The Essentials of Being a Street Art Photographer by @Droos86 and @TimJentsch
10 May 2018
The fate of street art will eventually meet destruction. Whether city-sanctioned, or at the hands of taggers, property owners or nature, herself, the longevity of street art is often short-lived. Though, it is exactly this ephemeral nature of street art that art enthusiasts covet their presence. Enter: street art photographers. By capturing these artworks, photographers make them immortal.
Armed with a Nikon D80, Canon 5D, Nikon D3100 and their IPhones, David Roos – aka @Droos86 – and Tim Jentsch (@Timjentsch) are among the legions of street art photographers. With the intention of sharing their passion of urban art to the world, they wander the streets to capture images before these artworks meet their demise.
What started as a simple hobby, for David, quickly developed into a desire to archive the art pieces. “Sometimes you take a picture and the next week or even the next day, the piece is gone. That’s how it works. So, I think it’s important that these works are captured.”, he explains.
Tim, on the other hand, has always been a keen photographer. He first delved in underwater and fashion photography which allowed him to travel. As a by product, Tim was gradually introduced and captivated by the street art scene. “I’ try to preserve beautiful art I encounter on my travels and share them with an audience. A lot of artworks don’t last very long on the streets, so capturing them gives it more longevity.”, he adds.
What brought you to choose street art as the main subject of your photographs?
@Droos86 – For me, it all started when a friend told me about Banksy many years ago during his early days. I got excited right away. While visiting London, I just had to see his latest works and that’s how it all started.
Over the years, my interest for street art and graffiti grew and it made me look around all the time. While I cycled in my own city, while I was somewhere for work or when I was on holidays. I always kept an eye on what was done in the streets.
Four years ago I moved to Berlin for my studies and that’s where things moved ahead more quickly. I got a camera for my birthday, became good friends with D7606 and Alice Pasquini and started posting on Instagram.
@TimJentsch – To me, street art is an interesting global movement full of exciting energy. I enjoy capturing its ever-evolving process. I grew up with Graffiti and Hip Hop in the 2000s, but I guess it was the buzz created by artists like Banksy, Invader and Shepard Fairey in the late 90s that really got me hooked. I had been traveling for a living since 2008 and the regular access to the arts in various cities around the globe converted me to street art. The fact that I enjoy being outside and exploring new places meant I could combine these passions to hunt for the latest murals. I work as part of the isupportstreetart.com team, a non-for-profit multi-media platform that promotes street art through artist profiles, interviews, updates about new walls and events that are happening in the global street art scene.
Finally got to see it! 🖤 @dface_official for @canvasoutdoormuseum curated by @nicolehenryart in Lake Worth, Florida 🇺🇸 (2017) . . . . #urbanphotography #streetarteverywhere #streetartphotography #tv_streetart #rsa_graffiti #timjentschstreetart #timjentsch #isupportstreetart #jj_urbanart #streetart #graffiti #urbanart #strassenkunst #arteurbano #arteurbana #instastreetart #lakeworth #lakeworthstreetpaintingfestival #lakeworthfl #canvasoutdoormuseum #canvasfestival #dface #dface_official #floridastreetart #streetartfestival
Your photography brings you to travel a lot, what are your go-to places to shoot street art?
@Droos86 – It does. I actually make a lot of city trips in order to take pictures of street art. I do some research, make a map with street art locations not to miss and hit the streets. Off the top of my head, I would definitely recommend Lisbon. There’s so much to see there. It’s an amazing city. Otherwise, Paris is always refreshing and Berlin has a lot of great new and old pieces.
@TimJentsch – I’m fortunate that I get around a lot. I try and document the scene of major US hubs such as NY, LA, and Miami. I also keep an eye on London as I live close by. Additionally, I travel to ad-hoc destinations renowned for good street art such as Berlin, Paris and Lisbon. I also visit places with street art festivals in the US and Europe, such as The Crystal Ship in Ostend, Belgium.
Do you have any favourite works by a street artist you particularly like to photograph?
@Droos86 – My all-time favorite artist would be Borondo. Everytime I look at his work, I discover a different level, a different angle. I love his style, how he uses colours, and the messages behind his artworks.
Moreover, I feel like experiencing a mural is not only about seeing it, capturing it and leaving. For me, it’s also about the journey you go through to find these artworks. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to travel around Belgium with my friend D7606. We wanted to see as much street art as we could and really get into the country’s street art scene. We made a detour by Roeselare, where we shot a mural by David Walker. The beauty of the mural and the journey to get there was totally worth the trip.
ZOOM IN!! I’ve been saving this for a while. My favourite mural from the last Miami Art Basel by the homie @sonnysundancer – he’s got his solo show #tothebone starting in NY on May 17th 🔥 be sure to check it out if you can 🖤 . . . . #streetartofficial #streetartnews #gestaltenurbana #urbanlife_arts #graffiti_of_the_world #topstreetart #beststreetartoftheday #graffiticulture #nicestreetart #streetartfiles #all_wallshots #wallfilth #not_just_walls #ontour #Streetart_daily #tv_streetart #graffitiart #streetart_official #visualstoryteller #street_art_community #sonnyartist #sonnyart #sonnysundancer #miamiartbasel2017 #miamiartbasel #wynwoodmiami #wynwoodartsdistrict
@Timjentsch – There are so many. Last year I got most excited about my friend Sonny travelling the world to create large scale murals of endangered wildlife, as part of his To The Bone project. His murals were always really emotional. He blends hundreds of colours to add depth and detail and all for a great cause.
What would be your top tips and tricks to photographing street art?
- I use a few basic apps to straighten pictures and, once in a while, to add a color splash.
- I always try to include people passing-by or other objects, such as cars or bikes. It gives a good idea of the scale of the work and it adds a little something to the picture.
- I try to find a different angle than what most people are expecting.
- Instagram’s a gold mine when you’re going on a street art hunt. I actually made a lot of great friends from all over the world who share the same passion for urban art through the social network.
🇩🇪 In three weeks I’ll be going to Berlin! Can’t wait! • Throwback to this Stunning work by @tristaneaton • Berlin, Germany •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #wallart #instaartist #rsa_streetview #rsa_graffiti #royalsnappingartists #streetart #urban #urbanart #murals #murales #muralart #dsb_graff #dopeshotbro #grafflife #graffporn #graffitiwall #graffitiporn #graffitiigers #graffitiartist #tv_streetart #urbanartist #wallporn #streetartandgraffiti #tristaneaton #berlinstreetart #streetartberlin #coloursplash #arteurbano #streetartcities ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
- Angles: At first always try to get the whole piece as straight as possible with even lighting. That’s the shot that’ll be most interesting for book publishing. Then, experiment by going down low to the ground to make walls look taller and more dramatic. A little height can look exciting, too.
- Lighting: For me, there are two golden hours in the day: just after sunrise and right before sunset. You get the best lighting then. On sunny days shadows can become a problem. It’s often necessary to visit walls a couple of times to find out when the light is best.
- Editing: Absolutely essential. Digital photography is never perfect. I edit every picture. I don’t like the use of preset filters as it looks a bit artificial. Playing with contrast and saturation is essential in my opinion. Always aim to make the mural look as natural as possible. My iPhone shots are generally edited on Snapseed on my iPhone or iPad whilst I’m in transit. Editing is time consuming and it’s convenient for me to do it while I’m on the go. Shots that I take on my D-SLRs, I edit in Lightroom on my Mac.
I’ll give this one 10/10. Probably my favourite piece from my roadtrip. Totally worth the hour detour. @case_maclaim in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France 🇫🇷 (2017) . . . #timjentsch #timjentschstreetart #casemaclaim #boulognesurmer #streetart #streetartinsta #streetartphotography #streetartfrance #fishingvillage #urbanartist #roadtripping #publicart #artforeveryone #urbanbeauty #spraypainting #photorealism #selfportrait #graffuturism #instastreetart #jj_urbanart #tv_streetart
Can’t get over how much I’m digging this one!! Great work @fabioonrack ! Fort Lauderdale 🇺🇸 (2018) . . . . #urbanphotography #streetarteverywhere #streetartphotography #tv_streetart #rsa_graffiti #timjentschstreetart #timjentsch #isupportstreetart #jj_urbanart #streetart #graffiti #urbanart #strassenkunst #arteurbano #arteurbana #instastreetart #fabioonrack #fortlauderdale #fortlauderdalephotographer #floridastreetart #streetart #urbanphotography #brightcolors #artinthestreets