Building the Perfect Street photographer

I’ve always been curious, what would be the perfect street photographer. One that has the physical tools and intangibles to become a great photographer. Similar to what the NFL analysis on ESPN do, when they discuss building the perfect quarterback, I want to do my own of building the perfect street photographer! Let’s the fun begin!

Vision, Eyes

This one is tough, I can only pick one, heck all of the list moving forward is going to be tough…it’s a close race but I’m going to have to go with Mr. Alex Webb.

The ability to see light, color, and add layers within a frame…is hard to pull off…yet alone make interesting.

Street Smarts

According to google street-smart is…“the experience and knowledge necessary to deal with the potential difficulties or dangers of life in an urban environment”

The controversial Bruce Gilden wins this hands down. You will see his name a few more times below. Keep reading…

Heart, Passion, Desire

This is easy…Everyone…Everyone that photographs for themselves, that needs to shoot because it is their drug, their addiction. The camera is part of their limb, shooting, editing, admiring other photographer’s works are part of their daily routine. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons, the likes, the follows, the glory, awards, the money, the lap dances…oh wait the last one only refers to me…keep reading…

Fearlessness

I have to give it to Bruce Gilden. Getting close and flashing people up in their grill without any hesitation is something to admire to say the least. Gilden once said that he’s not afraid of confrontation because he doesn’t believe he’s doing anything wrong.

Confidence

You got to be confidence to get really close and flash people in the face! So that’s why…no no not Gilden…Mark Cohen takes this.

Humor

There are so many, especially in today’s street photography world. I would say within the last several years that a lot more humor have been instilled in a street photograph…but I must give this one to the originator of finding those humorous moments in the public setting…Ellioit Erwitt. 

Speed & Quickness

Speed and quickness is heavily undervalued…now i’m not talking about the speed NFL players use at a combine…I’m talking about clicking the shutter and moving along, like if nothing had ever happened. I’ve seen this man work with my own two eyes so for this attribute I choose Aaron Berger. The man is quick, shifty, and a smooth criminal. Aaron “Smooth Crimnal” Berger!

Strength

Strength as in physical strength sure…how about when you see a series of photos from a particular photographer and the photos just oozes strength, toughness and intensity.  I get this feeling when I see photos from Tatsuo Suzuki.

Innovator

Someone that reinvented the wheel, the genre, when at the time was critized for his work but could care less. William Eggleston to me is an innovator for the genre of street photography. He democratizes the genre, he shot in color when black and white was still predominately for street photography. He made us appreciate the mundane and taught us to aim for the high hanging fruit with our photography.

Street Photography IQ

IQ comes experience, I choose to have this particular photographer’s IQ because he was a pioneer for this art form. I truly believe you can insert this person in any era including in today’s world of street photography and he’ll still produce great photos if not better. The legend himself, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Smile

A good smile will go a long way when you’re photographing people in public. To avoid confrontation, don’t make eye contact…or smile say thank you and move on. Matt Stuart seems friendly, harmless, and has a calmness about him.

Imagination

There is a three way tie for this and will be the only tie moving forward. Three of the top street shooters today. Pau Buscato, Tavepong Pratoomwong, and Edas Wong…Sometimes I wonder how the heck did they get that shot! All three photographers make me look at their photos….then look again and again…enough said.

Calmness

To not add any pressure to your street photography and to go about your day. This photographer is cool, calm, and collected,  and it shows in his work. KEEP CALM and BE JESSE MARLOW.

Incognito

I’ve seen this first hand so it’s a little bias but I would say Paul Kessel. I’ve seen him get close, far, shoot from the hip, through the viewfinder, and no one ever notices him. He’s on privacy mode, incredible.

Stamina

Garry Winogrand wins this hands down. The man would shoot day and night. Today he still has many undeveloped film rolls, somewhere in the thousands that are currently being worked on by  Center for Creative Photography (CCP). Winogrand was relentless and shot many rolls each day…just to shoot, photography was a drug, a good one that is.

Awareness

Sorry another tie, it’s hard. So many good photographers. But these two seem to have great recognition in the street setting, right place at the right time would be another way to look at it. But it’s not just seeing a moment and making a photo out of it. It’s about seeing a moment grow or evolve into something even more spectacular. Joel Meyerowitz & Jack Simon take this. Meyerowitz images will go down as some of the best in history, in my opinion. As for Jack, I remember looking at his work, I knew nothing about him, never heard of him. He was teaching a workshop via Streetfoto and I was deciding to attend his workshop and three others. I said damn these are great photos, I want to make photos like Jack’s. And so I took Jack’s workshop based on his body of work.

Marketing

Every street photographer markets themselves believe it or not. Whether that’s simply uploading photos to instagram or facebook on a daily basis. Blogging on street photography, having your own website, flickr to showcase one’s photos…however, nobody has better market themselves than Eric Kim. I personally believe he comes off as polarizing via internet because that is the best marketing. He understands that you’re either going to have people that support you and another half of people that despise you. Good or bad, either way, people are talking about you. When someone comments positive or hateful messages on your facebook content, facebook see’s the engagement on the post and thinks its relevant to keep up top on the news-feed. Love him or hate him, Eric Kim is the advocate for street photography. Many wouldn’t be shooting if it weren’t for his abundance of free online resources. He also found a way to crack google’s algorithms, well sort of.

I do believe that you should let your photos do the talking but if you have useful information that could help others, by all means SHARE your knowledge.

Conclusion

Hope you guys enjoyed this. This was fun and difficult. I will revisit this in a year’s time, so many emerging and established photographers today but as always I need to respect many of our street photography fore founders.

If there are any other attributes or intangibles that I should add to make the perfect street photographer please let me know!