We all run into a rut in life and yes it happens in our own photography as well. If you’re having a photographer’s block or simply aren’t inspired to shoot here are a four creative street photography experiments worth trying….hopefully at the very minimum it gets you out of the house, burn those calories, get some fresh air, and allow you to start snapping away. Lets begin!
If you only have time to shoot during your lunch break like I do and work in a pretty busy district then try shooting at the busiest crosswalk in your work area. The good thing about a busy crosswalk is that there’s a lot of foot traffic. People are walking in one direction to another. Some are rushing to get to their destination…and some are not. Once you choose the busiest crosswalk with four crossing points, keep at it for at least an hour. The good thing about crosswalks is that there are breaks in between and you can look across the street to see whose on the other side and sort of prepare your mind on how you anticipate to make the photograph. You also have time to pick and choose which characters stand out to you.
And also depending on the street/crosswalk if its super busy like somewhere in New York City, you should be able to blend in with the crowd, no one will notice you even making a photograph. I promise you if you did round robins around the four point crosswalks for an hour straight you would come away with some memorable shots. This approach may be best suited for someone who hates walking aimlessly for an hour on their lunch or someone that gets easily frustrated after not seeing anything. At least when you are photographing along the crosswalks there’s no shortage of people, it’s dense, which in my opinion means there’s opportunity.
Attend a Weekend Event
I took the family out to the Punahou Carnival (President Obama’s old stomping ground) an event that I have not been to in almost twenty years. I started to have preconceived images in my head or what I’d think I would be able to capture based off of some photos I’ve seen from others (for example Jill Maguire – check out her interview I did last year) and from my experience you don’t want to have preconceived images in your head…you don’t want to jump to conclusions because that can be very forceful in trying to make a photograph happen…then frustration builds upon after that.
Anyways, after about an half an hour in getting the kids on a couple of rides and putting my focus on them by also photographing and capturing their moments we took a quick break and the first thing that caught my attention was all the carnival attendees eating..well carnival food. The way they bit into the different foods. You had people biting into a corn on a cob a certain way, an ice cream, others slurping fried noodles in a very grotesque manner, gigantic bites into their burger. Something about it really caught my attention, I am not sure if I found the mannerism humorous but it was enough for me to start snapping away. I was using flash because one it was at night and two I wanted the subjects to pop out in the foreground while making the colors very striking. And soon after a few shutter clicks, I got into a rhythm and started snapping away. I was able to get close to people because it was overly crowded and most of the attendees did not notice me nor cared what I was doing. I would take a photo, flash goes off and people taught I was taking a photo of something behind them.
You can check out the entire series here – Punahou Carnival 2018
Photograph Somewhere You’ve Never Photographed Before (in your state, country)
We all would love to travel at least once a year but traveling cost money and if you don’t have that luxury then try to work within your means. Drive thirty minute south, north, east, and or west from your location. Park somewhere safe of course…I mean do as much research in terms of parking, bathrooms, restaurants for breaks before you spontaneously head out and walk around and absorb the area (Street photography tips before you head out). This is a reminder that you don’t have to travel abroad to make memorable photos. Start within your own city, drive to somewhere new or somewhere you have’t really photographed within a 10 mile radius and perhaps make it a weekend excursion. I truly believe that the best photographs that you’ll come away with is when it organically happens and when you know too little than too much of a situation.
If you live near water, take a walk on the beach and bring your camera with you as well. I love photographing people on the beach because things are much much slower and calmer compared to the actual streets. People are on the beach to relax, some are tourist on vacation, for crying out loud people are in speedos with their guards down already so they could care less if you make a photograph of them. People at the beach aren’t there because they have to be there, they aren’t miserable at the beach, they’re there to congregate and have a good time, get a nice tan, enjoy the sunset, and ultimately get in some of that salt water therapy!
There’s a lot of different activities happening at the beach, a lot of body shapes, sizes, young and old, so there is a lot of variety to choose from and you can go at a slower pace.
You can check out a few of my vlogs shooting the beach in Honolulu. https://www.youtube.com/timhuynhphotography
There you have it folks, just a few simple ideas or experiments worth trying if you are having difficulty photographing the streets or if you hit a photographer’s block. At the end of the day, it’s not about the amount of social media likes and or follows. But rather about having fun with your street photography. From me I feel most alive when my brain is stimulated and challenged but also if I’m able to have an outlet to release my creativity. I shoot to get away from the daily stresses and ultimately it helps me get off my ass burn some calories, get some fresh air and be a creator. You should do the same too.
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