STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: Street photography, in my view, is a form of journalism. You, the street photographer, are capturing a moment in time. Whether or not that moment is newsworthy today isn’t important. Photojournalism strives to capture images that are relevant in the present and only images relevant in the present. However, given enough time, a street photograph will gain importance due to the way society values history and nostalgia. A boring street scene today will one day in the future provide a glimpse of what it was like here in the present. The value of that image could be immense. It really just depends on how rare a boring street scene from the present is in the future. So, be patient.
Street photography doesn’t make much money. It’s possible to make enough money as a photographer, but you aren’t going to make enough money as a street photographer. And if a street photographer says he/she makes enough money doing street photography, he/she is lying. For example, inducing people into taking part in an expensive “workshop” isn’t making money from street photography. Those quasi-street photography gurus are exploiting most people’s desire to do things in a group and have a leader. It’s a lot safer doing the street photography in a group talking-shop and name-dropping zines and websites that featured your work. The gurus are making money as babysitters. If I were wired to take advantage of people, I’d have tried the same shtick.
Your street photography doesn’t require the assistance of your imagination so stop finding the deep meaning for us. Simply provide us with the basic context and let us enjoy your boring street photo. Please and thank you. Your photography does not require a motive or philosophy. Leave the creative talking to people who create things. Street photography creates nothing. Street photography captures. When you create something, you have a license to say whatever you want about it. Your street photography simply freezes time. A boring street scene doesn’t need a story; especially a story that isn’t factual.
Bruce Gilden and his prodigy are the Howard Sterns of street photography. They’re shock-jock street photographers. And I use the term street photographers generously because it’s my opinion that the Bruce Gilden’s of this world are artists, not street photographers. They both create and capture the moment. For example, Bruce Gilden captures the moment when he darts in front of someone with his camera and hand-held flash and shoots them. He’s capturing a reaction to his actions. That isn’t street photography. In the future, your boring street scene will be of more value than the Bruce Gildenesque shots. Trust.
I prefer to adhere to the lonesome street photographer school of thought. Street photography should be as low key as possible. The more cameras you add to the mix the more attention you draw. Of course, I have gone on photo missions with friends and I have fond memories shooting street with pals, but generally speaking, I never went on missions with more than one friend at a time. Going on a photo walk should be as fluid and dynamic as possible. Taking into account the desired destinations of more than one other person just bogs the walk down. What peaks your interest at your 12 o’clock often clashes with what your buddies see at their two and ten o’clock.
The only way to become a better street photographer is to pound the pavement doing street photography. You can shoot street photography with any kind of camera. Don’t let your fashion sense get in the way of your street photography. If your dream is to own a Leica, then shoot street with your smartphone or Canon kit until you can afford a Leica. You don’t need that Leica to shoot street. When I finally had to ditch my D2x, I had over 360,000 shutter actuations on it. I’d owned it for about two years. It’s crazy because for the two years that I owned that camera, I kept only about 5,000 photos, which included my street stuff and shots of friends and family doing friends and family type things. In short, I spent a great deal of time out shooting and a great deal of time deleting.
Shoot until the sensor burns out on two or three cameras. My F4 photography is way worse than my D1x photography, and my D1x photography is worse than my D2h photography. I really got into a groove when I had the D2h, so when that burned out and I picked up the D2x I’d reached my potential. The moments I captured on the D2h, D2x, and D700 are mostly of the same calibre. Whether or not you believe my photography to be of a high calibre or low calibre is beside the point. I loved shooting street and I loved sharing those moments with the people online who liked seeing them.
When my daughter was born, my ability and desire to shoot street disappeared. I’m not sure I will ever take the hobby up again. But it was fun, and I am proud of my photography.
Ahem, in closing, the broke house husband in me demands that I let you know that I have some street ebooks for sale over at Amazon.
Go on and buy one! Please!