From selling on the streets, to shooting on the streets.
Today we chat about street photography in the city of London. We bring you the story of two photographers that capture street life perfectly, who as young guys were drawn like a magnet down the wrong path, which as we all know can so easily happen. When this country offers so little choice for people as they grow up and try to find their own way in the world there are difficult choices to be made! Below is their story. We have swapped a fair few messages in the build up to their feature in Xposy.com and they are great guys who are making the most of the Urban Landscape of London.
“Street photography is photography that features the human condition within public spaces and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. The subject of the photograph might be absent of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic. Well for us street urban photography is about capturing the moment while featuring the human condition within a human place. We love to capture candid moments that will otherwise be lost if not captured by the click of our camera. We do not only want to show the city but the people that make the city what it is. In the UK and especially London we have such a diverse community, not just people but also in the surroundings we live in.
Our story is one that starts of in a negative light, but ends up with a positive and happy ending which shows that anyone can change and turn their life around for the better. With positive thoughts, passion, a hard work ethic and the determination to strive for a better life, we have overcome all obstacles and used our experiences to get where we are today.
It all started off when we first met 15 years in the year 2000. We were both young teenagers who grew up in a deprived council estate in Peckham, South East London. After leaving college, we both tried to stay on the straight and narrow working dead end jobs for minimal wage, selling weed on the side just to get by. Fast forward to 2006 – both out of work, no money and signing on at the job center. We knew something had to change.
Coming from where we’re from, selling drugs and making quick money is a disturbing yet ironically normal way of living. So in adapting to our surroundings and becoming a product of our environment, we chose the easy way out which at the time seemed like the only choice we had. This continued until July 2010 when we both went to jail for the mistakes we had made. While in jail we both took positive steps to better ourselves, using courses on offer to give us a positive life. One we could be proud of. Christian was released in 2012 and Liam 2014.
Chris was unemployed for the first year of his release struggling to find a job. Within the time of us being released, Christian was and still is working as a caretaker. Eight months after being released, Liam purchased his Nikon camera to start capturing images to use in his clothing line designs. Chris had just got his new iPhone 6 and after getting inspired by Liam getting his first DSLR camera, Christian set out to see what he could capture on his iPhone. Sharing our captures with each other, we found we had a love and passion for photography we never knew we had in our creative side. In early September 2014, Chirstian bought the same Nikon D3200 as Liam to take a step into the world of photography. Both armed with our Nikons using our 18-55mm kit lenses we set out on our first shoot to see what we were really capable of.
We headed to Hyde park in Central London. That day we mainly shot landscapes and nature with the occasional picture including people in the shot, which we now know added another dimension to composition in the photo. By October that same year we started trying to take as much knowledge as we could to do with photography, from watching YouTube videos to reading books like Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Series. We also were going out every weekend – Central London being our favoured destination. You could describe our early work as Urban Street photography but we were also intrigued by nighttime long exposures. We both started sharing our work on a smartphone app called Eyeem.
November the 1st 2014 is a day we will forever remember as the day we wanted to become street photographers. Whilst on the London Eyeem Global Adventure, which is for those that don’t know a Global meet by a group of photographers in most of the major cities in the world to go out and shoot their city all in one day, we came by Eyeems team representative, Bruges c-m. We met up in Shoreditch, which is known for its diverse culture and street art and became our stomping ground in the months to come. Going out that day and actually capturing real street photography was an eye opening experience, which was made easier by being with a group of people doing the same thing. We now took our studies and aimed it towards street photography. We learnt a lot about street photography from Eric Kim, learning how to approach from Bruce Gilden while loving the style of Henri Cartier Bresson. As Robert Capa said, “if it ain’t good enough, you ain’t close enough”, and we intended to get as close as possible. For us, the perfect choice was the 50mm 1.8g Nikon lens. Throughout December we continued practicing techniques, watching videos, doing night shoots and enjoying the festive season. We had decided to become street photographers and also started to promote ourselves as event photographers, creating a Facebook page under the name of Cross and Stennett photography. We had also created Facebook pages dedicated to street and urban photography under the names Chris Cross photos and Ljsxstreetshots. We shared our work on Instagram where we had accumulated a healthy following.
Fast forward to the present day and we are now not just out shooting and sharing work, but are actually working on one of our first projects, one being called “Breaking down Bricklane”. We are receiving great and truly appreciated feedback on our work and look forward to sharing our journey and future projects with you and the world.”
“A big thank you go’s to the biggest inspiration in my life,my fiancée,Vineta Purina.thank you for being my rock.” Chris.