One of my favorite types of photography is street photography. Here’s why.
Out of all the categories of photography, from fine-art, to portrait photography, to fashion, still-life and more, street photography is one the the only photography disciplines that encompasses all of the above. I love that there are no rules, and the shots you come home with are 100% organic. Any and every image you capture that day is truly a one of a kind and will never happen in the same way again. That’s exciting to me, especially because I’m someone who thinks rules are meant to be broken, or at least bent a little 😉
The other day I was sitting at home and wanted to get out in nature and take some shots, but there was one small problem that had be glued to the couch. Ya’ see, I’m a fitness guy through and through, and I train hard almost daily. The day before I had done this crazy workout that’s not for the faint of heart. My mind, most of my body, and my camera was all for it, but my legs were singing a different tune.
As I sat there at my desk starring out of the window at cars whizzing by, an idea came to mind. I have a good friend named Kenny who is a delivery driver for a couple of private medical companies. He basically drives an insane amount of miles all over Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, and a few other places delivering things that can’t be put in the mail.
It occurred to me that I didn’t have to actually walk in the city to get some shots, and that I could just ride shotgun and see what happens. I wasn’t exactly sure how the images would come out, but that’s part of the fun of street photography, you never know what you’re going to get that day. I sent him a text with my request and luckily for me he was driving in my part of town. He picked me up 30 minutes later, which was just enough time for me to slowly waddle (remember the workout) while I gathered my camera gear.
Thug Life. Bout’ to go get up in these skreetz.
Off we drove all of the city with no real plans in mind. Well, Kenny was working, so I’m sure he had a plan. Me on the other hand, I was just along for the ride. It wasn’t very long before I realized how awesome this way of photographing the city was turning out to be. There was zero fatigue from walking, no people to watch out for, we covered way more ground, and listened to great music while conversing about sports and life.
These were just a few of the highlights.
The best things of all was the range of images I was easily able to capture. As I mentioned before, street photography encompasses a lot of photography categories, but this version of it absolutely took the cake.
HITCH A RIDE
If you know who has some driving to do and wouldn’t mind your company, ask them if you can ride along. I think you’ll be quite pleased with your experience and the shots you’re able to capture.
I haven’t given this a shot yet, but since doing this I’ve been considering giving services like Uber and Lyft a try. Yes, it will cost me a little money, but I guess that’s what passion looks like. When you’re passionate about something, investing money and time shouldn’t be an issue. Ideally you should be willing to invest time and money on your passions just as easily as you would spend time and money on something that just helps you escape reality for a few hours.
To each his or her own though. I’m not here to tell you how to feel about anything, I’m just here to share my experiences with you and see if they can add any type of value to you or shorten your learning curve.
Below is a list of shots and short descriptions on the type of photos you can capture while doing shotgun-street-photography.
The Ben Franklin Bridge connecting Philly to NJ. I’ve must have run and walked that thing almost a hundred times by now. It’s always been sort of a safe-haven for me. Somewhere I can get away from it all and connect with nature.
Trying to catch him “riding dirty”.
Shooting at the side mirror looking back at where I came from. It’s been a ride to sat the least. #ForwardMotion
Although street-photography falls into many categories, I think it most closely fits into what’s called Photojournalism.
Webster’s definition of Photojournalism is as follows: Journalism in which written copy is subordinate to pictorial usually photographic presentation of news stories or in which a high proportion of pictorial presentation is used.
Now not all stories deserve to be front-page news, but they’re still stories nonetheless.
Shooting from the car as opposed to on foot just gives you more “news-coverage” than you would normally have. If you’re a blogger like me or enjoy sharing your photos, you have the options to either share all of your images to tell one large story, or dividing your images up and telling smaller stories over time. Remember there are no rules, so any choice you make that feels right to you is the right choice.
Just be sure to share some of your images with me if your can! I’d love to see what kinds of things are happening in your part of the world 🙂
Driving away from Wawa. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, it’s basically a 7-11. I’d probably say it’s a little nicer than 7-11, but I guess that could be up for debate.
Coffee, sandwiches, donuts, AND gasoline. Yeah…Wawa has you covered.
Just when you though it was over, they went ahead and busted out the free air. Wawa, we’re not worthy!
People go hand-and-hand with street photography like peanut-butter and jelly. Some photographers choose to shoot street portraits discretely, while other photographers are more hands-on and interact with their street-subjects. Personally, I’m more of the discrete type of photog who likes to capture people in their natural element, sort of how I create my traditional portraits with clients.
Shooting from a vehicle may not present you with many interactive options, but you’ll come across many photo-opps to photograph people being 100% natural.
Unfortunately this was the only person I decided to capture that day. He has a cool hat. I like to call him The Cat in the Hat.
I love to photograph city landscapes. Images like these always give me a sense of peace and perspective as I mentally detach myself from the noise and sometimes hectic energy of a big city.
It’s sort of the same feeling you get when on a plane or a high building deep in the city and looking down at all that’s going on. Ironically, this is sort of the same feeling I get after exercising and meditating. After a good bout of training and meditation, I’m able to mentally step away from all of the noise and stresses of life. Things that would normally rattle me seems to just roll off of my back.
Stress has a lot to do with how you see the world, and yourself in it. I won’t switch to a whole lesson on mediation right in the middle of sharing my thoughts about street-photography, but I will say if you haven’t yet given it a try…give it a try.
If you’d like to learn a little more about how to meditate or the benefits of meditation, just click here and watch your world open up. 😃
This was taken from I-95. It’s a photo of our stadium where the Philadelphia Eagles play. Unfortunately, the architecture is more attractive than the Eagles record.
Getting off of the I-95 ramp, we passed the Wells Fargo Center. This is where the Philadelphia 76ers and the Fliers try to win the city a championship. The city is patiently waiting…
Sometimes, things are best explained in the abstract. As I mentioned before, shooting from a vehicle creates opportunities for shots you otherwise may not have access to.
When I’m in the street taking photos, I most often like to just photograph “glimpses” of the city if you will. I like to leave the viewer with room to draw their own conclusions about what’s happening in the shot. Shooting this way puts a nice spin on street-photography. To take these types of images, it means you have put yourself in a different mindset about what you’re out to capture.
Searching for “glimpses” of the city as opposed to photographing exactly what’s happening outside opens up many more opportunities for cool shots. You could literally just patrol a one block radius and capture so many hidden gems throughout it.
When I’m shooting this way, I’m more so looking for cool shapes, negative-space, and interesting compositions. The images I took from the car that day expresses that a bit, but you can see more examples of what I mean here.
I’m a graphic designer at heart, so sometimes I like to take single images and fuse them together just to see what the outcome might be. If you haven’t yet given this a try with your work, try it out. You’ll probably start to love all of the undiscovered work within your work.
Do you see some sort of relationship here? Maybe between a Momma street-lamp and a baby street-lamp?? Maybe I’m just weird and seeing things. 😉
Blue skies. Stainless steel.
A glimpse of one of our lovely bridges in the city. This is called the Betsy Ross bridge if I’m not mistaken. I guess it’s so damn abstract that I can’t even tell. 🙂
Street-photography is almost synonymous with architecture. If you’re outside taking photos, especially in the city, you’re almost guaranteed to capture the unique aesthetic of the buildings that make up your city.
Going back to what I said about shapes and composition, you can either photograph the architecture as a whole, or find a smaller piece of a building, bridge or any other structure to photograph. The cool thing about photographing from a car is that you have access to shots that aren’t possible, or legal for that matter on foot.
This presents you with many opportunities to develop your photographic-eye. It’ll also cause you to think on your feet, even though you’re sitting down. 😃
If you do try to photograph these pieces of the architecture from the car, you’ll soon discover that you need to anticipate the shots ahead of time as best you can. Unlike street-photography when you’re on foot, being in a car means you have less time to plan and prepare for what’s coming, which is exciting in a way.
In the rib cage of the Betsy Ross Bridge.
I’ve always found intersecting highways interesting. This gem is from one of Philadelphia’s art districts, Old City.
The bottom of bridges usually provide eye-catching architecture, nice lines, and great shadows.
As we exited the highway, we stopped at a red light. I looked right, and then is what I saw.
I think it’s important to always be unapologetic about your work.
Photography is an art, and no one really has the right to tell you if you’re doing YOUR art correctly or incorrectly. If anyone ever tells you that you’re photography is “bad”, just shrug the statement off.
This is part of the reason why I think it’s super critical that you find your personal creative-voice in your work. What interests you? What things do you do to create your images that’s unique to your personality and creation-process?
Knowing these things, and using them as your foundation that you build your career on should greatly boost your confidence and as a result, your success in the industry.
Whatever that means to you personally.
So in closing, just get out there, follow what your intuition says to photograph, and realize that you’re the ONLY one who has to love the results.
Happy shooting buddy…have a great day. 😃