Street drawing & street photography

I started taking photos when I was at elementary school, with a Polaroid Land Camera 1000 that I still keep. I also used many other cameras since then, in a time when of course shooting with films was absolutely common, before the digital era. Growing up, the tool that I preferred to use to note down the surrounding, and its people, was drawing. The first time I travelled to Japan I was 19, and back then I used to draw and sketch everyday. I sketched architecture, buildings, panoramas, everything that I could see around. In particular I drew people. I didn’t shoot many photos, and I wasn’t really interested in photography itself, while I focused my energy and passion on drawing and painting.

Street drawings — Japan 2001

I can see now that what I was doing was a kind of street photography: a street drawing, using graphite and pens instead of film, lens, or sensor. The passion for photography has always been dormant until few years ago, when I realised how much I loved taking photos, and specially pictures of people, just like drawing.

Photos of me, while drawing a bridge in Japan — 2001

Now when I shoot with my camera I feel the same way I feel when drawing. I take photos with feelings, of what attracts my sensibility. As for the subjects I drew on paper, I look for emotions also in the subjects I shoot with a camera; irony, melancholy, eccentricity, oddity. I finally realised that photography could be a different and faster tool to express this personal urge to fix and translate feelings into an image. Once I had this thought I never stopped taking photos.

I take photos for myself, because I enjoy the process, and the film camera process in particular. I just love grabbing a camera, choosing a film, and going around looking for emotions and moments to include in the frame. Then leave the images in the roll, waiting to develop it, see the prints or the scans weeks or months later. I like thinking that with analog photography you capture something physical, something of the light of that precise moment. A moment that is going to impress the film in a way that reminds me of fossils: when the remains disappear, but the imprint is still there. Photos are like fossils of the past light.

Street drawingsJapan — 2006

At the moment I find myself using more film cameras than digital ones for these reasons, even if I use both of them for different approaches. I’m happy to see that film is not dead. I was surprised by how big the film community is, and still very alive and kicking. I feel that shooting again with film improved my photography, because it changed the interaction with the tool in a way that I feel closer, and that now I apply also when shooting with a digital camera. I don’t think a media is better than the other one, I’m just glad there are different ones that we can choose as our own.

Street drawingsJapan 2002

It was during the early 2013, when I moved to Berlin from Japan, that I started focusing more and more on photography. I kinda regret now that even if I spent much time in Japan I didn’t take so many photos of that inspiring country and its unique people. The sketches I drew are still my precious memories though, even more now, after I could connect the points between my street drawing and street photography.

Originally published at www.claudiogomboli.com.

Head of UX @Canonical @ubuntudesigners , London, previously @Intel . Film and digital photography.

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