Capturing emotion into photography without losing the essence of the story is a difficult task to accomplish but Sion Fullana, a mobile street photographer, manages to do that perfectly by remaining invisible to his subjects. Fullana wanders the streets of New York and uses his iPhone, as opposed to DSLR cameras like many other photographers, to capture images of strangers in their daily lives. Fullana dismisses the ideas of mobile phones not being an artistic platform.
“I suppose there are many out there who think there’s nothing but an obscure intention behind the concept of photographing strangers, that it may be done either with the intention of ridiculing them or to satisfy one’s perverted voyeurism in the era of the Internet,” he said. “[But] what I care about the most is telling stories and transmitting emotions. Doing mobile street photography is a way of telling stories of real lives.”
And isn’t that the whole purpose of creating art? To tell stories? Art is subjective of course, but to completely write off someone’s artistic medium because you can’t appreciate it can not be validated or justified in any way. For someone to put their work out into the open takes a great deal of courage because they are putting themselves out into the world to be looked at and criticized, but they do not deserve to be dismissed because they aren’t held to the same level as “traditional” artists.
Fullana employs two skills in his work, invisibility and empathy. He stays “invisible” by capturing images of strangers from afar, while some people think it is unethical to shoot photos of strangers without their consent it is actually perfectly legal, as long as they are taken with “good intention and respect.” By taking photos of strangers while they are unaware of a camera going off, Fullana manages to preserve the empathetic connection in his photos.
“[Empathy] helps me ‘feel’ the scene or situation in front of me, to know the best moment when to take the shot, either with someone I’m taking a portrait of, a candid situation in the city, some actors engaged in a scene, or a speaker on the stage,” he added.
Rebecca L. Bennett in “Invisibility and Empathy in Mobile Street writes that “Through empathy, Fullana infuses photographs of total strangers with an evocative sense of familiarity—that same feeling of déjà vu that prompts people to ask, “Have we met?” And I have to agree with her, his photographs have a certain level of intimacy to them, they are strikingly beautiful in a sense that the subjects in the pictures are oblivious to the fact that they themselves are artwork.