Modern Times 4 years ago

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In this article Larry Hallegua talks with Peter Kool.

‘Modern Times’ investigates how modernism is infiltrating the world in which we reside. Photos taken during January 2014.



Peter Kool


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QLarry, I sometimes imagine being able photographing during the silent years; thinking it might be easier then to make a nice photo instead of in these cacophonic modern times.

Do you share the same feeling?


AShooting in central London I often find a lot of people wired to their Ipad or phone, sometimes while walking! It doesn’t get duller for the street photographer. Yes I agree Peter, I think it would have been easier to get a good shot, I expect a more open and charming landscape to shoot, and much more social interaction back then, a street photographer’s dream! Also, I wonder how people would have responded back then to seeing me holding a camera, would they care so much what I was up to?


Untitled by Larry Hallegua

QOh yes, in that matter I clearly feel the more negative attitude of many people in contrast to the eighties, when I started to take pictures.

In a time where everyone “peeps” at everyone in the magazines, Facebook, YouTube and so on, don’t you think it’s a little hypocrite of these people who don’t like photographers?


A Yes, hypocrisy is rife in these ‘modern’ times. Protection seems to be a common theme in response too, this notion that everything needs to be protected, protect the planet, protect your family, protect your property, protect your country, protect your identity, and now, protect what people see you do on the street. In order for the last one to work, we’d all need to walk around averting our gaze from anything in the slightest incriminating, this of course applies to everything one does, and of course as you say, remove a lot of high rise cameras that look down on the population without the majority of them even aware. J So what do you think is the future for street photography Peter, how long do we have before the walls close down on us? In the UK it looks like it could be around the corner.


Untitled by Larry Hallegua

QMay the God of photography preserve us from this Larry. People will always take photos I think, but there probably will be more rules we have to break and who doesn’t these days; the only difference is that ‘we’ don’t do anything wrong.

But in spite of all the negativism, many photographers have an eye for humor in the streets. You also have a great eye in that field; do you go on the road searching for humor or do these photos arise spontaneously?


AThanks Peter, I’d say that a lot of the time they arise spontaneously, or develop from something I initially notice, very often in fact something or someone will catch my eye, and then if I’m lucky something interesting may transpire, if I find the subject worth spending more time with then I try to be more patient. I also enjoy being on the move, especially if it’s quite a busy place, scoping the action around me, snapping as I go. But I guess I don’t have one particular way, just what feels right at the given time.


Untitled by Larry Hallegua

QI know the feeling; the urge to be on the move all the time coming from some kind of restlessness I think; we even move to other countries to shoot. You have been to Mumbai , India recently and made some great shots, but didn’t  this overwhelming culture change make it more difficult to take photos?


AYes, particularly in Mumbai, where there’s an intensity in the street, this was very difficult, I was only there a week and I think one needs a longer time in new surroundings to study and soak up the culture and people to really get the most out of their shots.


Untitled by Larry Hallegua


AGreat that you like my snaps Larry. One of my favorites is the man with the eyepatch.

I like it because of the funny “eye connection” between the people in the photo; looks like even the girl in the background has eye trouble.

It was one of those times that everything comes together in the blink of an eye. I was drawn to the guy because of his eyepatch and at the same time I saw this girl cross the street; I wanted her in the picture too. When she was close enough I rushed forward and took the shot; at that time the guy gave me a strawberry with mustard look and the girl made this kind of shy gesture.


QPeter, I love your work, your eye for composition and humour is incredibly strong, I have so many favourites from your photostream. Can you tell me about one that you’re particularly fond of, and why you like it, maybe also about how it occurred?


Untitled by Peter Kool

ALike many of us I’m looking for a little extraordinariness in common life. I’m usually waiting for things to see that are in some way ordered; it’s like in my closet, everything is tidy. That’s why I take very few photos while walking around; too few to my liking, because often something nice happens because of the photographing itself.  So I promise myself often to try and take more photos.

Because I only want to enjoy photography I avoid aggression; when I have the feeling people are not going to like it taking their picture I will not do it, but sometimes the urge to make the photo is stronger than myself. So far I’ve got away with an angry look, but maybe that’s because I’m tall J


QAhh yes, that’s one of my favourites too. The eye connection between the 2 people is spot on, transforming an ordinary scene into something quite special, as Winogrand said “The photograph is not what is photographed, it’s something else”. So many of your shots play with the viewer’s imagination in this way, opening up lots of stories. What things on the street do you look for when taking a good shot, and what do you try and avoid?


Untitled by Peter Kool

AFor example, take the picture here of the lady in the beauty parlor; you may say it’s unethical to expose here like that, but old age or the desire to look young again are just common things of the people. The unethical here is the fact that people, for only 10 euro, are promised they can look like Audrey Hepburn; whom, if she was still alive, would be 85 years herself this year. So I think many photos are in fact a registration of the unethical in society. Is it therefore morally incorrect to show these edges of the streets?  To put this photo on the open media to mock with it, now that would be unethical and that’s the difference with 30 years ago. Perhaps that is why many people are now wary of photographers.


QEthics seems to come up time and time again. What ethical boundaries should there be when shooting on the street, and do ethics play a bigger role in street photography now than it used to with all the open media available to the public, such as the internet and phones, does the ‘street photographer’ have a bigger responsibility nowadays as opposed to 30 years ago?


Untitled by Peter Kool

AIf you mean which camera to buy to do street photography, I would say choose one that’s fast.

If you push the button it has to respond immediately. I have two camera’s and one of them I have to wake up in advance when I feel a picture is coming up; I will not reveal the brand, but it is named after a Japanese volcano. Also if you use autofocus, it has to work instantly. So take your time to try it out in the shop and keep in mind that, when you buy one, they are already manufacturing a better successor.

You can consult several sites on the web which perform quality tests.

For street photography itself I would say; let things amaze you and maybe your photos will be amazing.


QThanks Peter, well said! Totally agree. With the onslaught of more and more cameras aimed at this market being produced, it’s clear there seems to be a revival. If you could give only one piece of advice to an aspiring street photographer, what would it be?


Untitled by Peter Kool




Peter’s strong eye for humour and composition, his consistent ability to take simple scenes, highlighting a moment of mundane or ordinary living and transforming them into something more dramatic, absurd or humorous for the viewer, make him one of my favourite street photographers at the moment. Peter’s photos make me want to be a better photographer, they fill me with excitement, amusement and awe, making me wonder, How did he see that? How long did he wait until that happened? What made him stop and notice that? There’s quite a groundswell of street photography activity around nowadays, with a lot of very good players competing for attention, but the best or “Koolest” work will always stand out.


The title of the project may give away that both Larry and me are Chaplin fans, but then who isn’t.

My favorite scene is when Charlie says in a kind of mute way: “You can see now?”  And seeing is what Larry is good at; he sees those little edges of society, sometimes funny, sometimes weird or a little tragic and moulds them into photos. I really can recommend to check out his work, as I enjoyed it again in relation to this project.


Favourite street photos from UPSP

A Snake by Ilya Shtutsa

Ilya’s shot is a brilliantly timed slice of life, albeit a little cheeky, everything comes together so well across the frame making the perfect recipe for street photography! A very funny moment, the kid’s look of disdain, the guy, worried people might be watching, the mysterious figure holding his only protection, and of course the grand entrance from the Queen. Really excellent work!

-Larry Hallegua

Tokyo Authority by Larry Hallegua

There are several pictures on UP that I really like; so in line with this project I’ll choose one of Larry’s. It’s one of those pictures which make it hard to say why I like it, but it has that twist of weirdness ; together with the megaphone it just sounds great to my eyes.


Coming Next..


The BRAGDON Brothers… Gareth and Gavin


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Miya PlufelizRob HillGuest

Street photographs are mirror images of society, displaying "unmanipulated" scenes, with usually unaware subjects.


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