Born in California, Tyler Woodford, like many young photographers, found his way to photography though skateboarding as a teenager: “I was the kid in the group who always had a camera and was trying to capture what was going on,” he says. “But it wasn’t until I moved to New York that I found what I really loved: street photography.”
Roaming the sidewalks of the Big Apple, the stomping ground of many big names before him such as Garry Winongrand and Joel Meyerowitz, Tyler began documenting the hustle, bustle and captivating figures he witnessed on his travels. A nod to the visual tropes of New York street photography, Tyler’s photos show the chain-smoking businessmen, fur coat fashionistas and hard-faced locals that have been inherent to the city’s portrayals for decades.
But, it was in search of new stimuli that led Tyler and his friends south of the border. “We had the idea to go to Mexico back in December 2018 and finally decided recently to do the trip,” he says. “I’d never been to Mexico City before so it was very refreshing to capture something new again.”
Keeping his set up as simple as possible, Tyler would decide each day before venturing out what equipment to bring and what lens he wanted to shoot on. Slipping a couple of rolls into his pocket, he would head off to see what he could find. “I wanted to capture how people lived and how they interacted,” he explains. “I was nervous at first but all of the people there are so friendly and have a strong sense of community. I’ve never experienced something like that before.”
A mix of monochrome and colour photos, presenting the viewer with busy roads, basketball games and the occasional portrait, Tyler’s series also combines candid and staged shots to give a real sense of the city’s people. “By asking to take someones photo – which is rare for me, because I feel that asking ruins the moment that you’re trying to capture or convey – it showed me how open the Mexican people are,” he says. “Taking someones photo, whether they’re aware of it or not, is a strange thing, but I can never get enough of it.”
Though this type of photography comes naturally to him, Tyler was wary of his own presence in a foreign place, and says the biggest challenge was gauging the atmosphere. “I wasn’t sure how people were going to react, especially as I’m not a local. I didn’t want to be intrusive but you can’t let that hold you back,” he explains. “One of the best things someone has told me is ”If you don’t take the shot, someone else will, and that’s a missed opportunity”. It’s advice that has always stuck with me and it helped me a lot on this trip.”
Tyler says he is currently organising a show in New York to display the series, and a book that will showcase all of the photographers’ work from the trip too.
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