PIL – PEOPLE IN LONDON
Paul Marshall’s photos of Londoners
Paul takes photographs of compelling strangers accosted on the city’s daytime streets. Here’s some of our favourites – a short question and answer session with Paul himself follows at the end.
BOP: How long have you been taking portraits?
Paul Marshall: “I started snapping about ten years ago. I had a somewhat large record collection, that was doing nothing apart from being an expensive ornament. So I decided to sell the lot to Kristina Records and an Italian record dealer. I invested the money in a Nikon system, and then a Canon set-up. Then I moved onto the big boys like a Hasselblad MF, and now I use a Phase One medium format camera.
I also have a studio set-up in my flat with Elinchrom lighting Eizo monitors and all manner of of other things to long to list. So it’s been a progression to get where I want to be.”
Street photography with post-production is quite a distinctive style, how do you get it to work?
“Yeah, all my images are heavily edited. I enjoy the retouching process. I like going deep into my photos and dragging out details in the eyes and face, messing with the colours, getting a certain look… creating something interesting to feed the viewer’s eye.
The image obviously has to be good to start with. If it’s not it just won’t work. It’s that saying ‘Shit in, shit out’, so you have to ruthless with street portraits. I can take 20-30 portraits and might choose one – if I’m lucky. I always hand over my card and ask the subject to contact me if they want their photo, and I will jazz it up and send it to them wether I use it or not.”
Where does your initial inspiration come from; where do you find your subjects?
“I’m inspired by the people, obviously. The multicultural society, the buildings, the mass of people to choose from.
Usually I will find a backdrop I like. Say, for instance, a wall. I will plot there and let the river of people flow past, every now and then getting my crook out and and yanking someone out of the crowd.
In my most polite Surrey accent, I will ask them if they would like their photo taken. More often than not they say yes. They see my big camera and they know I’m dead serious. That helps a lot – you couldn’t do it with iPhone, that’s for sure.