Dispelling the Myths of the Street Photography Process with Sean Tucker

There are some really helpful insights to take in from Sean Tucker’s approach to street photography.

One of the most common misconceptions about the world’s best street photographers is that they get perfect snaps with every click of the shutter. That can’t be farther from the truth. To dispel this myth and help us understand what the street photography process is truly like, UK-based Sean Tucker talked about his own experience in his latest YouTube video. If you’re in need of some motivation, we’re sure his insights will do the trick.

Just because all you see in books, exhibits, and online galleries are the best photos doesn’t mean street photographers get shots like that with pinpoint accuracy. More often than not, it took them hours, days, and even weeks to get their snaps. Yes, just like the rest of us. In the video below, Tucker explains why this myth needs to be busted and how street photography actually entails more or less the same painstaking process for every photographer.

“Many of us romantically assume that the photographers we look up to walk around the corner, they see a scene, lift up the camera, hit the shutter, and they walk away. And it’s a great image every time — every time they hit the shutter, it’s a banger,” he said. However, the reality is these photographers, even if they’re miles ahead of us in terms of their technique and vision, take lots and lots of shots before the end up with a keeper.

Tucker supports this by sharing his own photos and talking about his own process as well as by bringing up the Magnum Contact Sheets book. It shows the process of some of the most famous photographers through their contact sheets, so we see both the hits and misses. To stress his point further, he pulled up some iconic shots by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Steve McCurry, and Trent Parke and showed how they “worked” each scene to get the perfect shot.

In a nutshell, Tucker reminds us that we all have our own way of “working” the scenes we photograph. We shouldn’t get caught up in the myth of getting the perfect shot. Instead, we should find what process will help us get there faster. Even if it means taking several photos of a scene from different angles, so be it. People don’t really care about how you get there; they just want to see good work from you.

“Don’t obsess about getting a great shot every time you press the shutter. Engage the process. Play the long game. Shoot a lot. Don’t worry about your ‘hit rate.’ Find your process — the one which helps you to get to the good images.”

Check out Sean Tucker’s YouTube channel for more of his photography videos.


Screenshot image from the video