Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Email from Bruce Gilden - Street Photographer

I sent a long, detailed email to Bruce Gilden, asking if he would consider being interviewed about street photography for my Blog. I also sent the questions in advance - basically asking about how he got interested in street photography, what excites him about it, and what he thinks his subjects feel about his style of photography (see here for a video of him at work).

I got a reply, today, from his wife, Sophie...

Dear Stephen,

My husband is away but he asked me to answer you this:

First of all when he read your first email in a hurry, he thought you were another Stephen that he knows from Ireland.

Then, when he read what you are asking him, he was a bit shocked by these nosy income questions, wondering what they have to do with his photography?

Third, he says that he doesn't see the need of these answers on a blog, especially someone's else's. Last, he is afraid that he will, like his friend Martin ****, "gracefully decline" answering any of them.

No hard feelings, Thank you.

Bruce/Sophie Gilden

There are absolutely NO questions in my questionnaire that relate to income, at all. I did not ask about Mr Gilden's income and I am not interested in it. All of the questions relate to his practice as a street photographer, why he started, what motivates him, and what his subjects feel about it.

Question 2, though, does have the word income in it...

2. Please give details of your main professional photographic specialisms (i.e. from what type(s) of photography do you earn most of your income).

This is not a question about how much money he earns. It is a question about the sort of work that he does. It's a given that Bruce Gilden (and anyone else I sent this to) makes money from photography. I was just asking HOW, not HOW MUCH. I merely wanted to know if the street photographer does other work to make a living.

As someone with a background in academic research, I am always careful to ask only relevant questions - and ones that are pertinent to the study. I had sent Mr Gilden a 16 point questionnaire that had a full page of explanation at the start. Maybe it was just too much for him to spend time on as a busy man. I have, though, invited other street photographers to help with my study. So, I'm hopeful that others maybe able to assist.


  1. Mr Bruce Gilden: If people are intrigued by you and your work, talk with them. Respond to their admiration. I would.

    Good blog! Cheers from Sweden.

  2. What an interesting response from Bruce Gilden --- and this from the person who (literally) shoves the camera in peoples faces without even as much as by your leave. Seems he is very protective of his "Persona" and certainly does not want to offer any insight to others in relation to his work.

    Sad really, but I am sure there will be much more inciteful and interesting people for you to interview Stephen -- and for us to hear about.

  3. I just finished watching Bruce Gilden's video online. It is so hard to believe that he (via his wife) would respond in such a way. Coming from such an intrusive street photographer, no less. Of all the street photographers out there, I thought he would be one who would want more aspiring photographers to know about the method behind his madness.

    I agree. There are will be much more to come from other photographers out there.

  4. please I need a B. Gilden Email, where I can get it?

  5. I'm afraid that I won't be able to give out personal information. You could try contacting Magnum, the agency that he is a member of, and asking them to forward your email.


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