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28.10.2021

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From Irish photographer David Gray's perspective, everyday life is often where you find the best stories. Using his Leica cameras, he observes and documents it all from wings, while his 24mm and 28mm lenses bring him up close to his protagonists. We spoke with him about the effect of a smile, heated conversations, and the rare involvement of the police.

LFI: What is it that fascinates you about photographing on the street?
Essentially, my photographs document the everyday life of ordinary people on the streets. I'm fascinated by how people behave and interact in public, and I'm constantly trying to incorporate these surprising behaviours into my photographs.

Where did you actually take the pictures?
Most of the pictures in my LFI Gallery were taken in Dublin. A few were taken in other locations in Ireland, Australia, London and Italy. Dublin is a small city and I tend to take pictures in the city centre. This may seem to be limiting, but the constant stream of residents, protesters and tourists offers plenty of material for my photographs. I've been taking street photographs with my Leica equipment since 2005.

How did the people you photographed react?
I hardly ever ask permission to take photographs; but since I normally use a 24mm or 28mm lens, I need to be close to my subjects and many of them realise that I have taken a photograph. Sometimes it is obvious from the picture that they have seen me. Usually a smile or saying "Hello" is enough to placate people. Sometimes it requires a conversation and an explanation of what I'm doing; but occasionally the conversation can get very heated and all I can do is walk away. On four occasions I had to deal with the police, but they always respected my right to take photographs in public places.
I believe that if your intentions are good and you don't conceal what you're doing, most people will react well to being photographed.

In your opinion, what is the most important skill for a photographer?
For street photographers, it's mastery of their equipment. This allows them to concentrate on observing, framing and shooting scenes without their camera getting in the way. (Interview: Katrin Ullmann)

All pictures on this page © David Gray
Equipment: Leica M6, Leica M-E (Typ 220), Leica M (Typ 262), Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) with Elmarit-M 24 f/2.8 Asph., Elmarit-M 28 f/2.8, Summarit-M 35 f/2.5 and Summicron-M 50 f/2
© Charlie Daly

David Gray

Born in Belfast, David Gray studied at Queen's University of Belfast and holds a Bachelor's Degree and Ph.D. in Computer Science. During his career, he worked in both the software industry and held academic posts at a number of universities. David retired in 2018 and lives in Dublin. He has been an active street photographer for the last 20 years.

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