Coming up with a street photography project isn’t easy. There’s a lot of copy cats out there and unoriginal ideas inspired by someone else. But the key here is to find inspiration and to create something that is truly unique to you. You’ve got to find your own spin or take on something. If you are wanting to work on a project, but need a little bit of direction, here are 7 places to find inspiration.
1. Stephen Leslie – SPARKS
It would be easy (and lazy) for me to suggest that you go and read as many photo books as possible. The truth is, if you are looking for a great example of thinking outside the box, then there is only one book you should be looking at right now. Stephen Leslie’s SPARKS is an intelligent and refreshing take on a street photography photo book. It feeds the minds’ desire to know the truth, whilst flirting with its constant craving for fantasy. Leslie has constructed a photo book that is full of excellent street photography, and beside each image is a beautifully written fictional story to accompany it.
SPARKS shows just how far we can push ourselves in order to make something extraordinary within a craft that is often blasted for being mundane. Whilst his project should not be imitated, it will give the viewer some inspiration to get out and create.
2. Your Emotions
Connecting to your feelings can be difficult. Sometimes we find it easier to carry certain emotions rather than tackle them head-on. However, being present with how we can feel can be a great source of creativity. Here is an example…
Let’s say you have hit a point in life where you no longer have faith in those around you. Why not set yourself a project that aims to prove you wrong? Get out onto the street with your camera and document human acts of kindness. There are plenty of moments out there and the theme can make for a good narrative.
Tap into how you are feeling and use that energy productively.
3. Street Photography Festivals
Street photography festivals are a great way of bringing the community together. Hundreds of like-minded people all under one roof spend a few days chatting about street photography. Sharing ideas and listening to how others work can be a wonderful trigger for your own project. Just being in an environment where there is an energy that aligns with your passion can be enough to get you thinking outside the box.
Many of the festivals run series competitions too. This is where photographers can share sections of their project with the other festival goers. You can take the time to view them and get thinking of what you will enter for next years festival!
4. Everybody Street (Movie)
Everybody Street is an 85 minute documentary that covers the all-stars of street photography. The movie is created by filmmaker Cheryl Dunn and features Bruce Davidson, Mary Ellen, Jill Freedman, Jeff Mermelstein and Martha Cooper. Looking at several bodies of work that span of six decades, the movie delves deep into the minds of the masters.
After being wowed for almost 90 minutes by the depth of creativity, the first thing you will want to do is pick up your camera, get on the streets and go straight to work!
5. Eyeshot Magazine (Instagram)
Eyeshot Magazine is one of the more refreshing accounts to showcase street photography on Instagram. The account is curated by Marco Savarese, who admits he has an extremely high standard when it comes to featuring street photographers.
Rather than share just one image per photographer, Savarese asks that 10-12 images are submitted for consideration. This means the account is full of many weird and wonderful projects that have been created by street photographers (My work from Central America was featured, but we don’t need to talk about that!).
Take some time to scroll through and enjoy the works of others. I’m sure it will get you thinking about coming up with your own submission.
Workshops don’t only have to be for the newbie street photographer. No matter what level you are at you can always learn something new. Education is the source of inspiration and attending a workshop can provide just that. Spending a few days with a well established street photographer can open up your mind to new creative possibilities. People like Matt Stuart are regularly running workshops all over the world. You will find that the more well regarded street photographers offer far better value for money compared to today’s ‘internet stars’.
Podcasts are a great way to keep connected with what is going on within your field. Thankfully street photography is no stranger to the audio platform and there are many great shows out there for you to enjoy. A particular favourite of mine is The Candid Frame Podcast, presented by Ibarionex Perello. The show explores all the different approaches to street photography and highlights some of the best work in the scene. After listening to an episode I am sure you will have your creative brain waves awoken.
Dive Deep into Street Photography
If you want to be creating solid work, street photography isn’t something you can just dip in and out of. You need to dive deep into the craft. Read it, watch it, listen to it, digest it in any way that you can. This is how your brain will start to flow and how ideas will come to mind.
Above are 7 places to find inspiration. Now it’s time to get to work.