JOSEPH PAREDES - STREET PHOTOGRAPHER


Age: 29
Years Behind Camera: 14
POB: Montreal, Canada
Current City: Toronto, Canada
Primary Occupation: Shipping Services
Instagram: @josephwall85


Tell us briefly about yourself. How did you get started in street photography?
I started developing an interest in photography when I was 16 years old. I took a course in high school on black and white photography. In the beginning my interest level was really low, however, after I began developing my own pictures I realized the creative potential I had with a camera and I haven’t looked back since.

How much time do you dedicate to it?
I always had a slight interest in photography, however, I would be the first to admit I wasn’t committed in the early stages. All that changed when a previous girlfriend, who also shared an interest in photography, purchased a Nikon for me as a gift. She encouraged me to pursue my goals and to express myself in a creative way. At the present time I can’t picture myself leaving the house without my camera.

Do you snap pictures as you see them or do you carve out time to dedicate entirely to making photos when you are 100% focused?
I try to not make time for photography. I believe once you dedicate a specific time to anything it becomes a task and feels forced. I try to see the world through the lens of a camera. I might get inspired in a grocery store, walking the streets, or even at home. If there’s anything that kills creativity it’s forcing yourself to do it, that’s why I always carry my camera for whenever the moment is right. Photography can be an art form and art should never be forced.

Ok, so you step outside with your camera, what's the first thing you do? How do you get the first shot off?
I don’t necessarily have a checklist when I step outside. I try to capture life as it happens, uninterrupted and true.

What do you primarily chase outside - composition, light, subject? What draws your eye?
I’m intrigued by shadows and lighting. I like to combine shadows/lighting with moments in life that depict pain. Rarely are those moments ever shared with the world. My objective is not to glorify pain but rather to tell its side of the story.

Share with us some fears that you confront. Are there moments when the camera just feels too heavy to lift?
I like to put myself in situations that create discomfort. For example I once stayed the night at a homeless shelter and shared a room that had two beds with four men. I took pictures throughout the night until one of the men became agitated and chased me out.

How do you deal with that discomfort?
I try to blend in with the environment as much as possible. Whether it’s my choice of attire or how I conduct myself.

The streets can get overwhelming at times. What qualifies for you as a moment worth capturing? Why do you point your camera at certain things and not others?
Moments that are worth capturing for me are moments of pain. I like to capture the harsh realities of life in a picture. Perhaps it’s my personality but I enjoy taking pictures that most would consider taboo or unconventional.

What do you think is the difference between a great street photographer and a mediocre one?
I believe the biggest difference between a great and a mediocre photographer is a great one will be able to draw emotion or interest from pictures that capture moments that go unnoticed on the streets. Anybody can take pictures of moments that life has to offer however great ones combine it with creativity to draw an emotional reaction from the viewer.

Do you work exclusively in black and white? How did you arrive at that choice?
I believe black and white compliments my style of photography. As I stated previously I like to capture pain and shadows. Black and white matches with those elements perfectly.

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Why is street photography important to you, and why should it be important to the rest of the world? Should people care?
Photography is important to me because it’s a means of expressing myself in a creative way. I believe it’s important to share it with the world because there’s a side to every story. There’s happiness and then there’s pain. I compare street photography to early hip-hop. People were appalled by the lyrics but rappers were only speaking of realities from their environment and how they saw the world through their experiences.

Street photography is challenging. What is the risk of not pushing yourself every time you make a picture? 
I rarely push myself when it comes to photography. Photography is something I enjoy and I never want it to become a task. I always believe if I ever feel like I’m forcing myself or if it starts to feel like a job then I will quit doing photography all together.

If you could go to any location in the world for a week for free just to take photos, where would you go?
I would go back home to Lima, Peru where my parents were born. It’s where my family came from and I would love to take pictures of the area where my mother grew up. I also want to take pictures of an area called El Jade in Lime. It’s an area filled with graffiti and art.