Yelena Deyneko: Can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in photography? How did you realize that photography is what you wanted to do?
Chris Randall: My name is Christopher Joel Randall, 29. I am a street photographer living in Brooklyn.
As a kid, my parents would take me “people watching”, then as a teenager, I got involved in photography. While living in Philadelphia after high school I started shooting street photography and just got hooked.
YD: What are you doing for a living?
CR: I am currently the equipment manager at Fast Ashleys Studios in Williamsburg.
YD: What did you learn about photography since you started working at the equipment center?
CR: I have learned the ins and outs of fashion and editorial shoots and what goes into the production. I have learned more about lighting than any school taught me.
YD: So your studio is streets of a city; do you always have a camera on you when you are outside? Tell us about your creative process, the circumstances, and how you single out a frame?
CR: Yes, the world is my studio, I always have at least two cameras at all times. I carry a rangefinder and a point and shoot. My creative process is just being observant of my surroundings to catch “the decisive moment”. I shoot on film and tell my self as long as 1 of the 36 frames intrigues me then I have achieved my goal.
YD: What kind of moments are you looking for?
CR: I am just looking for humor, sadness, joy, love or just unique individuals. We rarely take the time to just enjoy what’s around us so I capture those moments.
YD: Do you pursue a certain theme? What are you currently working on?
CR: Just human and social interaction would be my overall theme. Currently I am working on a few ongoing projects. I’m working on a series of children around bushwick. I am also working on a street basketball series.
YD: Who is your audience? Who sees your images?
CR: Mainly my friends and family and myself and Instagram. I have realized more people enjoy my work than I expected, it’s not just me that enjoys everyday people caught in everyday life.
YD: Do you ever engage in conversation with people when they see you taking pictures? what feedback do you get?
CR: I’d say about 90% of the time my work is candid and they never even see me taking their photo. When I do engage though I just smile or say hello. Most of the feedback is a smile back but a few times they get startled or upset and I just explain what I’m doing and go on my way.
YD: What did you learn about people since you started? What did you learn about yourself?
CR: The main thing I have learned is that people are so caught up in work and stressed that they never stop to appreciate the world around them. We are all so wrapped up in technology that we forget to look for the joy in everyday life. As for what I’ve learned about myself, I have found something that no matter my mood will make me happy and that’s photography.
YD: What are your obligations as a photographer?
CR: I guess my only obligations are to try and make the people who are viewing my work to find beauty in the mundane. Or to spark at least one emotion with my imagery.
YD: What photographers from the past or present have influenced you and what do you learn from them?
CR: Henri Cartier Bresson and Garry Winogrand first and foremost. Diane Arbus for sure and many more, too many to name. The thing I’ve learned the most is to work a scene; I’m shooting not just shoot one frame of the subject but to shoot the subject until I know I got something.
YD: Your photos have a nostalgic quality to them. What type of process do you use? What cameras do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens?
CR: Thank you! I shoot exclusively on film so a lot goes into it. I shoot mostly black and white and develop my own film at home and then do printing at the Bushwick Community Darkroom. Old school haha. As for my cameras my main is a Voigtlander Bessa R4M with a 21mm lens. And a Contax T2 point and shoot or a cheap Olympus 5 dollar eBay camera. Lenses I use are all wide 35mm and wider but the 21 is my favorite.
YD: What is your post-production process?
CR: Home process in my bathroom and then scan negatives with my Epson v700. As for editing, I just clean up any dust from the scan and do minor levels adjustments.
YD: What’s your favorite picture to date you have ever taken and why?
CR: Lady in the window as of right now. There’s just so much going on geometrically with the light and shadows. Plus it looks like it was taken somewhere not in Brooklyn and has this older timey look. She realized I was taking her picture and tried to block the photo but her hand framed her face perfectly.
YD: What is you plan as a photographer?
CR: No real game plan. No matter what my career is, I will always roam the streets and take people’s photos without permission.
YD: What’s so special about photography to you?
CR: Everything! Photography has given me so much joy because there is no other art form in which you get to steal a moment of time and preserve it in the fraction of a second into a thin strip of plastic. I get to express myself by showcasing others expressions.
YD: What is your dream?
CR: Ultimately to get into some galleries or travel the world getting to document my life and the things going on in the world. Maybe start a collective of other street photographers and hopefully one day make some money in the “fine art world”. Lastly, just that I evoke some feeling with every photo I take.
“Daily News” interview with street photographer Christopher Joel Randall