When you think of summer in the city, what images come to your mind? The rising steam off heated asphalt encircling the bodies of strolling passerbys? Or perhaps the bustling of buskers as they struggle to play above the cacophony of tourist crowds? While summer comes and goes in every corner of the world, the urban highlights of the season are expressed in varying forms, each with different stories to tell. Some reflect the blending of cultures, while others showcase the development of youth.
We asked photographers to enter their submissions for our “Summer in the City” street photography contest and found our overall winner in Dani Oshi’s riveting image of people seemingly walking on water. Oshi is one of the movers behind the European street photography scene, as one of the founders of the Brussels Street Photography Festival, as well as being the founder and chief editor of WorldSP.co, a community for street photographers.
We had a chance to talk to Brussels-based Oshi to learn the story behind his winning photo.
Amanda Ellis: Tell me about your inspiration behind your street photography. You seem very adept at being able to capture facial expression and activity without overwhelming the frame.
Dani Oshi: My inspiration comes from many places. If I would have to narrow it down though I guess I am inspired by the minute details in daily life, which are heavily overlooked by our busy minds in this fast-paced world. There is something about the details that I seem to go back to constantly and with fervor.
Ellis: We are fascinated by your winning photo from our photography contest. It showcases a very realistic image in such a surreal manner, with the people walking on water. What were you trying to say with this element?
Oshi: This moment just appeared in front of me and I couldn’t do anything other than take a picture of it. I was so drawn to it that I just enjoyed myself photographing it. I didn’t reflect too much on exterior elements while I was taking the photo, I just remember the feeling: thrilled and excited, as I generally am while taking pictures.
Ellis: This photo gives me a kind of futuristic vibe. Was that your intent? To show how urban life might be in the future?
Oshi: Looking at it kind of makes you wonder about the future of society and where we are going in the world, but it really depends on what you believe in. I do think very much about these subjects but I don’t necessarily want to show that with this picture. The multicultural background presented in the picture is just a natural consequence of globalization in society. It makes sense this photo is so universal, with Brussels being the capital and “center” of Europe, where all cultures meet and thrive together, defining the future of society.
Ellis: Tell me about the Brussels Street Photography Festival. Why did you decide to start an event like this?
Oshi: The Brussels Street Photography Festival (BSPF) started as a shared effort between myself, Sedaile Mejias and Diego Luna Quintanilla, all architects and urbanists based in Brussels. We happened to be collaborating on a project they were leading in order to improve the look and feel of a square in Brussels, and I was documenting the process with my photography. After many hours spent together we realized we had common ideals and so the BSPF was born as a combination of our interests towards photography, urban spaces and Brussels, among others. The BSPF is a project of research, passion, experimentation, love for the city and of course photography. Our visions are different and somehow they blend very well to create this particular event. We are very passionate about it and we hope this energy can be experienced by our visitors and participants. We just finished the second edition and we are already preparing the third edition to come in 2018.
Ellis: Which artists or exhibitions at the festival were you most excited about having?
Oshi: The whole concept of the BSPF excites me in every sense. Having an event like this in my city is just mindblowing to me, so I am excited about everyone who comes to Brussels as a guest of the festival and/or as a participant or visitor. To be more specific though I have to admit I was very happy about having Thomas Dworzak and Jérôme Sessini from Magnum as guests for the festival. I was also very excited about all the other guests, some of them my friends: Elena Chernyshova, Ilya Shtutsa, Barry Talis, Zisis Kardianos, Gaël Turine, Kurt Deruyter, Ans Brys, Kuba Jasionek, Chris Suspect, Davide Albani, Sylvain Biard and Hakan Simsek.