A question I get asked a lot is: Why do you do street photography? This is a question I like to ask myself every now and then as it can help keep me grounded.
When I first started photography more seriously, I would never have dreamt that street photography was for me. Street photography is not something that comes naturally for most people, and is something you have to put a lot of time into to get proficient at getting close to your subjects. It can be quite draining mentally and physically. It is a world away from scenic landscapes and studio portraiture. You have to be able to put your self in a social situation, and be a candid observer.
I love street photography because I am both an extrovert and an introvert. I can either be charismatic and great with people or stolen away and wanting to be left alone. When the latter takes over it can be very difficult to get into the ‘rhythm’ that is needed for street photography. By rhythm I refer to what some people call ‘the zone’. I find it much easier to get into a decent ‘rhythm’ when I am positive and ready to interact with people. Firing off a few shots always gets the process rolling, and smiling and talking takes the edge off if you decide to take any street portraits. Conversely, being in a more introverted frame of mind can lead to some great photographs, and some interesting ideas. This can certainly be the case when it comes to more abstract images.
The kind of images I produce are what I see and feel. I tend to produce darker, grittier, colder images. This isn’t always intended, but it certainly is the path my creative side has been drawn towards. That is not to say I cannot produce happier photographs with lots of bright colours, but then to me that would not be very honest of me, would it.
As someone whose life is heavily embedded within music and experimental composing, I tend to leave the blemishes on from my 35mm film shots. I have always thought that imperfections are so perfectly human and interesting. Improvisation with unusual, unexpected, and unintended elements that find their way into my creative work I try to embrace. I once had someone on a forum tell me that ‘I can’t be bothered to deal with the crap on my images’, which although I found very humorous, this person clearly didn’t understand where I was coming from. And that is okay. The best thing about being creative is everyone is different, and we all have opinions and see things from a different perspective. However, putting hours, days, weeks, and months into projects hardly makes someone not ‘bothered’ when it comes to their work.
I have also noticed that there is a large portion of the photography community that likes very ‘clean’ and ‘polished’ images. I am quite partial to a well-edited photo myself. However, when I look around I see a large amount of people trying to achieve perfection in exactly the same way, I ask myself: why am I not doing the same? This is because even though in the past I have attempted to ‘polish’ my work in such a way, it is not what feels natural to me. I like the unclean, gritty, feel that I get when I am actually on the streets. This is the way I see the world around me.
To rein things in a little, I love it because it is real. A sea of people going about their chaotic lives around you as you slow down to take it all in. The architecture, that has stood for long years and is almost ignored by those walking by. The grey, the overcast, and the contrasts, that greets us when we leave our comfy homes. I love the abstracts and the juxtapositions that wait around every corner; over every bridge in London; at the next bus stop. Why do I go out week after week for hours on end wondering the streets looking for moments to capture? Am I out there chasing ‘that shot’ or am I out there chasing myself.
I want to leave you with a thought. The next time you are out on the streets, even if it is on holiday, and you are contemplating life and observing things going on around you: why not take a photograph? If you aren’t comfortable taking a photograph ask yourself why. Finding this blog clearly shows you are curious about leaping into the rabbit hole, and all it takes is a smile and a ‘thank you’. Open up a conversation; explain what you liked about that moment. You can always delete the photograph if you are uncomfortable, but you might regret not taking the shot if you let it pass by.