All images by Dan Szpara. Used with permission.
Photographer Dan Szpara is the winner of EyeEm’s 2015 Photo Awards for the Street Photographer category, and his body of work shot in Japan documents some of the weirder and crazier things about life there but with a sense of quietness to the scenes.
Before the internet, he used to sit at the mall and people watch–and that lead him to shoot street photography for a while. With that said, you can say that Dan has been honing his craft for a while but without a camera. For him, the world is just plain goofy.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Dan: I was really into Thomassons for a while and started shooting them around Tokyo. Every walk turned into a mad hunt for them–I was obsessed. As it turned out Tokyo has a lot more than weird architecture to shoot. Once I started to pay attention to my surroundings more I was taking lousy pictures of everything stupid thing that caught my eye. After a few years of study and practice here I am now.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into street photography?
Dan: Thinking about it now, I’ve always been doing this–just not always with a camera. As a kid I would just sit in the mall and watch people for hours. Before you judge, remember this was pre-Internet and you can only skateboard or read comic books so long before you need a break. Anyhow, instead of showing my friends photos of what I saw I would recount every bizarre detail in wildly exaggerated stories. I wonder why it never occurred to me to take pictures then.
Phoblographer: Tell us the story behind your winning photo for the Street Photographer; what exactly is going on?
Dan: I wish I knew! I was standing at a crosswalk and saw this guy cruising down the other side of the street. I ran into traffic to take the photo and the next thing I know he was gone. Osaka is a different kind of strange than Tokyo.
Phoblographer: Your work is a mix between documentary and street photography and captures some very bizarre moments. What attracts you to scenes like these?
Dan: I guess you work with what you know. I had a very bizarre upbringing and think most of my subjects remind me of things from my past, though I don’t usually realize this until I look at the files later. For some people the world is beautiful or shit or whatever. For me it’s just plain goofy.