The Streets of Mexico: Adam Powell
Hailing from Essex (UK), Brooklyn-based street photographer Adam Powell, along with other fellow photographers Lauren Roche, Christian Linares, Tyler Woodford, and Cat Byrnes, photographed a recent trip to Mexico City in collaboration with Lomography. Using Lomography film to document their travels, each photographer will be featured in our magazine. Check out Mexico City through Adam's lens below and stay tuned for more articles in this series.
Where did your interest in photography/street photography first begin?
I moved to NYC from the UK 3 years ago. I fell in love with walking around the different neighborhoods, observing how the scenes and the people changed as you moved through different areas. My dad mailed me his old Pentax Program A and a few rolls of film and I’ve been taking photos every day since then.
You were raised in Essex but live in Brooklyn now. How has spending large parts of your life in two different countries influenced the way you make photographs?
I would say that taking photos in NYC, you can get really close to subjects to take candid photos due to the nature of how foot traffic flows. Spending hours upon hours on the streets of NYC also gives you a form of mental toughness — you see a lot. Those aspects combined certainly have built up a confidence that I take back to England when I’m taking photos.
In the UK, people aren’t as on top of each other as in NYC and you’re much more visible when taking photos — especially when you get out of London. Once I get over that mental barrier and apply the same techniques I use in NYC (worrying about getting the photo, not the potential uncomfortable exchange afterwards), that’s when I start making good photos.
Your photos not only seem to focus on formal elements but on the emotion and relationships of the people you photograph as well. What do you look for when capturing subjects on the street?
Ultimately I want to make photos that cause people to feel something, and ultimately to achieve that, I have to look for situations that make me feel something.
You have documented everything from the streets of New York to a dog show to Comic-Con. How did your experience shooting in Mexico differ from the other places you have photographed?
The first thing that I notice about any place I take photos is how people react to me taking photos of them. In NYC, if people notice you, they will either look at you with confusion or they will take issue with it. In Mexico City, pretty much every time I was greeted with a smile. The city is so welcoming to foreigners and happy that people travel from all over the world to celebrate the rich culture of Mexico City.
Do you have a specific photo in the group with a memory/story attached to it? Tell us about it.
We had been walking around Coyoacán for a few hours in the blazing heat and we finished things up outside a church in a lively plaza. I saw this couple fighting — they were street vendors and the woman was screaming and had thrown all of the candy they were selling on the floor. It was a very emotionally intense moment. I think the photo captures the emotion of the situation well and the composition of the cross in-between them adds to the tenseness of the photograph.
Film changes the look and feel of this series of photographs. Why is shooting on film so important to you?
I have played around with shooting street on a digital camera and it has never quite worked for me. I take photos of everything because I can, and that dilutes the quality of work. Shooting film forces me into picking my shots carefully and wait for the right moment to capture. Plus the look and feel of a film photo is irreplaceable.