For some time now I have been trying to get back into my street photography, trying to re-kindle my love for this kind of work and create more work that I could be proud of. It has taken an while, but its finally struck me – I’m not a street photographer, nor will I ever truly be. I have wondered why its been taking me so long to “reengage” with the people I encounter on the street, or why Im just not enjoying the craft as much as I used to. Could it have been University? Studying photography all day then going out and shooting street would exhaust anyone, but I was convinced otherwise as the other work I was doing for projects was still enjoyable. Was it that I was outgrowing my gear? Certainly not, now I have access to a plethora of equipment through my BA course. Then I realised that I was asking the wrong question. Instead of asking myself what was wrong with me now, I should have been asking “what was right with me before?”. I realised very quickly that my best work, in terms of street, had been from New York and the states in general, not just “the streets”. I have come to the thinking that maybe I am instead more suited for travel photography (inspired, no doubt, by my successful sale and publishing of two of my images to James Villa Holidays), photographing people and places in order to create true atmospheric representations of them. I love portraiture, and feel like I am quite natural at portraying an accurate representation of my subjects and find that people are what really interest me in photographs. Charlie Kirk has acted as one of the catalysts for this latest “epiphany”, when he spoke to me about thanking people for being a subject in your photographs. He said quite simply (this is a rough paraphrase, he will probably (hopefully) pipe-in and correct a few areas of my quote) “dont thank them if its not sincere, as it shows. Only thank someone if you are genuinely grateful – its not right or wrong to do so or not – its just you. I thank people and interact with them because I am genuinely interested in them..” – this is what really inspired me, the notion of photographing someone because they interest you and because your fascination will only be tamed with a photograph you, and your peers/audience, can study for as long as desired.
A couple of images of mine sprang to mind instantly as he said this, depicting a shark fisherman in Anna Maria who was preparing to set out on a tag-and-release project when I met him. I was initially drawn the the enormous fish he was pulling out of his pick-up truck, and when he said they were just bait I was extremely intrigued. We stood and spoke for a while and just chatted, he turned out to be a very interesting man, and I got some shots I would have never usually have taken along with a life experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. This encounter has been one that I have shared with almost everyone I have spoken to about my trip to Anna Maria Island – testament to how truly inspiring it was for me. I think one of my key problems with street photography is the speed. I struggle to make a real connection with my subjects as I jump infront of them or as I pass them by. I understand many can do this, some dont want this and others are just out for visual puns (which, im sorry, do nothing for me what-so-ever). There are plenty of incredibly interesting people living around me so I think this is something I need to practice before attempting to travel extensively. In terms of visual inspiration I love the work of Alec Soth, Ross Mantle, Joel Meyerowitz, etc with a keen appreciation for Bruce Gilden and Charlie Kirk’s work too.
I’m going to keep this blog (as well as the academic one I must keep for my bachelors course) as a forum for me to offer advice and personal experiences. I want to make sure I don’t turn to preaching too much, as this is not a healthy way for me to write nor would it be beneficial to those who read it. Anything I write here is my own opinion and is based on my personal experience and, as YouTubes own bodybuilding twins would say “it’s only advice, you can do whatever the f*** you wanna do”