Interview: London Street Photographer Josh Redman

Josh you're a street photographer based in London, could you start by telling us a little about you?

I am a photographer by art and trade, with a nine year background in fine art sculpture and pottery.  I live in London but I travel about for photography jobs. 


When I look at your photos...well...they kind of leave us guessing. I like the fact we are given clues but a lot is left to interpretation. Is that the aim when you shoot?

Well, they might leave you guessing because I'm also guessing. I take photos because like everyone else, I have this constant babble running through my head that isn't fully formed - you could call it pre-thinking.  We mostly ignore it so that we can get on with our lives more easily. Sometimes I see something in real life which is like a real-world distillation of a bunch of pre-thoughts I've had, and that's when I take pictures. The pre-thoughts, when translated into photographs, become static entities that are easier to dissect as they become separate from the noise of our everyday lives. 


You seem very driven by aesthetics too? I love that shot of the curtain flying in the wind. It's very graceful and beautiful for something that really...shouldn't be.

Yes, that was a beautiful curtain!  I had to take a lot of pictures of that curtain to get the right one. It's something about the moving billowing curvy and netted nature of the curtain, contrasted with the hard spiky qualities of those aerials.  And the pure blue sky which is made strange by a sense of somebody being indoors, which is again made strange by the curtain seeming so desperate to escape the confines of its own rail.  And the hard horizontal cutting of the frame with those bricks, which are punctured by the aerials which look outward but compel the humans to stay indoors. There's no mystery in curtains/bricks/aerials as such, and the reason for its sense of grace is that mundanity combined with the mystery of their composition - why do they look so good together when none of the elements are particularly interesting? 


You shoot other types of photography. Do you think it's important not to confine yourself in one genre?

It's all about what suits the individual.  Rothko did Rothko and Robert Johnson sung the blues - they were radical and exciting without needing to go beyond their own framework.  But I made a conscious decision to try out different ''genres'', because I found that I was particularly keen on capturing fleeting moments out and about.  For a challenge I thought I'd try out something I had no real interest in - landscapes. So I went out with my tripod and ended up loving the challenge and the results proved fruitful. I then moved on to still life, which was a really alien concept to me at the time.  But after a while I got into it, and it just so happens that I get lots of positive comments from my still life and scenic images. I don't do photography for the praise but I'm happy that other people are happy.


What's with that photo of the dog having a wee?

Haha. It was on a busy afternoon on Oxford Street. You can see how the owner is dragging him along but the dog was resolute. It spoke to me about the human/animal tension, where animals are no longer allowed to be animals. They must follow the codes of humans if they are to live on the streets we built for ourselves. I don't campaign for animal rights or for cleaner streets or anything like that - I'm too cynical, but it's something to think about. On top of the subject matter which is obviously part of the image, it's also a picture of colour, proportion, etc...  I wouldn't have shown the picture if, for example, I didn't like the shadow caused by the dog, or the strangely beautiful tiny droplets of urine cascading around the dog's legs (you can only see it on a big print).  My images are always about aesthetics in that respect.


What's your absolute favourite place to shoot in London?

I don't have a favourite place to shoot.  A lot of my pictures are taken in Holloway because that's where I currently live.  I find Shoreditch and Mayfair quite difficult because they are very carefully poised areas - it's as if they live to be photographed, so I find it tricky to get much from it. I've had some good pictures from those places, Mayfair in particular, but I seem to get more from places with less of an overriding style attached to them.


Are you more of a discreet shooter or "in your face"?

I imagine myself as discreet, but I get a bit excited and hop about and duck and dive if I need to get the right shot. Often I'll point my camera discretely and then wait for someone to look at me as I take the shot. If I think someone is going to be agitated by me taking their photo, I won't take the picture. 

Thank you Josh!

For more visit Josh Redman's website!