Interesting captures on street with an exuberant eye for details and composition. Sometimes vibrancy and the architectural aspects and on the other hand irresistible characters within the frame. Alison McCauley is a Geneva-based documentary photographer. Among other projects, she is currently working on a long-term project documenting the lives of asylum seekers in Geneva.
Alison has a fine arts background and holds degrees from the University of Southampton, the Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design in Geneva and the Open College of the Arts. She is an associate of the Royal Photographic Society and a member of the international collective Street Photographers. A native English speaker, Alison is also fluent in French and Portuguese. She is available for commissions and assignments worldwide.
Few words about Alison McCauley?
I’m a documentary photographer who lives in Geneva. I like to get out of Geneva as often as possible.
How did Photography happen to you and have you ever wondered why photography?
I was a painter for years but I became frustrated by the way painting isolated me for so much of the time. I think photography is a much better fit for me because it combines my two great passions of making images and watching people.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I really don’t think about style. When I envisage a photo project, I think how I will best communicate what I think and feel about the people, location or story that I’m photographing. I would hate to limit myself to a certain way of shooting. I choose people and projects that interest me and appeal to me, so I would hope that a feeling of my positive connection with my subjects comes through in my pictures.
Your street captures are very vibrant and most importantly subjective, could you elaborate your vision when on streets?
My relationship with street photography has really changed a lot over the past few years. I used to have an obsession with composition and my aim used to be to take the best-looking shots I could. I’m currently uninterested in street photography per se. What interests me now is the idea of telling stories with a series of photographs. I use a combination of street, documentary and portrait photography to do that. I have lost interest in singe images – my own and those of any other photographer. Currently the street photographs I take are the ones that will help me to tell the story that I’m interested in and often they are just quiet little images that couldn’t stand alone.
What according to Alison (or any photographer) would be the most challenging aspect of street photography?
I think it depends so much on your personality. I love feeling slightly out of my depth so as soon as I’m comfortable with something I look to see what else I could do. I think this is why I love working on documentary projects. There are so many different parts to a project. I enjoy researching a project, planning it, gaining access to the subjects and eventually taking the pictures. Then later there is the editing and sequencing and the final part, a challenge I’m still fumbling with, selling the work.
What is a good photograph and what does it take to produce one?
The idea of what constitutes a good photograph is so subjective. I would rather be concerned about whether or not a photograph communicates what I want it to communicate. Maybe that answers your question!
My inspiration comes from my subjects, the people I choose to photograph.
An aging Nikon D700 + 20mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses and a Leica M-E with a 28mm. I also use compacts, either as lightweight backups or for the days when I’m not sure I’ll need a camera.
Your future goals and ambitions?
To carry on photographing the stories that interest me and to avoid bankruptcy by selling them. I do have a couple of other exciting possibilities in the pipeline, but I’m too superstitious to talk about them until they’re certain.
Any final thoughts or words of advice for our young aspirants in this field?
Learn about the type of photography that you enjoy, understand your intentions and respect your subjects. Other than those three things, you can do what you want to do. Once you know your stuff don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. I don’t like hearing or reading that something can’t or shouldn’t be done or that only a certain type of photography is valid. If we listened to those people, everyone would take the same pictures. If you have a valid reason for shooting street performers with an 80mm lens, go for it. Intent is everything.
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You can find Alison McCauley on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Alison McCauley. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.