Elizabeth Char | Paris

How did you get involved with street photography?
Photography really came to me. A few years ago, while I had to endure a very tough treatment that really was putting me down. So to keep breathing and keep in touch with the world around me, I decided to go out every single day to take at least one photograph. That’s how Street Photography came into my life. Since then, I read up on it, went to exhibitions, met passionate people and life has become a lot more interesting and entertaining.

Is there a place you prefer for street photography?
I love Tokyo’s streets, as well as the small beaches in the south of France. And in Paris, of course, because I live there. I love wandering to any place where there is life, wherever I am.

When you are shooting, how much is instinctual vs. planned?
I shoot 99% by instinct. I love when I can feel and even sometimes anticipate situations.  People draw me in. It can be a wrinkled face, friends laughters, a touching gesture, a graceful young girl (even though it’s harder with young girls. They keep their head bent down over their mobile!). 

On your biography of your website you write that street photography is a kind of active meditation or therapy. What do you mean?
This is true. Going out and focusing on the street is an active form of meditation and a therapy. I’m totally there, here and now. All I have to do is to open my eyes and feel. All my troubles are left behind, at home. I can breathe. This therapy has a meaning and a goal. It has become a creative fulfillment I need to balance my life. Street Photography gives me joy and the opportunity to meet admirable people wherever I go.

Most of your work is from Paris. Do you feel that the mood of the city has changed in the past few years? 
I live in Paris. The atmosphere since, the 13th of November 2015, hasen’t changed much from what it has been over the last decade, but for the young people walking down the streets like automates, their heads bent down, and people who stopped talking to each other at the café terraces. There are more and more tourists and a lot of people speak languages I don’t understand. I love the diversity you can find here.

Which equipment do you use? And do you think gear really matters?
I use a Ricoh GR and a Nikon D610. I only use 28mm lenses. For me the camera doesn’t really matters. But having a good eye and an alert mind really do. Someone simply using a compact camera can shoot some very beautiful photographs while another one using a Leica costing thousands dollars will keep shooting poor ones.

Which three street photographers would you invite along to accompany you, and why?
What an amusing question! I would love to invite M. Daido Moriyama and more than three times! And also M. Anders Petersen and M. Harry Gruyaert. I would also love to see some photographers I already met in Japan and in other places. And of course, meet new talented photographers.

Tell me about women in photography. Does being a female street photographer help or hinder your art? Are there any female photographers who inspire you?
Women in Photography. Although Street Photography’s world is a very masculine one, the faithful friendship of a few female photographers mean a lot to me. I learn a lot watching their art evolving everyday. 

What tips or advice would you give a female photographer who is starting with street photography?
There’s only one thing I can tell: don’t be afraid, you are a woman and this is an advantage. People are more compliant with women. Go out, shoot and smile.

What is your favorite picture of yours and why? Can you write a little bit about the story behind that shot?
It’s very hard to answer this question. This woman I shot in Tokyo in April 2015 comes to my mind. She saw me shooting her and took it with humour. She got close to the camera and stuck her tongue out. I shoot. She doesn’t speak English but waved me to wait a little. She went to buy a little cake and offered it to me.  This is what Street Photography is also about, sharing little things and happy moments with others.


Website: http://www.elizabethcharphotography.com/
Tumblr: http://elizabeth-char-photography.tumblr.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethCharStreetWildSidePhotography