Candid Portrait Photography Tips by Thomas Leuthard
Thomas Leuthard is a Swiss photographer who travels constantly in order to find the perfect moments. He primarily takes candid street photography in black & white. He gained popularity soon after releasing his 3 e-books on Street Photography, which have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. If you want to improve your photography, then definitely read this interview to find out how street photography can help you improve your skills.
How and why did you start doing street photography?
This is a bit difficult to answer. I did not start it from one day to another. I think my interest in street photography started in summer 2008 when I was working for 3.5 weeks at the Olympics in Beijing. There I realized what is going on on the streets and how diverse humanity can be. It took me another year to really start of my street photography career in May 2009.
Why would you recommend street photography to another photographer?
Because it’s a challenge to shoot candid moments on the street. You cannot predict and you cannot setup something. You have to take the scene as it is and you have to take the light how it is. It’s all very fast and often you have only one shot. But you have many different opportunities when you see them. It’s different every day and every time you go out with your camera.
What’s your thought process when you go out into the streets to take photos?
Sometimes I have something on my mind; sometimes I just go out without thinking about anything. The best days are the ones where you are completely relaxed and don’t have anything bothering you. But you should always have a target on your mind in order to focus your eyes on seeing something. If you don’t focus, you normally don’t see anything or you see too many things.
What’s in your gear bag?
Two Olympus OM-D, one with a 20mm and one with a 45mm lens, 6 spare batteries, a lens cleaning cloth and some business cards. I try not to carry too much stuff with me. Normally one camera with a 35mm lens is fine, but since I like portraits and details, I also need a longer lens for that.
What are three ways a photographer can improve their street photography?
– Shoot as often as you can
– Try to do projects (10 shots of something)
– Travel to other cities where you have not been
Do you have any favorite places to take photos?
I love to shoot in railway stations, since there are so many different people. You will see everything there and it’s always different. People are often in a rush and will not really take notice of you.
You have a large following on social media. How did so many people hear about you?
I wrote a book about street photography which was downloaded over 100,000 times in the first months. It seems that there was a need for such a book at that time. The book was for free, maybe people follow me because of that and not because of the book’s content.
How did you get so many people to download your free books?
Good question. Maybe because it was good, maybe because it was free or most probably because it was good AND free. The main reason is that there were no how-to books about street photography available on the market at that time. So my book came just at the right time.
Is photography your profession or just a hobby?
It’s just a hobby, although I spend about the same amount of time carrying it out. Sometimes I say that I’m a professional photographer who works in IT as a side job, but actually it’s the other way round. For me it’s important to have a job and have a hobby. Furthermore I could not earn the same amount of money with my photography.
What inspired you to write your three books?
I started writing a blog about street photography and someone suggested me “Why don’t you write a book?” I thought about it and was not sure, who much work it would be. But in the end it turned out to be quite simple by just publishing it as a free PDF from my website. After publishing the first one, I couldn’t stop writing and published a second one. The third one was just about a special type of photography I call “Candid Street Portraiture.”
Check out more candid portrait photography tips and work of Thomas Leuthard online.