My name is Paul Mei, born and raised in Athens, Greece. In 1989 I earned my Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Systems from Brunel University, London, UK. I have been involved with photography since my early 20s. In 2016 this interest turned into a deep passion, when I came across the documentary on Vivian Meier’s life and work. Since then I have been delving into the world of street photography, familiarizing myself with the work of international photographers.
During this quest I came to appreciate the work of several international street photographers. My curiosity created an urge to visit many countries like Israel, Turkey, Italy, India among many. Ever since my first trip, in Israel in January 2018, I felt an affinity that immediately bonded me with each country I visited. For every frequent travel ever since I have been privileged to meet many charismatic photographers with whom I have established an excellent rapport. My association with them has given me the opportunity to hone and develop my street photography skills.
Tell me something about you which nobody knows?
I had many ambitions in my early life and a strong one was to live in different countries that would provide me with different and exciting opportunities, even considering living abroad forever. My tour started in 1984 when I went to London to study Applied Computer Systems. I continued moving to different counties following career opportunities, United Kingdom, France, USA, Cyprus. Between 1984 and 2001, 17 years, on average I was moving to a new home once a year. Fate though brought me back to my country.
Please share your childhood dream and funny incidents if any.
When I was a kid, I always dreamed to be a technician and an engineer. When I grew up and approaching the end of my high school, I decided to become a computer specialist. Why? Because most of the students I knew had an interest in this “new thing”. Little I knew, computers and technology became my passion that followed me in my whole career.
What is your view about photography?
Photography is a way of expressing your visions in everyday life and your surroundings. It is an art that expresses your unique view.
Which genre of photography do you like/practice and why?
I always liked photography, but I was never inspired enough to make it part of my life. In 2016 I discovered street photography which opened a huge window of opportunities and eventually became my passion. Street photography for me is exciting because I can capture life moments that cannot be reproduced, they are unique and must be candid.
Almost 90% of photographers find it hard to earn money out of photography. Any tips that might help photographers to earn money?
Since I’m not a professional photographer I don’t have much to say in that aspect but making money out of photography is indeed not easy. These days the fields that offer compensation in photography are far from being art. In other words, your work is dictated by your customers needs and often you are not allowed to express yourself. Your images become more technically correct rather than artistic. Should you want to make money then you have to commit yourself into photography as a profession and above all it must be a passion and have a creative eye that’s unique.
Which photography agency you like and why? … if any?
Magnum Photos and the reason is simple. The agency is one of the oldest and the photographers selected are of high calibre. Their work is simply exemplary and proven.
Does good camera play a major role in photography?
The camera in photography is just a tool. Many young photographers believe that expensive high quality gear will make them photographers. First and foremost, it is the photographer who creates an image. A good camera without passion and inspiration in photography cannot create any good images. It is the mindset and the vision of a frame that makes a photographer great, not his camera. Once you master the art then a good camera can take you to the next level.
Share three names of the photographers who has inspired you a lot?
- Vivian Meier
- Garry Winogrand
- Robert Capa
Does social media like Facebook, Instagram, Google and some sites like 500px, Flickr helps to get the attention of the viewers in larger aspect?
Yes and no. You do get exposed to larger audiences, but you should look for inspiration and try to network with photographers who can direct you to the right direction.
Do you think that a quality workshop can change the mindset or point of view of any photographer and why? Should we attend quality workshop frequently?
A quality workshop is always a good way to improve your skills, once you are ready to accept criticism and assimilate the knowledge offered. On the other hand, if you attend any kind of workshops to learn how to best set your camera to take good shots then you have missed the point. Photography is an art, it’s not engineering.
What is the difference between a good photographer and bad photographer?
A good photographer has imagination and a vision of a frame. He/she is vigilant to point the camera the right moment to capture the frame and has a vision of the compo. A bad photographer is the one who does not think before capturing an image and just documents a scene.
What is the difference between a good photograph and a bad photograph?
A good photograph has the right composition and exposure. It tells a story or presents an image unique to the photographer, i.e. it’s not a usual theme copied from others. A bad photograph does not have any imagination, or the content doesn’t have a story telling or is missing the right elements to look stunning.
What should be our moto towards photography- Self-satisfaction or viewers’ attention/satisfaction?
I believe confidence is even more important than self-satisfaction. Be able to know yourself and trigger your mind to frame your image. Attention comes afterwards.
What is meant by comfort zone in photography? How it ruins the carrier?
In street photography your comfort zone plays an especially important role. You must break it in a way to overcome your fear getting close to your subjects and capture the moments by being either undetected or not aggressive so that you don’t lose the candid shot.
What is your opinion about documentary photography? Do you like it? If yes, why?
In my opinion, street photography and documentary are overlapping. Although I am a street photographer, I cannot ignore documentary because I have an interest in real life situations. It speeds up my adrenaline and gives me a chance to document moments that are certainly unique. They give a message to my audience.
Light, decisive moment, content, ambience, a good gear, according to you which is most essential element in photography?
By far the decisive moment then the rest and of course last of all the gear.
Are you attached to any particular brand or brand ambassador if yes, specify?
As of May 2019 I have become an official Fuji X Photographer.
Do you feel any pressure being an ambassador of any brand? If yes, how do you cope up with the pressure? Does this tag help to get more audience?
Although I am a Fuji X-Photographer I don’t feel any pressure because I have confidence on my gear and definitely on the company I represent. Someone could say that you are bond to the brand and that limits your options in the gear you can use. If you have made a conscious decision selecting a brand, you should stick to your decision and take full advantage of the relation.
If you were not a photographer then what would it be?
That is an easy question. A computer engineer and developer, although I do have a career in this direction.
Concept and definition in photography is getting changed every day.What is your opinion about future of photography?
Like any other type of art, street photography is evolving too. Since the early days of photography, the options for camera bodies and lenses have increased vastly. As these options increase then photography is changing in terms of technics. Taking advantage of these technics is the key to new styles of street photography. On the other hand, documentary is bond to a standard style, such as using a 35mm or 50mm lens.
Which food do you like the most? Does it help you to explore more?
My favourite food of all is Asian food. An interest in this kind of food will guide me to explore the Asian countries and definitely the local cultures.
Any message for the young photographers
Don’t get excited with technology. Just grab a decent camera that fits your budget and start exploring photography. Look for the passion and inspire yourself by the work of known photographers, but never copy their work. Create your own style.
Are you engaged to any project-based work?
Like everyone else these day, COVID-19 has postponed a couple of my projects. Just before the lockdowns though I had started experimenting with flash photography which introduced into a different world of street photography. This has become now an ongoing project and I intend to create a few series that will be unique to my style.
What is your big achievement in photography?
To create my own style and inspire young photographers.
According to you what is the best photography magazine?
According to you name two best Facebook photography group.
I would like to name groups that relate strictly to street photography:
Kindly share top five Instagram account everybody should follow.
Share your goal in photography.
I have several goals. I don’twanna stop shooting, don’t stop experimenting, don’t stop networking with fellow street photographers and most of all keep inspired but also keep inspiring the young generation.
Role of smile in photography- share your views
I have a moto regarding this. Street photography sometimes is aggressive since I like to take close up shots of situations. My subjects sometimes become uncomfortable. Well… take the shot and then smile so you don’t lose the candidness but still keep your cool.
You can find Paul Mei the Web:
About Raj Sarkar
Raj Sarkar is a Street Photographer and Educator. He holds MBA Degree in Finance and Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Application. He is the founder of World Photographic Forum, and Curator of APF magazine Street Photography. He loves exploring possibilities on street. His main object is to Freeze the emotions and actions of people.
He delivers the lecture on photography in various Colleges and institutions like IIM (Indian Institution of Management), Union Chappell school etc. He also conducts countless workshops on street photography. He also curates’ various exhibition and he has also been appointed as a judge in the various competition.
Raj is a recipient of various awards, recently he has won the International Puskar Mela Contest, Winner Wiplay Photo contest “India in Color”. Finalist of Garuda World Photo contest and HIPA and his work has been exhibited worldwide. He reviews various gadgets and camera including Fuji x camera for Fujifilm. His article has been published in all renowned magazine and websites in the world like Fujilove, Street Photography Magazine, USA, Viewfind, APF Magazine, Smart Photography, Better Photography, Asian Photography, Chiiz magazine, Saveus, 121 clicks, National Geographic and more. Recently his photographs have been showcased in London Street Photography Festival and Indian Photo Festival.
You can find Raj Sarkar on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Paul Mei. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.