How to lead a more interesting life through Street Photography… First Timer Primer

Things you hear when people are thinking about starting out in street photography…

“What book should I read or class should I do?”

“Where should I go?”

“What is the best camera / bag / lens / etc?”

“What do I do if someone approaches me after taking their photo?”

The most important response to these questions is relatively indirect.

Grab whatever camera you have, catch the train into the CBD or some other well populated area, and take some damn photos…

Roll 191 FP4 G2 35263

How Your Brain Delays Achievement.

So many people seem to wait for the right conditions to something interesting with their lives. How many times have you heard or thought these kinds of self delaying phrases :

“I’ll need to find the right gym / runners / clothes before I start exercising.”

“I have a great story but need to do my background research before I write that novel.”

“I love that pattern but I need to find the right colour yarn to knit it out of.”

“I really need a Leica M before to really get into street photography.”

Time passes, and that great story in your head never makes it to paper. People spend hours and hours researching cameras and lenses, and tracking Ebay auctions instead of taking and processing photos.

Being more conscious of the ways your brain can short circuit your path to a more interesting life is the first step to overcoming them.

For me, I had to make a conscious effort to limit the amount of time I spent on the internet salivating over gear and different film gear websites vs the amount of actual time spent with the shutter firing in my hands… A commitment to not spend more time in “camera culture” than actually creating images… Excluding true learning time, of course.

So, put away your computer (not until you finish reading this!), close the Game of Thrones season on your DVR, stop spending hours on playstation / xbox / whatever your time waster is and do something interesting…

Roll 181 LM7 hp5 21mm080

Fear of Looking Like a Beginner.

Overcoming your fear of looking like a dick is the second obstacle. There are so many things that people never start because they worry incessantly about how many different ways they might look silly learning a new skill.

When I learnt how to ice skate – I fell over a lot before I could impress girls at Ringwood Iceland with a fancy parallel skidding stop that sprayed ice particles everywhere.

Focus on how good it is going to feel when you have mastered the basics. If you persist with just about anything new, you will eventually reach a level of mastery you can be proud of.

But accept that you will be a beginner, and at some point, before you get good, you will realise just how bad you are… This is the turning point in most new skills. Becoming “consciously incompetent” is where you finally understand what it is going to take to master the new skill. It is the point at which you are able to truly engage in self-directed learning, because you “know what you don’t know”.

Accept the crappiness of your first images, knowing that the second batch will be slightly better.

Roll 184 LM7 hp5 21 lc29126

Consciously Learn.

The final step to learning a new skill is to consciously develop a learning plan. It doesn’t have to be anything super formal. Just make sure at the end of each shoot you curate your images, pick some favourites and think about why they work.

Look at other people’s street photos, find ones you like, and think about how they are composed and might have been taken.

Read widely on technique.

Roll 181 LM7 hp5 21mm079

Let’s Get Back to this being the First Time.

So, grab any camera, get into a busy urban spot, and start taking photos. Don’t sweat it too much. Try not to get too far into anyone’s face to start with. Keep moving – don’t plant in any particular spot too long. If you don’t get the shot first or second time, keep moving. Nobody will bother you if they have to catch up.

Take the most important lesson from most of the all time masters. Get out and shoot as much as you can. Every weekend, if you can.

Stop letting things get in the way.

The best camera is the camera you have in your bag.

Today is a great day to start.



2 Responses to “How to lead a more interesting life through Street Photography… First Timer Primer”

  1. I think all I can add is that I concur fully with this post lol. good advice!!!!!


  2. Great thoughts. Like John Lennon, ” life is something that happens while we’re busy making other plans”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: