Journal: Documenting Life

March 20, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

I read that the only person who is interested in your street photography is you.


Is that true?

I guess that it all depends.


When I left Los Angeles to live in a small town, there wasn't much inspiration. Most people in the region take to bird photography or butterflies.  


"They" say that street photography is cliche and that it has been done and overdone. To that sort of thinking, let me ask how many cardinals can you photograph on a snowy day? What's the cardinal's story? Sunflower seeds, ughm, yum, somebody left me some sunflower seeds.  That's about it.


I continually promise myself that I will take back to the street even without the expansion of a greater urban life that is not part of my current status. It's a challenge in a small town.  In my "soccer mom" town of eleven thousand, the populace live the back yard suburban life to which I am a total stranger. Taking photos is almost a crime if they spot you with a camera in hand. They're into their kids and their kids' sports. If you get a deer in the headlights, it's a real deer, my dearest.


I had that happen and that was shock and awe and a lot of damage to my car.


What does a city girl do? She gets out of her car, walks up to the injured deer and apologizes profusely.  She does this once because the locals will inform her that the deer could have gained footing and kicked the SH-you know what - out of her, 


I believe that a good picture tells a plentiful story. In recent times, my "story" has focused more on emotion. Shooting woodland, landscape or botanical pushes me to find a fanciful or emotional element.  


I used to force myself to go out and challenge the safer boundaries that I knew.  I'd go to the equestrian center and shoot jumpers in manual mode. Fellow photographers didn't believe that I did that and often wondered why I would do it, but my reasons were direct. I believe that you can develop an intuitive response. This is different from a feeling response you might have with nature. It has more to do with being in life and knowing when your moment presents itself.


Let's put it this way:  You might one day get up and decide to go looking for middle earth and you might find some things that might leave you clues. This propels you to read more sci fi or essoterical books and to rent every movie that can send you to another world. You might start staring into crowds looking for the aliens who are passing among us. I mean by "aliens" those from another world, not ours. You might find one and that might be the money shot.  The idea is to train for the moment. Why bother? You bother because it puts your squarely into life. You suddenly realize that outside of your headphones, outside of you, there is more living going on and it's always telling a story.


Street photography can only happen because you put yourself out there. I don't mean that you go down to the skate park and be the next photographer shooting what's cool to the nth degree. You don't need to document culture unless you see a shift or unrecognized part of it. My approach and my advice is to never join "a tribe" or we will fall into that hole that it's been done before. 


When we fall into a trap of "identity" we fail ourselves with creativity. The "manual focus" mode of the brain is in finding the alien in the crowd and that is most definitely a money shot. If you hit a deer and you feel you need to get out of your car and apologize profusely, somebody needs to tell you how stupid your preconceptions are. You apologize for nothing. You never assume that the other party -- man, animal, alien -- live by our code. 


If the only people who find our street photography interesting is merely ourselves, then go for it! When you go to the street, you go to connect beyond your safe zone.  We all  learn to bend like a branch in the waves of life. Then, we will not break from rigidity of thought or lack of creativity. Go do it.



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