Almost at the end of my series of 7 steps to improve street photography. And it’s time to talk about the L word.
Step 6: Push Your Luck.
There’s no getting away from one particular word in street photography: luck. We’re stuck with it. No matter what anyone says, there’s always going to be an element of luck inherently involved in taking street photographs. And I think it’s a good thing – it forms a central part of the fun, unpredictable excitement of what we do.
But like it or not, we’re in a rocky love life with luck: mostly infuriating, frequently disappointing, but when it works on our side – completely amazing.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when luck smiles upon us. Every so often, a shot just comes together perfectly – or we round a corner and see a winning street shot presented right there in front of us, and all we have to do is press the shutter.
That’s when we need to avoid the rookie error – moving on straight away. We need to keep our heads, and push our luck.
What would make it even better? Could we move to another angle? Could we add something still further to the shot, to take it from being a good shot to a great one? In those few seconds, anything could be possible. We just need to push it, and if we have time – push it again.
The temptation is to take the shot, feel satisfied with what we’ve captured, and walk away. But in almost any other genre of photography – fashion, photojournalism, portraiture, wedding and so on – the photographer will keep taking photographs, giving himself the best range of shots to choose from. Street photography, I don’t think, should be any different.
Sometimes it feels like luck is really pushing us to our limits. So when luck is finally with us, we might as well enjoy it, and make the very most of it. And keep pushing our luck, until the moment’s gone. It’s a rocky relationship indeed.
The original scene I photographed here was the lady with the pushchair. Her striped dress, combined with the stripy shadows, was completing an eye-catching scene that I instantly wanted to photograph. But how could I improve it further? Well, being a ‘stripe-on-stripe’ shot, even more stripes would be good. The lady wasn’t moving away – I had time. I looked around for potential, and sure enough, saw the second lady in the striped culottes conveniently heading in my direction to transform the shot. One occasion where I pushed my luck and it paid off. If only it was always like that!