Being ‘Street Tough’ what does that mean?
No I don’t mean being able to handle yourself in a street brawl, although that would be nice in case of any negative altercations you may encounter but no that’s not it.
Again today I am going to be referring to my other great hobby in life Golf. Golf or sports in general is linked a lot to street photography for me in many ways. The patience to play golf mirrors the patience you need to take great photographs, the mindset of both is similar and also the improvement side of things. Golf is one of the hardest sports out there and in the world of photography street photography being pretty tough as well. You may go out on the course and shoot level par one day but the next weekend you are 18 over par. It’s frustrating because you know you can do better. But you can only do better if you practice better. It’s no good going out and shooting a good score thinking you have mastered golf and you big yourself up to you friends etc. because the next time you go out it’s bound to bite you in the arse. It’s not good and not healthy for you to get a big ego in golf, photography or in life. With an ego you can never improve and be the best you can be. Any critique received will be shrugged off and any praise is lapped up to the max. Not a good trait in my eyes. You would be better off keeping humble, practicing hard and that way you will improve your photography or anything you are taking part in.
I’ve been reading a book called ‘Golf Tough’ by an author called Dan Abrahams. In his book he refers to a sports psychologist by the name of William Straub. Straub carried out an experiment where he asked the students to throw 50 darts at a board, count up their score and then embark on a special training program. Students were then split up into 3 even groups.
Group 1 would not throw another dart for the whole 8 week program.
Group 2 would practice for 30 minutes per day for 5 days per week for 8 weeks.
Group 3 would do the same as group 2 but include mental training as well.
Group 3 had to picture themselves throwing darts, seeing themselves positioned at the throwing line, feeling the darts in their fingers and feel the release. Picturing the dart flying through the air and hitting their intended target.
After the 8 weeks group 1 showed no improvement. Group 2 who practiced daily improved by an average of 67 points and group 3 who used physical practice alongside picturing throwing darts improved by a massive 165 points on average. An incredible improvement don’t you think by mentally training alongside the physical.
“It is quality more than quantity of practice that delivers excellence. Practice with a focused, goal driven mind”
I think we can utilize William Straub’s experiment into street photography. So for the next 8 weeks or month or for however long you would like (I would recommend no shorter than 1 month though) is to use what the book refers to as the 1% Rule and become ‘Street Tough‘. I’ve used this rule in my golf practice in the past and it worked wonders. I’ve now applied this to street photography and I am also now seeing the benefit in my street photos. All you have to do is take 1% of your day which equates to around 15 minutes to visualize yourself taking photographs. You could be walking around the grocery store or having a day out with your family or friends, you could be doing anything, just dedicate that 1% to picture yourself taking photos. Get your game face on, walk around at that relaxed pace giving yourself time to take everything in. You own the streets. When you see a potential scene picture yourself pulling the camera to your eye, framing the scene in your viewfinder or LCD screen perfectly and then releasing and hearing the shutter button. Feel the joy you get when uploading to your computer and you have the exact shot you had imagined, things couldn’t have gone any better. See your real images start improving as a result of this. But remember always keep yourself humble when more likes and nice comments come flooding in on social media because as soon as you think you’re at the top of your game that’s when the bad photos and lack of improvement will creep back in.
If you practice better and think better there is no denying you will become better. Keep that same attitude and you will become the best photographer and person you can be.
Get ‘Street Tough’ and produce better images as a result. Do the 8 week experiment and become the best photographer you can be. Share with your fellow street photographers and become ‘Street Tough’ together.