In this article Jonathan Taylor talks with Danielle Houghton, the winner of the inaugural UPSP Photo Competition.

‘TEXT’ investigates the words and signs that are all around us. Photos taken during January 2014.



Danielle Houghton

Dublin, Ireland

My Website: www.observecollective.com/

QTell me about the path that led you into street photography and what is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?


AThe focus has always been people in my photography.  As a student studying photography in the 1990s, the bulk of my images were studio based fashion shoots, documentary and club photography. The club photography was a big aspect for me back then, shooting in various clubs, photographing DJs and clubbers on their night out. I would produce a set of images for the night clubs and in return my friends and I got a free night out. A win win situation for all involved! This was probably where photographing people and documenting life really began. After starting a family and a prolonged period away from photography, street photography seemed to be the natural route back into picture taking. The one thing I wish I knew when I started taking photos was that shooting on 35mm film, would become popular again, so I would have kept all of my SLRs, as they would have been worth a lot more money further down the line!


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QWho are your favourite street photographers and why?


A The photographer that first caught my imagination was Bill Brandt.  His image of the snicket taken in Halifax really struck a chord with me. I was amazed at how something so simple could be so beautiful. His image of Francis Bacon walking on Primrose Hill and the ear photograph taken on the pebbled beach are also both stand out images. I really appreciate the work of other photographers that are not street photographers. Over time people such as Richard Billingham, Jean Baptiste Mondino, Richard Avendon, Nick Knight, Bresson and Juergen Teller have all had impact. The one photographer whose work has always blown me away is Martin Parr. His wit, observation and vision, whilst documenting life in colour is simply amazing. The guy is just incredible. I really enjoy the work of the current street photographers, as the images they produce are relevant to the world I live in now and this is what fascinates me, such as the likes of Gus Powell and Matt Stuart. I have recently discovered the work of Alexander Gronsky, which is really quite special.


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QI see a wonderful observation of detail and use of colour in your work coupled with the freedom that not every shot needs to include a face, what do you notice most and what excites you most when you are shooting? 


AThe thing that excites me most about street photography is that sense of escapism and time to myself away from routine whilst shooting. I love this time wandering and observing life. Sometimes it is people and sometimes it is the graphics and colour of things that I come across. The joy of street photography is the unknown. You leave the house with nothing and may go home with nothing, but if you capture some slices of life that please you visually, then that is a real thrill.


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QWhat do you think of the use of text in street photography? Do you think it should be embraced or avoided as of its limitations to translate globally?


AGood question! Though my approach for the collaboration was to use text as a means of bringing additional colour and graphics to the image, I think text should be embraced. Text is everywhere. Be it shop signage, neon lighting, graffiti or in advertising, so it is inevitable at times that there will be some aspect of text your images. Unless this text is being used as a clear visual message in your image, then I don’t think it is a problem. For example, street images that have been taken in the Far East, I don’t know what the text means, but it adds real aesthetic value to the image. However, if text is being used to communicate a visual message, then let the image be enjoyed by those for who the language is their native tongue!


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AMy brother dabbled in black and white photography when I was a teenager growing up in Dublin, it looked like fun, so I decided to attend an evening class to learn the basics. I think people interested me more from the start as on an outing to use our first ever roll of film, while the others were experimenting with capturing trees and buildings, I chased after two kids messing on a motorbike. For the next few years I snapped away without knowing anything about genres and with some frustrations along the way, like finding myself in the middle of the Coup in Russia without any means to shoot.  But life happily took over and photography remained an interest through books instead of shooting.  It was learning about the Street Photography Now Project in 2010 coupled with receiving a camera as a gift that made me finally pick up where I had left off after a long break, but with the difference that I finally could put a name to and expand what I enjoyed.


QSo, first of all Danielle, tell me a little about yourself and how you first discovered photography and how that evolved into street photography?



Untitled by Danielle Houghton

AI do like making connections between things on the street, in a way creating a mini narrative in one shot.  I also enjoy the witty side of street, though understand this can become somewhat cliched, but it is still fun so that can be a factor when shooting.  I just love to look and observe people and places and even when I can’t physically take a shot, for example if I am driving I still do like to visualize shots. I also believe in strongly relying on what your intuition is telling you, and try to tap into that.


QThere is a great wit and observation captured in your images, tell me about your approach to street photograph?



Untitled by Danielle Haughton

AThere are so many styles and genres in photography even within street photography that I think there is no one book that fits all.  The book that every photographer should have on their shelf is the book that first triggered a reaction and inspired them, or the one that currently does.  For example I learned about photography in a fairly classic way through black and white, and was aware of the work of those considered the masters and had several books to this effect, but then one day I picked up a copy of Martin Parr’s Common Sense and was excited to see there was a totally different way of creating images that I could connect and aspire to.  But over the years I have felt equal excitement for a range of different books by Larry Sultan, Richard Billingham, Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston, Stephen Gill and Rinko Kawauchi.   I do think most street photographers should have a copy of ‘Street Photography Now’ complied by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren, as featuring 46 photographers, there is something in there for everybody, and had it not been for the project it lead to I wouldn’t be writing this now, so I obviously have a certain fondness for it.


QSuggest one photography book that every photographer should have on their shelf and why?



Untitled by Danielle Houghton

AIt was great getting to know Jonathan better and I enjoyed the idea and process.  I think we both would have liked a bit more shooting time and a bit better weather, both the UK and Ireland have been a bit wet of late, but we muddled through! I think there is a strong community spirit amongst street photographers and mini projects like this just can only serve to strengthen connections.


QHow was your time shooting for the collaboration?



Untitled by Danielle Houghton





“The images Danielle has produced for the collaboration encapsulates what I really enjoy about her photographs. Her observation, use of colour and vision for an image is fantastic. The use of text in her images adds additional narrative and another element of story telling. I have really enjoyed the last few weeks and I am really pleased to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Danielle for this project”

“Can I just say many thanks for the opportunity to take part in this collaboration. I have really enjoyed the process”



“There is a great vibrancy to Jonathan’s set and they all work well together.  I like how he incorporated text as an integral layer in each photograph.   The text serves as a wonderful way to add and highlight the colour and setting of each shot and I like that he didn’t go for the more obvious route of using the text as a juxtaposition.  I also find the connection of bent elbows running through the set very enjoyable.  I find Jonathan’s work very refreshing and honest, classic street, yet with a modern aesthetic”


Favourite street photos from UPSP


Red Ear by Sacha Lenz

I have selected this image Sacha Lenz as for me it captures what I love so much about street photography. When we are out, wandering with our camera, we  have no idea what opportunities will present themselves to us on the turn of the next corner. I am sure when Sacha went out shooting for the day, he had no idea he would return home with a photograph of a man pushing a big red ear! That is the beauty of street photography.”

-Jonathan Taylor


Taking a Break by Jan_d19

First of all I have to say as the Urban Picnic Pool is looking so good, I was a bit spoilt for choice in picking a favourite, but I have decided to pick this quiet but wonderful image taken by Jan. Although Street Photography has moved on in so many ways, at the essence it remains about people.  I picked this as I feel Jan has shown me something strong and magical about this woman’s spirit and personality, I cannot help imagine anything other than an artistic free spirit, lost in a moment of abandonment, whether she is gazing at shapes or just tired, I see flashbacks to the younger girl she once would have been.  The modernist setting suits her so well even down the graphic angle of her legs.”


Coming Next..

Modern Times

Peter Kool | Larry Hallegua


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Others who like this:

Miya PlufelizRob HillGuestMike RakerJens IgnasiLarry Halleguajan_d19

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


1 Comment


  1. February 19, 2014  11:34 pm by Rob Hill

    Big thank you to Danielle and Jonathan. Some really nice shots and a great collaboration

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