Images shot with Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5
“There’s no point being the richest man in the cemetery.”
I take that to mean there’s no point dying with a bank full of money. Spend it while you can. Enjoy it. It’s a concept I’m eager to try out should I ever have any myself.
For money and bank, I read also photographs and hard drive. You might be different. You might do street photography only for yourself. If so, wonderful. Carry on.
My personal take though is there’s no point being the world’s best unseen photographer, street or otherwise.
There’s no point having a boatload of money shots banked in your hard drive and never spending them to get a bit of recognition.
Get your street photography out there
I don’t mean to say that recognition is everything because of course it isn’t.
I agree with the idea that you should do street photography for yourself, in the style that you like. I just think it’d do you more good than harm to let other people see it.
Post it on Instagram or wherever. What’s the worst that might happen?
Notice, might. Not could. The worst thing that could happen never does.
So what’s the worst that might?
Nobody cares. You get a few likes and you get fewer comments. You get little engagement and you get less encouragement.
No worries. You know how many people are competing for the attention of the people you want it from? A lot. And you know why they get more of it than you right now? Because they take good photographs, and have been doing for a long time.
That’s not to say your photographs are bad. You just need to produce more, over a longer period of time, and preferably with an increasing level of quality.
Take the crickets you get now as motivation to do that.
If you need any more of a push, go read this book.
Someone says your work is bad. Sure, more people like it than in Scenario 1, but there’s still that one guy who said it was bad.
No worries again. Go take a scroll through Instagram now and see if you can find a negative comment about someone’s street photography.
In my experience, they’re pretty hard to come by.
The few I’ve ever seen have been on those accounts with thousands of followers. So if you do reach the stage where a negative comment is likely, you should be so drowned in encouragement from fans that you can brush it off anyway.
You’re either attracting the attention of trolls, which is a good sign, or your work is getting in front of an audience wider than you may have expected.
Also a good sign.
Let people judge your street photography
One thing I’ve learnt since sharing my photography, especially on Instagram, is that you never know how people will react to it.
I’ve had images I thought were better than my average get a cooler response than some I’d thought were nothing more than filler.
The value is in what this tells me. If you take it on board, the feedback is priceless.
You’ll never be a truly objective judge of your own street photography, or anything else you create. I recommend reading my post on effort justification for more on that.
I watched yet another Gary Vaynerchuk video the other day.
The biggest takeaway was ‘never say ‘no’ for the other guy’. It continued to ‘just do everything and let them say yes to the thing they like’.
He’s a businessman, but the sentiment is the same for my street photography. Perhaps it should be for yours too.
You don’t share your work because you think it’s not good enough? Who are you to decide what other people will and won’t like?
Don’t say no for them. Put it all out there and let them decide.
Framing your street photography
When you mention framing in a photography conversation, most people are going to think of it in a composition sense.
Natural frames in your shot etc. Or even a wooden frame as you mount it on the wall.
I’m not talking about either of those. I’m talking about how you frame your street photography psychologically. About how the words you present it with create a cognitive bias.
It can be as important as the quality of the shots themselves.
Post some imperfect shots and big up the imperfections as style choices. People will tend to praise you for them.
Post some more imperfect shots and point out the imperfections as things you’re not happy with. People will tend to encourage you to do better next time.
So let people judge your street photography. Get it out there where they can see it, like it, comment on it, praise you for it, and even tell you it’s bad.
But remember, you can guide the feedback yourself with how you frame it.
Here’s a thing.
The four shots in this post, which I took with the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5, are nothing more than leftovers from another set.
It was borderline whether I would even post them anywhere at all as I didn’t know if they were good enough (or, more fittingly here, whether I liked them enough).
I still don’t, which is why I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re received here.
My judgement on them is as follows: the first one has alright colours but would be a hundred times better had the man been facing me. The second has the luckily-timed touch my nose thing going on but not much else.
The third is a big hot mess that probably either works for you or doesn’t, while the last is, I think, a cliched shot averagely done.
I could have told you this earlier but I wanted you to have time to judge them objectively. I didn’t want to frame them in that way before you had a chance to.
I’d be interested in your views on them – before and after you read mine (which were kinda like me saying no for you, I do realise).
And if you’re interested in having someone judge your own street photography, leave a link to your Instagram in the comments below and let us take a look. 😀
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