I have been dreading this day. You have probably noticed that we three Streethunters editors take it in turns to write a ‘big’ article every week. We call them feature posts, and it’s a chance for us to wax lyrical about anything street photography we like. Andrew will often put out an awesome book review or a comprehensive under the influence analysis of some cracking street photographer, and Spyros will review some street photography gear, launch a new street hunt video, or debrief about the latest street photography jaunt he’s been on. Well, this week was my turn, and I had nothing. Zilch. Nada. I was utterly bereft of ideas of what to write about. I’ve had some things going on over the last few weeks which has meant that street photography has had to take a bit of a back seat. Without being able to get out and about with my camera I’ve been a bit stuck for inspiration. So I started to look through some of the old articles on the streethunters.net website. And I hit a goldmine. Both Andrew and Spyros have picked the 10 reasons why they love street photography, but since I’ve joined the team I haven’t got round to it. And what better way to rekindle my passion and get myself back in the groove than remind myself why street photography is so awesome in the first place? So, strap in for the 10 reasons why I love street photography!
1. Street Photography Gets Me Out of the House
This might sound a little odd, but street photography gives me a great excuse to get outside and do something productive. It’s far far too easy to end up stuck indoors, particularly if you work in an office environment, or from home on computers. And that’s before we get to the distracting power of the internet too! I love being able to get outside whenever I can, and street photography provides me with a brilliant reason to just step out of the door whenever I’ve got some free time and hit the streets with my camera. It’s lovely being outside in the fresh(ish) air, and all the walking is great exercise too, much better than sitting plonked on a chair!
2. Street Photography Gives me Something to Photograph
Spend more than 5 minutes in an online photography forum (particularly a gear orientated one) and you’ll be amazed at what boring things people take photos of. Their desk, their pets, their gardens, the view from their window, the list goes on. I’m not belittling certain types of photography (pet photos in particular are a great personal thing to look back on over the years), but you sometimes get the feeling people spend a lot of money on a camera and then sit inside without being able to think of a decent thing to take a photo of with it. Well, that’s not the case with street photography! Get out there on the streets and you’ve got a tonne of great subjects all around you. Sure, you can sometimes get a bit bored of your city or location at times, but more often than not there’s a plethora of things to shoot with street photography. And that rocks.
3. Street Photography isn’t posed – so it’s a rush
One of the biggest rushes of street photography for me is the unpredictability of it. You never know what you’re going to come up with. Each day is a new day, and the most boring mundane walk can suddenly come alive in a split second if you see an amazing shot. And, what’s better, because street photography is unposed and unpredictable if you see, and then manage to capture that amazing photo you get a hell of a rush. Unlike a shot you’ve arranged, with a street photo you’ve managed to snag an amazing artistic moment using your creative eye, cunning and speed. Nail a fantastic street photo and you feel like an absolute hero.
4. Street Photography is a Documentary
One of the lovely things about street photography is that even when you’re not making amazing photos you’re still snapping away at what’s around you. You’re creating an amazing document of your town or city. It may not seem so important at the time, but in 5, 10, 20 or 30 years time your photos might be an incredible window into a time and place that has changed dramatically or no longer exists. From a sociological point of view, street photography is so important in recording what our cities and daily lives look like. And who knows, when you look back on your photos you might be inspired to create a before and after project comparing and contrasting the changes over a period of time. That’s a brilliant project!
5. Street Photography is Creative
You know those times where you’re feeling frustrated with the world? You’ve had a frustrating day, and you don’t feel like you’re getting where you want to be in life. Sometimes you need an outlet, and doing something creative is a fantastic place to turn to. The trouble is, it’s not always easy to know exactly what creative thing to do. Writing is super hard sometimes (especially if you’ve got writer’s block), and I really need to be in the mood for drawing too (plus have the space on my desk and equipment to hand). But street photography – I can sweep up my camera, step out the door, and start exploring and snapping. I can go from zero to super creative in a world record time!
6. Street Photography Doesn’t Need a ‘Focus’
Street photography is incredibly liberating in the sense that you don’t have to be laser focused with it. You don’t have to have a focus or project, you can just shoot photos of the world around you freely, because street photography itself is such a strong project. The more you shoot, the bigger your portfolio grows, and before you know it a project gestates from nothing.
7. Street Photography Makes me a Better Photographer
Street photography has taught me so much about photography. How to see the beauty in the mundane and ordinary. How to shoot nimbly, quickly and fast. To anticipate photos before they happen. To predict and manage light and exposure. To use the manual controls on my camera to optimise the tool to suit my shooting as much as possible. To frame and compose. To use prime lenses to their maximum potential. I’ve learnt new techniques like zone focusing and hyperfocal distance. I’ve started to use off camera flash for street photography in all sorts of exciting ways, and using gels too. Street photography has taught me the importance of simple, light and small gear. Most importantly, I’ve really learnt exactly what my camera can do so it can become an extension of myself.
8. Street Photography allows me to Meet new People
Street photography is brilliant because it encourages you to go out and mix with people. The very nature of the genre is all about people! It’s a fantastic way to build your self confidence, as it forces you to observe people around you, understand them, and interact with strangers. Street photography gives you the ‘fear’ of the unexpected with unplanned reactions, and teaches you how to react to awkward situations and moments which you can apply to other aspects of life. There aren’t many genres of photography that force you to approach people you’ve never met before in this way, and for that street photography has to be celebrated. Even better, through street photography and Street Hunters, I’ve had the opportunity to meet other street photographers and in the process make some awesome new friends from all over the world.
9. Street Photography Lets me Travel & Explore
You don’t really need an excuse for travelling, but if you do, street photography provides you with the perfect one! What better reason is there to start globetrotting and visiting some of the best cities in the world than the desire to document them and their inhabitants? And, because you’re a street photographer, with all the photos you take you’ll have a great scrapbook of your travels ready made too. I particularly like how thanks to street photography I don’t just have to roam the standard tourist sites either. It gives me the confidence and a purpose to really try to explore a new city and let it get under my skin. Even better, thanks to street photography I can use something like Street Hunters Local Guides to meet other street photographers and get a local tour of the city, and make new friends in the process.
10. Street Photography is Good for Me
When I consider so many of the factors listed above I realise that one of the reasons I really love street photography is because it’s good for me. It’s way too easy to get wrapped up in my own thoughts, lazy, distracted, and stuck inside. Street photography forces me out of the house and from stewing and fretting in my own headspace and makes me re-engage with the world. I can remind myself how exciting day to day life can be, and make new discoveries, learn more about the world around me, and meet new people along the way too.
All the Reasons why I Love Street Photography!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my 10 reasons why I love street photography. It really is a genre that I have been able to get a lot out of, and I hope it continues to offer me a lot in the future. While my list is very personal, are there any things you agree or disagree with? Have I missed off a killer reason why street photography absolutely rules? Let me know in the comments below!