Why Street Photography?

Going to do something a little bit different to my usual entries on this blog, for one this post will contain no picture’s at all it’s going to be just word’s. And for second’s it’s going to be more of an opinion piece, something I don’t think I’ve written for a while if at all (discounting post’s about photography book’s). This may or may not end up being the first in a series of these, we’ll see how it goes.

So the title, Why Street Photography. Seem’s pretty self explanatory yes? This is going to be about why out of all the genre’s of photography this one just happen’s to have become what I am personally interested in reading about, viewing, partaking in and sharing.

Firstly; What would you class as street photography? Myself, I’d class it as anything that’s outdoors, be that actually on the streets of a town or city or the countryside; Involve’s people, usually stranger’s being photographed in ordinary situation’s; And most importantly, to me anyway, it’s candid and natural. In my opinion “street photography” is too limited a term to describe itself, ultimately flawed if you will. I would class any photography that’s taken outdoor’s, candidly of stranger’s in ordinary situation’s as coming under this heading, whether it be on a street, in a building, on the beach, up a mountain. Why should the descriptive term limit itself so much?

Secondly; Why have I found this to be something I have fallen into? To answer that I ask you a question in return, “Do you like to people watch?”. Come on, be honest, I bet you like me and a whole host of the vast majority of the population of the planet will freely admit, you quite like to sit down sometimes to watch the world go by and find yourself merrily watching other ordinary people just like you go about their business. That is what hit’s the nail on the head for me, this whole genre is about ordinary people and ordinary situation’s. It’s about sitting down and looking for pattern’s, lighting, shadows and shapes while at the same time watching normal folk go about their day and maybe, just maybe, making a photograph of these thing’s coming together.

Thirdly; You may have seen my previous post of my set up for this genre, what I take with me on a day I decide to take the 40 minute walk into the centre of Cardiff to wander around snapping away at what I see. It’s been modified slightly since then but it’s still quite basic, my Olympus OM-D EM-5, my Olympus OM-1, a few rolls of black & white film, some headphone’s and perhaps a spare lens or two. This is another reason I enjoy it so much, simplicity. You can get involved with this genre with minimal equipment, thus making it great for amateur’s such as myself who don’t have the budget for a ton of expensive peripheral’s.

One thing I will say, although it has never happened to me is to be safe, if someone takes umbrage with you photographing them it’s always best to defuse the situation rather than insist on your, very clear, right to do what you are doing in a public place. I have found that the vast majority of people seem to not notice or care too much if their photo is being taken, in fact half the time people assume you’re a tourist, but it’s always best to play it safe.

In conclusion I’d say Street Photography to me is something that can be done whenever and wherever, with minimal cost and maximum return. It open’s your eyes to the people and city around you, you notice people and place’s you’d never have thought twice about before. It train’s your eyes to look for shadow and composition in ordinary places and is good practice for a lot of photographic technique’s. I would recommend to anyone looking into finding “their thing” as a photographer to give it a go, in safe manner of course.

10 comments

  1. Street photography has become my favourite subject, gives me a chance to use some of my old cameras and the film in my fridge that’s competing for space with the food. :>)

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    1. Thankfully living in the climate of Wales mean’s I don’t have to store film in the fridge. Although that said I’ve just picked up some VERY out of date 120mm that’s gone straight in the freezer, just in case 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Long….long time ago, when I was an innocent boy, I asked my uncle to teach me photography (he was a great photographer) He gave me a very old Kodak 2A 116 (yes, you’re reading that!) So, he had adapted the machine to 120 film (don’t ask me how! ) and he told me: ‘Go to the street, you have twelve chances to show me that you can get a building talking, if you get it I will be you tutor’. I don’t think I am a ‘photographer’ but I owe a great debt to ‘street photography’. I like your writing , sure! Do it more often! 🙂
    ps. And my uncle was my tutor 😉
    (Sorry , my English is awful )

    Liked by 1 person

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