Simplicity is the prominent feature of street photography of Georgie Jerzyna Pauwels, a computer scientist in Wuppertal, Germany. She’s an avid traveler and her camera is always ready to shoot the amusing drama of streets. Cleanliness and symmetry are also major characteristics of her images that are free from visual distractions like too many elements, reflections, or multiple exposure, however, these things do play their interesting role in street photography- and we love to see both. Georgie has shot in many cities around the world and her work has been published in various print and online magazines and blogs. This feature includes some of her choicest images, a favorite image, and the interview below:
My name is Georgie Jerzyna Pauwels. I am a Computer Scientist and I live in Wuppertal in Germany. I work in a big data center for health insurance in Wuppertal. Travelling and photography are my biggest passions ever.
I’ve been taking pictures for a long time. As a teenager I discovered photography and my first camera was a Praktica, but in order to do better work I shifted to Canon AE-1. I still shoot with this camera sometimes. Photography is not a just hobby for me but more of a passion for me, so I use almost my every free minute to go out and shoot. I carry my small Olympus OMD E-M10 every day in my handbag.
I photographed streets and strange people for a very long time, but I had no idea that it was called ‘Street Photography’. I started intensively to do street photography almost three years ago, after attending the workshops of Thomas Leuthard and Eric Kim.
For me, the urban environment is like an an El Dorado for motives, moods and scenes that are funny, sad, thoughtful but also ugly at time. Street Photography teaches me to be patient, to observe and perceive my surroundings more precisely and to meet the unexpected.
I am quite pragmatic and I try out different cameras but the camera in itself is not the most important. I have a full frame DSRL but I prefer using smaller cameras. Currently I am on the streets with Olympus OMD E-M1 and Olympus OMD E-M10. Small cameras fit into every handbag, are discreet and the photographer is not noticed and can photograph in peace. My camera settings depends on the situation. If you have to act fast and take pictures quickly semi-automatic settings are useful. I use the manual mode when I have some time to get ready.
I edit my pictures minimally. I prefer to go with my camera outside, instead of sitting in front of computer. I use Lightroom and spend about 5-10 minutes on each image. I believe that too much post-processing, manipulation or extreme HDR have nothing to do with the streets photography. I also sometimes shoot with analog and it’s a big fun to wait for the results.
Yes, I agree, I like simplicity, clean lines and structures. I do not like overloaded images but efficiency and clarity. I think that is related to my profession. In many of my images you see one or a few people, because the loneliness in the urban world touches me the most.
I travel a lot and of course the pictures that I have made in India or South-east Asia are different, more dynamic and multi-level, because the streets and the mood there are different to the streets in Europe. I like to do street portraits and indeed without asking, sometimes there are conversations after I took picture, and people want to know the reason and want to see the result. Most experiences are positive.
My favorite picture (see below) is the one I took in September, 2013. I was in Sidon in Lebanon. Actually I wanted to photograph the two older gentlemen who avenged a cozy Shisha, then suddenly a cat jumped in front of the lens as if the cat eagerly wanted to be included in my shot.
My pictures have been published and exhibited in different countries in Europe, USA and Asia. I have also received good placements and reviews in some competitions.
Everyone needs recognition and achievements, but as a great success I consider recognition of people in social networks that follow and appreciate my work regular.
Photography is not elitist- every person… even with a mobile phone can make photos and publish them on the Internet. So we see a flood of images, many not particularly successful with always the same motives but in between you can always find jewels that are very inspirational. It is no longer enough just to photograph the people passing by on the streets, it costs more effort to take good pictures.
Through many prohibitions and laws, particularly in Germany and Europe it has become difficult to perform the street photography, but this is not simple conditions foster invention sense and creativity. So I continue walking and takeing pictures with my camera on the streets. Where I find myself among other photographers? About this I am not really making big thoughts, but I wish more women in street photography, unfortunately we are in the minority and not taken really seriously.
Honestly, I do not have particularly problems with motivation, rather I have to slow down, because sometimes I feel neglecting my family, friends and my house and the photograph completely fulfilled my free time.
There are many cities that I would like to visit and photograph. I’ve also planned meetings with other photographers that I know from the social networks. An exhibition and a photo essay with social background are intended.
Finally, your words to our readers and young photographers:
Do not deal too much with equipment and technology, a good camera is important but not decisive. And the pictures are created outside and not on the computer, so grab a camera in hand and get out on the streets as often as possible.