Over the course of our lives, we’ll give and receive countless pieces of advice. Of course, this applies to those directed at our photography, whether we’re hobbyists or professionals. However, not all of this advice is useful or constructive. In fact, it can just drive you away from enjoying your work. In this video, Roman Fox gives you three rubbish street photography tips that you should ignore when you hear them, but I’d say you should also avoid giving them to others.
Advice usually comes from a good place, which is why we are most often not mad when someone offers it (even if it’s utterly useless). However, lots of it comes from opinions, not facts, and it’s important to differentiate the two. Here are three of such pieces of advice Roman discusses, and while he focuses on street photography, I believe you’ve heard them in other genres, too.
1.” Editing is cheating:” Even though I’m not a street photographer, I’ve often encountered this phrase here and there. I’ve also often heard it for landscape photography, which I think is absurd: I find editing extremely important in landscapes. But I digress.
Needless to say, everyone’s style is individual in each photography genre. So, no one should tell you how much you should edit your photo. Of course, it also depends on what you’re shooting. If you’re creating for creating a work of art, you have unlimited editing freedom. But if you want to faithfully document an event, you should stick to basic edits and not edit out anything that would change the story. But all in all: editing is definitely not cheating, it’s an artistic expression just like photography itself.
2. “Cropping is cheating:” As Roman puts it, “I wish I could rationalize this, but honestly, I can’t.” I’m sure most of us want to do our best to get the shot right in camera. However, with street photography, it’s often very difficult. You want to be fast and capture the moment rather than getting the perfect composition right in-camera, so cropping is not only allowed, but sometimes desirable to get the best out of your shot.
3. “This is not street photography:” there’s often a presumption that everything has to be done the same way and conform to imaginary “guidelines.” So, people will often “advise” you that what you’re doing is not “proper street photography.” Roman points out that this isn’t even a piece of advice that comes from a good place, but rather from insecurity and envy. And I can only agree and confirm it.
As I said, I’m not a street photographer, I shoot mainly landscapes and travel. But even I have heard the first piece of “advice” multiple times. Still, I do edit my photos and I enjoy the process almost as much as I enjoy shooting.
Have you received any of these useless tips as a photographer? And what are some others that you’ve heard?