Meet Brendan O’ Se from Ireland, an inspiring Street Photographer with a particular eye for showing the unseen. Brendan says most of his photography is a procedural knowledge, without having fixed objectives, preferring to be open and above all he does accepts the fact that Street Photography does get frustrating at times. In this deep knowledge sharing interview with 121clicks.com, Brendan shares lot of very informative and useful stuff related to arts and photography.
Speaking about his photography, I particularly like the colors and instinctive style of approach in street photography. Sometimes that oof does help really when you want to travel close to the subject yet without touching it. Be it the camerashake or the oof there is an essence of art to this portfolio. Take a look and be inspired!
Could you introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Brendan Ó Sé and I am a self-taught photographer from Cork, Ireland. My day job is teaching in my local university here in Cork. I am married and have two kids: Sumi-Anna (8) and James (5). Photography is what I do for fun and to express my creativity.
Your style of street photography is different, how do you go about it?
Good question. It gets me thinking.
There is declarative and procedural knowledge. Ask me how I turn on my computer and I can tell you. Ask me how I ride a bicycle and well… it gets complicated.
Asking me how I go about my street photography is a bit like that. For me, is it different? Do I set out to make it different? Very often, I feel I am trying to achieve the opposite; to adhere to a style, and then I guess, from that, I try to break away. This might result in it being different, I suppose.
I don’t have fixed objectives when I head out shooting. I don’t check maps and the position of the sun at a given time before I set out. I prefer to be open to whatever I may encounter. Street photography is a frustrating endeavour. There is very little you can control on the street. Most of the time, when shooting, I am frustrated, but then again, sometimes things can collide and coincide and I can find myself in a moment where patience and vision pay off. You cannot plan for these things. And the truth is they happen far too infrequently.
I have this maxim about photography: Trying to see what can be seen and how to see it. The how to see it part is key.
My go-to everyday camera is the iPhone. Having this camera with me constantly for the past 3 to 4 years has resulted in my becoming a better photographer. Why? It’s simple. I went from a situation where I kept a camera in a drawer and only took it out on occasion (holidays, family events, the odd photo walk) to one where I always had a camera with me. Gone were the days of observing something and thinking: “Wow, that would make a great photo!” Having the iPhone with me meant I didn’t miss that shot and I began to become much more aware and sensitive to photographic opportunities. Simply put, I practised more. And like the old saying goes: The more I practise, the luckier I get.
I got a little sidetracked there. To answer your question: I also use a Fuji X100T and a Nikon D7000.
There is a fair bit of tension in your street photos, your thoughts behind it?
Not sure if I have fully-formed thoughts on it or not, but here goes.
When I am on the street, I am out there alone looking for connections, looking for identifiable feelings. This can be achieved by getting eye contact from those I am photographing. It is not something I initiate or provoke, but something which the camera elicits. From the perspective of the person who notices me taking their photo, it is a curiosity as to why I should find them interesting enough to want to photograph them that results in the eye contact, I feel. It is in that moment that there is a connection, a tension, as you put it.
I feel that street photography can make people more aware of each other; more aware of the similarities we all share; be they struggles or joys. Life is fast nowadays and the sense of community and neigbourliness can be lost. I would like to think that when people see a street photograph of a moment isolated in time that conveys emotion, that it can trigger something that is familiar to themselves, and in turn, they can become more compassionate and empathetic to those they encounter on the street, and also, very importantly, more compassionate and empathetic to themselves as well. If it is a sense of tension in an image which alerts people to this then can only be a good thing.
More and more it is the ticking of the clock: Time! I only got into photography seriously in the past three years or so. Before that, the camera spent most of its time in a drawer. Now, I am working on projects; there are things I want to achieve. This inspires me; pushes me forward, but I do have the sense that time is passing. Got to make the most of it.
In terms of photographers, there are those whose work I admire: Daido Moriyama, Trent Parke, Jacob Aue Sobol, Alex Webb, Josef Koudelka, among others. Then there are those in my community whose work inspires me on a daily basis. These are people whose Flickr steams I visit with regularity and who, in turn, visit mine. I have formed friendships with some over the years and I can truly say that these photographers inspire me.
Your future aspirations in photography?
I have begun to give workshops for mobile photography and I am loving it. Coming from a teaching background I am very aware of the teaching and learning dynamic and how best to help people to reach their potential. Coupling this with my passion for photography allows me to structure and deliver workshops that have a focus on collaborative learning and hands-on opportunities to put what is being presented into practice. These workshops have been very enjoyable and there are plans to bring them further afield than Ireland in the near future.
There are also plans to have my first solo exhibition in 2016.
One moment you want to relive being a photographer?
I am fortunate that I have gotten to shoot in some of the world’s most exciting locations: London, Berlin, Barcelona, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Bangkok, Lima, San Francisco, Marrakech, Cairo and so on, and have made so many memories from these times. But the times that matter are only the ones spent with family and friends. Standing in the centre of the Shibuya Scramble Crossing with my wife screaming at me to hurry up to get that shot before the traffic reached her; or trekking across fields in Hokkaido to get to the cliff’s edge to get photographs of the sunset with Richard and Seiya. And of course, the ones with kids. Writing this now, the image of the two of them, still only toddlers, running in glee to the water’s edge at the beach comes to me. These are the memories I want to relive. Those images of strangers I shoot on the street mean very little in comparison.
One thing that you had learnt in the past, you want to share here?
I used to believe that the learning spectrum of imitate, assimilate and innovate was a linear one. At some stage this year I realised it wasn’t. At any given time, these three are in play with each other. As an artist, I am always consuming and processing what I observe. It is inevitable that I imitate; most probably doing so unwittingly. Equally, I believe that this constant consumption of art I look at and the things I observe evolves my style and results in assimilation and hopefully moves towards innovation.
I think the takeaway point here is that the opportunities to learn can come from places we might consider to have been our starting points; points we might believe we have progressed from. We never stop learning.
You can find Brendan Ó Sé on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Brendan Ó Sé. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.