What is the soul of street photography, I hear you ask. Let me explain.
There are numerous resources online about the technical aspects of photography. As humans, we find it easy to recite facts and figures. They are definite, palpable, tangible. “The new mirrorless has 64 megapixels”. “The new f1.2 lens is out of this world!”. There are so many resources in fact, that some fall into the trap of believing that being technically adept is all it takes to make great photography. Now, if that were true, why is it possible to look at a technically perfect shot yet not feel passionate about it? Why does some photography speak to you and yet others do not? It is because photography as an art form goes beyond an artist’s technical capabilities or the specifications of the camera. Photography as art is an extension of the soul. A piece of us on film. It is our vulnerability laid bare.
It’s your vision.
The soul of street photography lies in our ability as artists to interpret the world around us. To observe our surroundings and be aware of the patterns and dynamics of our environment. Yet, romantic notions aside, no one is born with this skill, it must be learned. Like other muscles in our body, we must consistently exercise our eyes and minds to see the beauty hidden in what initially, can seem quite ordinary. For this, I believe that it is an advantage to use the simplest tools to learn to be better at seeing. It takes away the safety net of advanced technology and forces you to adapt to challenging situations, to focus on the art. After we learn to see, we can then move on to better equipment that allows us to better interpret the space around us in different ways.
The power of repetition.
We must train the brain to see through repetition. As street photographers, the best way for us to do this is by walking at every opportunity. I try and walk every day. It often doesn’t matter where. With my camera in hand, I choose a direction and go. The beauty of street photography to me is its randomness and element of surprise. Planning can take away from this a little.
The more we walk, the more we pay attention to our surroundings. It is re-discovering the same streets, every time we walk them. It is finding beauty in the ordinary and being aware of the birth of a new story in front of our eyes.
Don’t be afraid.
As a final point, it is important the realise that making mistakes as an artist is ok. Our good work will be the shots we produce after the bad. Producing photography we decide is bad is a vital part of the creative process and should be cherished as such. I believe this to be true, but only if we learn from our mistakes, realise what went wrong and use this information to improve.
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