I often come across people who want to take the best photo of this thing or that thing. Often it’s to take a photo of something that’s been photographed to death.
Many years ago, I gave up trying to compete with photographers who get paid large sums of money to shoot photos that are used in glossy magazine spreads.
That isn’t my style of photography. My style of photography is to make a photo my own. That is to say to have it reflect the way that I see the world.
It is of course a common method when you first start shooting to imitate photos that you like. It’s really no different than learning to play a favorite song on guitar and wanting to play it “perfectly”.
But at some point it’s time to leave the imitation behind and find your own style. To create that which makes your work unique. If I wasn’t able to create photos in my own style, why would I even want to?
So much emphasis is placed on the technical aspects of shooting street photography by the so-called leaders in the industry. It’s as if there are the 3 most important this or the 7 most important that and also that you have to shoot with a specific camera or brand.
It’s rather funny to see how many photographers only shoot film with a Leica or only shoot digital with Sony or whatever the choice is of the person promoting it. Actually I say that it’s ridiculous. A camera is always a personal choice just as a brush is to a painter. Whatever works for you is the best. Cheap cameras included.
The over emphasis on the tool rather than the individual process gets lost in this. My approach to photography is a creative one rather than a technical one. Set your camera up for the conditions of the day and forget about it. More of the actual process has to do with your vision and response to what’s going on around you.
My father was a very technical photographer. He took some fabulous photos. But for my taste they lacked an emotional content. I’m not saying that one style is right and the other wrong. Or that one is better and the other worse. Only that as a creative photographer I am less concerned with a certain kind of perfection that technical photographers strive for.
Art is always subjective and there are multiple methods for achieving it. Perfection has a way of discounting the emotional. For art to be successful it must draw the viewer into it. Whether we’re talking about the camera mode that you choose or even the style of photography that you are shooting, there is no one correct method to achieve the desired results.
The problem with following a particular style of photography that relies on a consistent approach is like painting by number or being in a cover band. There are groups of photographers that have a very consistent approach to street photography. While there are some photos that really stand out. There are others in which it would be difficult to name the photographer.
I know that in my life as a street photographer I have paid a price for not following in a style that is so common with many others. It was never a conscious decision to do so. I have always worked in my own way of being influenced by some photographers while still making my work my own.
I did not have any formal training in photography for better or for worse. That would be for the viewer to determine. I always encourage the people that I work with to follow their own feelings about what works and what doesn’t. I talk about the things that influence me. I do hope that I am able to encourage you to follow your own path and find your passion. Happy shooting!