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Monday, August 31, 2015

Behind the Lens With Street Photographer Ken Walton

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge KEN WALTON
  • Ken Walton

“You’re always hunting for something, for that perfect shot, for that perfect situation to come together and then it’s up to you to capture it.”

Ken Walton hunts people for a living. The San Francisco-based photographer aims his weapon of choice, a fujifilm x100t, at innocent bystanders engaged in obscene behavior. Walton, who refers to what he loves as “street photography”, has developed a knack for scoping out moments of absurdity before they happen.

“I wait around for that right situation that looks like it’s going to be good and I’m getting better and better at sensing when those are going to happen.” Ken Walton told SF Weekly. “I just love being out there. It’s like the thrill of the’s a bit of a rush to get really close to a situation that might be harry or there might be emotion involved or whatever and just to get right up in the middle of it and start snapping photos.”

Walton's black-and-white and color photographs are a blend of lighting and patterns in a happy coincidental mirror between people and environment, so much so that each candid photograph seems staged at first. An untitled photograph features a man walking down a street. He acts as the only beacon of light in a picture that is otherwise engulfed in darkness. In another untitled photograph, a presumably homeless man sleeps in a pedicab — only his bare feet visible — while the cover of the cab pictures a man with the slogan "A friend of the poor" above him. Let’s not forget the picture of a naked man, wearing nothing but socks, shoes and a hat, as he walks down a busy city street.

click to enlarge KEN WALTON
  • Ken Walton

Every S.F. local has seen their fair share of shock, but usually these emotionally striking moments serve solely as a abnormal memory. Yet it seems like Walton is always in the right place at the right time, capturing fast action scenes we loosely know to be true. When one would usually shy away or turn a blind eye, Walton dares to look a little closer.

“It’s a weird thing pointing your camera at strangers in public. It feels rude in the beginning,” said Walton. “Through practice you realize most people really don’t care ... it’s like a minor moment of social awkwardness where a stranger might think you’re doing something a little off, you know, the price that you pay for that is the fact that you may capture a fantastic photograph that you have for life, you know, you just weigh those two things and you stop being embarrassed about it.”

Walton was always interested in photography but it wasn’t until recently that he decided to go down the “rabbit hole,” as he says, and make it his life’s work. He studied at UC Hastings College in the ‘90s before returning home to Sacramento to practice law. During that time he wrote a book, Fake: Forgery, Lies & eBay, about his quick stint selling forged art on eBay. In 2007 co-founded KlickNation, an online game he sold to Electronic Arts about a year ago.

click to enlarge KEN WALTON
  • Ken Walton

After his work as a software developer, Walton watched Finding Vivian Maier, a documentary about a Chicago street photographer and became so inspired that he decided to pursue his passion for photography. But his interests delve deeper than just capturing city life through a lens.
“I’ve been searching for a way to, I don’t know, make something bigger out of it and maybe the founding of a festival might be good,” Walton imagines.

Walton is in the early stages of developing a festival for other photographers who focus solely on street photography. His love for the City and for photography serve as a memoir of moments that often go by unnoticed.   

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Kate Rogers


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