Street Photography Tips – Fear of Shooting

So I’m an extrovert! Obviously that comes as no surprise to you! It’s possible that gives me an edge in street photography. But not as big as you might think. Street photography isn’t easy. It isn’t about it being easy. Easy gets boring. Street photography is always a challenge! Street photography is always about confronting your self first. Even when you’re an extrovert!

In a city with millions of people, how could I not be curious? I’ve always said that my curiosity, enthusiasm and determination are my biggest assets. I boldly step out into the world with my camera. My camera is my raison d’être. It gives me permission to experience life. To be in the world. Sometimes people smile and connect with you when you’re out shooting street. Often people smile. They are happy to have their photo taken.

Color Street Photography
Make My Day! New York City, 30 March 2018

My philosophy of life and of photography are the really same thing. It’s always about life and people and a belief in humanity. I’ve been told that I’m courageous. The truth is, I don’t know any other way to live. The only risk that I can identify is to not embrace life and live it in a way that feels honest for who I am.

New York City Street Photography
Convertible in the Rain, New York City, October 2018

It’s always about treating others with respect. Perhaps you get what you give in life. Oh, the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Not necessarily easier. Happy shooting!

Photography Reveals

It is impossible to stand outside of yourself and create an image. Photography always reveals something about the photographer.

An image is a reflection of the person making it. It is personal. The more that you work on your image making, the more your style becomes apparent.

Photography is like a language. It is capable of layers of meaning in a single image. It’s like poetry. Rich with possibilities.

The Exploding Art Show, New York City, May 2008

When an image is successful, it can have multiple meanings. Each viewer brings to a photo their own story. Their interpretation.

The beauty of any artistic pursuit is that it is never-ending. One image by itself is like a page in a book. An artist strives for a body of work that represents their vision.

How to Become a Better Photographer

1. First and foremost, get comfortable with your camera! It is your tool for creating your photography. Digital cameras can be complicated. You don’t have to know how to do everything on your camera. If you can get to a point where you are able to achieve results that you like, that’s good.

Your camera should work for you. Not the other way around. That way you can gain confidence and further your techniques and style.

2. Think in terms of a series when you shoot. You can do more than one series at a time as you might not always be able to shoot rain or whatever the category is that you want to focus on.

When you look at a series of photos you can then compare them and see what works best and what doesn’t really work. As well, working on a series of photos means that you can create a body of work that is cohesive. Not just a bunch of one off cool shots.

Monochrome Street Photography NYC
Afternoon Run, New York City, January 2020

3. Look for ways to broaden or fine tune your approach. There’s always a better method or approach. You can do this by looking at the work of other photographers and artists. Go to a museum or gallery or look at books or even the internet if you must. Famous photographers and artists are great but not necessary for finding inspiration and new techniques. Look for elements that jump out at you and see if you can incorporate them into your work.

4. Take a class or a workshop. This is a great way to learn new and different methods to do things. Sometimes it’s about technical aspects and others it’s about style. Meeting people that share your interests is good too. My motto is that I can always be better and do things differently. Photography will keep me busy for life!

5. Print your photos even if it’s on a standard printer and basic photo paper. Seeing your photos printed is really different than seeing a digital copy. I often print 4×6 photos on cheap photo paper to decide if the photo really works for me. It is another perspective ad possibly a better method to be objective about your work. If nothing else it’s a slower method of viewing.

Monochrome Street Photography
400 Lafayette, New York City, January 2020

6. Always ask yourself why you do things the way you do and if there might be a better way. For instance, it’s easy to always shoot in Aperture Priority. But why not switch to Shutter Priority? Much can be gained from trying new things.

7. Think about what you really like in your work and develop that. You should always be happy with your photos first and not be so concerned with what others think. Yes, it’s great when others like your work. Especially when they’re not friends or family. That is to say that there’s no feeling of obligation to like them. Your friends and family should obviously like your photos!

8. Seeing is an often overlooked sense. That is to say that we take it for granted and edit out much of what is in front of us. Sometimes it’s good to just stop, take a deep breath and have a slow look around you to see things more clearly. Some of the best photos are really of very ordinary things.

9. Be happy! If you’re not enjoying it, you’re not likely to like what you produce.

Why Even Take Photos?

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.

Tell Me Something Good, New York City, August 2019

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?