“Get yourself a comfortable pair of shoes”
That was one of the first things I learnt when I started to practise street photography. It was for good reason, as for anyone reading this knows that street photography involves an intense amount of walking. What the teaching also did however, was implant in my brain that street photography was all about the hunt - something I have discovered can have a negative impact on your work.
Charged battery - check.
Clean SD cards - check.
50mm - check.
Bottle of water - check.
Snickers - check.
Google Maps - check.
Correct attire to fit weather conditions - check.
As soon as all is cleared I leave my home, travel to my starting point and begin the hunt. It is usually from this point that I begin walking, only stopping to take a shot, for the next 5-6 hours. An issue that started to develop from this hunt mentality is that I became increasingly frustrated when I did not find something to catch. Endless amounts of walking would lead to fatigue, my eye would become lazy and in act of desperation I would return home with a low quality shot, trying to convince myself it had some worth.
Then one evening whilst thinking of the frustration that had developed and what I could do to overcome it, I had a thought - Why do I always have to go to the shots when I can let the shots come to me?
This initially went against all my street photography instinct. Part of the excitement of having a day filled with shooting is the exploration. But what if this was having a negative impact on my work? I then started to think about all the shots that went by me as I walked the streets looking for an interesting frame. I cannot shoot what I did not see.
I decided to put my new way of thinking into practise. Instead of walking miles on end, I would remain on one block for the full duration of my session. I thought that deciding to slow the train down if you will, will make my eye more accurate. It would make my mind think more and my decision to take the shot more calculated.
Here is an example of my new approach…
Had I been whisking through the streets my eye would likely have seen - nice coloured wall/woman sweeping. I would have either taken a bland shot or not talking one at all. However, being stood on the path stationary, I waited to see if the scene came to me. Being more observant allowed me to spot the woman in the pink walking towards my frame. Thankfully just as she was approaching, the pigeon landed in the street, so I decided to use the woman as a frame within the frame - giving the image more depth. Thankfully all the colours merged well together and overall I feel this became a stronger shot.
The drug of the hunt
The hunt approach to me is honestly like a drug. The feeling of euphoria one gets when putting in the leg time and getting a great shot because of it, is honestly one of the big reasons I feel keeps most people hooked to this art form. I will never walk away from that, but it will no longer be the sole idea of what I think street photography should be.
If you are going through a rough patch with your street photography and feel like you are wasting countless hours and miles, then try this approach for yourself. Slowing down, scoping the scene and being patient will make you more present whilst making your work. Like me, you may also feel a lot less pressure to succeed.
Hunting is great - but you don’t always have to go and get your dinner - sometimes you can let your dinner come to you.
Thanks for reading
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