I owe a lot to Thomas for all the advice I gleaned from him when starting out in Street. Looking at his work and then reading his books from cover to cover, and taking heed of his advice. Obviously I do things different to Thomas, but he wouldn’t want us to do the same as him, as there would be thousands of Thomas’s about. I have developed my own style, like so many others, but it was great to have that guide to start, and also to continue.
We collect knowledge about photography from so many differing areas, and that is what I have done, but the biggest influence to date has been Thomas, as those tips and guidance I got at the start has stood me in good stead.
As Thomas has so many people who like his work I know there will be a lot of disagreement with the choice of my 10 favourites, even with Thomas himself. The point is, they are my 10. Take a challenge and look through Thomas’ stream on Flickr and pick out JUST 10. You will then see it is not easy. I went over and over, and eventually got it down to 30 that I put into this post, then had to work that down to 10. With such a large volume of work, with so many excellent and appealing shots this has been so hard. The shots are in no order of preference, apart from my favourite at the end.
All the photos in this post were taken by Thomas and are copyrighted to him. © Thomas Leuthard
This is a very powerful image to me. We regularly see images of people in poverty in stills and on the TV, showing people living in poverty, but his image shows something different. It shows me a beautiful Indian woman going about her daily chores with a smile on her face. Washing the pots on the floor whilst squatting is normal practice, whilst here in the West people have machines that do it. Even if they have to wash by hand it is in a sink with running water, in a kitchen set aside for those duties.
It is the smile though, which I see so much in shots from India. Even though there is so little money and so much poverty, the people still smile. What a difference to the West, where people are comfortable but go around looking miserable as they feel life is so hard on them.
A truly beautiful image.
I see so many shots where people like to blur with motion, either the subject, the background, or something passing the subject. I am not a great lover of it, as most people don’t get it right, in my opinion anyway.
That is not the case with this shot. The girl on the bench is spot on and with the train passing it would be a good shot and one that I liked. Add to that the person on the opposite platform through the doors as the train passes pushes it to a truly great shot.
Even the title adds to the shot.
This shot was my inspiration to shoot window shots. I have now covered all angles of window shots, and still love them. The expression on the girls face is fantastic. Is she surprised, shock, pee’d off? Who knows, and that is why I really like this shot, as with so many others, I would like to know but I will never know.
I commented on the shot when Thomas first posted it on Flickr over a year ago, “I love the look she is giving you. Pure hatred as I see it. Lovely looking girl though!”
I said this shot inspired me to shoot window shots, to the point that I have been Admin of the People in the Windows Group on Flickr. Power of a shot, Eh!
This shot is to me what the wealthy side of New York is like. This is the type of image that advertisers like us to see and the Visit NYC type of people would like us to believe all of New York is like. This shot is so different to what I usually see from Thomas.
I really like the desaturation which gives that warm feel on a wet day. The beautiful, immaculate woman, with not a spot of rain on her, and the taxi in the background telling us where she is.
I have taken plenty of these shots of pretty girls with the head bent over texting, but what makes this stand out for me is the coat hood. Thomas has entitled this one Madonna, and that is exactly what I saw when I first looked at it. Irene has a small alabaster statue of the Madonna, which I shot for a project and used as a buddy icon for quite a while, and the shape of the hood is identical to the Madonna’s robe over her head. The girl is very pretty and the wet perspex or glass gives a great background.
The fact that I have taken so many of these shots makes me appreciate when one of them is this good.
This shot is included in Thomas’s book “Going Candid”. If you are new to Street Photography, or haven’t read it, I would suggest that if you only read one book, make it this one!
This has been a long time favourite of mine since I first saw Thomas’ work. There is something about a shot showing someone reading a newspaper nowadays. As I was growing up, you would see everybody on the bus reading the daily paper. Saying that, if you went upstairs on the double decker, they would also be smoking, so how they could see the papers with so much smoke amazes me. How times have changed. This may be an image that is so rare to youngsters, unless they googled it on their smartphone or computer.
“This shot from Thomas of a man in Beirut reading a paper is the first shot in his 2nd book “Collecting Souls” and is imprinted on my mind.
It depicts men all over the world gathering news in a format that is centuries old.”
I still feel the same about this shot even though I have seen many similar, but this is the one I always have in my mind.
“Why you take a photo of me?” That is what this shot is saying to me. We’ve all had “The Look”, or the break out of a big smile. Maybe he is used to having his picture taken so is bored by it, I don’t know. But it seems to me that he doesn’t want to put too much effort into it.
I love his little world of books. The way he sits low behind his counter, with his ladder, complete with bindings to hold it together, makes you wonder how high those shelves go. I remember these ladders in the hardware stores when I was a lad and how I wanted to climb them to get to the top shelves. Thomas triggers these memories for me as he does with so many other shots.
Such a memory filled shot for me.
Every time I look at this shot it makes me laugh. To me it is the funniest of all Thomas’ shots. I know the guy probably looks out like that a lot, but when I see it he is trying to get out through the small opening. It reminds me of a prison door with the feeding hatch, and how the prisoners squeeze their heads out to see what is going on along the landing.
It may not have the same appeal to a lot of people as they are used to seeing these kiosks, which I have seen on Mainland Europe, but here in Wales I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. When I have they have big open fronts and everything is stored inside. So it is also power of the unusual.
Still making me laugh!
I have a penchant for bench shots, and this is a beauty. I love the POV. You are led along the bench, which due to the POV seems so much longer than it actually is, giving a lovely perspective leading you to the subject, which you don’t realise is actually in the top left corner of the image.
You see a shot and it hits you. Sometimes you don’t even know why, but you find yourself continually looking at it, and constantly returning to it.
This shot is the latter part of that sentence, but I know the reason I like it is because I am wondering what is on her mind. I think she is totally aware of Thomas and the fact that he is taking the shot but is not affected by it, and is in her thoughts. Is there something playing on her mind? Thomas’ description of the shot on Flickr is “Should I leave him…?” I don’t know if that is the case. She is a very attractive woman who looks to have a very powerful mind. I think that shows in that she is not intimidated by Thomas taking a shot of her and is maybe fascinated.
It was very very hard to chose that 1 favourite shot, but the fact that Thomas stood there and took it and she does not flinch in any way makes this shot the one!
There are so many shots I have had to drop to arrive at just 10 but there you have it, MY favourite 10 of Thomas’ shots. Up until now, of course.
I have only noted on two of the write ups of links to shots in Thomas’ books but more of them are in there, with so many other great shots.
Thank you Thomas for allowing me to use your photos on the Blog. Also for your ethos of sharing, which has enabled so many others to get started, and hone their skills in “Street” shooting.
To see more of Thomas’ work, you can view his Flickr Photostream, or visit his website, where you will also find the links to his free books that I referred to at the beginning. Also you will find his newly produced “Online Training”.