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  • Writer's pictureAbhishek Deb

Sey Rosen

Sey Rosen's street photography at Jerusalem 5
Photo-Sey Rosen

Sey Rosen

The big and bold septuagenarian, who believes a smile and a “thank you” work wonders while finding the best shots on the street. Sey Rosen has witnessed a noteworthy transformation in the field of photography through his noteworthy decades. A transformation not only in the technicalities but also in the approach towards Streets as a sub-discipline.

In this 4th installment of the interview series, Sey Rosen brings on board a lot more years of data than a few other photographers and it would be interesting to hear and read what he has to say about Street Photography!

Why and when did street photography become your THE thing? What exactly inspired you?

Sey Rosen: Having been seduced by the magic of the darkroom, as a Design student in 1967, my newfound passion and my lifelong fascination with the Human Race, without forethought simply and naturally merged together and my Street Photography was born.

How would you define your style of street photography?

Sey Rosen: Hunting, reading people, anticipating, observing, spontaneous, instinctive…

What is more important to you, the people or the surroundings?

Sey Rosen: Definitely the People. Shooting in a marketplace is the same the world over and can become visually boring, but it’s the People that identify the place and situation. So, a little market background is necessary.

Photo-Sey Rosen

Sey, what would be your top list of tricks to succeed as a street photographer? Share some tips for people who are starting out on street photography..

Sey Rosen: Patience, learning to read people, practice, shoot, practice, shoot, honest self-criticism, honest criticism from trusted and knowledgeable friends and colleagues, studying the different masters of Street/Documentary/Reportage Photography – analyzing their differences in style to help develop your own style. Do not attempt to copy them and do not try to ‘force’ your own style, with lots of practice your style will develop itself.

Sey, when you look deep within, did street photography change you?

Sey Rosen: Being a naturally visually creative person, it opened the door for me to visually express my view of the actual world and life around me.

Tell us Sey, for a street photographer, what is beyond that camera?

Sey Rosen: Brain, eyes, heart, soul, empathy, respect. Technically post-processing to correct the camera’s inability to see the world as you do. 

Is street photography your primary source of bread & butter?

Sey Rosen: No. Along with my grandsons, It’s my primary source of the joy of living.

Sey Rosen's street photography at Jerusalem 3

Out of your own work, pick the top three. Tell us the story behind those shots.

Sey Rosen: – I love the one from Jerusalem where the duo is in conversation and there is a third, eavesdropping.

Sey Rosen: My second favorite would be the one taken at Hyde Park, London, where the Jamaican gentleman explains the facts of life to the Anglos.

Sey Rosen's street photography at Jerusalem 2

Sey Rosen: And if I have to pick a third one, that one would be with the banjo busker, charming the mother and her kids.

Any shot you think that you may have missed and you must have taken?

Sey Rosen: Oh yes, many. That’s part of the Street game.

Which camera(s) do you use? And what about your lenses and other accessories?

Sey Rosen: Today, either my Nikon F100 (film) or Nikon D750, both with my Nikkor 24-120mm/f4 lens. I don’t use other accessories

Which other street photographers’ work inspires you the most?

Sey Rosen: The list is too long to enlist here, but in short, obviously the pioneering ‘French Connection’ -Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Atget, Doisneau, etc., Nachtwey, the Capa bothers, Burrows, etc., etc. Other people photographers i.e. Newton, Bailey, and above all Sam Haskins – my Guru – who was doing in the 60ies and 70ies, in-camera and darkroom, what we’re all trying to do today in Photoshop. Not to forget the Ladies: Annie Leibovitz, Vivian Maier, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, Lynsey Addario, etc.

by Sey Rosen
Street Photography © Sey Rosen

Sey, what is your word of caution to amateur street photographers?

Sey Rosen: Be respectful, humble but professional and confident. Show that you know what you’re doing.

What NOT TO DO in street photography?

Sey Rosen: Your camera is not a weapon of destruction. Do not attack your subject or invade their space, their reaction is not realistic and can perhaps be violent. A smile and a “thank you” work wonders.

Do you believe that street photographers are travel photographers too?

Sey Rosen: Street Photographers can surely be Travel Photographers too, depending on their approach.

Sey Rosen's street photography at Jerusalem 1
Photo-Sey Rosen

What is your perspective on the relationship between Street Photography and Street documentary?

Sey Rosen: Street Photography is the spontaneous, instinctive reaction to a split second in time and tells a story that is open to interpretation, without the use of words. Documentary/Reportage is a series of images, either candid or posed, made to accompany a written description.

Do you follow any composition techniques, by the books?

Sey Rosen: As a Design student, I had 5 years of ‘The Rules of Composition’ drummed into my brain until it became subliminal. Composition is a visual thing and many people just feel it comfortably and naturally without knowing any of the rules.

Any project that you remember more than everything else?

Sey Rosen: Street Photography, a life-long project

Any location that you dream to cover next? Or any place that you would want to revisit?

Sey Rosen: London, my Mecca of Photography. Visited 16 times over the years.

What makes you say “Wow!” when you see some other street photographers’ work? (and the reverse)

Sey Rosen: Many things, just as there are many things that make me say ‘ugh’..

That is Sey Rosen, for you guys, as candid as it can be!

Sey Rosen
Sey Rosen

You can connect with Sey Rosen on Instagram | Facebook

If you are a street photographer and own a credible body of work, you can be featured in The Street Photography Gallery’s Feature section. You only have to hit the button below or email us on

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