“Street Photography is 99,9 % about failure. So often I feel defeated by the street. I sometimes find, that if I keep walking, keep looking, and keep pushing myself, eventually something interesting will happen. Every once in a while, at the end of the day, when I´m most exhausted and hungry, something – a shaft of light, an unexpected gesture, an odd juxtaposition – suddenly reveals a photograph. It´s almost as if I had to go through all those hours of frustration and failure in order to get to the place where I could finally see that singular moment at day´s end” – Alex Webb
The first harsh lesson street photography has taught me is “Win some. Lose most”. Most of the time when you go out to photograph whether it’s a weekend walk into the city or whether you just bring your camera everywhere with you, just have realistic expectations and not expect that every shutter click is going to be a good image.
Remember to ultimately shoot for yourself and at the end of the day what really matters is if you’re happy with your photos. You may get a lot of “likes” or compliments on social media from your friends but deep down you know whether you have a good photo. WWE superstar John Cena, said that after a match everyone backstage congratulates you and pats you on the back tell you “Hey that was an awesome match” but in his heart and mind he knows whether or not the match was a 5 star match. And if it was a 5 star match he’s not settling, as long as he’s wrestling, he’s gonna keep striving to top his last five star match. You can bring that same mentality to street photography, you take a good photo. It wins awards, gets recognition but don’t settle. Keep shooting. Try to top your last good photo. The competition is not among other people on social media but rather among yourself. Realize that you’ll have more shitty shooting days than good. And once you realize this and be honest with yourself in the quality of work you’ve been producing and the time and effort you actually put into your street photography, the better you can go about your art.
Even when you’re submitting photos to festivals or competitions. I’ve always said that getting in one is like hitting the lottery. The percent of your photos getting in is slim. Therefore, do not be disappointed by not getting in. Because you did not lose. You just did not win. If you’re in a rut or have a photographer’s block then try out new genre’s either within street photography or in photography in general. Sometimes mixing things up helps me reshuffle the creative juices. By allowing yourself to try new things and make crappy photos along the way takes off pressure. Removes any competitive spirit within you and allows you to have fun and learn new things.Sometimes going on hiatus helps. I discovered street photography in 2010 and did it for two years.
I stopped in 2012 because I didn’t know what and why I was photographing randomness out in the streets. I got back into street photography in 2015 with a new burning light and most importantly it was more fun than when I was originally practicing it back in 2010-2012. In that regards, sometimes you need to hit the reset button. For most people their reset button is a two week vacation and when they return back to work they’re rejuvenated and ready to continue to climb the corporate ladder. That’s why there’s spring breaks, summer breaks, winter breaks, for students so that they don’t feel burnt out and uninspired to learn. If you’re falling off into boredom and you’ve tried mixing it up…it’s okay. That’s normal. This actually happens to me a lot. Just find something else to do or stay busy and return to hitting the streets thereafter.
At the end of the day try new things, pace yourself, compete among yourself, and don’t add any unnecessary pressure onto yourself. You are the gatekeeper of your own destiny.
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