Chris Retro is a street-photographer from Berlin. He use Canon DSLR and Fujifilm XT10 to capture a moment in time that will never come again.
I’m Chris Retro, a street-photographer and creative soul, living in Berlin, Germany. I've come from a very creative background, where I used to DJ internationally and produce and remix music for clubs back in the heyday of London’s hedonistic clubbing days. My music tastes are very eclectic and varied, and I find that influences my photographic style quite a lot. Now I’m an avid street photographer, walking around interesting cities and places, capturing interesting portraits and situations that I hope will at least tell a story or narrative within my work. A wise man once said that not all people trusts paintings, but people believe photographs.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
Well, my Father has always been into photography, and had a classic Leica back in the day. He used to carry it around talot, taking lots of great black and white (35mm) photos, which I adore to this day. One of my fondest memories was being at my Grandparents house back in the day, and they used to have a metal box full of slides (negatives and mounted transparencies) which I was always eternally fascinated with. Those black and white tones still make me nostalgic looking at them today. I just love the emotions that a photograph can instil, capturing a moment in time that can be recollected for years to come.
For as long as I can remember, I've always been fascinated with photography and what could be captured on film. In fact, there is a self portrait of me holding an old 35mm film camera taking a picture of myself in a mirror in my grandparents’ back bedroom nearly 30 years ago now. After finding that printed photo recently it made me quite nostalgic, so after coming home from a shoot I decided to recreate it, and do a ‘then and now' comparison.
Somehow we are all connected by photography, we have all grown up with it. Pictures of our Parents, Grandparents and loved ones and travels. It was the late, great Henri Cartier-Bresson that said ‘Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again’
What inspires your photography?
Oscar Wilde once said that the true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. I find inspiration by just walking around interesting parts of cities, and looking for things that might tell a story.
People fascinate me, as do cities, so there is always a never ending source of inspiration. Wandering around with my camera, I’m documenting life, and for me it's all about capturing a moment in time that will never come again, yet is captured on film (digitally these days) so that others can have a window into that world and relive that very same moment a long time after it has passed. When I go on a photo-walk, I find that I inherently look at the world a different way than I would if I was without my camera.
What does it mean to you?
Photography really means the world to me. I think as photographers we can be quite precious about our work sometimes. Being quite a perfectionist myself, I never put anything out that I’m not personally happy with, so to know that people like the work I do put out is the greatest compliment you can get. It's my passion and somehow a never ending quest to keep bettering myself to continually do better work for my shows, portfolios and image library. I think it's the human condition to want to share, and to get positive feedback and on my work is immensely gratifying and spurs me on to do more.
What cameras do you shoot with and why?
I started out with Canon DSLR’s, and as good as they are, I quickly found out that they were impractical when comes to ‘real’ street photography. So I went ‘mirrorless’ and upgraded to a Fujifilm XT10.
I think it's a fantastic camera, so light and compact and perfect for street shoots. Lens wise I have a selection, but my favorite is the Fujinon 27mm pancake lens right now. It's excellent for close up street portraits and for capturing those moments that you simply can't with bigger lenses and cameras. There's a famous quote by the awesome Bruce Gilden [Magnum Photos] who said ‘If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it's a street photograph’
I do have some other lenses, but I just love how up close and personal you can get with smaller pancake lenses and the definition you can get with them. Part of the art of street shooting is the fact that in most cases (depending on your style of course) you want to remain fairly inconspicuous, and smaller prime lenses allow you to do this well.
What is your favorite image so far and why?
Hm, that's a tough one. Naturally I'm very close to my work, and that makes it intrinsically biased for me of course. I do have a few favorites, but one I can share I've with you is a photo that I call ‘The Lady With The Cheeky Tongue’
I was in Berlin one day just waiting for something to happen, when all of a sudden I turned around, and boom, there is this wonderful lady sticking her tongue out at me. Wow. Completely natural and something that has never happened before or since. It made my day! 🙂
Any anecdotes you can share?
Of course. Well it's always interesting walking the streets, and I was in Berlin recently when I asked two ladies for their portrait. They obliged and it made my day, and was one of the best street portraits I have taken.
What are you looking for in street photography?
It was the late, great Ansel Adams that said ‘A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.’
When I'm walking with my camera, I let life unfold before me and try and capture the most interesting things around me. What I look for is something interesting, something that’s not just a cityscape or building, but something different so that the person looking at the finished image might have to think or question it. I do believe we are all influenced by our own tastes, of music, culture, art and film, and that helps us as photographers grow. When you ‘think’ you've just captured an awesome shot, it gives you a buzz and a great feeling for the rest of the day. When the light is right, and the magic happens, it's fantastic.
What are your future goals?
To keep expanding on my work, to challenge myself to create interesting photos and collections. I'm also very interested in doing some gallery shows, as I have a very interesting body of work, and I’d really like to show it in other cities with reputable galleries. Currently I'm also looking for a suitable agent, as I feel it's the right time for me. In addition to this I also give talks on street photography, covering various aspects and topics, from learning from the masters, to tips and tricks on the streets.
I will also be hosting a series of hands on workshops in Berlin, Paris and London soon, covering many useful skills for beginners to intermediate and aspiring street photographers, teaching essential skills to help gain confidence and grow as a streettog 🙂
More details can be found here
Any closing comments?
Well I'd just like thank Olivier, Don, Neno and all the super guys over at The Inspired Eye for having me 🙂
Keep up the amazing work and I look forward to working with you again.
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