IN CONVERSATION WITH DAVID KUGELMAS
Street photographer David Kugelmas, as he told us, snaps it like he sees it. Living in extraordinary times David feels it's his duty to capture them one day at a time. With striking visual compositions, David takes us on a candid journey around the streets of his home city, New York.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. What started your interest in photography for it to become an important part of your life?
I was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up in Marlboro, New Jersey. I have also lived in New York City for many years. I remember always taking the camera (in the house, or car or whenever I saw it!) and snapping pictures from the time I was young and throughout my teenage years. Once cell phones had cameras, I was constantly taking pictures with whatever phone I had; which I still do today! I always have my Canon with me.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you have any favourite artists/photographers?
Each day I am able to see beauty in the mundane and also in the faces of people, even when they're wearing masks. I enjoy some of the well-known work of people like Bruce Gilden, Saul Leiter, Vivian Maier and Richard Sandler.
What do you want to express to the viewer? What are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
I want people to see what I see, what draws me to the subject and the elements around it.
You live in the city that never sleeps, but where is your most favourite place to go photograph? How has the pandemic affected you personally and your photography?
I love being on the streets... midtown can be a bit boring, but it's convenient to my office and it affords me the ability to shoot on my lunch or before work. I love SoHo and the East Village; really any area in downtown Manhattan is a virtual photographer's playground if they like to shoot street.
The pandemic has added an unexpected layer to everything. People have been creative with their masks and using their eyes to tell a story. I have noticed that there has been more people about lately versus a month ago, so it seems that slowly people are coming back into the city for work and also the tourists have been coming back quietly.
When you take pictures, do you usually have a concept in mind of what you want to shoot, or do you let the images just "come to you", or is it both?
So I am a bit of a "hunter" for shots. Sometimes it's an immediate gut reaction and I shoot, other times I may see a hat that looks stylish and that becomes a shot or it's an outfit that catches my eye. It truly depends on the shot.
Describe your process when you go out with your camera. How do people generally react? Have you ever had a negative encounter? If yes, how did you handle it?
I am fearless when shooting out there. A few times people have had a few comments, but I laugh and smile it off. One time a guy came over and said "I told you not to take my picture" to which I replied haha ok man - now I did take his picture, but had never seen this human before - he walked away regardless. I am respectful in certain situations and other times I just snap and move on.
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? (What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?)
When I was using the Sony A7S, it was a lot of fun with a slightly longer 24-104 mm Canon lens. My wife had gotten me the Canon T6 Rebel, which I have been using for the last year or so. I have been using the standard 18-55mm lens. Simple, but not elevated. One day, I would love to buy a new camera.
What are some of your goals as an artist or photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
I would love more people to see my work and be able to sell more of my prints. I am very grateful for the life I have now and work really hard to live my best one. Five years will hopefully yield great things on both a personal and professional level.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
Currently I am not doing any shows, but love doing them during non-pandemic times. Looking forward to resuming showing my work once the opportunity can arise again.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
...spend time with my family/dogs/friends...music, art, reading and even relaxing when I can...Family means everything to me (friends are family)."
All photos © David Kugelmas