Street Photography London Interview: The Inspired Eye's Olivier Duong

Always on the lookout for street photography resources, I came across The Inspired Eye a few months back.

Back then I must have looked for "street photography magazine" or "street photography blog" using Google and they came up. This is one of those street photography websites one wishes they found way earlier. It's highly informative and features some fantastic work, really original stuff from people you've very often not even heard of.

I am guilty myself of sometimes being lazy and tweeting or sharing content either found already on Twitter or from PetaPixel, The Phoblographer, Light Stalkers, and the list goes on... All very nice but not so original (in a way that so many of us tweet the same links).

So if you want fresh street photography related content head to The Inspired Eye (ONLY once you've read my interview with Olivier), it'll be the best way to use 10 minutes of your busy day.

street-photography-interview-1.jpg

Olivier, tell us a little about you. You're half French a little like me aren't you?

Well, my name is Olivier Duong and I am actually a mix. I am Haitian-French-Vietnamese rolled into one. I consider Haiti my home, but when it comes to food, I'm Vietnamese, when it comes to thinking, I'm French. I used to be a graphic designer (still am!) but now I am more of a photographer. I shoot commercially but also do personal work.

street-photography-interview-9.jpg

Is street photography the main genre you shoot? What else are you into?

I always withhold calling myself that because of the broad misconception of what "Street Photography" actually is. What is "Street Photography"? Is something that each and everyone of us should ask themselves. I define the term by giving two alternative names: "Everyday photography" and "Life photography".

So in that sense, I am a street photographer, but I fall more into the documentary spectrum of it.

For the longest time I avoided the term "street photography" by fear of being misrepresented. I'm coming to terms with it, but I make sure whoever is listening understands that "street photography" is like a glove that fits the hand that handles it. A friend of mine likes to say street is an umbrella term covering a multitude of genres, I like to say it's a plastic term that means whatever it means for you.

So my street means travel, documentary, urban, family stuff, etc. Like I said...LIFE photography. I'm also into wedding photography. But the way I approach it is like I do my Street Photography. I'm making it REAL hard for myself by offering a different kind of wedding photography instead of the usual stuff.

But the good thing is, no one is my direct competitor :)

street-photography-interview-5.jpg

Who's behind The Inspired Eye? Can you explain it?

There's only 2 guys behind Inspired Eye, my friend Don Springer and me.  Both of us had ideas that were inside us for a long time, and when we providentially met,  we created the Magazine that we wished existed. We were not the only ones wanting something like that. The response has been nothing short of amazing, the first reactions of many being cuss words.

Inspired Eye is a community based magazine, it's about regular folks like you and me, so that we can see what is possible with a camera and be inspired to do the same ourselves. 

We feature a complete spectrum of photographers from different levels and background. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Kertesz, Bresson, and there's really some good famous shooters out there, but at some point, it gets boring seeing the same people over and over again.

You know that Bresson was originally a painter, and a hunter and all....but what about the photographers that roam the same streets as you? The one who is also a dad? Or an office worker? Photographers need to know that there's photographers like them out there, dealing with the same issues as them, yet making great images wherever they can. Those are our people,. the Inspired Eye folks. Mothers, grandparents, pharmacists.....

Inspired Eye is more than a blog and magazine, it's a Mission. We aim to give the spotlight to photographers like you and me. Should what we do as photographers be any less because we are not famous, we are not getting paid, we don't have work in museums? I hope you can join us in our mission.

street-photography-interview-8.jpg

I'm quite interested by your presets being a Nik Efex user, tell me more about them.

Sure! Coming back to what I said about having ideas a long time ago....Well when I was in school, they gave us an assignment to create a bogus company and brand it. I did so, but I branded something that I knew could be real someday. We created the presets before the magazine, but we still had the same operating value: to create what we wanted to use as presets. 

We use our own stuff, all the images you see here are with them. One guy emailed us all mad because he said we were starving him: He was using the presets so much he didn't want to eat!

street-photography-interview-6.jpg

Who are your readers and where are they mainly from? Who do you hope to attract?

Great question. The answer is: All over the world. Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world, but English is the most widespread. We have readers from France, Turkey, Africa, 
Japan, Philippines,  Russia, etc. Likewise for people who end up in the blog and mag, they are from all over.  We hope to attract more readers from all over at a greater scale. 

What do you think you bring to photography that's unique, what's your USP?

My unique selling point? Well in all honesty my photography is pretty average, so I really can't say I have a USP. I always tell folks photography it's not about being THE best but doing your best and to enjoy it. Do what you love and love what you do. 

Professionally my USP is of course the different kind of wedding photography I offer. But remove the "wedding" part and it's still the average stuff. 

street-photography-interview-10.jpg

What's the most important piece of photographic advice you've ever been given?

Well, the best photography advice wasn't given to me, it was learned the hard way. Here it is:

Your photography is proportionally better in relation with the amount of yourself you put in.

As a Graphic Designer, I had everything down when it came to composition, and I learned all about the working of photography very early. But my images were nothing short of boring.  What was missing was the heart element. Another way to put it: Why the heck do you photograph?


Cheers Olivier!

For more of Olivier's work click here.

Please check out Inspired Eye street photography magazine and the street photography presets as well as Street Shooter, Olivier's partner's website.