Photographer Matthew Wylie was a finalist in our Street Photography Awards 2016. Speaking with him about his recent work, we were struck by the minute details, careful observation and happenstance occurrences that led to a few of our favorite photographs in this series. Below, Wylie sets the scene for four of his images.
This image was taken in North York, Ontario, outside of the Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Art. I was particularly drawn to this scene because it was a reminder to me of how photography is not only an exercise in seeing, but also an exercise in wonder as well. The subjects in the photo were apparently visiting the museum together. I had noticed them approaching where I happened to be sitting underneath a cascade of light and shadow (which you see in the photo), waiting for something intriguing to happen. As a group, they had previously been approaching my location side by side, yet once they entered this particular scene, the sidewalk narrowed a bit. As a result, they all tacitly agreed to form a single file line so as to pass underneath the structure casting the light and shadows.
It was fascinating for me to watch all of this unfold—a beautiful and strange realization occurred to me about how urban landscapes can dictate certain unexpected paths and geometry. It was striking to witness the parallel symmetry of the vertical line they formed—as well as the male/female/male/female pattern—occur so quickly. Street photography is particularly rewarding in this way.
I took this image at the waterfront in Toronto during the first onset of winter 2016. I remember it was a weekday, and due to that (and the cold weather), nobody was around. The gulls are always hanging around this area, and frequently one can find visitors feeding them, but I had never seen anyone feed them with such a genuine sense of joy and wonder as this grounds worker.
This was a moment where I felt that this man, those birds and I were totally isolated from the rest of the world. Watching him, I simply couldn’t resist trying to capture that moment—in particular, his infectious sense of awe and affection for the birds. This was also the first day it began snowing that winter, hence the title: “The First Snows.”
Shot in Dallas, Texas at a public park. I photographed a boy’s reflection in a creek as he ran through the forest nearby. I was listening to Run The Jewels’ “Don’t Get Captured” at the time, which had just been released. This image is simply another instance of moments coming together at the right time. A sense of wonder again permeates these circumstances and this photograph; for me, it was a moment where art imitated life and life imitated art.
This image was also taken in Dallas, Texas. I was drawn to the arrangement and alignment of my elevation to the people below me, the circlet frame, and the chaotic design of lines outside of the frame. I wanted to see what the outcome would be if I captured someone inside of the circle. It wasn’t until several weeks later, when I looked more closely at my few snapshots taken that day, that I noticed the capture itself, with the subject within the circle, transformed the entire image into the likeness of a wolf.
If you’re interested in seeing more work like this, we’d recommend the following articles: My Life, street scenes from Tokyo; Başıboş, a series shot in the streets of Istanbul by a resident and self-proclaimed vagabond; and LA Nights—Want to Get Out of Here? a project that exposes life in Los Angeles in the midnight hours.