Yesterday, we shared a video from Eric Kim wherein he shares a montage of tips for shooting street photography while traveling. Today, we’ve come across an older video from Eric that follows along the same lines of yesterday’s video, but addresses a separate problem, the fear of street photography.[Read More…]
One of the big things that inspires me in photography, life, and technology is the ability to “democratize”, to add “access”, and to make things “affordable” to the masses.
For a little bit of personal background; I grew up “lower-working class” (my mom was more or less a single mom, working 3-part time jobs, and could barely afford rent every month). I lived in anxiety as a kid (I remember being 11 years old, and my mom telling me that we might be homeless next month because my dad gambled away the rent money).
I grew up pretty scrappy— knowing how to make do with what I had. I didn’t have much money at all as a kid (I would sometimes take my lunch money, go hungry for lunch, and use my lunch money to eventually buy sneakers or clothes).
However my savior was technology (specifically my computer). My computer empowered me. Once I got the internet (AOL 3.0, with a dial-up 38.8k modem) I was able to play free games, download (illegally) early versions of Photoshop and Visual Basic, I self-taught myself web design, programming, had access to tons of “free” information online, and the ability to connect with people half-way around the world.
You never know when a good photo opportunity will present itself to you.
Always be prepared.
I’m not sure if you know this— but I’m actually a Boy Scout (Eagle Scout)— and “always be prepared” was our motto. Whenever we got ready for a camping trip, we made sure we had all of our supplies, and we always planned for contingencies or “what-ifs?”
I’ve tried to always be prepared in many different ways in my life. For example, I try to add a buffer to my schedule when making appointments (if I think I will be able to meet a friend at noon for lunch, I add an hour-buffer and tell them to meet at 1pm for lunch), I try to add a buffer to my finances (I try to live below my means, although this is very hard, and try to keep cash in the bank just in-case for emergencies).
The most important case of being prepared in photography is to always have your camera with you— for those “what if” scenarios.
I want to propose a new school of photography called “personal photography.” Consider this letter as a way for me to work out some ideas, and to share some ideas with you.
Disregard what others do
Let me outline the biggest causes of misery for photographers:
- Feeling that their gear isn’t good enough
- Not having enough followers online
- Not having others appreciate their work
- Not making a living from photography
- Not having enough time to take photos
Dear friend, life is brutally short; live a life of leisure.
I don’t mean to say suddenly quit your job, but to enjoy every moment as if it were your last.
Imagine you are stranded in a desert and you are dying from thirst. You see a stream of water, but it will only flow for a minute. You rush over, and swallow all the water your stomach will hold, because you know it won’t flow anymore.
This is a good metaphor for life (credit Seneca in his letter, “On the Shortness of Life”). Life is a limited stream. Sooner or later, the stream will no longer flow. So why waste our time and our lives chasing distractions (pleasures, material things, fame) which will no longer exist when we’re dead?
There are only two things which are certain in life: death and taxes (unless you live in Dubai). Everything else is uncertain.
So why waste time researching cameras online, trying to save up money to buy that new lens, or fantasizing about traveling abroad? Why not use the small time we have on earth to shoot to our heart’s content?
The other night before I went to sleep, I was reading a book on my iPad and then wanted to post an inspirational quote onto Facebook. So I logged into Facebook, shared the quote– and suddenly got sucked into the news feed. I started scrolling through the activity of all my friends– and started to feel pretty down. It seemed that all the other photographers I follow online are doing things much more exciting than me: they are traveling to places I have always wanted to, are doing big exhibitions, publishing photography books of their own, and doing interviews for big-shot media companies.
As I kept scrolling through my news feed and clicking around– I started to feel sick in my stomach. What am I doing here sitting on my ass here in Berkeley– and not achieving as much as these other people? After all, I work hard in my photography, in my blog, making connections, and all that jazz.
I wanted to write you this letter on photography and life.
I just finished an epic week-long street photography workshop here in New Orleans, and it was an absolutely incredible experience. I had such a great time with the students, in terms of teaching, bringing people together, and sharing new experiences together.
Small enjoyments: chatting with students in the morning over some good coffee, sharing life stories with strangers on the streets, eating beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde, having single-origin espressos at Spitfire coffee in New Orleans (and chatting with the owner), having good laughs at dinner while talking about our life’s passions, staying up until 1am at our AirBnb apartment with the students cooking eggs and bacon and sausage, debating which fried chicken place is the best, and just talking nonsense.
My name is Spyros Papaspyropoulos and I am one of the co-founders of www.streethunters.net, a complete and free online street photography resource. I was asked by Udi the chief editor of DIYPhotography.net to share with you the results of a little project we did a month and a bit ago. A project that resulted in the first ever crowdsourced list of the 20 most influential Street Photographers.