While in New York, I was able to connect with people who share as much love for street photography as I do. I’m grateful for this because, honestly, I needed to be in an environment that brought positive vibes and zero negativity. The truth is, I’m on the receiving end of a lot of trolling. And although I’ve committed to taking the rough with the smooth, it does sometimes put a downer on how I feel about the craft. So to be out with the likes of Mark Beckenbach, Clay Benskin, Rinzi Ruiz, and Jens Krauer was a much-needed breath of fresh air. Here’s why.
It Validates My Passion for Street Photography
Trolls aside, I often question why I stick with shooting street photography. It makes for long days, blisters, failure, and isolation. If someone put that on the menu, nobody would be buying it. But alas, here I am, still as smitten as I was when I first picked up a camera. Spending time with others, hearing their creative frustrations while also observing their passion, gave me validation. I had a “oh yeah, this is why I do it” moment. We all share the same issues with the practice of street photography. And being in an environment where I could communicate that made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
I’m Learning Without Being Taught
These photo walks are not workshops. They’re just some dudes with cameras hanging out and creating. But that doesn’t mean you don’t learn anything. For example, Jens Krauer – the tall tank of a man that he is – will quite happily stand motionless for as long as he needs until he gets the shot he wants. In contrast, Clay Benskin is working at a fast pace and on the fly, quickly getting the frames he connects with. Studying them, you start to understand how the images you see online are made. It’s almost like an “ahh, so that’s how they do it” moment. While you should never emulate, you can incorporate certain methods into your own workflow. You can’t get the same experience online!
Positive Street Photography Energy
I touched on this earlier, but the positive energy you get from “real people” is so inspiring. I’ve written in the past about how toxic online street photography communities can be. On the topic of trolls and negative vibes, for whatever reason, people want to put you down when they’re sitting comfortably behind their keyboards. In the real world, people don’t want that kind of drama. They’re more human and recognize the importance of bringing a positive vibe to the group.
All the politics, sassy comments, and drivel have no place on such photo walks. Instead, people encourage, inspire, and support in the creation of street photography. These guys were a great example of the latter, and I was on such a buzz after leaving them.
You Get to Shoot The Breeze
Shooting the breeze (aka having a conversation) is important in any social community. Of course, we all love the practical side of street photography, but it’s also fun to talk about it. For me, having an online dialogue is painful. We were not designed for silent, text communication. So seeing, listening, and feeling the enthusiasm of someone else as they wax lyrical about why and who they love in street photography feels empowering. Having a space to verbalize my own passion was powerful and felt liberating too. The photo walk was extremely cathartic. Having a mental release is essential for maintaining a healthy attitude towards shooting street photography.
The Real World Beats the Digital World
Make no mistake about it; the way we communicate now is not healthy. Sure it feels normal because it takes up so much of our time, but staring at a screen isn’t how it was meant to be. Whatever you think you get out of your likes, “great shot” comments, and broken conversation, you’re selling yourself short. Going out into the community is far better for your mind and your progress, trust me. So get out, hang out, shoot the breeze, and make street photographs. Your experience in this world and the street photography community will benefit greatly.
Big thanks to Mark, Clay, Rinzi, and Jens. I had a blast!