It goes without saying that if you want to get better at something you have to practice. Simple, right? The thing is, that unlike more structured pursuits such as sports or music, the idea of practicing street photography seems a bit hard to wrap one’s head around. But before we get into that, we should establish the best methodology for practice in in general.
How many people remember my interview with Eric Kim? This was a huge deal for me! I remember when I first started shooting street, his blog was one of the first that I came by. It was filled with so much information, but what was more interesting to me were the interviews he did with other street photographers. These interviews helped me discover so many photographers, Brian Day, Damian Vignol, Josh White… I could name so many. I just remember thinking, my work is going to be next to theirs… again it was just really exciting for me.
Street Photographers are not known for their reserve. We are happy to give advice on gear, framing and technique. But I believe the best photographers are those who also seek advice and look to learn from others. But not all advice is equal, and some ideas are outdated, narrow minded, or just plan wrong. In this article I am going to go question some of the advice that has almost become folklore in Street Photography, and pose the question, is it time to move on?
Figure to ground means that a subject or idea (figure) is clearly defined against a background. This can be achieved through technical means, ie depth of field, or compositional means. My preferred method is to make sure that everything in my photographs fit neatly in place. Unless elements are specifically interacting then they do not need to touch. No lampposts coming out of heads in portraits, no walls going through bodies.
Everything where it needs to be, like pieces of a puzzle.
Shooting Street Photography without a project is like food shopping when you’re hungry. You might get a few nice treats, but ultimately you get back and find there is nothing to sustain you.
So, if you’ve ever been out shooting street photography and found yourself uninspired, demotivated by not finding new material, or just not knowing what it is you’re looking for, I have the perfect solution for you – personal projects.
Coronavirus has had a huge effect on, not to mention been frightening, everyone, from “common folks” to huge companies like Sony. The fear of infection has left some of China’s cities looking like ghost towns. It’s hard to imagine a city of 24-million people like Shanghai empty as if it were a setup for a movie or a video game. But it is happening, and photographer Nicoco has managed to capture it. In her latest series titled 一个人城市 One Person City, she shows the sad and eerie atmosphere in Shanghai’s streets during the coronavirus outbreak.
I’m going to share with you 11 Secrets to up your night street photography game that I teach paying customers on our London Soho Night Street Photography workshops. Don’t worry if you’re coming to one I have many more secrets!
I love the way cities come to life at night with neon lights, the sound of laughter, street lights, reflection, shop windows, it’s a different world which I’ll equip you to not only shoot but shoot well. Before you ask, all of the images here are shot handheld on various Fujifilm cameras, mainly the XT3 with 35mm f1.4 lens which is their 50mm equivalent.
One of the most powerful applications of photography has been as a tool to document some of the most important moments in recent history, whether that’s in terms of a shared history of the world in the form of photojournalism, or in the more personal history of family snapshots, personal photography, and street photography.
Photography for personal use is prevalent in everyday life perhaps more today than ever before; every dance-floor selfie on a night out is photographic storytelling, every published snapshot in some way contributing to the wider communal pool of stories being told. It is accessible to anyone with a smartphone, and the barrier to entry-level dedicated camera units is immensely low secondhand. Photography is essential in messaging apps, a part of daily communication like never before.
One of the best exercises for street photography I ever adopted was to focus my internal monologue into a process of constantly describing what I am seeing. I have always been introspective about the way I work, when it comes to what influences my overarching approach, what draws my eye moment to moment, and what I look for while curating.
I think the question of whether something is or is not art is a bit disingenuous, and can be used more as a tool for gatekeeping than true analysis or critique. There is no objective standard for what makes something enjoyable as a piece of art, whether that is a photograph, music, sculpture, or a blade of grass in a field. However when it comes to the deliberate creation of an artefact I think that the intention of the creator is very powerful, and can offer some strong insight into the way that work can be interpreted.