An interview with Stockholm based street photographer Jimmy Dovholt, aka Sthlmstreet
I get my inspiration from many street photographers out there, and I’m lucky enough to have been able to ask a few questions to one of they guys that actually turned myself onto street photography.
Jimmy Dovholt, aka Sthlmstreet, is a photographer based in the same town as myself; Stockholm, Sweden.
We do wander the same streets but yet see things so differently with the same focus in mind. Taking photos of urban life where we see it. So with no further delay, lets have a chat with Jimmy to get his personal point of view on the lovely craft of ours.
How did you first get interested in street photography and how long have you been shooting?
It all started when I was in a bad spot in life. It was all work and no play at home and I had no way of relax. By chance, I dug up my old slr and started bringing it with me while walking. I realized that photography really helped me to take my mind off my problems. With the camera, I had no problem turning an afternoon into a major hunt to catch a bee or trying to find the perfect composition for that cigaret butt on the sidewalk.
Bees and butts aside, I live most of my life in the city, so within a year I had started to shoot mainly in the streets of Stockholm. I think it was at this time I first heard about street photography and realized that 1) this was what I was doing and 2) this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It is hard to do well, but when I nailed my first cracker shot I was hooked big time.
Living in Sweden where there is dark many months a year, how much do you rely on the flash when shooting street photography?
I don’t own a flash to go with my X-Pro1, so I would guess the right answer would be “not at all”. I did get a Ricoh GRD 3 a couple of years ago that has a built in pop up flash. I thought I would use it in the dark periods, but instead it turned out to be my main camera shooting night life. I guess I’m to much in love with natural light to start flashing. It has its merits, though. Last november Stockholm had less than twenty hours of sun, so maybe I should reconsider. At least buy one and start flash bombing my self. Light therapy on the go. Remember where you heard it first!
What are you looking for when you are out on the streets? Do you just roam and hope for a good picture or do you find a sweet spot and wait for someone to enter the scene?
I do both. If I find a spot that interests me I tend to stick around for a while. It could be the light or something I previsualized. If I get bored I move on and make a mental note to come back another time. No time to waste – I rather come back another time. When I think of it, I do that a lot. Revisiting the same spot over and over, I mean.
You shoot both in color and black and white. How do you select if the photo should be in color or not?
Most of the time I’ve already set up my mind whether to shoot color or b&w before I start to shoot which changes the way I pick my subjects. On the other hand, I use the benefits of shooting digital to make the final choice in post processing. Usually it is pretty easy to determine this since I rarely feel that an image is equally strong in both color and b&w.
I the beginning of this year I did decide to shoot primarily in color, moving away from black and white as my main choice. For me, shooting in color are more difficult since you add another parameter to learn to handle. All of the color photos you show here are from that project. And what about the desaturated colors? Well, in the winter, you don’t get much color out of anything anyway, so I figured I could try to develop a consistent color palette that would make them look better side by side. That might just be a phase, but right now I love it. And it´s my own secret sauce – no presets.
Do you have any fears when you are out there on the streets with you camera?
Not really. I realized a long time ago that the best way to prepare for trouble is to not fear talking to people when confronted. I have my Street Photography Speech ready, and also a stack of business cards that clearly states that I am a Street Photographer. Most people gets quite interested when I spill it out. The aggressive ones rarely listens at all, so them is better just to ditch. I know I am exercising my right, but my need to educate the masses have its limits.
How often do you shoot on the streets? Do you always bring a camera with you?
I used to shoot on every spare time I had, but lately I have become more focused on fewer excursions but with a more focus mindset. I think I just got tired of shooting the same stretch of the metro to and from work every day. I do try to get out on weekend trips to other cities a couple of times a years though. Nothing beats being airdropped into a new urban area with nothing but your camera and a pair of comfy sneakers.
If you had to recommend only three street photographers that people should have a closer look at, who would they be and why?
Only three? Ok, but I do this way to narrow selection under protest:
Jeff Mermelstein – One of the old guys. An ”absurdist with a sense of humour” as someone once put it.
Dimitris Makrygiannakis – One of the contemporary shooters. A great eye for interesting subjects and a very nice guy. Lives in Sweden, you know!
Trent Parke – This guy owns the light! Parke is a member of the street collective In-Public. If you are into contemporary street photography In-Public is mandatory study.
Daniels note: Thank you Jimmy, for taking your time answering these questions. I personally am looking forward looking whats coming out of your lens in the future as well. I’ll see you on the streets of Stockholm!