Mine is a slightly different approach to street photography. Although most of my personal work is about people in public spaces, my images always have a theme, rather than just me waiting for the perfect light or someone walking into a scene.
Personally, I’m not so keen on the term street photography because of the cliches associated with it, but I’m not sure you would categorise it as documentary photography either. I guess it sits somewhere in between.
For Smoking Chefs, I have been shooting in the streets of London’s Chinatown over the past two and a half years. It’s one of Central London’s busiest districts, yet I have been trying to make it look as if my subjects are in a quiet place, alone with themselves, even though there are usually crowds of people around them. Most of the images were made at night, but I have been shooting around the year at pretty much all times of the day.
What I have been trying to capture is an atmosphere of calm and contemplation, of people being alone with themselves, switching off for a few minutes from their demanding work in the kitchen. Cigarettes (and often mobile phones) are the running theme that unifies the series, but they are just props. The work is not really about smoking at all.
In some ways, the project is a juxtaposition to some of my other recent work, where I have been photographing extrovert people that are almost searching for the camera. My project Serious Conviction on the people gathering at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park is trying to capture the passion and emotion prevailing there every Sunday afternoon. And similarly, with my project To the Races, which is about racegoers in transit to the major English horse racing events, shot around railway stations, rather than at the actual racecourses. That project is also about people wanting to be in the focus of attention.
About Jan Enkelmann
Jan Enkelmann is a London-based documentary photographer, dividing his time between commercial work and personal projects. He started out in travel photography and still shoots commissions for magazines. Jan has recently published Serious Conviction, a book on the people gathering at Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park. [Official Website]