I’m not good at street photography – I’m just not scared

Nov 22, 2017

Keenan Hastings

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I’m not good at street photography – I’m just not scared

Nov 22, 2017

Keenan Hastings

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Today I used Lightroom Mobile to capture images on the street for the first time. I recently remembered that you can sync images from Lightroom Mobile right to the Lightroom desktop application. This was huge for me as I’m tired of syncing via Airdrop… It legit takes forever to select which images you want to import.

Anyway, when syncing the images I noticed each one took about 10-20 seconds, quite long, but worth it considering the images were RAW. This also gave me a little bit of time to inspect each image. I had nothing else to do so I looked over them one by one as they dropped in. I didn’t make any changes, simply evaluated them based on quality.

In each image (for the most part) I noticed something that I didn’t quite see in real time… Now I know, to a certain extent, this is expected, I’m looking at still images of a live moment, surely I couldn’t see everything during the time of photographing, but man, some of these things were right in my face and I didn’t even notice them. I’m talking poles, people in the background, possible juxtapositions, even unplanned reactions. I know it’s supposed to be my job to take notice of these things, but in an honest moment, I usually don’t.

The women to the right is a distraction, so is the head in between the mother and the child… However, most won’t see that.

Here’s why… I’m not good at street photography. I don’t think about composition or juxtaposition, you’ll never see me follow the triangle rule or even the rule of thirds… I simply just take images, mostly up close and yeah, for the most part, I don’t see anything that’s not my subject. I’m brave, not skilled.

I’ve always known this, I’ve just been afraid to say it and when I did say it, well I rephrased it. Post like The More I Practice, The Luckier I Get or You Don’t Have To Be Original To Be Creative, where I basically just talk about how I replicated Mark Cohen’s photographic style… Even my saying Done Is Better Than Great steers towards the philosophy that one doesn’t have to be skilled to get things done.

To many, this may come as a shocker. “How can you run a street photography blog and not be good at street photography?” I know many of you have questions!

The composition on this photograph is horrible, but if you focus on the subject, you see what my intentions were…

Though my style isn’t technical, the idea behind it isn’t 100% incorrect. Much of street photography is f8 and be there, another important factor is to not be afraid… and then somewhere in that pie chart is skill, it safe to say that the person who possesses the first 2 qualities will out perform the photographer who only has the skillset. I’m willing to bet that someone who’s at the scene and fearless would capture far more interesting photographs than one of skill and fear…

I didn’t plan for this motion blur, but I love it, it adds a unique element to the photograph. The stripes on her dress could also be said to complement the ones on the street… Again, I was just brave enough to get close and capture this, I didn’t factor any of this stuff in until I reviewed the photograph.

What am I trying to point out in this article? I think most of you are focusing on the wrong thing. Everyone’s trying to get better at composing or controlling the scene, don’t worry about that, it doesn’t matter if you’re scared to take the damn picture. In my opinion that should be the first aspect of street photography that you tackle.

Work on being brave, get comfortable shooting the subject, the foreground, once you master that then MAYBE you can try to alter everything else in the image, I’ve been shooting for 3 years and I’m just now getting close to that point.

About the Author

Keenan Hastings is a street photographer, YouTuber and blogger. You can find out more about him on his website KeenanRIVALS and follow his work on Instagram and YouTube. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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3 responses to “I’m not good at street photography – I’m just not scared”

  1. Andy Shields Avatar
    Andy Shields

    Great seeing Keenan’s stuff shared here!

  2. Cesar Sales Avatar
    Cesar Sales

    Lovely debate about this type of work – personally I find being “brave” seems to piss people off, and that influences the images, making them angry and ugly. Much prefer finesse over bravado – ala Elliot Erwitt. Anyhow, does any serious artist believe that just “being brave” can replace practice and knowledge? Maybe on instagram, which is why most serious street photographers eschew that particular media. I find these images ugly, or boring, or borderline salacious and invasive. But not at all interesting. YMMV

  3. Guille Lucero Avatar
    Guille Lucero

    can you give more knowledge about using Lightroom mobile, I don’t understand where you use it, telephone connected to your camera? thanks.