Street photography 10 commandments
My street photography 10 commandments
These are my thoughts and my own views
1 Never Hide
Over the past 4 years of creating street photography I have found it best not to hide the camera from sight but also not to be afraid of what other people think and how You photograph the subject, I’m not doing anything wrong!
When I start out photographing street photography I used to hide the camera and us a zoom lens. I used to look at other artist work such as Dougie Wallace, Martin Parr, Bruce Gilden and Nick Turpin I know their loads of other great street photographers but these were my first to really inspire my work and my contemporary style so I guess I appreciate them above all other street photographers.
I would always wonder why my work was not like the other professional street photographers I thought I needed a bigger zoom lens. This was wrong I just felt like the paparazzi. So I started photographing from the hip and now hiding my camera, but this felt like I was doing something dodgy but I also noticed my work was really poor or I wouldn’t really be sure what I was photographing.
The process I go through now, to create street photography is to have my camera around my neck I don’t hide it anymore. I see the subject I want to photograph I either wait for the subject to get closer then capture the subject. Sometimes if I’m behind the subject I will quickly get in front of the subject to capture a dynamic street image.
2 Take your time!
I found I was always afraid of confrontation and aggression from the subject if I photographed them without permission, I would therefore, rush to capture the subject and lose the context of why I was capturing the image.
I now slow everything down if there is an area worth photographing I will hang around, where I gain confidence and knowing there are interesting subjects to photograph and watch. By taking your time and not hiding I found I was about professionally structure the image and create an interesting style to my work.
This will take time to develop, the more you photograph subjects without asking in a public area you will eventually start to gain confidence in-turn getting closer to the subjects. I have gone from photographing without flash to stay almost hidden, to now photographing with a flash so the subject will see I’m pointing the camera at them but the flash will go off as well. The road to gaining confidence within street photography can be very fragile because you could be confronted by an angry subject and you with have feeling of resentment for photographing the subject, you may even question values and ethics around the street genre. Stay true to your vision and be creative and you will be able to roll with the ups and downs. go out there be brave and be confident to capture your style of street photography and enjoy.
I would like to say that I have never photographed the homeless but I have, these were early days when I thought that the homeless faces showed stories I would get from the higher end of Society.
As I grew as a photographer and tried to sell my street photography I found that the viewers enjoyed looking a the street portraits of the homeless but I never sold any. I felt if I created a body of work and theories around being homeless this might have been better received. I then realised that if you spend more time observing the societal patterns and social interactions I would see interesting subjects and other exciting things to photograph. Saying all this the photographer can create power within the image without knowingly doing so but not in a good way, if the subject is smaller than the photographer why stand at your eye height. I crouch or make sure I’m not pushing my confidence towards the subject and powering the image and let the subject create the artwork by being the centre of my photography.
5 Keep both eyes open
This isn’t a wise tale or something you say to protect yourself when shooting street. This all about literal when photographing your subjects keep both your eyes open, it’s odd at first but the more you practice the better you will become. The reason I photograph in this way is so you can watch people come into the frame easier and create an exciting structured to the image. The process will create more interaction from your audience when viewing your images and I believe these are the stepping stones to making art rather than just photographs. Give this style of capturing images time we are binocular within our vision,why shut one eye?
6 Stay true to who you are as a street photographer
I have had a rocky road to get to this level of street photography but I still feel I have the long way to go.
I have had my work published and have made to the final rounds of big internal photography competitions but still have not been noticed.right getting to the point now, my images are crisp and clear and have good subjects matter but I found people find street photography hard to take in or understand. To stay true as a street photographer and to who you are, you need to have loads self-drive and not create the images because of the fame or the money but for yourself. I’m still exploring Anthropological theories around human behaviour and the action, we can identify with one another but we also enjoy looking at each other “people watching.” I have had people tell me to stop photographing street because there isn’t a career within this genre but also have had people tell me my work is intrusive and makes them feel sick, to be able to create an outspoken voice from your audience is a massive achievement even if it’s negative. Focus on yourself as a photographer and why you're photographing this style and genre and you will become a great humble street photographer.
7 Theme, theme, and more theme.
I have noticed over the last few years there has been a massive rise in street photographers and street photography images. But when I have talked to people who see lots of images like a photo editor or publishers their response to street photography is negative or turned off and not interested because there is a massive amount of street photography images without any meaning or understanding of the context of the images that have been created. Let’s remember street photography is a sub-genre of documentary photography, so let’s start here documentary photography has a purpose so should street photography! Now I’m not saying that every image you photograph in the urban environment should be part of a wider body of work but I would like you to consider why it is you have created the image and reasoning. I have created 4 projects over the last 2 years they were not massive but there were published because the work has purpose and story to images.
8 Use a notebook.
I’m not an avid writer but I have found that using a note book has helped focus my themes and styles photography. The note/journal has given purpose to my street photography and direction.
9 You don’t have to always capture street
I’m always carrying my camera around, but often just observing the social interaction between humans. I would recommend just walking around the areas you want to photograph getting used to the feeling the areas give you. I would then use my notebook to make a note of times when the area is busy and times the area is busy. I will also look for places I can walk away safely from photographing if I’m confronted by an aggressive subject.
This might seem silly about having this in my Ten Commandments But the streets genre can be so unpredictable when photographing people you never know how the subject is feeling or how they will react. Tell someone you where you're going and how long you will be out for. I would recommend you think about why you are photographing street photography and how to want your work to been from a wider audience. If you confronted by the subject you can confidently explain your theory and rationale around why you have photographed the person. If you get a feeling from a person do group even an area that is negative listen to that feeling and move on. Photography isn’t always worth the risk your health and well being is the most important matter to consider when photographing.
Now get out there and create some positive street photography!!
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