Based in California, street photographer Tyler Woodford, along with other fellow photographers Lauren Roche, Adam Powell, Christian Linares, 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 Tyler's lens below and our first article in this series with Adam Powell.
Where did your interest in photography/street photography first begin?
My first introduction/first interest to street photography came about six years ago or so. I watched a video about street photography and it immediately stuck out to me. I was so amazed that you can make art from moments that happen on the street — everything about it seemed so natural. A big part about shooting in the street is that its not technical. You don't have to wait for a certain time of the day or have any expensive equipment to do it. You just have to walk outside and see what you can find and that's what I love the most about street photography.
You are from California. How did moving to New York change the way you approached photography?
Moving to New York from California was a huge change and challenging at first but at the same time, a blessing. Shooting street in some parts of California can be tough because there are less people walking around and more people are concerned about what you're doing and why you have a camera in your hand. That being said, moving to New York really helped me become more comfortable with my photography in every way. The streets are so alive and full of people, I found it way easier to capture people on the street and with more people around, it's basically a huge concrete playground for street photography. The energy of the city is truly beautiful and most days I wish I didn't move back to California for that reason.
Your work visually references street photography greats such as Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand. What or where do you source inspiration from?
Well, thank you — that's a flattering comment, as I can only imagine to be half as close to them one day. I found my inspiration through a couple of different photographers at first through watching video interviews and picking up countless photo books. I remember getting my first books and it was Alex Webb and Joel Meyerowitz. I loved how their ability to capture a scene on the street and their choice of composition was so appealing to me. Later on, I discovered Daniel Arnold and Bruce Gilden and after that, I really learned how I wanted to photograph. Both of their styles are so raw and up close — looking at their work is mind-blowing and so different.
Most of your photos focus on the busy streets of New York as a subject. How did your experience shooting in Mexico City challenge you as a photographer?
Shooting in Mexico City was quite the experience and a nice change of pace. Some parts reminded me of New York from all the people walking around all day and night, but the best part for me was how colorful the city is. The people in Mexico City were so welcoming — photographing there was so refreshing because everything was so new and different for me. I had the mindset as if I was shooting in New York so my approach to making photos was similar, but I also wanted to capture more than up close shots. I wanted to photograph the people and the environment around them and I feel like I accomplished that. One thing that changed me after the trip to Mexico was that now, every photo has to be close up, and mostly shooting in color changed my view on subjects.
Do you have a specific photo in the group with a memory/story attached to it? Tell us about it.
A specific photo that stuck out to me was this man standing on the edge of the sidewalk wearing a Bugs Bunny t-shirt. I took a photo and while composing the shot, I saw him waving at me across the street. People do that all the time but when I walked passed him, he had a very interesting look to me that made me want to take his portrait. I tried my best to ask to take his portrait in Spanish and he happily agreed. After, I shook his hand and thanked him for the opportunity. I don't normally or really ever ask for someone's permission to take their photo, but that one stuck with me after the trip.
Film changes the look and feel of this series of photographs. Why is shooting on film so important to you?
Shooting film to me is really special. It keeps me focused and looking forward to taking the next photo because you can't see what you took right away. Film forces you to have limitations with the fact that you only get 36 frames and the speed of the film you choose makes you think more about what you're doing. Film can be unforgiving at times but also the greatest reward is when you get your film back and you can physically see the photo you took on the roll of film — that's the beautiful part for me. The "look" of film is also unbeatable. The thing I love with film is that you have options for what you want to shoot, either if that is shooting color or black and white. With all the different brands that are out there, you can get different looks with every option which is truly amazing. The last part about shooting film is that you don't have to make film look like film. Unlike digital, which is pretty boring and flat to me, you can get a very interesting and different feel to the photo when you shoot film. Most of the time if you shoot digital, most people now are trying to make the photo look like film, so you might as well save your time and pick up a roll of film and have some fun with it.
If you would like to check out more of Tyler's work, check out his Instagram.
Read the first article in this series with Adam Powell.