Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Terrified" Street Photographer? My Advice Is to Pick Another Hobby

Crabby, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex T Twin Lens Reflex Camera
I'll admit that sometimes I'm not completely comfortable doing street photography - that is, photographing people I don't know in the street, at work, or really anywhere they're living their lives. Some days, it flows like water; other days, it seems everyone's angry to see you lift your camera. That's part of the attraction for me. What fun is an activity that's always easy?
Anyway, I read an interesting post by photographer Mridula Dwivedi on Digital Photography School, about ways to do street photography, even if you're "terrified" of it. Here are Dwivedi's tips (which I will say from the outset I largely disagree with):
  • "Shoot Things" (not people)
  • "Use a Zoom Lens"
  • Frame wider
  • Photograph busy people - I don't disagree with this one
  • Position yourself at a corner - this can also work
In my opinion, shooting "things" is not street photography. It's a fine hobby, just not street photography. Using a zoom lens (which really means using a telephoto so you don't have to get close) is pretty close to spying. Framing your images wider can work. In fact many street photographers really like wide angle lenses, but they usually get extremely close to their subjects in order to use them. I don't think that's what Dwivedi means. The last two are good ideas, in my opinion.
(Click Here) to read Dwivedi's entire post.
I believe that if the photographer is truly terrified while shooting on the street, it shows in the images. It certainly shows if they stand on the sidelines and shoot with a long lens. I don't know of any great street photographs that were shot in this way. I also believe if you feel like a spy, look like a spy, and act like a spy, your street images will be about as intimate as a spy satellite image taken from space.
So, if I were truly terrified of street photography, I'd move to a different hobby. Just my $.02.