Maciej Dakowicz is a Polish street photographer, photojournalist and gallerist who recently visited Dubai to conduct a workshop on street photography. Dakowicz is perhaps best known for his series of photographs based on Cardiff's nightlife, released in a book titled Cardiff after Dark.
A seasoned traveler and industry veteran, Dakowicz has visited many countries to pursue his interests of documentaries and street photography. We caught up with this award-winning photographer to get his thoughts on planning and execution in street photography and he also shared a few interesting observations on people and cultures from around the world.
Street photography is extremely difficult to plan, do you plan anything before your shoots or just go with the flow and get inspired by the moments you see?
I don't plan what to shoot, I do exactly what you say - I "go with the flow and get inspired by the moments you see". But I plan where and when to go. I go to places that have the potential for street photography - places where I can find people going about their daily life. And I try to be there at the time when these activities might be happening. So a little bit of planning helps, But once I am there, I simply react to what I find on my walk.
Street photography is an attractive field, especially when travelling to interesting places. However, most people are shy when it comes to photographing people in new locations. Have you ever had any issues with that and what advice would you give to photographers in such cases?
Some countries are easier for people photography than others. In some countries, people, in general, do not mind being photographed or even enjoyed that. In other countries, people are less camera friendly. So if you want to start street photography and you have problems taking pictures of strangers I would recommend to go on a photo trip to one of these "camera friendly" countries first. You will be surprised how easy it can be to take photos of people when they don't mind it. There you can build your confidence and later use it in places where it is more difficult. So research on the Internet how "camera friendly" the country you are thinking of going to is.
But even in "more difficult" places there are areas where taking photos of people is not that difficult. You can always go to an area frequented by tourists and pretend to be one of them, taking pictures like a tourist. People in such places are very used to tourists and cameras. Or go to a busy area, like the city centre, a busy local market or another commercial area, where there is a lot of activity and you can take pictures of these activities. People can be so busy doing their own things that they might not even notice you and your camera.
Which was the most remarkable and inspiring location for you to shoot in and why?
I have several favourite countries for street photography, can't really pick one. Probably my current top two are Myanmar and India. All these countries are very camera friendly and it is simply a pleasure to be taking pictures there. But they are very different - people in Myanmar are rather quiet and shy, in India, they are very open and not shy at all. Both have a lot of cultures, many amazing architectural sites, lots of activities everywhere. India though can be overwhelming sometimes with its energy! It is also so huge and diverse, the states in the South are so different to those in the North or East, that you can feel like you are in another country.
In India my favourite cities are probably Varanasi and Kolkata, in Myanmar, it is probably Yangon. I have been many times to these cities and each time I go back I find something new, I can never get bored of them.
Are you a returning visitor to Dubai? Have you shot anything in Dubai before?
It is my first visit to Dubai, I have heard a lot about this dynamic city and have always wanted to come and see it. I have only spent 2 days here so far and I truly impressed - it is such a modern place, very well organised, friendly and safe. It looks very photogenic, there is this amazing modern architecture but also traditional streets, lots of activities, and the light is amazing in the afternoon.
Due to my very limited time so far I have only spent several hours exploring the city, some of the popular places only - both sides of the Dubai Creek (Deira and Bur Dubai), and the Downtown area around Burj Khalifa. I tried shooting some photos and I must say it has been a very pleasurable experience so far - friendly people, nobody said "no photo" so far! I am hoping to visit more areas and spend more time taking pictures here. I enjoy the city and I feel it has got a lot of potential for street photography. Hope to be back here in the future!
For more info visit www.maciejdakowicz.com
Image Courtesy: Maciej Dakowicz
About the Writer
Archie Jurdi is a Hungarian FinTech professional based in Dubai. His passion for expressing creativity through the audiovisual form lead him through his formative years of spinning records as a DJ, these days however he is a dedicated follower of filmmaking, determined to capture the memorable moments of life through motion picture. Instagram:@archie.jurdi