Thomas Leuthard | Street Photography Interview

Thomas please tell us a little about you

My name is Thomas Leuthard and I'm a street photographer from Switzerland. I keep shooting on the streets for over 5 years and last years I was travelling a lot to enjoy my passion. I always worked in IT to earn enough money to pay for my passion. Lately I reduced to 60% in order to have more time and quality of life. 

street photography thomas leuthard

I read your review of the E-M1 (the camera I shoot with). We don’t focus too much on gear here but is it part of your camera bag?
I'm currently working on a new eBook called "Minimalism in Street Photography" and in this concept there is no bag anymore. :-) But to answer your question, before the end of 2014 my bag still looks like this: 2 Olympus OM-D E-M10 with one prime lens each (17mm f/1.8 and 45mm f/1.8), business cards, lens cleaning towel, 6 spare batteries, 2 spare memory cards, head phones, pen & paper, something against head ache and tissues. As already mentioned, the bag concept is under construction.

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You shoot primarily in black and white, is that right? What’s your reason for this choice?
Yesterday I talked with a guy on a photo walk who was colour blind. I wish I could give this as an answer to this always repeating question. But the truth is that I don't like colours and there are only very few photographs which work in color for me. I have set up my camera to display my screen in B&W in order to better see what I get. Sure I shoot in RAW to get a coloured result, but still, this would not be necessary. 

street photographer thomas leuthard

How do you, as a photographer, keep your motivation going year after year? What drives you?
After more than 5 years motivation is the biggest challenge on the street. The things you see are repeating and your work is getting redundant. I try to shoot other genres (portraits of my niece, concerts, long exposure, close-up) of photography in order to recover from the street. I even find myself travelling to a big city not being motivated to go out and shoot. I try to do some project work in order to keep me reinventing myself. I just started a "50 Days of Instagram" project today, as I'm fed up shooting with my OM-D.

thomas leuthard street photographer

I see you teach workshops. How important are street photography workshops?
For me they are not important at all. For the people who attend them, it seems to be necessary. The longer a shoot, the less I think you need a workshop. Street photography is a self teaching thing and you can only learn it by going out, observing and shooting a lot. Of course you can learn the basics in a workshop, but still if it's not in you already, you will never bring it inside out. I strongly believe that street photography is a talent or a gift and you cannot really learn it.

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What other ways of learning could you recommend?
I recommend of doing what you like doing and where you feel good. You should not want to shoot street photography because it's cool. You should do it, because you are interested in observing, watching people and walking a lot through crowded cities at any time of the day. There is no best way of learning. Everyone learns in a different way. But practicing a lot is the key to success. Not just one day a month, but for a total of 10'000 hours, if you have read "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell.

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You’re from Switzerland but shoot a little everywhere. Favourite place for street photography?
I liked Istanbul, Mumbai and Porto. I like the places which are not that famous for photography. Everyone wants to go to New York, London or Paris. I went to places like Yerevan, Marrakesh, Addis Ababa, Riga and Bucharest although sometimes you cannot really shoot at those places. But it was always interesting in some way. 

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What would be the one single piece of advice you wish someone gave you the day you first picked up a camera?

Put it P-Mode and go out to shoot until the battery is empty. Never ever talk with anyone about your tool but rather about your photos.


Thanks very much Thomas!