Thomas Leuthard (85mm) is a street photographer based between Zurich and Luzern in Switzerland. He decided to focus on capturing people in public situations in 2009, using 85mm lens and a Nikon D90 camera. After a while, the photographer realized that the lens are to long for this purpose, so he changed to 50mm, but he kept the technique that evokes irony in situations or intense emotions. Recently Thomas, changed the gear again to a Lumix GF1 and 20mm lens, insisting on being discrete when taking pictures that talk about the society and express social issues.
Thomas recently launched a free book called: Going Candid…An unorthodox approach to Street Photography, so we decided to contact him to find out more about it, about his techniques, inspiration and creative process. Check out the interview below to find out all the details.
Tell us about something about 85mm Street Photography?
I started 2 years ago with an 85mm lens to shoot photos in the streets. I wanted to build up an new personality and style in photo forum in the German part or Europe. That was how 85mm was born. In the last 2 years I got closer and closer to people and I now do very close candid portraits with a 50mm on my Nikon D7000. Since about 9 months I shout most of my streets with a Lumix GF1 and a 20mm pancake lens. This kit is much smaller and discrete to shoot in the streets. I want to be as stealthy as possible that people don't really take notice of me. I also dress like a tourist which makes it easier working with the people.
"Street photography is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." -Thomas Leuthard
What’s your creative process like?
Well, I shoot people in the streets. I try to make an interesting photo telling a story about ordinary life of ordinary people in cities around the world. This may sound a bit boring, but when you love life and love to observe, then this is a wonderful way of spending your spare time. I also like to travel and this is a perfect combination to street photography.
Where do you find inspiration and why you like photography?
I'm walking down the street and see things other don't even realize. I get my inspiration from looking at other photos or just by travelling around the world to cities I've never been. I also share my knowledge with other photographers and this makes me think a lot about my style of working and my behavior. This helps thinking about new things and inspires me as well. I love street photography as it is so unpredictable, it gives me a lot of pleasure and it let me travel around the world. The best thing is that you can take a wonderful street photo in less than a second which gives you heebie-jeebies looking at it.
"The shorter your focal length is, the bigger your balls have to be..." - Thomas Leuthard
What are some tips you could give to people that really like your work?
Get out to the streets often and shoot a lot. It's only the practical part that makes a photographer on the streets. You cannot learn it from books or the Internet. You have to feel the street and look into people's eyes. Sure, you can read my eBook as a start and an inspiration, but then you have to go out and shoot, a lot.
Can you name some of the photographers that inspires you and why?
Actually I don't like to talk about the old masters. It's a different time, it's a different way of photography and I don't want to copy their work. Sure I like some of Vivian Maier's work. It's nice to look at the old days and how people were dressed. But the inspiration comes from different photos or just from things you see while walking down the streets.
What can you tell us about your latest street photography book?
It's was a start for me, a start into book writing. I wrote some blogs on 500px for the last 2 months and decided to do more and make a book out of it. For me writing goes easy and when I'm in the mood it just writes by itself. I'm already writing a second book which will come out in about one month time. For me writing down my knowledge is a kind of therapy and also an inspiration to new things. I start thinking about so many things which bring me further somehow. Of course it helps to other people getting into street photography. The best thing about it is that you can download it for free. This makes street photography even more affordable. You can download the book from 85mm website.
Mr. Thomas Leuthard, thanks a lot for your effort to answer all the question, for the spectacular pictures that you made and, for the valuable information shared with lots of photography lovers. Good luck with all your work. Don't hesitate to contact us when you will launch your next project or book. We will be more than happy to share it with our community.