Street photography can get negative press at times; accused of being stale and overdone, it’s often looked down upon.
I, however, love street photography and I want to tell you why.
I’ve practiced street photography for roughly six years. When I first started, I would walk around the streets with an old Olympus bridge camera – taking photos of anything and everything. I didn’t actually learn the term “street photography” until two years after I started practicing it. After watching a Matt Stuart documentary, I said to myself, “oh, that’s what I do” – albeit nowhere close to the same standard.
During this six years of shooting street, I’ve had many highs and many lows. From features and exhibitions to stagnation and rejection, it’s been a rollercoaster journey. But no matter how frustrating street photography can be – that includes the community and the practice – I’ve never stopped loving it.
As a reminder to myself and those who feel the same, here’s why I love street photography…
Street Photography Gives Me Freedom
Street photography allows me to have a sense of freedom. There aren’t many other genres that can say the same. I can pick up my camera and roam the streets if and when I please. With street I’m able to take full control of the brief. I have no deadlines, no project specifications – I’m led only by my own mind and eyes.
Whilst there are certain pressures that I put onto myself when out shooting, I’m in full control 100% of the time. That kind of freedom is priceless – and addictive!
Street Photography Gives Me Character
When I speak to people and tell them I’m a street photographer, more often than not they reply with, “wow, that’s cool.” Being able to go beyond Netflix and chill and actually speak deeply about a certain craft gives me the ultimate confidence boost. Street photography gives me depth because so many factors come with it; travel, meeting people, history, and art all come under the street photography umbrella.
I feel very fortunate to have a passion. It’s something I connect with so deeply and carry with me everywhere I go – I’ll never take that for granted.
The Street Photography Community
The street photography community gets a bit of a bad rep. Sometimes it’s justified, however, for the most part, it’s a little unfair. I have made so many friends through street photography, both online and in real life. Being able to connect with so many like-minded people really adds value to my life. We can debate ethics, compare photographs and go on big group street walks – all with respect and the same level of passion.
One of my highlights of 2018 was Street London. Almost 300 street photographers, over the course of three days, all came together to share their love for the craft. The best part was the diversity of people. From young to old, black to white, male to female (and non-binary); it felt like such an inclusive environment to be in.
Street Photography Encourages Me to Travel
Out of the six years that I’ve been shooting street, that last three have been the most important. During that time I’ve studied, practiced and dedicated a large portion of my life to the craft. It stopped being a bit of fun and started to be a serious part of my everyday world. With a hunger to create the best images, I set out to travel to as many destinations as I could. I’ve been to roughly 20 different countries in the last two years. Shooting street has been the main focus on each and every one of those trips.
Through my camera (and a lot of legwork) I have seen some places that will stay in my mind (and hard drive) for the rest of my life. Street photography really boosted my desire to see the world and I have no plan to stop any time soon!
Street Photography Centers My Mind
I’ve written about this before so I won’t dwell too much on the factt that I have an overactive mind. I find it incredibly hard to concentrate, I’m a chronic over-thinker, and if not managed correctly my anxiety gets out of control. All of that goes away when I’m out shooting street photography. The process of making candid photos puts my mind at peace. Street photography remains to be my main form of meditation and it continues to be my best method to relieve stress and anxiety.
Street Photography Made Me a Better Writer
I had never studied journalism or writing. In fact, five years ago I was a terrible writer. I would experiment with different topics but never had enough desire to really write about them with conviction. Then street photography came into my life, as did the ability to blog with relevant ease. Both of them gave me the ambition to be a better writer. I wanted to find a way that I could communicate effectively about something I loved so much.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to work hard to improve my writing skills and to build a reputation where people look forward to what I write. However, it’s the positive energy I have for the topic that got me to where I am today.
Street Photography Is a Constant
In life friends, partners, and even family come and go. I have, however, this strong notion that street photography will remain a constant in my life. It’s there when I’m happy and sad. It’s been with me on all my travels, the different homes that I’ve lived in, and all the four seasons!
Both physically and mentally, it comes with me everywhere I go.
Why Do You Love Street Photography?
I could write all day about why I love it. What I would like you to do is take time to think about why you love street photography. Write all the reasons down because, during times when you feel like giving up, they will be a great source of inspiration.
At the risk of you all telling us to get a room; street photography I just want you to know…I love you.
Dan Ginn is a UK based street photographer and writer. Learn more about him via his website and Instagram