Streets Ahead Interview: Dani Salvadori – Mobile Street Photography
This week, the Women’s Street Photography Collective (Streets Ahead) is pleased and honored to feature Dani Salvadori in our interview segment.
Her street photography varies from urban city scenes to beach life. As a keen observer of people, Dani has been able to capture the interaction – people’s behaviour and how they relate to each other and the environment that they are in. She lives in London, but also spends a lot of time in Scarborough, in North Yorkshire. I highly recommend a visit to her galleries.
Dani can be found @danisalvadori on Flickr and Instagram.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Have you always been interested in photography?
I’m a born and bred Londoner who has always been passionate about the arts – in fact I’ve spent my entire career working in one sort of arts organisation or another. I currently work at Central Saint Martins, part of the University of the Arts London. I deal with all the different ways that the College engages with the outside world from marketing to relationships with business, but I don’t teach, which is a good thing because I’m not a good teacher! I’ve never trained as an artist but I’ve always loved making things. And with photography I’m now making images.
I used to have terrible eyesight (since corrected) and so never learnt to focus a ‘proper’ camera. It was only when digital point and shoot cameras became available that I started to actually take photographs. It was a seamless move into using a phone, especially when I realized that my iPhone 4 took better photos than my camera.
‘Admiring Calder’ – ©Dani Salvadori
Where do you currently live? Is this a place that gives you energy and inspiration for your street photography or do you have to travel to find it?
I’ve always lived in London, although over the last few years I’ve also spent a lot of time in Scarborough, a seaside resort on the north east coast of England. I love to take photographs where there are lots of people and both London and Scarborough fit the bill nicely.
‘All Yours’ – ©Dani Salvadori – Original image in Hipstamatic (Jane/Sugar), cropped and sharpened in Filterstorm
Does your location, be it a big city, a small town, or the countryside, heavily inform all your photographs in general, not just your street photographs? How do you choose the places that you go to photograph?
I think location is important but for me it is more about the light and mood of a place than where it is. The beach in Scarborough is big and flat and has extraordinary light whatever the weather, so I often take photos there. Sometimes I find it hard to take good images in London – perhaps I know it too well.
‘South Bay 10 am’ – ©Dani Salvadori
What first drew you to street photography and how did you discover it? What is it about street photography that compels you go out to shoot on the street? What are the subjects that are of the greatest interest to you?
I’m not sure I’ve ever been drawn to street photography as a thing in itself – what interests me is people, how they behave and relate to each other and their location. That is usually on the street or occasionally among friends. I’ve always been an observer and photography is another way to observe people. I’m a sucker for funny and surreal moments though!
‘Peak Beard’ – ©Dani Salvadori
‘This group were at the Yorkshire Beard Day at the Scarborough Spa conference centre and we arrived as the formal photos were being taken from above. I’ve since found out that the UK is at a ‘peak beard moment’ and that beards are expected to go out of fashion soon. Luckily I’ve got the shot to prove beards were quite the thing once!’
Do you sometimes secretly pose or direct the subjects in your shots or do you always shoot spontaneously? Do you think there is a “right” way to take a street photograph? There are those who feel that a photograph is only good if it follows certain guidelines and fundamentals such as “the decisive moment” or that street photography should never be posed. How do you feel about this?
I don’t pose people but I do look for composition in my photographs. I often find myself drawn to moments of stillness or solitariness among my subjects as well as things that just make me laugh. I doubt that there is a right way to do anything – there is just the way that works for you.
‘Rivoli Ballroom’ – ©Dani Salvadori
How do you feel about shooting from the hip as opposed to looking though the viewfinder?
It’s almost always a failure when I try it! I’m impressed when people can make it work.
‘Suspicious’ – ©Dani Salvadori
These days, the genre raises many questions with regards to the morals and ethics of taking photographs of strangers in a public environment. It is becoming increasingly difficult to shoot freely as a street photographer. What are your thoughts on this?
I think it’s a tricky issue – but I come down on the side of the right to observe and record the world around us, as long as one does not belittle people or cause distress.
‘Surf School’ – ©Dani Salvadori
How do you feel about using model release forms and re-publication of images of the public? Are we morally, if not legally responsible?
I think the issues are complex and as I think asking people to sign model release forms would be tricky. I’ve never tried to make money from my street photography.
‘Please, please, please’ – ©Dani Salvadori
Do you have any personal rules when it comes to street photography? For instance, are there any situations that you feel are morally unacceptable?
I never take pictures of homeless people or people in distress. I think I would find the role of a war photographer extremely difficult – when do you help rather than just observe and record?
‘Place des Vosges’ – ©Dani Salvadori
Do you think women street photographers share a different perspective to men? If so, can you elaborate on your thoughts?
I do think women street photographers take different sorts of images to men. I think they are often softer, slower and more observational with less use of conflict.
‘The Visitor’ – ©Dani Salvadori
As a woman street photographer, do you find yourself drawn to shooting other women and children or do you prefer to shoot men or is this irrelevant? Would you feel uncomfortable if a male street photographer were to take a photograph of you?
Before I started doing this I would have imagined that it would make no difference, but that is not actually the case. The first project I did was to post a daily portrait of a fellow tube traveller for a month on Instagram. Much to my surprise at the end of the month most of the images were of other women. I’ve had my photo taken by male street photographers more than once and the level of discomfort was directly related to the level of respect shown by the photographer.
‘Alice and Leo’ – ©Dani Salvadori
Do you think women street photographers are more accepted by the public when taking photographs or do you think they are more likely to be challenged? Do you have any experience of this?
I’ve never been challenged – mostly I’ve been completely ignored. I think that is because I’m a middle aged woman and we get a cloak of invisibility at 50!
‘Mr Blobby Catches Up’ – ©Dani Salvadori
Which street photographers have influenced you?
I’m not sure whether I have been influenced by any photographers in particular. I think I have been more influenced by the wide range of imagery that I see around me every day, from TV and the internet to the world of art and what I see every day working in an art school.
‘Armed Forces Day’ – ©Dani Salvadori
This was probably the first image I ever took where I really tried to get a particular picture. It was at the end of the annual Armed Forces Day in Scarborough and I saw these naval cadets queuing up at the Harbour Bar with vouchers for free ice cream. I ran down the alley behind the ice cream parlour and sat down on a bench back on the sea front and took their photo as they marched down the street.
Which mobile device do you use to take your photographs? Do you post-process your photographs? If so, what are your favorite post-processing techniques/apps? If you post-process on your mobile device, do you usually transfer the images as soon as they have been processed to social sites (in other words, capturing and editing the image while in situ) or do you prefer to have more time to work on your images? Please share some examples of your workflow process
I use an iPhone 5S to take my photos, it is my only camera, but I’ve only had it for a few months. For a couple of years before I got the 5S I used an iPhone 4 with Kitcam as a replacement camera app. I almost never post straight away, I like to think about whether an image is good enough to let out into the world and I can almost never tell until I’ve seen it on an iPad.
I only lightly edit my street photos, mostly to straighten them and adjust the colour balance. I often use Hipstamatic or Oggl and so I do tend to crop the image and cut off the frames as I find most of them quite annoying! My favourite editing app is Filterstorm Neue (and before that Filterstorm), as it has controls that allow fine adjustment. Very occasionally I use Snapseed.
‘Faster, Faster, Faster’ – ©Dani Salvadori – Original image using Fast Camera, cropped and sharpened in Filterstorm, words added in iPhonto.
Do you pre-mediate the capture of your images? Do you have a plan or structure in place or do you prefer to act spontaneously? Please share your thoughts about some of your images – what you were thinking, or felt when you shot those photographs.
I do both: sometimes I just shoot what I see but I also set out to take images in a particular location or at an event. I think I get better results with the latter approach as it gives me more time to get to grips with the subject.
‘Hand Knitted’ – ©Dani Salvadori
‘This is another image from Scarborough beach. I took it last November at the parade that kicked off the Art Party – an artists’ event that was part party and part protest. These two were textile students from Manchester and the one on the right had hand knitted this banner for the event. My main feeling was total awe that someone could hand knit something as big as this. I hope she got a second use out of it’.
What is the importance of street photography within the entire body of your work? To what extent is street photography a major focus for you?
I haven’t been doing this very long – a couple of years at most. In that time I’ve tried lots of different sorts of photography but I keep coming back to taking pictures of people. When I get it right I think they are my favourite images of all those that I take.
‘Sarah Lucas at the Giardini’ – ©Dani Salvadori
‘I took this at the Venice Biennale last year. I had reached that stage in the art lover’s day where exhaustion meant that I wasn’t seeing what I was looking at when I walked into a small covered outdoor area alongside the main curated exhibition. The work on show was by British artist Sarah Lucas and was really lively and then I spotted this woman who just matched the sculpture perfectly’.
Who do you think is the audience for your work? Is this who you want your audience to be? What is it you hope to achieve, either on a personal or professional level, with your body of work?
I’m not sure I’ve quite found my audience yet for my street work. I’ve had more success with some of the other photographs I’ve taken – urban landscape and flowers. I feel I’m at the start of a photographic journey so I’m not sure yet where I’m trying to get to – although I know I’m having fun.
‘Marawa the Amazing’ – ©Dani Salvadori – Original image using Fast Camera, cropped, colour balance adjusted and image sharpened in Filterstorm.
What do you think distinguishes your street photography from others in the group?
I’m not sure I’ve studied other people’s work in enough depth to give a definitive answer but my work is part portraiture and part street photography and possibly less edited than others in the group.
‘Saturday Night’ – ©Dani Salvadori – Original image taken with Kitcam, cropped and colour balanced in Filterstorm which I also used to clone out part of the door
Where do you show your work? How has social media played a role in your photography? Which platforms are you most active on?
Social media has been really important for me. I would not have really started to take photographs without being introduced to Instagram by my sister. And I would not have thought that I could do this sort of thing and be taken seriously without the recognition that has come on the range of platforms I’ve put work onto. I also like the instant commentary you get on social media.
At the moment I’m not particularly focused on one platform or another. I put work on Instagram, Oggl, Flickr and Facebook, although I seem to have given up with Eyeem and Backspaces for the time being. I suppose I should focus a bit more!
‘Spotted’ – ©Dani Salvadori – ‘Original image taken in Oggl and then cropped as much as Oggl would allow which made the image fuzzy. Then I used Oggl to make two versions, one using Sergio/Shisole and another using Lowy/Irom 2000. I then blended them together on the left hand side only using Filterstorm Neue to give a better brick texture’.
Do you have any tips that you would like to share with us? Is there anything else you would like to add?
You have to keep at it. The more you do, the more you see. And the more you see, the better you do.
‘Sunday Outing’ – ©Dani Salvadori
Please include any publications, exhibitions or biography information that you would like us to
Dani has been featured in Hipstography.com, Hipstamatic’s Snap Magazine: Black & White and Destinations issues and the Exposure exhibition in Columbus, Ohio, USA.
She has also won the following awards
Mobile Photo Awards 2012: Highly Commended in Street Photography
IPhone Photography Awards 2013: Runner-up in Flowers
TziPac GoPix Awards 2013: Finalist in People & Animals and Landscape & Nature
USA Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014: Highly Commended in Landscape on the Move
So great to learn more about you Dani!! I love your English beach scenes and your City images are really very cool too!! Makes me really wish I lived in a more urban setting!! Congratulations Dani!
Cecily. Thank you. It’s the cool northern light that always entices me at the beach.
Outstanding Dana! Loved reading more about u and ur process. U Merit An Audience.
Tracy Mitchell Griggs
Just loved this interview and images / Like Cecily, I wished I lived in a more robust area for street scenes. I like that your images are not heavily apped and rely on the strength of the subject and composition. Have you explored Saul Leiter’s work? You would like it.
Great gallery, and great inspiration – thank you.