We recently reached out to Shaun Nykvist in light of his upcoming gallery event, An Elusively Captured Exhibition, to ask him about his approach and beginnings in photography and what drives him.
How did you get started in photography?
I have always had a passion for photography and capturing the world around me. In the early 90’s, I was teaching scuba diving and really wanted to capture the world underwater, so I embarked on a journey of training to be an underwater photographer. I think this experience set me up well for the type of photography that I am focussed on today. Under water, I really needed to have a good understanding of my camera and know how to use light and shadow to capture an image – plus deal with an environment that is not forgiving if you make mistakes. There is a need to really see your scene and capture it within a certain time frame, as well as knowing how to utilise all the manual settings on your cameras as well as flash systems. I still escape the hustle and bustle of the above world to shoot underwater but have really focussed on capturing the world above water these days.
How do you describe your photographic style?
I have always enjoyed photography and find nothing more relaxing then walking the streets and capturing that unique sometimes elusive moment. I want to show real life on the streets, and capture that moment that tells a story. I don’t necessarily define my photography style as being of a particular genre such as “street” or “travel” but rather as a genre that is about capturing that one moment – working with the environment, seeing the shadows, the reflections, the lines that all work together to tell a unique story.
What influences your current photography style?
The people around me and the environment influence my photography – I have met some amazing photographers as I travel the world and made some great friends on the way. I love reading books and looking at the techniques of those who have influenced street photography – but at the end of the day I look for that one photo that captures the moment and tells a story.
How do you decide between colour and B&W?
This really depends on the story that I want to tell – sometimes the vibrant colours of a scene are essential to the story where as other stories are better told through B&W where you can focus the views attention. The B&W also allows for emotion to be demonstrated in different ways.
How do you decide what makes a good photo?
A good photo needs to tell a story and it needs to capture my interest in the first instance. I don’t rely on likes via social media - but I do have some very good friends that I ask to critique a photo that I have identified as a favourite. I find that having a small group of trusted friends where you can critique each other’s work is essential to progressing your photographic style.
What are you thinking when you take a photo?
I often see the photo evolving in front of me before I press the shutter – it sort of just comes together. Sometimes I am predicting what will be happening on the street and I know that there will often only be one chance to get the image that I want. I predominantly shoot using zone focusing techniques as it allows me to instantly capture that moment without having to wait for the camera to decide where the best focus point is (plus many of my prime lenses are all manual focus anyway). When it comes to post-processing, I only spend a couple of minutes on each image with very little cropping.
What keeps you going or gives you inspiration to keep walking the streets?
I enjoy what I do, but if I am feeling less then creative I will set myself challenges such as trying new techniques, changing settings or focal lengths or even setting myself some new projects to work on. For example, if it is an overcast or rainy day I may grab a small flash and play with a range of flash settings. A couple of years ago I was quite tired and needing inspiration so set myself the task of shooting Minions on the streets of Hanoi at night – this turned out to be a real fun project meeting many visitors and locals.
See more of Shaun's work on his website: elusivelycaptured.com.