“Don't let anything poison your individuality. Break away and look in, not outward." Rodney Mullen
Skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen has inspired me for years and this quote serves me as a constant reminder that preserving my individuality and following my gut feeling are more important than learning what made others great or trying to emulate it.
I recently read a post by a street photography blogger who was saying that in order to become a great street photographer you have to focus only on street photography, not macro, not architecture, etc…
Well for what it's worth, I disagree.
This would be equivalent to stating that a chef should only focus on say... French cuisine if they ever wanted to become great. Being a trained chef, I know the more you can broaden your knowledge in all types of cuisines and techniques, the more you will improve and develop a rich, individual style.
I often step back from street photography and shoot something else to recharge my creative batteries, looking at the world in a different way. I can then come back feeling refreshed. It doesn't mean I'm not committed or lack focus.
There is this notion in the world that to be truly good at something you have to be a specialist. Whilst some of it is valid, it’s not entirely true.
Other types of photography aren't distractions, they can help you improve.
I began as an Urban Landscape photographer (I still shoot Urban Landscapes). It has taught me a lot about composition and London photography locations both crucial to my street photography.
I also really enjoy macro photography, it teaches you to look into the detail of things, seeing what's not obvious. Does this not sound like an important skill for street photography?
I could go on and on, all I’m saying is: Don't limit yourself, everything you try and perfect will teach you transferable skills. So it's never a waste of time.
Since we launched Street Photography London I have come to realise that in the Street Photography world there is a good share of artistic inbreeding. This fascination looking at masters of the genre to define what Street Photography is or should be, means it’s at risk of not evolving.
If you search online for "street photography tips" (e.g Google, Twitter, etc..) you will immediately come across the same articles over and over again, written by the same old people.
For SEO purpose, many street photography bloggers will write about the same famous street photographers and include their name in the title. The reason is simple: Anyone looking online for information about Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier or others will end up finding their blog post.
Street Photography London’s interest lies in promoting everyone. This includes the less famous ones, the ones with fresh ideas and a fresh vision, the ones you won’t necessarily find in a Google search. The super stars of photography aren’t the ones who need exposure, their work is great but there’s a lot of untapped talent out there, it’s just as good and that’s what we like to see.
Read blogs, learn from everyone but be careful as a street photographer not to be limited by what self proclaimed gurus say is right or wrong.
We feature a definition of street photography, if anything, because people often ask us: what is street photography? Frankly we’re not too keen on rules and rigid definitions so it should be taken lightly.
Have fun whilst shooting, break the rules and don’t let anything poison your individuality.