Street photography and distraction

Street photography is difficult in the sense that it’s hard to make images that have impact. It’s also difficult in that you have to overcome the fear of shooting in public and the potential to anger people.

But street photography is also very easy. It’s got to be one of the easiest forms of photography in the sense that you can do it every day. You only need one camera and lens that you can carry all the time.

Compared to the landscape, nature or wedding photographers with their bags of kit, wide range of zooms and primes and tripods etc, street photography is easy.

You don’t have to travel; you can shoot in your own street or town. You don’t need extra gear; lights, reflectors etc. All you have to do is get out and shoot.

But that’s the problem.

There are so many distractions. For me the main ones relate to social media. I think I spend more time reading about gear and technique than getting out and taking pictures. But there is so much to read. You have Japan Camera Hunter, Eric Kim, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Time Lightbox, not to mention WordPress. Then, once you’ve seen what others have shot and shared, there’s checking if anyone’s read or liked your creations.  

More images are shared today than in the history of humankind. There must also be more information available regarding photography than ever before. But I wonder if this information overload actually improves our creativity?  Are we better photographers than our predecessors? I suspect this question could be asked of other creative activities too.  Are we better artists and musicians now that we have access to so much material? 

Looking at other people’s images is surely beneficial but social media doesn’t lend itself to long periods of reflection or pondering.  We are encouraged to focus on frequency and volume rather than quality and appreciation.  To that end I’m trying to buy photography books, though I struggle to look at them on account of checking my Flickr feed and writing this blog. Also I’m trying to get to more galleries and exhibitions. I’m convinced that shaping my use of social media in a more disciplined way to give room to look at prints will be beneficial. 

But ultimately there remains the need to stop reading, discussing, commenting, liking and sharing and just get out and shoot. 

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