've started using zone focusing when I'm taking the photographs. I set the focus to a set distance to allow quicker shooting, and this has become an extremely effective attribute considering the temperamental nature of the subjects.
In this respect, there has always been a certain loneliness to my practice that's hard to avoid. As the photographer, I am always separated from my subject; my only goal is to capture those ephemeral and transitory moments of beauty hidden in everyday life. Unfortunately, there is often a feeling of failure, for trying to capture such huge stories and issues in a single photograph is often impossible. The outcome of the images I do select may not be perfect but, to me, that is part of their appeal.
The series of photographs shown here are, at face value, simple portraits. However, beneath the surface there is a constant sense of unease that is hard to shake off. By viewing these images, one becomes a voyeur - a Peeping Tom into the hidden personalities and traits that we all as humans work to hide.
As an artist, street photography is a way of observing and documenting what I see and experience, and it nearly always influences my drawings and paintings. I feel everyone should have a go at street photography at some point in their lives because it provides a chance to take a step back and observe the world we live in.
What you observe in life is not just a glimpse into the lives of strangers, but also a reflection on yours.
More of Tom's work can be found here.