Roy Rozanski’s: Finding the Story in a Street Photograph

All images by Roy Rozanski. Used with permission.

Photographer Roy Rozanski is a 37 year old photographer who hails from Israel. He calls Tel Aviv his “main hunting ground” because it contains “a highly versatile street life packed full of different vibes, sounds and smells. This fact is impressive on its own especially for such a small city in comparison to some other big metropolis.” Through his work, he tries to find stories and to that end ignores all the more artistic entities that many other shooters see.

He claims influence from Martin Parr and Elliott Erwitt for example. “I am always looking to represent the street life through my own looking glass.”

To Roy, shooting street photography is the most challenging type of photography because nothing is staged or rehearsed beforehand. So using his Fujifilm X-T1, he goes about looking for stories.

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Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

Roy: Photography in general is a relatively new passion of mine. I’ve only been photographing for
a couple of years (started at 2013) following the documentaries about Francesca Woodman and Helmut Newton both are great photographers and their body of work is just captivating.

Street photography still wasn’t on my mind and I started shooting landscapes, sunsets by the sea in particularly. After a while I realized that during my long waits for the perfect landscape shot I tried to make lemonade out of lemons and started to combine the human factor in my shots. That’s when I switched from landscape photography to street photography. I gave up my tripod, ND and polarizer filters and only kept my camera with a wide lens.

Phoblographer: Do you ever try to explore deeper into some of the stories and moments that you find?

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Roy: No. the story that I try to capture only lasts as the time I have to press the shutter I don’t linger on to explore what happened after I get my desired shot. I think I intrude into their life too much as it is so I let them be and move on.

Phoblographer: Do you ever interact with the people you photograph? Have there ever been any sort of negative reactions to what you’re doing?

Roy: Generally, I don’t interact with my subjects. I am a bit of a shy person who lacks the street smart and aggressiveness that Bruce Gilden has. I try to maintain neutrality in the street life in order to capture the moment with the least artificial interferences. I long found out that a smile will get you a long way so I try to smile a lot to people in the street so they can be at ease and leave their guards down. I always try to capture the situation as close as possible following the famous Robert Capa’s saying. It comes with its own perils since people react differently when you get close to their personal space while most don’t even understand my photographic interest of them. Sometimes I act like I am shooting beside them and not focusing on them. You need to develop your own set of tools that will help you to get closer to your subjects. For instance I try to act like a tourist visiting the town.

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Also you need to form some sort of an exit plan to get you out of a sticky situation. I try to smile and back slowly away.

Sometimes I failed in doing so and my flounder exit plan becomes other photographers’ capturing moment. I already carry my share of “battle scars” from shooting people too close on the street.
On the other hand, after spending so much time on the street you get to form some sort of relationships with individuals and you incorporate them into your photowalk. I don’t always have to shoot them but I make a point to meet them and exchange a few words.

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