When it comes to street photography and its place in the larger photographic sphere, there exists a fascinating dichotomy: one school of thought maintains that street photography is dead (or dying). The other insists that street photography is trendy and as popular as ever.
While both sides present valid points, the danger with such a discussion is that it is all too easy to descend into arguments about who’s more right or who’s less wrong.
There is simply too much gray area here. Street photography, like anything else, is subject to stylistic fluctuations that change over time and vary from person to person and place to place. The very definition of street photography is something you won’t even find universal agreement on.
Ultimately what matters is that we all recognize that street photography has always been and always will be a vital segment of the craft of photography.
One way that all those who practice the craft can preserve the integrity — whether real or imagined — of street photography, regardless of whatever stylistic cycle it might currently be in, is to not be bad at it.
Here’s how to not be bad at street photography (keeping in mind that “bad” is a highly subject term, so your mileage may vary) and how together, we can keep street photography alive.
1. Don’t Overthink It
I understand this is easier said than done for the more cerebral types; it’s tempting to analyze and pontificate and philosophize about street photography.
I’m not suggesting that high-minded examinations of street photography are unwarranted, but don’t turn it into developing a “theory of street photography” syllabus in your head because this isn't necessary to be good at street photography.
Esteemed street photographer Elliott Erwitt said, “Nothing happens when you sit at home…I just shoot at what interests me at [the] moment.” Which means you need to do less thinking and more doing.
Don’t get in the way of your own success by being trapped inside your head. Just get up and shoot whatever grabs your attention — no need to overcomplicate things.