Do Your Photography a Favour: Be Your Worse Critic

Street photography has a problem and it’s that a big part of so called street photos posted online are utter rubbish.

I know… tastes differ and art is subjective. But anyone can take a photo of strangers eating a sandwich next to a cute puppy and add a clever art filter. That doesn’t make it a great or even an acceptable street photo. It’s a waste of SD card space.

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For example, I love and do shoot street photos in black and white as I believe in some situations is the right choice. But unfortunately for many it’s become the illusion in their magic toolbox. Yes it’s an illusion.

What I mean is that people use black and white and manage to trick themselves into believing the photograph has got soul.

It’s a lazy way to embellish and forget that behind that, the photo contains nothing… if you scratch under the surface, well… you can just keep on scratching as there’s nothing to be seen.

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People ask me to review their work and give constructive feedback, but the truth is most aren’t ready or willing to hear it. I don’t think it’s my place to do that but I used to give fairly soft advice when asked and I’m amazed that these very same people who’d asked nicely to start with, come back fighting and can sometimes be really quite nasty.

Who will give a damn about you and your photography if you’re not ready to take feedback YOU have asked for?

My most basic advice to anyone interested in developing their street work is to look at the photo they shot and ask themselves really honestly: what’s in there?

Is it outstandingly beautiful in the way it contrasts light/shadow, or the way the lines, silhouettes and shapes come together? Will the viewer be hit by a tsunami of emotions? Will it make people laugh, blush or cry?

For goodness sake just find something, as if you don’t then it’s probably just a photo of people in the street, meaningless, a snapshot.

This quote sums it up in my eyes:

“I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good” Anonymous

I don’t want to sound like an arrogant prick having a rant.

I have many bad photos, that's why I also have a very strict selection process to decide what's going to make the cut.

Photographers should be their worse critic (and I mean be ruthless) and too many just aren’t because they rely on the nice comments such as “nice shot!”, “great composition”, “beautiful light” they get on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr and think their photos are probably good if their friends, auntie and followers say so.

Nico