Photographers In The Street

Worldwide Street art & graffiti comes in many forms and communicates many different thoughts, feelings & emotions from the artists who create it. Most of the art we experience on a day to day basis has been shared and transported globally into people’s consciousness via a photographic image which someone, somewhere has taken. Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting many photographers who have made taking photographs of street art & graffiti their life… a life and a perspective which they share with you on a daily basis.

Ian Cox

Ian Cox is by far the most prolific UK photographer of Street Art in the UK. In the 10 years that he has been capturing art on the streets with his camera he has traversed the globe and photographed practically every artist to have weaved their magic in the streets and in the galleries of the street art & graffiti art world. He has been witness to scenes and moments I can only dream of. His photos have appeared in The New York Times, The independent, The Observer, The Times, Time Out, Juxtapoz, Graffitiart, VNA, We Demain, Blueprint, Art Review and many more publications. 

The relationship between artist and photographer is usually a harmonious one what has your experience been?

I’ve nearly always experienced a good relationship between myself and the artists I work with many of which I have known for a many years.

Most of my work tends to be artist facing and project based so quite often we tend to end up sharing accommodation and living in each others pockets for days on end. In those circumstances you soon learn what makes someone tick and recognise when people need some space and that works both ways.

Give you an hour in the studio/or street with any artist to photograph, who would it be?

Futura 2000, the man has so many fascinating stories to tell, an hour would never be enough.

What moment in your photographic career has been the most memorable?

There are so many memorable moments but I guess that the time that sticks in my mind the most would be the Underbelly Project in Paris. Sixteen people down a manhole cover in the early hours of the morning & emerging again that evening after painting all day without being detected.

The curators had chosen an incredible group of artists to participate in the project and amongst them was Futura 2000 together with his red Delta Airlines blanket.

I had no idea that an airline blanket could prove to be so versatile in a subway environment and halfway through the day I took a passing photo of Futura having a smoke break wearing his blanket as a cape. That picture remains my favourite photo to date and a great memory of the project.

What are you trying to convey in your shots?

A large part of what I do involves documenting the process, I like to capture the movement of the artist working and the character of the artist and a sense of the environment they are working in. A photo should tell part of a story and that’s what I’m aiming for.


Unusualimage has been photographing street art in London since 2005 and has a back catalogue of work that would impress the British Library. He records and captures absolutely everything on the streets from stickers to tags to murals and has the ability to recall the name of every single piece that has been placed in and around East London. He has had his work published  in Community Service a book by C215, The LA based Street Art Journal, Diverse Magazine, CMYK, the show catalogue by Part2ism; Artillery for pleasure & New Horizons & Future Love Songs and many local newspapers.

The relationship between artist and photographer is  usually a harmonious one, what has been your experience?

The relationship between the photographer and the artist is a complex one, a relationship which feeds one another. In the past I used to collaborate with artists & follow them as they executed their pieces which is something that I find interesting as I enjoy seeing the process unfold and it also gives me the chance to take my own style of photographs which I find rewarding. I’ve never had bad relations with artists, I may have been disenchanted sometimes with the reality of the photographers & the artists solidarity.

Give you an hour in the studio/or street with any artist to photograph, who would it be?

There is no particular artist that I can name as someone I would like to spend an hour with as I really do just enjoy spending time and photographing artists who allow the photographer to become part of the process and work with the photographer, I enjoy the whole process and a hands on approach, for example climbing walls and hard to reach places which allows me to get unusual shots and helps build a relationship with the artist.

What moment in your photographic career has been the most memorable?

Nearly getting caught by the police when finishing a piece by a railway wall with a well-known artist was a memorable moment for me. I had a camera full of progress shots and the police arrived on the scene. That was scary but also exciting. The police looked at us, looked at the paint and must have decided we were not responsible maybe because we looked too old or not the type they expected, so we sped off and didn’t look back for at least 5 minutes.

Also a special moment for me was meeting ROA for the first time when he was painting Cordy House just before Christmas time when it was freezing cold. He was alone and needed to finish the piece that night so I stayed with him and helped out as I took shots. It was a long night chatting in sub-zero conditions but also good to get to know him, he is a very down to earth relaxed man.

What are you trying to convey in your shots?

The artists work first and foremost but also how the work relates to the environment. To represent and catalogue ephemeral work and relate those untold stories. To represent the unusual aspects of street life and the parts of society that are normally unseen or overlooked by traditional media.

Joe LDNGraffiti

Joe is the founder of a hand-built site which records, documents and archives graffiti & street art in London. He has a long relationship with London graffiti and street artists and his on-line archive containing thousands of photographs is a wealth of information & history. His photographs have been exhibited in shows such as Team Rex ‘Origin Of the Species’, the ICA ‘London Walls, New Graffiti & Street Art Photography‘ and in many books and on-line publications.

The relationship between artist and photographer is usually a harmonious one, what has been your experience?

I’ve found most artists appreciate the documentation. There are times when it’s clear artists don’t want to be disturbed, I respect that. And I always say hello first!

Give you an hour in the studio/or street with any artist to photograph, who would it be?

I find I am uncomfortable taking pictures of people. I think it’s me, ha! I rarely feature the artists or public in my photographs. I try to keep them out of it, you can usually create context without people, this is something I look for, the work and the street space around it.

What moment in your photographic career has been the most memorable?
Best: Interviewing London Graffiti Pioneer King Robbo WRH WD PFB KOA KAOS inc UA.

Good: Taking the above photo, I was a very fortunate to get to the location, by happenstance!

Bad: It’s always been interesting, never bad!

What are you trying to convey in your shots?

I am trying to document the styles, interventions, context and the relationship between Graffiti, Street Art and our broader environment.

Nicole Blommers:

Nicole Blommers discovered her passion for photographing street art back in 2008 when she was living in London. After moving back to Amsterdam in 2009 she continued developing her love of street art by setting up Amsterdam Street Art, which she was the co-organiser of for two years in a row. Presently she is involved with Made Creative and preparing herself for her next big mission to write a book about street art in Europe.”

Nicole has had her photographs published in magazines, on-line and books.

The relationship between artist and photographer is usually a harmonious one, what has been your experience?

I am convinced that it is a harmonious relationship. Most artists I know do appreciate that their art is being photographed and shared on-line. I cannot think of a time when there was a not so good moment between myself and an artist regarding my photography. I can definitely think of a few artists who have shown their appreciation towards me. Yes, that makes me feel good.

Give you an hour in the studio/or street with any artist to photograph, who would it be?
At the moment I’d say Conor Harrington. Such an amazing artist. Shaking the guys hand would already be enough. Haha!

What moment  in your photographic career has been the most memorable?

Seeing my photo’s being published (on-line/print) is always very good. It is nice to be noticed and that a website or magazine is willing to publish my photo’s. Two of my photo’s were used in a book once. I had totally forgotten that I had sent them these photo’s until I found the published book in my mailbox.

What are you trying to convey in your shots?

Of course I mainly take photo’s because I enjoy doing it. I went to Rotterdam a few months ago because I had this wow! moment with an underground station a long time ago. So I took the train to Rotterdam to photograph it and I had a picture in mind of what I wanted my photo to look like. The photo turned out even better than I thought it would. I also liking sharing what interests me, which is one of the reasons I take photo’s of street art and share them on-line. If people like it, that’s good.

Myriam JC Preston:

I have been photographing art in the streets since 2004 when I first spotted little stencilled rats in my neighbourhood, finding the rats and photographing them was initially like a past time for me similar to word search which I found highly amusing.

This quest to find as many rats as possible eventually opened my eyes to the underworld of the many artists who put paint into the public arena of the streets. Over time I just became immersed and my passion developed. I started uploading my pictures around two years ago and have been published in on-line magazines such as Shortlist, numerous art based sites, blogs and magazines.

It’s all still a learning curve for me but instead of finding rats I now find new functions on my camera, new ways of using it and new ways of amusing myself.

Overall I find the relationship with the artist and the photographer to be a smooth one and one I think both parties realise it is a beneficial one. Sometimes the artists may feel a tinge of resentment when a photographer receives credit for an exceptional capture and they feel that their art has been overlooked but I think they quickly realise that the compliment is for the way in which the art has been presented which if it has been taken to the best of the photographers ability should attract compliments and lead onto lots more people experiencing the art.

As much as I love graffiti I don’t photograph it as much as I’d like to because I find the level of sensitivity required to safeguard their anonymity hinders my ability to share photographs freely and I feel the assumed ownership of the image flutters into a grey area with the writer sometimes thinking they have control over the time, place and the release of the image. I leave the taking of photographs of graff up to the seasoned photographers who had established a good working relationship with the graff writers.

If I could have an hour with any artist it would have to be Dain. I love his work and I love watching the little documentary of him on youtube which I return to every now and again to look at like a book. I like the fact that he has such a history and that he plods along doing what makes him happy regardless and produces such beauty

My most memorable moments are moments that I least expect, when I just stumble across something or someone. One day I unexpectedly bumped into Leee Black Childers, a photographer who I admire and who has photographed everyone who was anyone in New York in the 60’s & 70’s, we had a chat and took some photographs of him, this was a moment in time for me. Also attending & photographing the Duster UA event at London Miles Gallery a few years ago and hearing Duster & King Robbo talk which in light of the unfortunate circumstances that followed makes me feel very lucky to have been there.

Most of the time I try to convey how I view the art work. I like to play with the art and I often interact with it. In my mind once it has been put on the street it then becomes something that I can play with visually and something that I can interpret however I desire. Although I do take straight on shots I much prefer taking the interactive ones with my ‘take’ on the work. I do not actively document art, there are lots of highly skilled and dedicated photographers already doing this and I don’t see that as my vocation.

I’d like to thank all the photographers who took the time out to talk and for all the photographs that you have all shared over the years… thank you!

Ian Cox Links:

Unusualimage Links:

Joe LdnGraffiti Links:

Nicole Blommers Links:

Myriam JC Preston Links:

This entry was published on October 21, 2012 at 18:33. It’s filed under Art, Graffiti, Interviews, Photography, Walls and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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