The Confessions of a Street Photographer
By: Filip Svensson | September 14, 2021
To dare to get close. To be able to get close. To capture and preserve the moments when we are as humans, the most. To many, street photography is an unknown genre but to the initiated it is and artform that spans the epochs, puts perspective on life and allows us to get close to what is human.
I meet Mats—who has photographed on streets and in public spaces all over the world, published books, and has exhibited in Sweden as well as in the USA—on a gravelly yard outside of Borås. We have just ate. The sun is shining, the chairs are hard.
The coffee tasty.
– ‘The theatre of the street is constantly unfolding before us, we just need the eyes to see it,’ Mats states and I feel it all starting to sink in. That it is not only about easy motives for someone aimlessly wandering about with their camera on an afternoon, but about something more.
Mats refers to well-known street photographer Bruce Gilden who noted that, ‘When you can smell the street, it’s street photography. When you feel as if you are there, it’s street photography.’ But that it is also about capturing the times, about human behavior, about how we react. And that it doesn’t matter where on the planet we are—because we have the same human behavior everywhere.
An apparently timeless aspect of what becomes a time capsule from the now. ‘But you also do it to have a hell of a good time,’ Mats laughs with his Gothenburg accent and brings us down to Earth.
‘At one point someone asked me: Are you a voyeur, or a participant?’
– ‘I try to get as close as possible to what transpires. At one point someone asked me: Are you a voyeur, or a participant?’
– ‘My style of today leans towards me being more of a participant than a voyeur of the moment. Which doesn’t mean that I intrude or that I change anything, but rather that when I take an image the people who see it should be able to feel that they are there, in the event, in the moment. It’s almost like you’re able to reach out and touch the motive—touch the moment.‘
Proximity and presence infuse the portfolio of Alfredsson. And a certain darkness. But at the same time a curiosity for the peculiar and an eye for love—traits that in themselves feel very human.