You know the feeling when you see a perfect situation unfold in front of you, you lift the camera up, you take a snap. Then you realize you’ve actually got a big fat zero - these things are harder than they look! We talked to caseable’s Ronya Galka, a London based street photographer, to find out how it should be all done. Witty titles, excellent timing and emotional moments, you’re destined to fall for her work.
Originally from Germany, what was the reason for your to move to London? Was it for a man, inspiration or the famous Sunday roasts with Yorkshire puddings?
From a very young age I’ve had a fascination with London. So when I finished my A-Levels in Germany I moved to the kingdom to work as an au-pair for a year. The idea initially was for me to stay only for 12 months to improve my English. Well, somehow this did not happen quite as planned: life happened, love happened and many years later I am still here. In fact, this year I will have lived in England longer than I have lived in my native Germany. As for Yorkshire puddings… I LOVE them.
Why do you focus on street photography?
My love for street photography ultimately comes from my love to observe people and the desire to celebrate people’s individuality. I am very fortunate to live in such a vibrant and fast-moving city. You can observe the most surreal and surprising scenes unfold right before your eyes. It was only when I started to carry my camera with me on a daily basis a few years ago that I noticed just how many urban moments you come across and are able to isolate from the busy hustle and bustle of life in the city. After just a few initial attempts, I was pretty much hooked on street photography straight away.
The artwork of yours that we use at caseable is predominantly focused on urban landscapes but you have also an amazing collection of people photography that looks almost staged. How do you manage to capture the right moment?
Someone once said that ‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity’. I love this quote because it’s so apt for street photography! The most important part is being available to “receive” good shots. NEVER leave the house without a camera. As long as you spend enough time with a camera at the ready, you are sure to harvest a few of them. It’s strange but once you start paying attention to what is happening around you, you notice curious scenes all over the place.
Your most popular photograph among our customers seems to be the London Calling. Why do you think that is?
I guess in its simplicity it sums up London beautifully: the old and the new, the modern and the traditional. Red telephone boxes are iconic landmarks in London- even though nowadays no one ever uses them anymore. Having been around since 1924, they embody the past and conjure up notions of Edgar Wallace and Sherlock Holmes and when you combine this with a beautiful piece of street art, all of a sudden it gets a very current twist.
What’s your favourite photo from your caseable portfolio and is there a story behind it?
Without a doubt, my favorite image is It Must Be Monday Morning. I took the photograph at a time when I was juggling setting up my photography business and working full-time as a Marketing Manager for a bank in London. At the time, my heart was telling me to follow my dream and take the leap to become a full-time photographer and I was getting more and more frustrated with having so little time left for what I really wanted to do so the image and the corresponding title perfectly summed up my feelings at the time.
Back in 2008 the image also landed me a nomination in the Sony World Photography Awards and having been flown out to the ceremony in Cannes where I met some of my all-time idols like Elliott Erwitt, Martin Parr and Phil Stein.
Since you visited both of our favourites - Berlin and New York - what do you love and hate most about each?
I can’t say that there is something that I hate about either of these amazing cities to be honest. I’ve probably never spent enough time in either. In Berlin- similarly to London- much of the fascination of the place for me comes from the way that the history is interwoven with the present and the future.
As for New York, well what can I say: the city that never sleeps. I am very fortunate in that I need very little sleep myself and whenever I am in New York, I totally subscribe to the 'you can sleep when you’re dead’ motto. It’s an amazing place for street photography and if ever I got bored of London (well, unlikely but you never know) I would definitely love to spend an extended stretch of time there.
Tell us something about you that might surprise our community.
Every morning, mostly before breakfast, I drink a can of Red Bull. Some might call it an addiction, I call it a personal preference.