Welcome to the second in my series of steps anyone (including myself) can take to achieve better results in street photography. And it’s a big ‘un!
Step 2: Push Yourself – Don’t Get Lazy!
I often think of street photography as a kind of therapy – an escape from the stresses of life and a way to relax. And there’s certainly a truth to that. But conversely, it’s also really hard work to get the very best shots.
It’s easy to keep taking the same style of shot time and time again, especially in an Insta-world that expects a regular flow of shots in a recognisable style. But it’s difficult to push yourself and think: “How can I actually do that differently? How can I take my work to the next level?”
There’s always a world of possibilities. A different angle, shutter speed or approach to framing. Using a flash. Using a pinhole camera. Wearing a clown costume. Really, the only limit is your imagination, and it could indeed be the very simplest of things that make the biggest difference. But we should be brave, and not afraid to make mistakes. I really believe that street photography is an art form, and all art is a journey. There will be mistakes, but they are all just part of this journey that is leading us to where our creativity can ultimately take us. So never stop looking, and never stop experimenting.
Nevertheless, this is one of the hardest pieces of advice to follow in all of my 7 steps – and it’s advice to myself as much as anyone else, because it’s something I find genuinely challenging.
I found it difficult to think of an image that I could use to illustrate my point. I don’t consider this to be one of my best shots, but it’s simply an example of looking a bit harder for a new angle. It was taken in the Tate Modern, a place I’ve photographed countless times. Because it was so familiar, I really wanted to look harder for a new photograph, to find something that I hadn’t seen photographed before. So I hunted around and got this image by pointing my camera downwards, through a small gap at the side of a stairwell. It’s an angle I’d never have noticed, and a photograph I’d never have taken, if I hadn’t been inspired to push myself to look beyond the familiar.