Mr. Bones is a North London-based photographer who gives street photography a different spin by focusing on the dogs that he encounters regularly. Check out our interview with the photographer, whose tools of the trade include film cameras such as the Nikonos V and community favorite Lomo LC-A, after the jump.
Photographer Mr. Bones loves dogs. That much is obvious from the get-go; if his pseudonym isn’t telling enough, it’s his works that would finally make you realize the fact. A dog owner himself, he also loves meeting dogs whenever he goes around his city. Mr. Bones is also a huge fan of street photography, under which his work essentially falls under, only that his focus lies on – you guessed it – dogs.
“Street photography is at its best when it captures the emotional honesty of a character or scene, and dogs are nothing but emotionally honest!” he explained to Lomography via e-mail, “You immediately understand their mood and character just by looking at them, and they aren’t aware of the camera so [they] have no self-consciousness. You capture them at their most natural, playful, and sometimes uncompromising [state]!”
Mr. Bones welcomes the unpredictability that comes with working with the often playful creatures. “Part of the fun is the unpredictability. I don’t ever plan or start by approaching the dog or the owner. I just sort of dive in and see what happens,” he said.
After taking the shot, Mr. Bones likes to hang around with the dogs and their owners for a while just to hear their stories. He’s a writer and a filmmaker, too, so it’s only natural for him to do this. “Dogs inspire people to share these stories with such warmth and generosity and I am so grateful to have met and got to know them all,” he said.
Asked to recall any interesting ones from his adventures, the photographer shared how he met a well-off old woman and her handbag dog in Kensington, and a homeless man and his dog that could walk on its hind legs in Mile End. "The old lady had been given the dog as a present when she lost her husband, and the man in Mile End had lost his wife not long before he bought his for two cans of beer.
“They were both completely different dogs from completely different walks of life, but they meant the same to them both. They were a comfort and a security and a friend,” he said.
Mr. Bones also chooses to shoot solely on analogue both for technical and aesthetic reasons.
“Film is a great extension of the candid photography mentality. It forces you to be selective and expert with your subject, framing, and moment. I’m certain that I could get a better frame or angle or composition if I took more time over it, but the moment would have passed. Of course you can do that with digital, but with film you feel like you really are taking a plunge and when it works, it feels fantastic!”
“Plus, I prefer the look of film. The documentary photographers that I admired always shot the world in black and white and on wonderful, analogue cameras that were imperfect and grainy and romantic. I wanted to do the same, although I shoot in color too!” he said.
For his work, Mr. Bones mainly uses cameras that have zone focus such as his Nikonos V (which, incidentally, was a camera that community member @lomokev had introduced to him) and the Lomo LC-A. Doing so allows him to interact with the dogs while capturing “really natural moment[s]” at the same time. “The Lomo is small, compact and fast, [while] the Nikonos V is great for slinging around and not worrying about it breaking or getting wet!” he adds. Aside from these, he also owns a Canon FTB and a Rolleiflex, although he doesn’t use them as much as the LC-A and the Nikonos.
Currently, Mr. Bones is busy working on a book as well as producing Mr. Bones t-shirts that will be available by next month. Exhibits of his work are also being held in cafes and bars around North London; in autumn, Mr. Bones revealed that he intends to hold bigger ones.
As for aspiring street photographers, Mr. Bones has this message:
Shooting on analogue can be a huge commitment of your time and money, so finding something you love to drive your work forward is key. I was lucky enough to find something that I’ve become really passionate about and works for me."
Also, it’s a funny time for street photography. With the online world becoming more public, the real world has closed off a bit. People can sometimes be a bit cynical towards the intentions of your photography. It can be associated with self-indulgence, an invasion of privacy or viewed as a fashion statement. None of this should ever slow anyone down. Don’t ever hold yourself back from shooting what you want to shoot with confidence (within reason, obviously!)"