When it comes to photography, Steven Foon is a serious enthusiast who finds great joy in his work. In part one of our interview, Steven detailed his journey with Leica cameras. Here, Steven shares more about his images and hopes for the future.

Q: It seems that your overarching goal is to capture unscripted images of real life and capture moments that you witness. Clearly being unobtrusive is part of that equation, but what other techniques or approaches do you use to attain that goal, and how do you know whether you’ve succeeded?
A: I try not to shoot from the hip. I think that’s sort of cheating, an easy way to steal a shot. I want to just be there but not to be an object of attention, just to blend in, to be “just a guy standing with a camera.” I know I’ve got what I wanted when, after releasing the shutter, no one seems to have noticed or altered their perception of what is happening around them.
Q: What, other than achieving a sense of personal satisfaction, do you think you have accomplished with your photographic work and how have other people reacted to seeing your images?
A: The discovery of Vivian Maier and all her outstanding work is perhaps something I aspire to for myself, that one day someone will stumble upon all my images and that it will bring joy and some historical reference to the period of time I was around. That’s the satisfaction I am feeling.
So far, people have reacted with joy or strong feelings to my images. To me, that’s a side benefit to what I am doing.

Q: Many of your images are presented in black-and-white. What is it that you find especially compelling about black-and-white as a medium of expression and, since both your Leica cameras capture full color images, how do you decide whether to output images in black-and-white or color?
A: I generally will shoot RAW+B/W JPEG. I tend to pick based on what I feel gives clarity and mood to the image.  Black-and-white for me just provides focus on the subject without any distractions.  It’s not that color is bad, color can add to the story of the image.  Perhaps it is because I watch too many old movies or newsreels that were all shot in black-and-white.  I guess it’s like a song. If color will add the right amount of feel, then I choose color.

Q: Body Art is an intriguing image because is not immediately clear whether the woman being painted is a live person or a mannequin. Also the composition is simple, clear, and graphic, and the use of light and color is impressive. Can you tell us how, when, and where you shot this outstanding image and what it means to you?
A: This was where just walking about with camera paid off. It was taken in a shopping mall in Roseville, California. I was away for a weekend with my girl and we were just wandering where we stumbled into a crowd of people and bright lights.
There was a model on stage with a body artist transforming her into a work of art. I saw so many potential stories that could be told with one image, stories such as art to transformation to blending with a nature theme. I had to take a series of shots to get what I wanted. From a deeper perspective, maybe unconsciously, I am also saying. “Look, beauty takes on many forms, shapes, colors, etc.”

Q: The Recruit, showing a young woman walking into a Victoria’s Secret store next to a poster for the company’s Pink  line, is a humorous statement about contemporary culture. What were you thinking when you pressed the shutter release, what do you think it says to the viewer, and can you give us the tech data for this shot?
A: It was captured during the height of the war going on in the Middle East. The poster reminded me of a recruiting poster. In a distance, the young woman was walking with a purposeful stride. I did a double take because she looked a lot like the model on the poster. Right when she started for the door at Victoria’s Secret, with a strut if as though I am now joining, I raised the Leica and captured the shot.
The tech data on this image: Leica M9 with the 35 mm Summilux ASPH, f/5.7, at 1/350 sec, and ISO 1000
I’m glad you thought it was a humorous statement about our culture today—that humor comes from watching MASH and sitcoms from the 70s.

Q: What makes Step Together a great shot (aside from the strong graphic composition and exquisite lighting) is the perfect timing, with the three people’s feet all lifted and about to step. Also significant is that it takes a commonplace event (crossing the street) and reveals it in a new dimension that is both amusing and transcendent. Can you tell us the story of how you came to take this picture and how you managed to capture “the decisive moment?”
A: After a while, you tend to get a feeling that something is about to happen. I saw three friends walking up the street at San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf and they were lock stepped in their cadence. I ended up with a rhythm in my head as they were walking.  At a certain time and space in my mind, I released the shutter.

Q: I think “51 cents please” of a woman evidently fumbling for change in her pocket while her little girl waits patiently at her feet would have been a bit more powerful without the caption because it captures the eternality of a small moment and its enigmatic quality is what makes it powerful. Do you agree, and what were you thinking when you pressed the shutter release?
A: I agree with you that perhaps not having the caption would be more powerful. It’s a debate I have with myself on each image. This is a “decisive moment” shot. Walking and watching the world unfolding, my eye caught this little girl walking up to ask for some change for the penny-stamping machine. When the look on her face and the woman starting to reach for change, I got that feeling that it was time to capture this. It also reminded me of me when I was her age, asking my mom for money because I wanted something out of a vending or arcade machine.

Q: How do you see your photography evolving over, say, the next three years and do you plan on exploring any other genres besides street reportage? Have you considered becoming a full time professional photographer at some future time?
A: Street reportage is where my heart and soul is. I’ve had the pleasure and good fortune to work with a couple of local models who helped me explore another facet of photography. I used a street photography approach where I asked the models to do what they wanted to do and just allowed me to walk around to capture them. The idea was to try to get beyond the typical model poses and images we all have seen.
The time is coming where retirement from my day job is a possibility. At that time, I intend to dedicate all my time to street reportage. I want to travel the world and document people in their daily lives. My dad talked about living in Japan when he was stationed there. Living off base and being accepted by the locals, he experienced and saw things that I want to do myself… expect that I want to have my Leica with me.

Q: Do you have any plans for publishing your street images?
A: I am slowly assembling my images into what I hope will be a book, either online and in-print, with online being more of a possibility now a days.
Thank you for your time, Steven!
– Leica Internet Team
See more of Steven’s images on his blog and Flickr.